Anna Kéthly Statue – Budapest, Hungary - Atlas Obscura

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Anna Kéthly Statue

A stone woman in a stylized dress honors a courageous politician.  

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Once described as the Joan of Arc of Hungarian politics, Anna Kéthly was the second-ever female member of the National Assembly of Hungary, from 1922 to 1948. She went on to serve as minister of the Social Democratic Party during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but stayed in office for less than a week before she was forced to live in exile for the rest of her life.

During World War II, as Nazi Germany invaded Hungary, Kéthly went into hiding near the Slovak border eluding the pursuit of the far-right Arrow Cross Party. Shortly after the Liberation, she returned to the world of politics and helped many Jews resettle, but it did not last long in the advent of a new power in the east.

Hungary’s multi-party system came to an end in the 1949 election, in which all seats in the parliament went to the Communist Party. As its leading opponent, Kéthly was placed under house arrest despite her soft retirement, then arrested and imprisoned until 1954, when the government pardoned her following international pressure.

It was not long before an uprising took place. Soon Kéthly found herself in the turmoil of the Revolution. She assumed the role of president of the revived Hungarian Social Democratic Party, but while she was in Vienna to attend a Socialist International meeting, the USSR invaded and occupied Hungary. Kéthly never returned home after this, first flying to New York to appeal to the U.N. and then settling in Brussels, working as editor-in-chief of the Népszava newspaper.

Kéthly died in 1976 at the age of 86. It was not until 1990 that her ashes were returned to Hungary. There are two monuments dedicated to her in Budapest, in Kéthly Anna Square and Olimpia Park. The latter statue, often overlooked, is largely lifelike but clad in a stylized dress.

Know Before You Go

The statue is at the southeast corner of Olimpia Park.

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August 11, 2022

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