Photographs created by Austrian photographer Erich Lessing, documenting the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The photographs were
printed in 2006 for an exhibition held at USC Libraries' Doheny Memorial Library commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of
the Hungarian Revolution.
Erich Lessing was born in Vienna July 13, 1923, the son of a dentist and a concert pianist. Hitler's occupation of Austria
in 1939 forced his emigration to Israel (then still the British Mandate Palestine), leaving behind his mother in Vienna, who
eventually perished at Auschwitz. In Israel, Lessing worked on several kibbutzim, and returned to photography, a childhood
hobby, working as a kindergarten photographer and later as photographer with the British Army.Soon after the end of World War II, the Soviet Union seized power in the recently defeated countries of Eastern Europe and
instituted Communist rule. On October 23, 1956, thousands of Hungarians in Budapest took to the streets to demand political
reform and an end to the occupation. After a few brief skirmishes with protesters, which included students, factory workers,
and Hungarian soldiers, the Soviets withdrew across the border. Jubilant citizens took to the streets celebrating their newly
found freedom. However, the Soviets counterattacked shortly thereafter, crushing this nascent revolution and forcing nearly
250,000 people to flee the country. Austrian photojournalist Erich Lessing documented the dramatic events leading up to, during,
and after the conflict with images that show both a people's desperate fight for freedom and the stark reality of life in
Communist Europe in the middle of the twentieth century.
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