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POLITICAL LEADERS BID LAST FAREWELL TO 1956 FREEDOM FIGHTER MÁRIA WITTNER

 

Hungary’s leading politicians attended the funeral of Mária Wittner, a 1956 freedom fighter and former lawmaker of ruling Fidesz, in the Dunakeszi cemetery, near Budapest, on Friday afternoon. Wittner died on September 14, at the age of 85. Aged only 19, she participated during the 1956 anti-Soviet revolution in the siege of the Hungarian Radio and tended to the wounded in Corvin Alley, the site of ferocious fighting. She was hospitalised with shrapnel wounds on November 4 as the Soviet Army overran the city. Wittner was arrested in 1957 and sentenced to death a year later. She spent 200 days in prison before her sentence was reduced to life in 1959. She was released in March 1970, but was not granted an amnesty. She worked as a seamstress and cleaning lady until she retired in 1980. Wittner took an active role after the 1989-90 political regime change and in the work of various 1956 organisations. From 2006 to 2014, she was a lawmaker of the Fidesz party. She wrote several memoirs of her role in the revolution and of her years in prison. Wittner received the Grand Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit in 1991, along with the 1956 Medallion. She was decorated with the Hungarian Order of St Stephen, the highest honour in Hungary, in 2006. Her funeral was attended by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, President Katalin Novák, Parliamentary Speaker László Kövér and former President János Áder. Addressing the ceremony, Fidesz lawmaker and government commissioner Szilárd Németh called Wittner “an immaculate symbol of brave, self-sacrificing freedom-loving people”. “She was a hero and at the same time a victim of 1956, a victim of the Communist terror that followed in the footsteps of the freedom fight and revolution of Hungarians,” he said.