– to celebrate and commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic
Reception, hosted by the Officers & Board Members of the Hungarian Association, to commemorate and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic. Time, 12 noon, Friday November 27, Location TBA in program booklet. All Congress participants are invited. Light picnic luncheon will be served.
ABOUT THE PAN-EUROPEAN PICNIC: Twenty years ago, Hungary threw open the gates to freedom and the West. Tens of thousands of people surged across the suddenly unguarded border. Scenes of jubilation, of families reunited after decades of captivity in Eastern Europe, flashed around the world. Newsweek’s cover dubbed it the “Great Escape.” From one day to the next, Americans awoke to a startling new reality. Suddenly, it was possible to imagine the unimaginable: the fall of the Iron Curtain and an end to the Cold War.
The date was Aug. 19. The place: Sopron, a sleepy provincial town in western Hungary. Closer to home, in Hungary itself, a new generation had taken charge. Almost overnight, they wrote a U.S.-style constitution and began speaking openly of a free press, free markets and free elections. Emboldened, a small group of local Sopron activists decided to celebrate the new spirit. Their modest aim: put up some tents, hire a brass band and let the beer and good vibes flow. One of the organizers came up with an especially inspired idea — to briefly open a gate through the barbed-wire frontier to Austria, allowing people to casually stroll back and forth across the border for the first time in four decades. They called it the Pan-European Picnic.
Since anything involving the border was a matter of extreme sensitivity, the request for a permit came to the attention of Hungary’s young Prime Minister, Miklós Németh. Amid the chaos, he could realize his true goal. Hungary too would gain its freedom.
In addition to the reception organized by Mrs. Somogyi, the commemoration was organized by Mrs. Gabriella Nádas.