The most controversial museum in postcommunist Hungary was established at great cost, with the support of the center-right government in power from 1998 to 2002. Some critics alleged that its exhibits are less than objective, sensational attacks on those even loosely associated with the communist-era dictatorship and place less emphasis on the terrors of the fascist era and the Holocaust in particular. The museum director replied that the collection is dedicated to the victims of both regimes (fascist and communist)—noting that there is an exhibit on the atrocities against Jews before and during World War II—and that it was painstakingly researched and designed by experts.
The building itself has a terrible history. Starting in 1939 it was headquarters of the national socialist Arrow Cross Party; from 1945 to 1956 the notorious communist state security police, the ÁVO (later succeeded by the ÁVH), used it as its headquarters and as its interrogation-cum-torture center.
A powerful visual and sensual experience, this state-of-the-art, multimedia museum features everything from videos of sobbing victims telling their stories to a full-size Soviet tank. An English-language audio guide is available; groups needing them for each member should call several days or more in advance to reserve, as the number of units is limited.