Being one of the largest squares in Budapest, the Szabadság Ter hosts a unique relic of communism – the memorial to the Soviet Army. In front of the monument stands the US Embassy so it can be said that the East and the West have never been so close before. The name of the square means “Liberty Square” and the liberation refers to the actual Soviet occupation of Hungary.
The square also hosts several other monuments, such as the statue of General Harry Bandholtz of the US army. It was made by prominent Hungarian sculptor Miklós Ligeti and depicts Bandholtz with his famous riding crop in hand.
Between August 1919 and February 1920, Bandholtz was the US representative to the Inter-Allied Supreme Command’s Military Mission in Hungary, which was charged with disarming the Hungarian military and supervising the withdrawal of the Serbian and Romanian armies who were occupying the territory of Hungary.
According to a popular legend, he bundled off the Romanian soldiers robbing the Hungarian National Museum on October 1919, although Bandholtz didn’t mention this detail in his autobiography. Today the riding crop is on display in the Hungarian National Museum.
After World War II, the statue was repaired, but in 1949 it was removed by the new communist government. In 1985, it was moved to the garden of the US Ambassador’s residence. It was returned to its original place before the US embassy on 6 July 1989, one day before the historic visit of President George H. W. Bush in Budapest.