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Bridge at Andau

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A symbol of humanity

About 10km away from Andau, a narrow wooden bridge leads over the Einser Canal. In the interval between the two World Wars and after WW2, the bridge provided the villagers of Andau with a crossing point into Hungary. From the start of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 (from the 23rd October to the 4th November 1956) Hungarians used this bridge as a means to cross the border.

When the Red Army began to violently suppress the Hungarian Revolution on the 4th November 1956, the stream of refugees became a flood.

 

The community of Andau showed an enormous willingness to help at this time. Numerous reception centres (in schools, kindergartens, cinemas and official buildings) were opened, which took in refugees round the clock. After one to two days the refugees were taken in busses to larger centres.

The bridge was blown up suddenly on the 21st November. The border was strongly manned and watched by Hungarian and Russian border patrols. Despite this, hundreds of refugees still managed to cross the border, arriving exhausted, wet and cold at the nearest border post in Andau.

Between 70 000 and 80 000 people crossed the border at Andau.

In the 1992 the “Association for International Understanding – The Bridge at Andau” was founded. The Association hosted international symposiums for artists in Andau between 1992 and 1996. The sculptures resulting from these gatherings were set up along the former Road to Freedom from the Einser Canal to Andau. The 10km road has become a unique open-air gallery for those on wheels and on foot, and is a highly visible symbol for the “rejection of violence, intolerance, inhumanity, contempt of humankind and racism”. (The sculptures remain the property of their creators and are not restored by the municipality).

The Association also arranged for the reconstruction of the bridge, which was rebuilt at its original site by sappers from the Austrian army and opened during a ceremony on the 20 September 2006. (WAB 116: „Vom Traum zum Trauma. Ungarnaufstand `56. Begleitband zur Ausstellung, Eisenstadt 2006, S. 46-54.)