The 1956 Institute was established on June 17, 1989, the day after the reburial of Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs. First it was working as a private foundation, then became a public foundation in the spring of 1995 by government decision in view of the important public task it performed. The founding deed of the Institute was to carry out scholarly research into national and international contemporary history, with a focus on the history of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and subsequently to present the findings of that research. By now the Institute has issued over 130 books (among them a serial of Yearbooks since 1992), 20 electronic, multimedia publications (content services and 2 CD–ROMs), and 12 historical documentary films. The number of papers and studies produced by the staff reaches almost 2000, of which about one-third appeared in foreign languages. Staff members represented Hungary at over 120 international conferences. The Institute organized over 30 national and international conferences. Of particular importance were the series of events to mark the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the revolution. Extension training for history teachers have been held regularly and frequent visits and presentations made at secondary schools. (Full information on the Institute can be found at www.rev.hu; annual reports appeared in Institute yearbooks; those since 1997 appear here: http://www.rev.hu/portal/page/portal/rev/az_intezet/beszamolok_uj.) In December 27, 2010 the government decided to wind up the 1956 Institute Public Foundation. Public tasks of the Institute and a part of its research fellows were assigned to the National Széchényi Library.

This was the situation in which the intellectual community of the 1956 Institute decided to found the 1956 Institute Foundation with the aim of continuing and where necessary supporting the work of the Institute. The Foundation lends support to domestic or international research and development projects, from funding application to completion. It promotes publications, assists in organizing conferences and workshops, applies for research grants.

The 1956 Institute has built up an Oral History Archive of some 1100 participants and witnesses to 20th-century Hungarian history, one of the biggest like collections in East Central Europe. A specialist contemporary history library of 12,000 volumes is available at the Institute’s office. The 1956 Institute has built up contacts among several research institutes in the region and elsewhere in Europe and America. Since 2008 it has been an active representative of Hungarian scholarship in the international efforts to set up the Institute of European Memory, and more recently the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. We have worked regularly with the Research Institute for Totalitarian Regimes in Prague, the Polish and Slovak Institutes of National Remembrance, Slovenia’s Study Center for National Reconcilation, Romania’s ICCMER, the German Stiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur, the National Security Archive and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project in Washington DC etc. A report by the Council of Europe on study of how the memory of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes in Europe is dealt with in member-states ( http://www.ipp.csic.es/sites/default/files/IPP/proyectos/pdf/ESTUDIO.PDF_.pdf) named the Institute as the most important research body in Hungary to address the question.