Western dealers are picking over the corpse of communism, snapping up red stars and other memorabilia as fast as Hungary can throw them out.
"All the symbols and relics of the old system, everything we see as wrong, which has painful memories for us and which we would like to forget, have a very high value in the West," the former government daily Magyar Hirlap noted in a recent commentary.
Parliament resisted bids from the United States and France this year to pay for the privilege of removing--and keeping--a 10-foot Communist star that had perched on the Parliament dome since 1950. Winched down in February, that potent symbol is destined for a Hungarian museum.
But smaller stars and other Communist artifacts fast being removed or replaced are commanding high prices, particularly from West German dealers offering hard currency. A 32-inch metal red star ripped from the entrance of a factory or office can fetch well over $2,500, the Hungarian news agency MTI reported.
Small bronze or china sculptures of Lenin are fetching $47 to $70, and uniforms from the Workers' Militia, a paramilitary body disbanded last year after opposition parties tagged it the Communist Party's private army, can be bought for up to $700, including boots and cap.
Even more in demand are military uniforms worn during neighboring Romania's December Revolution.
"Apparently such macabre souvenirs sell for $3,100 each, prompting private Hungarian dealers to buy such uniforms for export to the West," MTI said.