1956 - The Hungarian Revolution - We Forgive, But Will Never Forget

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the Stalinist government of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956.

It began as a student demonstration which attracted thousands as it marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building. A student delegation entering the radio building in an attempt to broadcast its demands was detained. When the delegation's release was demanded by the demonstrators outside, they were fired upon by the State Security Police (VH) from within the building. The news spread quickly and disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital.

The revolt spread quickly across Hungary, and the government fell. Thousands organized into militias, battling the State Security Police (VH) and Soviet troops. Impromptu councils wrested municipal control from the Communist Party, and demanded political changes. The new government formally disbanded the VH, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped and a sense of normality began to return.

Freedom gained victory over suppression and terror - but only temporarily.

On 4 November, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country. Hungarian resistance continued until 10 November. An estimated 2,500 Hungarians died, and 200,000 more fled as refugees. Thousand were arrested, imprisoned and deported to the Soviet Union, many without evidence. Approximately 200,000 Hungarians fled Hungary, some 26,000 were put on trial by the Kdr government, and of those 13,000 were imprisoned.

By January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition. These Soviet actions alienated many Western Marxists, yet strengthened Soviet control over Central Europe, cultivating the perception that communism was both irreversible and monolithic. It showed the world that communism is not just an incoherent ideology, but also a brutal way of oppressing political and civil freedom, and wrecking the lives of hundreds millions of people.

Public discussion about this revolution was suppressed in Hungary for over 30 years, but since the thaw of the 1980s it has been a subject of intense study and debate. At the inauguration of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989, 23 October was declared a national holiday.

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