Thursday, 23 October 1986

Hungarian Revolution, Oct. 23 1956

Oct. 30 1956 3000 Hungarian revolutionists fought Soviet tanks out of Budapest into the countryside, using Molotov cocktails and machine pistols, and took control of government.  Nov. 1 Soviets gave (false) assurances they would not invade.  Hungary declared neutrality, withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and requested the UN defend Hungary's neutrality.  Nov. 3 a delegation of Hungarian politicians were invited to a negotiation for Soviet withdrawal at the Soviet Command and were arrested at around 12 midnight.

Nov. 4 USSR sent (Warsaw Pact joint force) 150 000 soldiers and 2500 tanks and crushed the uprising.  The Soviets chose a leader to replace Hungary's coalition cabinet.  21 000 Hungarians were imprisoned, 13 000 interned, and 230 executed after trial, including legal Prime Minister Nagy (executed 1958).  Hungary was administered from Russia until it was contained, after which a general amnesty was given to prisoners.  By 1957 all public opposition had ceased.  Public discussion of the revolution was suppressed (until the 80's).

After WWII the USSR had occupied Hungary.  Hungary became a Soviet Satellite.  100 000 Hungarians were imprisoned and 2000 executed.  1948-56 350 000 Hungarians were purged.  600 000 were deported to Soviet labor camps (200 000 died).

During WWII Hungary had sided with Germany and attacked deep into Russia.  When the Soviets turned the tide, they advanced and took Budapest, where they remained militarily until they purged the last of the Germany-supporting Hungarians.  In elections 1945 Communists won 17% of the vote, and the Independent Smallholders 57%.  The Soviet commander did not allow the Smallholders to form a government, instead establishing a coalition with some key positions given to Communists.  The Hungarian monarchy was abolished and a Republic of Hungary announced.  The gradual takeover by Communists resulted in 1949 in the People's Republic of Hungary.  Soviet troops remained as part of a "mutual assistance treaty."

The uprising was triggered by a day of what began as peaceful demonstrations.  20 000 protesters convened at a statue of a Hungarian hero and listened to a manifesto of desires and sang a censored protest song.  At 6 p.m. that day 200 000 gathered at Parliament.  At 8 p.m. the government broadcast a condemnation of the students' demands--including withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and joining the UN.  Some protesters hauled down a statue of Stalin. A delegation of students entered Radio Budapest to announce their demands.  They were detained inside and when demonstrators outside demanded their release police fired on them.  Violence erupted.  Hungarian troops sent to relieve political police sided with the Hungarians.  News of these events led to Budapest-wide outbreaks, then to Hungary-wide militias.  Government collapsed and local workers councils took over office.

1956 Melbourne Olympics Spain, Netherlands, and Switzerland boycotted the Olympics because of the USSR's handling of Hungary.  Norway declined an invitation to the Bandy World Championship in 1957 because the USSR was also invited.  Worldwide Communist parties became split over whether or not they viewed Hungarians as counter-revolutionaries and thousands of members left Communist parties in non-communist countries, sometimes over policies of supporting Soviet actions by their local party.  Intellectuals and writers criticized the Soviets.

Eisenhower and the UN did not intervene in Hungary, although they had in Korea in 1950-53.

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