Tideal revolt and repression, 1953-1963″ foilsithe ag


The Hungarian Revolution (1956)

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Plean Imlíneach


Define and Justify:

proposed subject of this study is the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against the communist
puppet government of the “Hungarian People’s Republic” and Soviet dictated policies
. The revolution took place over 12 days, from the 23rd of October
to the 4th of November 1956. 
Beginning as an uncoordinated and spontaneous student protest, it
quickly grew into a full-scale uprising and the first major revolt in an
East-bloc country after the establishment of the Warsaw pact.


To further my knowledge and understanding of the
Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and to discover how the USSR responded to this act
of dissidence

Investigate the
reaction the revolution received internationally.

To explore the influence the Revolution had on
other east-bloc countries

Chun mo scileanna taighde a fhorbairt.



Foinse 1,       Litva?n, Gyo?rgy “The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 : reform,
revolt and repression, 1953-1963” foilsithe ag Longman,
London, 1996.

Foinse 2,       Schmidl,
Erwin A. “The Hungarian Revolution 1956
(Elite) foilsithe ag Osprey Publishing , 2006



The intended approach:


Extended Essay


the defeat of Axis Forces in Hungary by the Soviets in 1944, and the end of
World War Two in 1945, Hungary was placed under the control of the USSR. The
country held multiparty Democratic elections in 1945, after which a coalition
government was formed under Zoltán Tildy. The Hungarian Communist Party under
Mátyás Rákosi , a devout follower of Josef Stalin, repeatedly undermined this
government and employed the use of the soviet administrated Államvédelmi
Hatóság, The Hungarian Secret
Police, to impose their ideology. The ÁVH made use of false accusations,
intimidation, imprisonment, and torture to suppress political opposition to
communism. In 1949 The Hungarian Working People’s Party was formed from the
merging of the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party. Due to fear of
the ÁVH, The Hungarian Working People’s Party was the sole political party in
the country and stood unopposed in the 1949 elections.

Mátyás Rákosi became leader of the country and with his reign
the ÁVH became more active. Between 1949 and 1956, 350,000 people were purged
from the Communist party, with another 150,000 imprisoned and 2,000 executed. The
purges combined with hyperinflation due to war reparations, which according to
the Hungarian National Bank amounted to around 20% of national income, caused a
marked decrease in standard of living for ordinary Hungarians. This was further
exaggerated by failed implementation of communist policies by Rákosi’s
Government. In 1950, Rákosi implemented a 5-year plan, based on Stalin’s initiatives
of the same name, in an effort to raise industrial output by “380%”. The plan
backfired dramatically resulting in not only lower industrial, but also
agricultural yields caused by disastorous attempts at collectivisation. Food
shortages caused by these failed initiatives resulted in rationing of common
foodstuffs, such as bread, milk, sugar and meat, well into the 1950s.

With Josef Stalin’s death in 1953 came a slight
liberalisation of the USSR with its new First-Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev. The
more liberal Imre Nagy replaced Rákosi as prime minister, but Rákosi stayed as
General Secretary of the Party and undermined most of Nagy’s work. In 1955
Rákosi had Nagy discredited and removed from the seat of prime minister. On 14
May 1955 the USSR formed the Warsaw Pact, binding most countries in eastern Europe
to it. The pact stated to “respect for the independence and sovereignty of
states”. In the same year, the Austrian State Treaty declared Austria as
Neutral. This gave Nagy the idea of pursuing “the possibility of Hungary
adopting a neutral status on the Austrian pattern”. On the behest of Khrushchev,
in an effort to remove Stalinist elements from satellite governments, Rákosi
was removed from his position and replaced by Ern? Ger?. The loosening of the iron grip on Hungary
emboldened the population of the downtrodden country. Intellectual Forums were
set up by students and writers to debate policy and to discuss how best to escape
the rut that the country found itself in. on October 22nd, students
of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics composed a list of 16
demands and the next day marched along with the Writers’ Union to the statue of
General Bem by the Polish embassy, a hero of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution,
pinning up posters  with the 16 demands
as they went.

At the foot of the statue, on October 23rd,  Peter Veres, Chairman of the Hungarian
Writers’ Union, then read the seven-point resolution of the Writers’ Union’s
Presidium. Among the points were demands for “an independent national policy
based on the principles of Socialism”, the return of Imre Nagy as Prime minister
and a reform of the agricultural and industrial systems. The crowd then marched
to the buildings of parliament by the river Danube, where they met with more student
and other non-student demonstrators, combining into a gathering of around 200,000
people. The huge gathering than split into smaller groups, some marching
towards the main station of Radio Budapest others heading towards the 30-foot-tall
bronze statue of Stalin at Városliget, the city park. First Secretary Ern? Ger? went
on the radio at 8 o’clock that evening to denounce the protests. Further
angered by this, the protestors proceeded to carry out one of the 16 initial
demands made by the students, the removal of the statue of Stalin in Városliget.
A group of workmen brought metal cutting equipment started cutting just above
the boots of the statue. Protestors then pulled it down with cables, all the
while chanting “Russia go home!”. Hungarian flags were placed in the remaining
boots of the statue.

Meanwhile at the Radio Station ÁVH officers who were
guarding the main building arrested students who sought to read out the 16
demands over the airwaves. News spread of the arrests to the crowd outside, and
protestors became more active in trying to storm the building, ÁVH then began
using tear gas on the gathering protestors. After this failed to disperse the
crowd officers fired the first shots of the revolution into the crowd, killing
and crippling many protestors. Several protestors with weapons acquired from
the Radio Station barracks and an intercepted ambulance full of guns and ammo meant
for the ÁVH in the compound, began firing back. The ÁVH then radioed the
Hungarian Army for support. The soldiers arrived and after several moments
spectating the chaos, unwilling to help the regime and harm civilians, cut the
red stars from their caps and sided with the protestors. As the evening drew on
dissent grew and soviet icons and symbols were destroyed where ever they were

That night, Ern? Ger? made contact with the soviet military and
requested immediate support to suppress “to suppress a
demonstration that was reaching an ever greater and unprecedented scale.” Georgy
Zhukov sent support in the form of tanks and troops which arrived at Budapest
in the early hours of the 24th of October. Large barricades are set
up by the armed protestors after soviet troops take up key positions outside of
Budapest. As Soviet forces move into the city they do not actively engage protestors,
some troops even fraternize and openly show sympathy with the revolutionaries. Armed
protestors finally seize the Main Radio Station and more unarmed protestors are
shot by ÁVH guarding the building of Szabad Nép, the main communist newspaper. Most ÁVH officers inside are beaten
by infuriated citizens, and some are lynched. Imre Nagy is named prime-minister
in an attempt to appease the protestors. He pleads over radio for the fighting
to stop, with the government setting surrender deadlines throughout the day.
These deadlines are pushed further and further back until it is clear flashpoints
are emerging throughout the country. By the end of the 24th, Revolutionaries
have captured several large factories in Budapest and skirmishes are reported
in Debrecen, Szolnok, and Szeged.

On the 25th, Imre Nagy replaces first secretary
of the party Ern? Ger? with Janos Kadar. Nagy and Kadar announce that, following
restoration of order, negotiations for withdrawal of Soviet troops will be
initiated. Nagy promises to reconvene parliament and to consider a reform
program and reorganization of the government.