Comparing the Events in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968

Comparing the Events in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968

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Comparing the Events in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968
Both of these events covered the same basic outline; a revolt, reforms
in the country and the USSR’s reaction to these modifications. However
in both cases the situation differed with many similarities and
differences.

Both events started with the same cause, dissatisfaction with
Communism and the restrictions that came with it. Both countries were
bitter about losing their freedom of speech and lived in fear of the
secret police, yet in Hungary this was present on a bigger scale. In
both countries current leaders were forced to resign and received no
support from the USSR. In Hungary this event was repeated as the
leader proceeding Rakosi was no better and public demonstrations
caused a change in government yet again.

Similarly both new leaders proved capable desiring reforms in the
country. In Hungary however, reforms were demanded on a different
level, as the Hungarians had no desire in keeping Communism and
staying in the Warsaw Pact. Nagy’s government wanted free elections,
impartial courts and farmland restored to private ownership. They
wanted the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary and as I mentioned
their withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, as well as to become neutral in
the Cold War. The new American President, Eisenhower, was actually
prepared to support new independent Hungary.

In Czechoslovakia however, current leader Dubcek, new the outcomes of
the Hungarian revolt and so did not want to make the same mistakes. He
specifically told the Soviet leader Brezhnev, that the Czechs have no
intention in leaving the Warsaw Pact as the Hungarians did but less
censorship, more freedom of speech and a reduction in the secret
police. As more and more changes took place there was even talk of
allowing another political party to be set up as a rival to the
Communists, the Social Democrats Party.

In both cases the Soviet response wasn’t a positive one, but different
actions were taken. In Hungary Khrushchev was ready to accept some of

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the reforms but he could not accept Hungary leaving the Warsaw Pact.
In Czechoslovakia the USSR was worried that eventually Czechoslovakia
would also want to leave the Warsaw Pact and these ideas would spread
throughout Eastern Europe like a domino effect. This would cause lots
of problems for Communist leaders who would be expelled or even
executed. In both cases the USSR took a different order of actions. In
Hungary Soviet Troops went in straight away and fighting took place.
The Hungarians did not give in and after 2 weeks an estimate of 30,000
Hungarians were killed. In Czechoslovakia however the USSR tried to
slow Dubcek down. Polish and East German troops performed public
training exercises on the Czech border. No economic sanctions were
placed or the Czechs would ask the West for help. Even though the
tension seemed to ease when Dubcek promised not to leave the Warsaw
Pact, Czechoslovakia was invaded on 20th August 1968. In
Czechoslovakia unlike Hungary however, there was little violent
response although many Czechs refused to cooperate with the Soviet
Union and Dubcek was removed from power.

The end results were similar as well. Both leaders were removed from
power yet Nagy was executed whilst Dubcek just downgraded. In Hungary
Khrushchev placed a new leader, Janos Kadar who crushed all the
resistance and about 35,000 anti-Communists were arrested and 300
executed. He introduced some of the reforms demanded by the Hungarian
people but remained in the Warsaw Pact.

In Czechoslovakia the mood from a pro-Soviet country turned to one,
which resented the Soviets. Ideas of reforms were silences and the
Brezhnev Doctrine took place. This forbade any Communist country to
leave the Warsaw Pact and set up any other government party’s.

Overall in my opinion the basic draw round of both events was similar.
A revolt occurs as people are frustrated with the rule, new leaders,
new reforms and the Soviet negative response with the countries go
back to were they started. When the details come in however situation
begin to different at the level of frustration the type of reforms the
order of actions taken place and so on. I think the situations are
more similar then different though since both countries had the same
basics.
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