The Hungarian Revolution of 1956

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956

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     Following the death of Josef Stalin in 1953, the harsh policies he implemented in not only the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but also its many satellite nations began to break down. There was a movement to distance all of the socialist nations from Stalin?s sadistic rule. In the Peoples? Republic of Hungary, there was much disillusionment with this Stalinist absolutism (Felkay 50). This disillusionment with the Soviet ideal of socialism lead the people of the fledgeling socialist state of Hungary to rise up in revolt, but ill-preparedness and the strength of the Soviet Red Army put down the insurrection within several days.
     Several forces influenced and provoked counter-revolutionary forces in Hungary, both internal and external. Externally, there was support for pro-democratic groups within Hungary, and émigré groups from Hungary(Berecz 15). The United States government implemented several acts to support reactionary groups who fled eastern European countries in the years following World War II. Among these acts was the ?Lodge Act? of 1951, decreeing that 12,500 persons from among these reactionary groups be armed and form a ?foreign legion.? The number was increased in 1955 to 25,000 persons (Berecz 16) The United States government also passed several bills for funding activities of pro-democratic forces within these countries, ?Congress adopted Article 101a of the Mutual Security Bill?it authorized the spending of 100 million dollars annually on financing activities carried out by ?any selected persons who are residing in or escapees from the Soviet Union, Albania, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Czeckoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Estonia? to form such persons into elements of the military forces supporting NATO or for other purposes. (Berecz 16)? All these measures posed a direct threat to the security and the peaceful life of socialist Hungary.
     Internally, several factors lead to the radical events in October of 1956. the forces of the Soviet Union pressed the ideas of soviet communism almost unilaterally, ?the Soviet Embassy supervised all activities in Hungary?Soviet ?experts? were present in all important agencies (Felkay 45).? The communist regime in Hungary wanted to remake Hungary in the image of the Soviet Union, ?the newly elected Peoples? Front adopted a new Hungarian Constitution , almost an exact copy of the Soviet Constitution of 1936 (Felkay 43).? Such Sovietization was of course aided by the Soviet Union, and it had been a policy of Stalin, to ?aid and support the fledgling Soviet states by any and all means necessary (?

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????????? 1:577).? This lead to a wide-spread anti-Soviet feeling in Hungary and a growing feeling of Hungarian nationalism, and eventually lead to the counter-revolutionary uprising in 1956. ?In the night of the 23rd to the 24th [October 1956]? Soviet aggression provoked an explosion of nationalism?the Russian intervention drew their bonds tighter, crystallized their latent anti-Sovietism, stirred up the already excited people (Sartre 25).? The all-encompassing control of the Soviets and the feeling of inferiority where prime instigators in the uprising, ?in all respects, soviet pressure was resented (Lloyd 28).?
     Hungary as a modern nation-state has only existed since the late 1860?s, when it won autonomy from the Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire (Felkay 10). The fragile nation of Hungary did not last long however, and in 1919, socialist and communist forces took over, proclaiming ?the formation of a Hungarian Council Republic. Bela Kun was to lead the new Communist nation of Hungary, declaring in May of 1919, ?the proletarian revolution can confidently rely on our armies, who have won! (??? 132)? Bela Kun and the communist government only lasted until August of that same year, when western forces occupied Budapest, establishing Miklos Horthy?s military dictatorship, ?to stave off western opposition, Horthy promised the formation of a broadly based government under the ægis of his military dictatorship (Feklay 12).? All of these events lead up to the current state of disfunction in Hungary in 1956 (Feklay 18).?
     The events that took place on October 23rd and 24th started out as a peaceful gathering and rally to voice some concerns and demands publicly (Feklay 59). Some of these demands were removal of all Soviet troups from Hungary, a call for nation-wide elections to determine a new National Assembly, a complete reorganization of Hungary?s economy, the right to freedom of speech and press, that the statue of Stalin, ?symbol of Stalinist oppression,? be removed, and that all foreign symbols for Hungary be replaced by the original Hungarian coat of arms (Gosztony 127-129). At first the demonstration was forbidden, but the government later allowed the to take place, even though its taking place was a forgone conclusion (Felkay 59-60). The demonstration was organized mainly by ?students, workers, soldiers, and intellectuals, many of whom were Communists or former Communists (Lloyd 28).?
     

Bibliography

Berecz, János, 1956: Counter-revolution in Hungary. Budapest:
Akadémiai Kiadó, 1986.

Fehér, Ferenc, and Agnes Heller. Hungary 1956 Revisited. London:
George Allen & Unwin, 1983.

Felkay, Andrew. Hungary and the USSR 1956-1988: Kádár?s Political
Leadership. Westport: Greenwood Press, Inc, 1989.

Gosztony, Peter. Der ungarische Volksaufstand in
augenzeugehberichten. Düsseldorf: Karl Rauch Verlag GmbH, 1967.

Györkei, Jen?, and Miklós Horváth. Soviet Military Intervention in
Hungary 1956. Budapest: Central European University Press, 1999.

Lloyd, Selwyn. Hungarian Uprising, The. An abridgement of the Report of
the United Nations Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary. London: Her Majesty?s Stationary Office, 1957.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Spectre of Stalin. London: Hamish Hamilton,
1969

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