The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a consequence of the Cold war, was a revolt in the Hungarian Peoples Republic against the Communist government and its policies which were imposed by the Soviet Union. The uprising began on 23rd October to 10th November 1956.This signified the biggest threat to the Soviet Union over the control of the territory since the USSR forces defeated the Nazi forces' attempt to annex Hungary towards the end of the World War II. The Hungarian revolution is considered one of the darkest moments in the post-World War II period by westerners.
After Soviet Union Dictator Josef Stalin died in 1953, his harsh policies, which he imposed on the Soviet Union and all satellite nations began to collapse. Soon after his death, there were deliberate moves to alienate all socialist nations from the sadistic rule of the Soviet Union.The Stalinist absolutism had disillusioned many people in the Hungarian Peoples Republic. This disillusionment with the socialist ideology of the Soviet Union led the Hungarian people to revolt against it.
Internal and external factors influenced the radical events that led to the revolt in 1956.The United States of America played a major role in the 1956 revolt. The USA was actively supporting pro-democratic groups in Hungary. The adoption of Article 101a about the Mutual Security Bill authorized the US government to spend 100million dollars every year in support of political escapees from the Soviet Union and also support NATO intervention if seen necessary. The external support from Europe also played a major part in the revolt as many countries sided with revolutionary democratic groups. Internally, most of the citizenry were against the oppressive socialist ideology imposes on them by the Soviet Union. This combination of internal and external factors fueled the 1956 Hungarian revolution.
The pressure on the Hungarian government reached the apex in the early 1950's, where students, journalists, human rights activists and writers joined hands in calling for reforms. They were motivated by the USA-USSR truce to establish Austria as a demilitarized country in 1955.Further, the fact that USSR had given in to Poland's reformist demands motivated the Hungarian people seeking more democratic space. Student groups across all nations annexed by USSR began banding together in earnest. The Hungarian revolution began on the 23rd October 1956 when Students marched in the streets of Budapest and to the Parliament buildings. They vandalized a Josef Stalin monument and cut out the coat of arms, a symbol of USSR, from the national flag. Some students, while attempting to invade a radio station to broadcast their demands were detained. The crowds demanded their release, but instead, the State Security Police fired live bullets at the protesters. As the news spread, there was violence and disorder in many parts of Budapest. This marked the beginning of the Hungarian Revolution.
Within a few days after the Revolt had started, it spread quickly over the republic and in the Government was facing imminent collapse. The USSR, through a statement published on 30th October 1956, regretted that the revolution had brought great suffering to the Hungarian people and subsequently deployed their army to Budapest. In the statement, USSR government noted that "on request of the Hungarian People's government, the Soviet Government consented to the entry into Budapest of the Soviet Army Units to assist the Hungarian authorities to establish order in the town." Thousands of Hungarians organized themselves into militia groups and battled fiercely with the State Security Police and the Soviet forces. Radical revolutionists tried to take control of the Municipal administration as they demanded political changes.
The Hungarian revolution was mostly an urban guerrilla war style. At the early instances of the war, fighters stole weapons from the State Security Police. The initial target was to seize radio stations from the control of the backed Soviet government. They knew that ability to broadcast their message and also their propaganda was necessary if they were to succeed in their revolt. The Soviet Union government tried to convince the Hungarian National Army to side with them in the war, but they declined. The army instead joined the freedom fighters in the revolution. The Hungarians had inferior weapons compared to the Soviets. However, they somehow managed to overpower the Soviets at the first battle. By the end of October, the Soviets had started withdrawing from the capital, Budapest. There was minimal fighting as at 30th October, and the Hungarians thought the revolt was over, and they had succeeded in overthrowing the Soviet-backed Puppet administration in Budapest.
On November 4th, 1956, the Soviet military returned to the Capital, Budapest. This time around, the Soviet army had more manpower, and they increased the weaponry at their disposal for use during the Revolution. This caught the Hungarians unawares, and their inferior weapons were no match to the Soviet tanks and military expertise. The re-entry of the Soviet army into Budapest and other towns in Hungary crushed the revolution within days. College students had not given up on the war.They desperately appealed for help from western powers, but they could not get significant backing in the war. Consequently, on 10th November 1956, they surrendered to the Soviets and called for a stop in the confrontation.
There were attempts by the United States and the western powers to convince the United Nations to aid in the war on the side of revolutionaries in the Hungarian Revolution. Their efforts were however rebuffed by Russia, through their representatives in the meeting at the United Nations.Surprisingly, the Hungarian representative backed Russia, and hence the resolution by the western powers was defeated. Peter Kos, the Hungarian representative at the United Nations instead asked for a "declaration of the Government of the Peoples Republic of Hungary by the security council of the UN."Kos also noted that "the events that took place on the 22nd October 1956 and thereafter and the measures taken in the course of these events, were exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction of the Hungarian People's Republic and consequently do not fall within the jurisdiction of the United Nations". This angered representatives of the United States who protested bitterly.
Towards the end of the Hungarian revolution, there were secret negotiations between the Soviet administration and Hungarian revolutionaries to broker a peace deal. As a result of the secret negotiations, some Hungarian prisoners were released .However, the topic as to whether Soviets withdraw from Hungary was not discussed. The Hungarian Revolution, according to the Soviets, was not an actual war. Instead, they wanted to show Europe and America that they were in firm grip of the Eastern side of Europe. This was at the height of the Cold war. The Soviet government defended its actions in Hungary. They issued a statement saying "At the same time, the Soviet Government is ready to enter into relevant negotiations with the government of the Hungarian Peoples' Republic and other participants of the Warsaw Treaty on the Question of the presence of Soviet troops on the territory of Hungary.".This was seen as an attempt by USSR to downplay the humanitarian effects of the presence of their troops in Budapest and the political implications of their continued presence in Hungary.
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 aimed to overthrow the USSR puppet government and establish a communist administration free from the interference by USSR. Imre Nagy, in his words, noted that the uprising was a "fight is the fight for freedom by the Hungarian People against the Russian intervention." However, the Russians crushed the uprising and continued to occupy Hungary. Surprisingly the Soviet government was of the view that the revolution changed nothing and their view of the Hungarian government was the same before and after the revolution. According to the Soviet administration, their involvement was "at the request of the Hungarian people's government " so as "to assist the Hungarian People's Army and the Hungarian Authorities establish order in the city of Budapest."However, this assertion by the Soviets was hypocritical as they intended to crush on any threat to their dominance and show the rest of the world how influential they were in Eastern Europe.
The Hungarian revolution has shaped the history of Eastern Europe in the Post-World War II and the Cold war period. Hungarian people had genuine demands which needed to be addressed.The annexing by the Soviet Union had limited the democratic space in Hungary. The Hungarians were suffering unjustly, and they were victims of circumstances, specifically due to the warring ideologies of capitalism advanced by most of Western Europe and the USA and the socialist ideology by USSR. It is only fair if people who suffered in the atrocities carried out by the Hungarian guerillas, the State Security Police and the Soviet Army are compensated accordingly. The humanity should learn from these defining moments of World history and desist from actions that may interfere with World peace.
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