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PHOTO/ Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

In 1956, the Hungarian people revolted against the Communist Party, controlled by the Soviet Union. See the photo gallery of the important fight for freedom and democracy.

The flag of the revolution, outside the Hungarian Parliament The flag of the revolution, outside the Hungarian Parliament

In 1956, 56 years ago, from October 23 to November 10, the Hungarian people revolted against their government, the People’s Republic of Hungary, under the control of the USSR. Though the revolt was eventually put down by Soviet troops, it was an important blow to the Soviet Union.        

The revolution began in October when thousands of people, mostly students, took to the streets in Budapest to protest against the regime, calling for greater freedoms and a more democratic system. The demonstrators were eventually fired upon by the Police, which led to the spread of disorder and violence in the city. The statue of Stalin was toppled and Hungarian flags put in his boots. The revolt also spread to the rest of Hungary, with people everywhere organizing militias to fight against the Security forces and Soviet troops.      

The government of Hungary finally fell and the Communist Party, to appease the citizens, nominated Imre Nagy, a critic of the Soviet policies, as the Prime Minister. He called for the Soviet troops to withdraw, and they did, until he announced further reforms, including the dissolution of the Secret Police force, the abolition of the one-party rule, and the withdrawal of Hungary from the Warsaw Pact.         

Soviet troops began to enter the country shortly after and surrounded Budapest by Novermber 3. On November 4, Soviet tanks entered the city to put down the revolution. The resistance continued until November 10, with over 2,500 Hungarians killed. Imre Nagy called on the assistance of the West, but got no response. He was arrested and, two years later, executed for treason. Tens of thousands of others were arrested and hundreds executed.          

Though there was no response from the West, the actions of the Soviets shocked many people, including many Western Marxists, who thought that the leader of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, would not continue the policies and repressions of Stalin. This was another chink in the wall of Soviet influence, eventually leading to the end of the Cold War decades later. Russia, the former Soviet Union, has since apologized for the events of the revolution. October 23 is now a national holiday in Hungary.         

See photos starting on the next page.