On October 22, 1956 students, who gathered at Budapest Technical University to protest the hard-line Stalinist government, adopted a declaration which demanded three reforms of the Hungarian Government: to create a free press, to hold democratic elections, and to move the government away hard-line Stalinist policies. The Students also planed a protest for the following day; the next day, a crowd between two hundred thousand (200,000) and three hundred thousand (300,000) people gathered and demanded to hear Imre Nagy speak. Nagy was popular among the crowd because he was considerably less conservative than colleagues in the Hungarian government. Later on that night, some of the more militant factions of the crowd destroyed a statue of Joseph Stalin and tried to seize control of a local radio station from governmental forces, in the fighting that ensued twenty (20) people died.
On October 24th, Communist leaders within the Hungarian government gave into protester’s demands and appointed Nagy Prime Minister. As the rebellion began to spread across the country, however, those same leaders within the Hungarian government made an appeal to the Soviet Union for troops to help quell the growing rebellion. The following day, Hungarian and Soviet troops shot and killed approximately three hundred (300) people demonstrating in front of the Parliament. Soviet troops would remain in Budapest for five (5) days, withdrawing on the 29th.
The day after the Soviet troops left Budapest, rebels stormed the Budapest Communist Party headquarters in Koztarsag Square and appointed new representatives to the government. Thousands of revolutionaries also stormed the nation’s prisons to release political prisoners; the next day additional Soviet troops entered Hungary from the east. The day after Soviet forces enter the nation for the second time, Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and asked the United Nations for assistance in removing the Soviet troops from their boarders.
At dawn on November 4th, Soviet troops attacked Budapest, Kadar declared himself Prime Minister and established a new capital sixty-two (62) miles east of Budapest in the city of Szolnok, and Nagy sought refuge in the Yugoslav Embassy. Within the month Nagy was captured by the Soviet forces and transported to Romania. On December 9th, the new Hungarian government arrested leaders of the worker’s councils; these dissidents were quickly tried in mock courts and executed. On June 16th, 1958 Nagy and three other officials were hung in Budapest.
By Daniel L. Gordon
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
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