Revolt Revisited--A Study Of The
Hungarian Revolution Of October, 1956
SUBJECT AREA History
THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION
The Hungarian Revolution erupted on the night of October 23,
1956, when a group of peaceful protesters were fired on by the
hated Hungarian Secret Police, the AVH. The revolution continued
for several days and it appeared to the world that the Hungarians
had done the impossible--cut their tether with the Soviet Union
against the latter's wishes.
The Revolution had its roots in the independence movements
of 1849 when Hungary tried to free itself from the Austro-
Hungarian Empire. The effort was thwarted by the reinforecment
of Austria by Russia. But the spark of independence, ignited
then, smoldered for over a hundred years for the conditions to
be ripe again.
The Second World War created those conditions. The Soviet
Union "liberated" Hungary along with much of Eastern Europe. The
Communists exported their Moscow-style ideology into what would
become the Warsaw Pact. In 1944-45, "Moscow-style" meant Stalin,
and it was in his image that most of the East European Communist
leaders were cast, with the one exception of Marshall Tito of
Yugoslavia. Hungary was not an exception. Matyas Rakosi,
strong-arm boss of Hungary, was as ruthless as his mentor in
Moscow. And his rule was sustained by Soviet forces stationed in
Hungary to ostensibly protect lines of communication to Soviet
forces in Austria.
A series of events in the early 1950's changed the equation
in East Europe. In 1953 Joseph Stalin died creating a void in
Soviet leadership. That void was filled by committee and the
posts of Soviet Premier and Party Secretary, heretofore filled by
one man were separated. This then became the rule throughout the
Soviet bloc. In Hungary, it meant Rokosi must share his power
with another--in this case it was Imre Nagy--a Moscow-trained
communist but not of the Rakosi mold.
Nagy became Prime Minister and immediately announced some
sweeping changes designed to place Hungary on an economic "New
Course." Implied in the changes were some liberalization of
Hungarian political and intellectual life. For two years Rakosi,
Party First Secretary fought to neutralize the changes created by
Nagy. Finally, coincident with Khrushchev's consolidation of
power in Moscow, Rakosi moved with vigor against Nagy, forcing
him to "retire." During his tenure however, Nagy had sparked the
imagination of intellectuals who slowly awoke to the stifling
effect that Rakosi had had on intellectual freedom. In fact,
Nagy became somewhat of a hero as he lived quietly in Budapest.
Through the media and in Hungarian literature, the intellectuals
slowly started attacking the Rakosi regime.
In February 1956 Khrushchev lambasted the "cult of
personality" directed against Stalin's memory. This attack
shattered the foundation upon which Stalin clones had been
operating in East Europe. Throughout the Soviet bloc there were
demonstrations against Soviet occupation and against the brand of
leadership that was Stalin's legacy. A new wave of communism
based not on the Soviet model but on local conditions was
sweeping East Europe.
In Hungary Rakosi's days were numbered as his effectiveness
wavered. In July he was forced to resign. But his replacement,
Erno Gero, was from the same school as Rakosi. Hungarian
intellectuals from all walks of life were now openly antagonistic
toward the Hungarian Party and Government. In September,
university students joined the protest and added their exuberant
demands to those of the intellectual elite. Finally, while the
students tried to get thier demands read over Radio Budapest,
with over 200,000 of their countrymen in the streets, the AVH
opened fire on them and the revolt began.
Moscow's envoys replaced the Hungarian leadership and Imre
Nagy was snatched from retirement to head the government. But by
the 24th, the government was in the streets with the freedom
fighters. Soviet tanks and troops, called in with the opening
shots, fought bitter battles against Hungarian freedom fighters
throughout Budapest. The Hungarians held firm however and Soviet
withdrawal from the city was complete by the end of October.
The Nagy government had meanwhile begun to consolidate power
and negotiate with the Soviets for their withdrawal of all forces
from Hungary. But for the Soviets, the Hungarians went too far
when they stared discussing neutrality for Hungary and
repudiation of the Warsaw Pact. A local brand of communism
closely aligned with Moscow may have been acceptable to the
Soviets. What the Nagy government was proposing was not.
By deft diplomatic maneuvering combined with a massive
Soviet military buildup inside the borders of Hungary, the
Soviets were able, on the morning of November 4th, to crush the
Hungarians. Casualties were estimated as high as 25,000. Now
the Soviets were able to accomplish this feat, and why, was a
study in self interest and Machiavellian politics.
The aftermath left Hungary actually stronger than it was
before the revolution. Corruption and inefficiency were exposed
and needed reforms, refused before the fighting, were slowly
emplaced by the government of the incumbent Party leader, Janos
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
A Study of the Hungarian Revolution of October, 1956
Major Charles Christopher Johnson
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
Nearly thirty years have passed since the Hungarian
Revolution of 1956. Relations between the United States and the
Soviet Union have altered only slightly since then, but a new
force, the Third World, has emerged to complicate the equation of
nations. But the world still observes the Presidential
electorial process just as it did in 1956. And similarly, all
therhetoric generated during that process seldom anticipates or
even addresses the real events of significance as they unfold.
The Hungarian Revolution was such an event. The United States'
response was sympathy for the freedom-loving people of Hungary.
The United Nations, which seems less and less likely to
fulfill its charter and the role it was originally intended to
have, did address the Hungarian issue, but just as it fails to
act today, so it failed in 1956.
Even some of the key persons of those late fall days of 1956
are with us still. Certainly in fresh memory is Yuri Andropov,
then Soviet Ambassador to Hungary, who recently died as leader of
the Soviet Union. And Janos Kadar, who played a most interesting
role in the Revolution, is currently head of the Hungarian
Communist Party. They were on the winning side. Those fortunate
enough to make it out of Hungary fared as well as one violently
displaced from home can expect. Others, perhaps 25,000, died in
the frantic effort that was the Hungarian Revolution.
The specific events of the Revolution cover only a few days
and with that in mind, an attempt was made to weave analysis into
the facts and opinions that formulate the "story" of the
revolution. Much of the story is based on either eye-witness
western news accounts or on books written by those who escaped to
the west. The problem with telling a story of a glorious
struggle against the Soviet Union is that it proved difficult to
find unbiased reporting. Certainly the Soviet statements quoted
in the press either proved to be misleading or were clearly
propaganda aimed against the United States. Most of the books
were from the Hungarian perspective. And given the unalterable
facts of the Revolution, it seems obvious that Soviet accounts
would not abound, and if they did, they would be justification
rather than fact.
Finally, there exists a paucity of military analysis of
these events. And this is not surprising given that Soviet
forces never engaged the Hungarian military and engagements that
did develop between the Soviet forces and the freedom fighters
were not fully documented.
The effort that went into this paper was clearly justified
from the author's perspective. This is a compelling story, one
that tugs at the heartstrings of everyone who has ever rooted for
the underdog. And when the freedom of a people is at stake, the
sacrifices made are even more moving. All the while another
drama unfolded, this at the diplomatic level. The twisted
outcome could never have been sold as a novel. In learning all
this, the author, and hopefully the reader, will appreciate that
relations with the Soviet Union, regardless of appearances, can
never be taken for granted.
Table of Contents
Introduction i - ii
I In the Beginning 1 - 35
II The Revolution 36 - 71
III The Aftermath 72 - 75
IV Conclusions 76 - 90
A A Chronology of Events
B Key Personnel
C Fold out operational map
IN THE BEGINNING
Any study of the Hungarian Revolution must take into account
the fabric within which was weaved the complex threads that
culminated in the violent and absolute crushing of Hungary's five
days of freedom. Contrary to the nostalgia buffs, the 1950's
were not carefree times of plenty. Specifically, 1956 was a year
of significant worldwide tension focused in Eastern Europe and in
the Middle East, especially the Suez Canal area. A reading of
any newspaper of the period shows that. October and November
were watershed months that culminated in a Presidential election,
the Olympic Games in Melbourne and the crisis in the Suez, not to
mention the revolution in Hungary and the generally rising tide
of national communism throughout the satellite nations. It is
against this backdrop that this paper will be written. It is
hoped that the reader will have a fuller appreciation of an
event of national will against insurmountable odds that should
serve as a reminder of the value of freedom.
The Hungarian Revolution has been characterized as a demon-
stration that grew into a revolt, then a national rebellion and
finally a war. While it probably never reached the final stage,
it clearly was a movement that bears examination.
The revolt has its roots in 1848. In that year Lajos
Kossuth led Hungary in a revolution directed against the Austrian
Crown. With the aid of Nicholas I of Russia, the rebellion was
suppressed, but the event reflected the feeling of the Hungarian
people for freedom. A direct link between that movement and the
one in 1956 can be appreciated by the simple fact that the great
Hungarian poet Sandor Petofi served as the namesake for one of
the Societies (the Petofi Circle) that advanced the concept,
prior to the October revolt, that greater independence and free-
dom of expression were necessary in an otherwise repressive
Hungarian society. His words from the grave stirred the souls of
Hungarians in 1956:
Magyars, rise, your county calls you!
Meet this hour, whate'er befalls you!
Shall we free men be, or slaves?
Choose the lot your spirit craves!1
A second, significant "connector" between the freedom move-
ment of 1848 and the October revolution of 1956 was the develop-
ment of the Populist movement during the 1930's. The Populists
were an ill-defined admixture of writers, scholars and peasant
intelligentsia that essentially searched for the answers to the
social problems of the day. They "went to the people" with a
platform of land reform but disagreed on the solutions to other
Basically they divided into three factions: the Populists
represented on the right the Anti-Semitics, in the middle the
Hungarian Nationalists, and on the left the more articulate but
less chauvanistic intelligentsia who embraced the "radical" ideas
of democracy, "Danubian Confederism" and an ill-defined
In 1937 the Populist writers founded the March Front. The
Front took the form of "an intellectual club rather than a
political party."4 A recurring pattern of societies and clubs
providing a political forum will reappear. It was the Front that
attracted the attention of Hungarian Communists residing in the
Soviet Union; their chief spokesman, Jozsef Revai, challenged a
basic concept of the Populist movement that it only represented
the peasants and not the workers. The political expression of
the left-wing Populists was the National Peasant Party founded by
one of the March Fronters, Imre Kovacs.
The press of events in the late 30's and the Second World
War precluded much attention to any political movement in Hungary
with the exception of the Government-approved Peasant Alliance
formed in 1941, which was in fact a front for the Smallholders
Party headed by Bela Kovacs.5The Hungarians fought with the
Germans during the war but near the end, the Horthy Government
considered suing for peace with just the United States and Great
Britain. As the policy was unconditional surrender, negotiations
with Russia were also required. By late 1944, the Soviets were
closing in from the east and in fact by August caused the Roman-
ians to defect to the Allied side. The Germans were unable to
respond in that country, but made it clear to Horthy that
Hungarian attempts to do the same would be met by German occupa-
tion as in the Italian situation. As a result, by September 1,
Russian and Romania forces invaded Hungary from the east which
led to the demise of the Horthy government on October 15 and the
formation of a National Council in December. By April, 1945, all
of Hungary was "liberated". Occupation was agreed among the
Allies to have been the responsiblity of the Soviets.
After the war, the Soviet Army remained in the country to
guard the lines of communication to the Soviet Army in Austria.
Along with the Soviet Army came the Hungarian Communists trained
in Moscow, the two most prominent of whom were Matyas Rakosi and
Erno Gero. These two proceeded to organize the Communist Party
and took the reins from the small underground communist movement
headed by Hungarian leader Lazslo Rajk.6 The policy from Moscow
was not the direct takeover of "liberated" countries such as
Hungary, but rather to develop a symbolic national government
from the ruins of the War.
In this vein, the occupying forces called for a coalition
government composed of the four most prominent parties. The
Smallholders, National Peasants, Communists and Social Democrats
formed in Debrecen in December 1944 a National Council which
took control from the defeated Hungarian Government of Admiral
Horthy, who went into exile. While the National Council
represented the government, the communists actually had only one
post of significance: Imre Nagy, a Moscow-trained Communist, but
not in the Rakosi clique, held the post of Minister of Agricul-
ture.7 In fact, in October 1945, when Hungary hosted open
elections, the first in Soviet occupied Europe,8 the communists
only received 17% of the vote.9 However, the thin veil of
"coalition" was soon to be exposed as a communist ploy to gain
ligitimacy. In 1946 the Communists, supported by the occupation
army and more importantly by the Hungarian Secret Police, started
in earnest their maneuvers to consolidate power. "There was only
one organization over which our Party had control from the very
first, and which was never influenced by the political coalition:
that was the AVH. (The Secret Police)."10 The communist drive
against the coalition was centered on the Smallholders Party.
Using false charges of being "anti-democratic", the leader of the
Smallholders, Secretary General Bela Kovacs, was arrested and
jailed.11 The remainder of the Smallholder Party leadership
either left to subverted themselves to the Communists.12 In fact
the Smallhold-ers, who had been so prominent in the election of
1945, were outmaneuvered by the Communists whose success was due
as much to the single-mindedness of communist ideological
purpose as to the more eclectic nature of the Smallholders. The
latter simply were not astute enough to recognize the danger
posed by the Communists who actually kept their obviously subver-
sive tactics from the nation at large.13
A measure of success that the Communists enjoyed can be seen
in the results of the election of August 1947 when the Smallhold-
ers polled but 15.4% of the vote.14 Splinter parties part-
icipated in the election and represented generally where the 1945
Smallholder votes went. In any case, for the Communists this was
the last attempt at political finesse; all opposition parties
were eleminated shortly after the 1947 elections.15
Within the Communist Party the purge of "the opposition"
occurred. Emboldened by Stalin's spectacular attack on Marshal
Tito of Yugoslavia in the summer of 1948, the Muscovite
Communists of Hungary, led by Matyas Rakosi, turned against
"nationalist deviation" embodied by the Hungarian Lazslo Rajk.
While Rajk had been instrumental in the development and employ-
ment of the secret police and their terror tactics while in the
Ministry of the Interior Rakosi recognized Rajk as the same sort
of nationalist as Tito and forced him from his post in August
1948. Whether Rajk and Tito were connected either personally or
in terms of their brands of Communism is uncertain.16 In any
event he represented a threat to Rakosi and in June 1949 Rajk was
arrested and during his trial he confessed to a variety of crimes
against the state. He was hanged in September 1949. Rajk's
death marked the beginning of a general Party purge which evolved
into be the most "vicious of all Satellite intra-Party purges."17
These purges were generally directed at the indiginous members of
the Party. This held true throughout the satellites.18
Hungary at this time was undergoing, to a lesser or greater
degree, the same transformations as were other Soviet satellite
states. Each, Poland, Czechoslovokia, Romania, and East
Germany, could relate similiar tales. The most significant
unifying factor in each would have to be relations that each had
with the Soviet Union, and more specifically, its ruler Joseph
Stalin. Certainly in Hungary Rakosi followed Stalin's lead.
However, in July 1953, Stalin died. The period between that
critical event and the assumption of Soviet leadership by Nikita
Khrushchev was one of repudiation of terror tactics and an intro-
duction of "collective leadership" in the Soviet Union; in this
process many purge victims were released throughout the Communist
bloc. These victims included those who had suffered at the hands
of the Hungarian Secret Police. In an "anti-purge" purge19 the
AVH was shaken up and many of its leaders arrested. In any
event, the real losers in the softening of the Soviet hard-line
were those throughout the satellites who had sided with Stalin.
In recognition of this, and in the wake of the 1953 East German
riots in Pilsen, Rakosi was called to Moscow to be told how
Hungary would be run. He was directed to introduce collective
leadership. This meant he could not hold both Party leadership
and the office of Premier.20 As long as collective leadership was
in vogue, Rakosi followed orders. As directed by Moscow, Rakosi
appointed Imre Nagy, formerly Minister of the Agriculture and
long time critic of Rakosi, to the post of Premier. However, he
retained the more important position of Party leader.
While Minister of Agriculture, Nagy had fallen from
Rakosi's grace in that he opposed Rakosi on the collectivization
of agriculture and the over-emphasis on industrialization. It
appears that Nagy was simply recognizing that the economic condi-
tions in Hungary were different than elsewhere, and therefore
some form of private enterprise system for agriculture and
consumer goods might be more effective.21 From 1949 to 1951 Nagy
was actually removed from the Politburo and in every sense, other
than physical, was just another purge victim. During that period
of internal exile, Nagy worked as a professor of agrarian
economics, became a common sight around Budapest, and may have
been more generally "approachable" than other leading Communists.
In any event, when rioting broke out in 1956, it was Imre Nagy
whose name was on the lips of thousands of young Hungarians.
Nagy, as Premier, initiated a "New Course" for Hungary which
went farther in its reforms than any other East European Satel-
lite. Nagy's anti-collectivism, for which he suffered in 1949,
was now condoned by Moscow; as a result, Nagy's opening remarks
to Parliament on July 4, 1953 reflected his reinforced
position. Attacking Rakosi in nearly all areas, he called for
"We have to realize and admit openly before the country
that the objectives of the increased Five Year Plan in
many respects go beyond our forces, that to pursue them
puts an undue strain upon our resources and...has brought
about a decline in our standard of living...Excessive in-
dustrialization...are in no way justified, especially
since we lack the raw materials. We must...put much great-
er emphasis on...producing consumer goods, so as to be able
to satisfy the growing needs of the population."
Nagy then continued:
"the government will make it possible for kolkhoz (collec-
tives) members to withdraw from the kolkhozes after the
harvest if that is their wish. In addition to this, the
government will also permit the dissolution of the kolkhozes
if the majority desire it."22
Similarly, Nagy opened the door for writers and intellec-
tuals to express themselves more freely and allowed many of those
unjustly exiled to return to Hungary. Furthermore, he promised
police reform and freed many political prisoners. The sum total
of the speech to Parliament and the reforms initiated by Nagy was
to create within Hungary the first faint rays of enlightenment
since before the war.
The ascendency of Imre Nagy bears closer examination. As
will be seen, his role in the uprising was a significant one, but
one which was clouded by his political isolation and his reputa-
tion for liberalism that he may not have intended.
The mere fact that Nagy was launched into the premiership
did not cause his programs to be placed into effect. He had a
very powerful opponent--whether Nagy appreciated it or not--in
Rakosi. The latter had made a career of reading Moscow and his
instincts apparently told him that once the Soviet leadership
situation became stabilized, things would be back to "normal".
Therefore, he was not about to hand over power to someone such as
Nagy on the word of a confused Moscow leadership. Rakosi was
determined to make the ruling of Hungary as difficult as possible
for Nagy until he could regain both the party and government
leadership for himself.
From the outset, Rakosi used the Party to obstruct Nagy.
The Parliamentary Speech would normally have been well publicized
in advance through the Party press. This was especially true in
the case of an address of such great import as was delivered by
Nagy. The broadcast, therefore, took the Party by surprise and
appeared to many that Nagy was exercising significant power to go
outside the Party and, in this case, directly to the listening
public.23 This perception of power ascribed to Nagy would become
a common problem for Nagy during the uprising. In that the speech
had not been editorialized and interpreted beforehand, remarks
directed to kolkhozes caused many to leave the collectives before
the end of the harvest and threw the countryside into chaos.
In order to calm the fears of the Party leadership, Rakosi
called a meeting on July 11, 1953 of the Greater Budapest Party
organization to "interpret" Nagy's remarks. In essence, Rakosi
assured the Party faithful that all was well, that real changes
were not occurring, and that the power still lay within the
Party. Throughout the meeting, Nagy supported Rakosi's views and
lashed out at those who would wreck the collective system by
urging peasants to leave it early.24 Nonetheless, Nagy was bound
to press on for the reforms he felt were necessary. He did this
not as a right-wing reactionary but as a good Communist.
The Hungarian economy, the object and potential benefactor
of Nagy's reform effort, suffered under the terms that Nagy tried
to implement. The "New Course" required that all citizens, the
workers, the peasants and the general populace, understand and
work together in order to bring about economic reform. When Nagy
downplayed the use of police terror, the population reacted as
probably could have been expected. They demanded more and pro-
duced less; hence thousands of peasants left the collectives to
work their own plots. In the city, worker absenteeism increased
and productivity declined. Labor problems, added to the
basically weak economic base of the Hungarian economy which had
been further weakened by the super industrialization of the
Communists, caused significant shortages throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Rakosi-Nagy dualism continued. Rakosi was
the more politically astute and watched Moscow for the signals he
needed to make his move. After Stalin's death in 1953 Beria, the
head of the Secret Police, who had lobbied against Rakosi's brand
of leadership, was arrested and subsequently executed; this elim-
inated in Moscow a staunch Rakosi opponent. Beria's removal gave
Rakosi a convenient "reason" why he was ousted from Government
power in June. Since Beria opposed him, and since Beria was
shown to be a traitor, Rakosi could believe that he was right all
along and that he was only checked by Beria's treachery and that
he would soon be back in total power.25 After June, 1953, other
satellite states also reflected the duality of the leadership in
the party and state. In essence, they were all tiny reflectors
of the Malenkov (Premier)-Khrushchev (First Secretary) relation-
ship in the Soviet Union. As such, Nagy found himself closely
aligned with and supported by Malenkov.26 Not only were they both
in the same respective position, but they both opposed the
program of heavy industrialization. But Nagy's association with
Malenkov became a weakness which would unseat him.
By October 1954 Nagy was at the height of his influence and
popularity. Although he suffered criticism from some Party
members who opposed him, he still could be satisfied that at
least some of his programs were beginning to show results.
Earlier, in May, Nagy had hinted at the formation of a People's
Patriotic Front which would form a close alliance between Party
and non-Party members for the betterment of Hungary. But Rakosi,
while somewhat humbled, was far from defeated. His inuendos
insinuated that the People's Front was being taken over by right-
wing troublemakers and that a "hostile right-wing wave was
sweeping the country"27 Furthermore the general public was
becoming disillusioned with the Prime Minister because they felt
that he was just a pawn in Kremlin politics and any progress he
could make would be discarded when it was felt his services were
no longer required by Soviet leadership.
Rakosi visited Moscow in the winter of 1954 and personally
ascertained in which direction the political currents were going
within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Well briefed by
his Moscow associates, Rakosi recognized that the anti-Malenkov
forces led by Khrushchev would probably be successful; thus upon
his return to Hungary, Rakosi launched renewed attacks on Nagy as
a "rightist deviator."28
By late December, the Rakosi-Nagy feud was an open topic.
Rakosi repeatedly attacked the "New Course" while Nagy, with his
group of supporters (mostly writers and intellectuals), could
offer only bland counterattacks. Either Nagy was too politically
immature to appreciate power politics, or he simply chose not to
engage in them. In either case, clearly the Party was gathering
around Rakosi and against Nagy.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, the anti-Malenkov forces struck. In
the Soviet Union (and Hungary) the arguments were phrased in
ideological form. In a speech delivered to the Central Committee
in January 1955; while not naming Malenkov, Khrushchev attacked
the light industry enthusiasts, clearly meaning Malenkov. In
order to save himself and perhaps rectify his "mistakes",
Malenkov, heretofore a Nagy supporter, turned on him and
denounced the Hungarian leader. The attacks were directed not
only against the economics of the "New Course", but also against
Nagy's anti-Party comments and writings, the basic theme of which
was that general Party membership should help formulate policy--
obviously a rightist-deviant point of view. In trying to defend
himself in front of the Soviet Presidium, Nagy was continually
shouted down. However, rather than deprive Nagy of the Premier-
ship then, he was simply directed by the Party to correct the
"errors" of the "New Course".29 Surprisingly, Nagy refused to
engage in the Communist art of self-criticism; but he would have
enjoyed the chance to openly discuss some of the economic
difficulties of his program, to include Rakosi's subversive
activities, but this was not acceptable to his opponent.30 Nagy
was already marked for removal, however and this occurred a few
months after the removal of his former patron Georgi Malenkov,
who "requested" to be relieved df his duties in February 1955.
With pressure from Rakosi and dwindling support, Nagy re-
fused to resign, desiring instead to be removed. Throughout
March and April, Rakosi cajoled Nagy to recant and resign due to
health. Nagy refused. Finally Rakosi charged Nagy with a number
of specific crimes, including attempting to form an opposition
party to the Communist Party, trying to put himself above the
Party, nepotism and "clericalism", for his daughter had married a
Calvinist.31 On April 18, 1955 the National Assembly met and
discharged Nagy from his post. Further, he was removed from the
Vice-Presidency of the Patriotic Front and expelled from the
National Assembly. Within months he was also expelled from the
Communist Party. Nagy was not arrested, however, but instead
moved into isolated retirement. Rakosi had thought that Nagy was
all but dead and that the retirement would be permanent.
With Nagy conveniently retired due to "ill health," Rakosi
was free to re-establish control of both the Hungarian party and
government. He appointed Andras Hegedus as Premier and restacked
the Politburo with his supporters. Rakosi then reinstituted the
collectives and the placed renewed emphasis on heavy industry.
He was determined to bury the "New Course", but did allow for the
rehabilitation of some political prisoners and continued the
practice of private enterprise among some artisans.
But Rakosi could not have predicted the international turn
of events that made his method of leadership no longer in vogue.
International tensions decreased and, probably much to Rakosi's
chagrin, Soviet-Yugoslav antipathy softened considerably,
culminating in Khrushchev's May 1955 rapprochement. The apparent
acceptance on the part of Moscow of a Communist variant was a
significant threat to Rakosi and his brand of Stalinist-Soviet
Communism for Hungary, a country not at all like Russia. It was
Rakosi, after all, who had lead the Stalin inspired attacks on
Tito in 1949-50 and as a result had incurred Tito's undying
antipathy. The result in Hungary was a rejuvenation of national
communism which was applauded in intellectual circles.32 Mean-
while, Rakosi realized that he had made Tito a personal enemy by
accusing him of being a "fascist, a Western spy and a murderer"33
and had used the trial of Lazslo Rajk to bring these implications
to light. The trend of the tide was not lost on Tito, who in
late July lashed out at Rakosi, accusing his regime of using
terror tactics and staging false trials to implicate
Yugoslavia.34 Rakosi was in a box and knew it. The "Hungarian
Stalin" well understood that his mentor's method was no longer
popular and that he was soon to be left in an exposed position.
In order to avoid being isolated, he needed a new scapegoat.
Should the truth about the Rajk trial become common knowledge,
Rakosi, could have been exposed as a murderer and would probably
have to be removed from office.
On the international scene, a series of events moved Hungary
toward an impasse. On May 15, 1955 the Great Powers signed the
Austrian State Treaty. Heretofore, the Soviets had kept troops
stationed in Hungary to safeguard their lines of communication
to their occupation forces in Austria. The treaty called for the
removal of Soviet troops from Austria and this was done. How-
ever, the Soviets engineered the Warsaw Pact, conveniently signed
the day before, to provide a legal basis for keeping their forces
in Hungary and other East European countries. On the other hand,
the Geneva Summit in July 1955 gave hope that, with the easing of
tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, the East
European nations might achieve the enviable position of Austria,
that of a neutral country. From the Russian perspective,
however, the Western overtures in that direction were recognized
and defeated. Poland, apparently, was especially a target for
removal from the Soviet Bloc, as was the reunification of
Germany.35 In any event, Hungarians perceived this event with
anticipation of better things to come.36
This climate of rapprochement with the West and the easing
of tensions between Yugoslavia and Hungary conflicted with the
one that Rakosi was trying to recreate. Erroneously misreading
the Moscow tea leaves, Rakosi moved with vigor against any
vestiges of the "New Course". This time it was the writers who
suffered. While Nagy was Premier, they had been allowed more
freedom of expression and enjoyed it. They exercised their newly
won freedoms in discussions and in newspapers such as Szabad Nep
and Irodalmi Ujsag by supporting Premier Nagy's programs.37
Furthermore they realized that the show trial of Rajk was in fact
a "tissue of lies".38 In any event, Rakosi moved against both
papers by dismissing editors and journalists and replacing them
with his benchmen.39 However, as no arrests were made, the
writers and journalists continued to move ever so cautiously
against Rakosi. The momentum of the intelligentsia was
gathering. Those who had nearly unanimously supported the Nagy
initiatives, who had learned the truth of the Rajk trial, and who
had been stung with the passion of free thought and expression
were not about to be subverted again. Their fomentations would
lead directly to open rebellion.
To more fully understand the role of the literary intelli-
gentsia and its relation to the people, the government and the
Party, it is important to understand more about this group.
Throughout its history Hungary suffered the invasions and occupa-
tions of innumerable tribes, hordes and nations that kept Hungary
a feudal state until well into the 19th century. Much earlier,
other European nations had enjoyed nation status while the
"feudal organization of land, society and wealth"40 was the norm
in Hungary. In that case the ideas of nationhood became more
than a political evolution, it became a "cause-celebre" for the
writers and poets who embodied the whole concept in myth and
glory and the plight of the peasant.41
The communists appreciated that the role of the literary
intelligentsia as a group was to probe and question, and some-
times even bolster, the views of the party and state. Therefore,
during the early Rakosi years not all writers were surpressed.
Some could be found to sing the praises of the Rakosi regime and
even participate in the villification of those accused by the
Party of "crimes" like those of Rajk. Many writers however, even
the good Communists, were not tolerated and were routinely
arrested and sentenced to long, often unjust, prison sentences.
Just as Rakosi had feared, however, when released they did come
back to haunt him.
When Imre Nagy announced his "New Course", the writers were
strongly encouraged. Those in journalistic and editorial posi-
tions were the first to feel the warm glow of freer expressions.
Others soon emerged from their intellectual hibernation and sang
the praises of the "New Course". As those who had been impri-
soned were released and rejoined their former intellectual
circles, they found a new and different atmosphere. More and
more revelations concerning the fate of their comrades in prison,
and others equally innocent whom many of the officially sanc-
tioned writers had helped send to prison, were becoming known.
Slowly it dawned on the collective body of writers that the
system that they had allowed to go unscathed was truly unjust and
simply the personal, Stalinist interpretation of Hungarian
Communism embodied in Matyas Rakosi. The guilt they collectively
shared is mentioned in several books.
Several examples of this self-criticism emerged shortly
after Nagy's July 4 speech. One poet simply mused about his lack
of perceptiveness to see the plight of the peasant, while another
developed the theme of the peasants leaving the collectives and
turning on the Party committee chairman.42 Slowly the evolution
toward more truth and openness in writing occurred--not without
set-backs, but progressively nonetheless. More and more writers
engaged in the rite of self-criticism through their works. For
That's how we are Sandor, 43
You were sent to Hell by a lying accusation,
And I am now addressing you from the Hell of my guilt,
Since I had believed you guilty.44
"Disillusioned, sharing a deep sense of guilt, the
intellectuals turned to the future."45 The future in this case
would be the rectification of the past sins and lies, and a
continued search for the truth. The truth exposed the flaws in
the system, and with this moral reinforcement, the
intelligentsia began in earnest resuming their traditional East
European role and "bonds between the intellectuals and the people
were restored and a new national unity forged."46
Now emboldened, articles appeared that systematically
attacked the Rakosi regime. In September 1955, the non-Party
literary magazine Irodalmi Ujsag was confiscated (after half its
issues were already sold) and the editor dismissed. Thus began
the Revolt of the Writers.
The Writers Association, which had evolved after the demise
of the "New Course" into a cult of intra-Party opposition,47
forwarded a criticism48 of Party leadership in the area of
artistic freedom. It was signed by the most prominent members
and detailed their grievances toward their perceived anti-
cultural policy of the Central Committee. Furthermore, in an
unprecedented step, seeing that there would be no satisfaction
forthcoming in regard to reparations and punishment for those
responsible in the confiscation of the September Irodalmi Ujsag,
the Presidium of the Writers Association resigned. Heretofore
one resigned only when the Party wanted or forced such action.49
In any event, this was the proverbial "one step too many" for
Rakosi; it may also have been this moment that Khrushchev was
thinking about when he said, "If ten or so Hungarian writers had
been shot at the right moment, the revolution would never have
Intimidated, some members withdrew their signatures but the
more prominent refused. Incensed, Rakosi called a meeting of
Party functionaries from the Budapest area and in the format so
often used for the mock trials, manipulated the assembled
multitude to adopt a resolution condemning the writers. The
twenty or so writers who were there were thoroughly humiliated.
But they were not beaten and more importantly, they were not
arrested. The intimidated leadership of the Writers Association
continued to exert influence from the sidelines, and while there
was a noticeable let-up in devisive articles, they persisted
nonetheless. When the government tried to close down Irodalmi
Ujsag by cutting off its newsprint allowance, it was fended off
by the rejoinder that the paper could not be closed because,
"(it) is now making money for the first time."51 Throughout the
winter, the writers kept a low profile. Their reprieve,
interestingly enough, came when Khrushchev made his famous
address to the 20th Party Congress in February 1956.
On February 24-25, 1956, in a secret and lengthy address to
the Party Congress in Moscow, Khrushchev condemned the "cult of
personality" in moving against the Stalin myth--that the latter
had been without fault, always correct, a military genius and
capable to making all the decisions in running the Party and the
country. Exposed were Stalin's methods of coercion and his
influence on comments that others wrote about him in the realm of
politics, military strategy and tactics, and the economy. While
the full text was not published in the United States until June
452 and never published in toto in Hungary,53 the details became
public and this caused a sensation.
Stalin's methodology, copied throughout the Soviet sphere,
was exposed by a new regime for its faults and outright
culpability in pogroms tantamount to mass murder. And a
surprisingly strong signal was sent regarding Stalin's relation-
ship to Marshal Tito. Had any Party members, especially those in
the East European Bloc, any questions as to which of the strong
personalities was in the end proved correct, the speech sent a
significant signal that Moscow was now backing Tito.
The volume of the signal increased considerably in May when
Khrushchev flew to Belgrade to issue his now famous public
apology to Tito. Any accommodation of "Tijoism" was an anathema
to the old-line Stalinists like Rakosi. In Bulgaria, Vulko
Chervenkov, a Stalin clone, resigned from the post of Party First
Secretary.54 Interestingly enough, in Czechoslovakia, while an
old-line Stalinist Alexei Cepicka was removed from the
Politburo,55 the hand of Antonia Novotny, a tough, uncompromising
Stalin-type, was actually strengthened because it drew into more
heated debate the politics of his chief rival Antonin Zapotocky,
an Imre Nagy type.56 Similarly, in Romania, strongman Gheorghe
Gheorghiu-Dej's regime was in trouble and remained so even after
his rapprochement with Tito; however, he would be strengthened
after the backlash of the Hungarian Revolution itself.57 In any
event, enough trends were apparent for even Rakosi to see the
process of events. Rather than submit, he sought to effect his
own compromise with Tito. Apparently he felt if he could win
over Tito, he could avert disaster from Moscow. In speeches
throughout the Spring of 1956, Rakosi sought to show both his
support for the new trend from Moscow and for Marshal Tito him-
self. Rakosi even pushed for resumption of a stalled economic
agreement with Yugoslavia and it was actually concluded in May.
Hungary agreed to pay 85 million dollars for Yugoslav war
claims.58 The result apparently was not worth the effort. Tito
was unmoved on the issue of Rakosi's removal and so commented to
the Soviet leaders when he visited them on June 1, 1956. When
asked why Tito took a circuitous route, rather than one more
direct through Hungary, Tito replied, "It was precisely because
of Rakosi that I did not want to pass through Hungary."59 On the
subject of Rakosi's leadership, Tito must have been surprised to
find that the Soviets still supported him--if for no other reason
than that no obvious successor was apparently available.60 Then
while Tito visited Moscow, Foreign Minister Molotov, an arch-
Stalinist, resigned his post.
To further inspire Moscow with his earnest endeavor for
reform, Rakosi opened his new Five-Year Plan to public scrutiny.
But all he received was criticism by economists of every ilk. In
essence they tried to show how the sorry state of the Hungarian
economy could be laid at Rakosi's feet for not following their
advice,61 and, inferentially, not giving the "New Course" a
These economists belonged to a newly influential group
roughly classified as the technical-administrative
intelligentsia. It attracted intellectuals from all areas:
students, professionals, government functionaires, the arts and
economists were all drawn together in a loose coalition against
Rakosi. Officially sanctioned as a debating club within the
auspices of the Federation of Working Youth and given the name
The Petofi Circle, it was apparently intended that the club would
serve the government by allowing, under its watchful eye, "open"
debates of contemporary issues;62it thus functioned as a sort of
pressure valve. The Petofi Circle, named after the famous
Hungarian Poet of the 19th Century, began to emerge after June as
the most significant vehicle for social change in Hungary. The
Writers Association, while still active, had a limited sphere of
influence. The Petofi Circle, drawing on a much broader base and
attracting more vehement views, was much more popular. In fact,
by the time the Party realized what kind of monster it had
created, it was too late.63 The Circle had a life of its own.
In a succession of meetings of The Petofi Circle in June,
groups as diverse as philosophers, former college staffers, form-
er partisans and Budapest lawyers met to discuss a myriad of
topics. In one such meeting Mrs. Julia Rajk delivered a highly
emotional condemnation of those who had murdered her husband and
called for their ouster (a clear reference to Rakosi). At the
end of the speech as Leslie Bain reports it, "Then the unbeliev-
able happened. Along with the audience, the Communist officials
on the rostrum stood and gave the Widow Rajk a standing ova-
tion."64 Of future significance, in the crowd of about 2,000, a
third were army officers.65
The Rajk speech on June 19 probably set the stage for the
most significant meeting of The Petofi Circle. On June 27 it met
for nine hours without a break as a succession of speakers arose
and took turns lashing out at the Rakosi regime. Central Commit-
tee members present were attacked to their face,66 and when the
final speaker, Geza Losonczy, delivered comments on Irme Nagy,
many in the audience called "Down with the regime! Long live
Imre Nagy, throughout his quiet "retirement", had been
visited by few friends and kept pretty much to himself. As the
events of the Spring and Summer developed, however, more and more
old associates came around to discuss events of the day. To
many, especially the younger students, Nagy embodied the freedoms
which the Writers Association, The Petofi Circle and others were
demanding. His "New Course" gave many of them the courage to
carry on, by now far beyond what Nagy has envisioned.
Imre Nagy was a Communist but many of the people in the
movements were not just for national communism ala Tito or Nagy--
some were outright anti-communist. Nagy probably would have felt
uncomfortable with this crowd of unsolicited admirers. Nonethe-
less he became their symbol. This is a key point. A symbol is
many things to many people all of whom are wrapped up in the
emotion of what the symbol represents. And so it was for Nagy.
Various groups wanted what Nagy, the symbol, represented, but
which Nagy, the man, couldn't deliver. As for Nagy, he probably
never envisioned himself to be anything more than an obedient
Party servant. Certainly neither Nagy nor his "flock" had a
program (one went too far, the other not far enough) to deal with
the removal of Soviet forces from Hungary and a reorganization of
the political system. As a result, neither knew how to accept
the other when they were thrown together on October 23.
The Petofi Circle meeting of June 27 was chastised in the
Szabad Nep the following day. That same day, in Poznan, Poland,
workers staged a minor rebellion against their government.
Things were becoming dangerous for Rakosi. The Poznan develop-
ment, following as it had on the heels of his own Petofi Circle
bombshell, meant for Rakosi that he needed to retaliate. Police
arrests should have been out of the question under the
circumstances, but Rakosi, insensitive as always to his own
circumstances was appar-ently going to pursue such a course of
action. Among those targeted, incredibly enough, was Imre
Nagy.68 The Petofi Circle was temporarily, closed down and the
Central Committee chastised "bourgeois, counter-revolutionary
views...chiefly organized by a certain group which formed around
the person of Imre Nagy."69 However, in order to show that he
did not intend to resort to the police tactics of his "Stalin"
days, Rakosi once again admitted his complicity with the Rajk
affair, but in such a way as to shift the true responsibility
onto the police. When he addressed AVH leaders in June he was
Clearly, it was time for Rakosi to go. Erno Gero, Rakosi's
Minister of Transportation, attempted to persuade Rakosi to step
down, but the First Secretary refused. The issue was to be
settled by Rakosi's Mecca, Moscow, which sent Anastas Mikoyan on
July 18 to explain to him that his services were no longer
needed. Reportedly, Rakosi could not believe it and telephoned
Khrushchev in Moscow to get confirmation. But the deed was done.
In his remarks of resignation to the Central Committee, Rakosi
cited reasons of ill-health. He then explained his mistakes in
carrying out Hungary's version of the Soviet "new look" and his
lack of quickness in doing what little he did.71 Mikoyan's role
was to carry the news of Rakosi's resignation to Tito. Interest-
ingly enough, he was dispatched to Hungary when the Hungarian
Politburo, alarmed over Rakosi's plans for mass arrests, informed
the Soviet Ambassador in Budapest, Yuri V. Andropov, who called
the Kremlin.72 Apparently Moscow had finally reached the end of
their patience with Mr. Rakosi.
The new Party leadership, with Gero at its head, (and Andras
Hegedus still as Prime Minister) added some new members, the most
important for this study being Janos Kadar, an anti-Stalin victim
of the Rakosi regime. The choice of Gero to lead the Party may
have been a tactical one on the part of the Soviets, while long
range strategy may have been to bring in Nagy. In fact, Nagy met
with Mikoyan on his return from Yugoslavia on July 21.73 In any
event, Gero was perceived as just another Rakosi. "In place of a
bald Rakosi, we got a thin one", was a popular contemporary
saying.74 Kadar, who was elevated to the number two man in the
party, may have been perceived by some as a milder version of
Nagy. If so, this might remove a cog in the pro-Nagy coalition.
However, there apparently was no great support for Nagy by
Kadar75--an item that will come into sharper focus later.
Although a patchwork quilt of former Rakosiites, national
communists and pro-Nagyites now held power, with Moscow's
blessing, it appeared that the medicine had been taken too late
to save the patient. The Petofi Circle was reinstated in
September. Nagy himself was readmitted to the Party in October.
And dispite a resolution by the Central Committee to generally
make the Party more attractive--both to the technical-administra-
tive and literary intellegentsia--events moved Hungary closer to
the outbreak of the revolution.
Interestingly, the parallel events of the Poznan riots and
the "little Poznan"76 Petofi Circle meeting of June 27 were
handled differently by the Soviets. The Polish Stalinist Boleslaw
Bierut's death in March 1956 allowed a milder Stalinist, Edward
Ochal, to take over. As a result, the Twentieth Party Congress
speech of Khrushchev was received by Polish leaders more enthus-
iastically than in Hungary where Rakosi long overstayed his
welcome. But even Ochal took significant criticism and along with
Rakosi, wrote articles in Pravda trying to strengthen his posi-
tions.77 When the events of June 27 and 28 occurred, both the
Poles and Hungarians condemned the acts, but the Poles realized
that there was something to the violence and endeavored to find
the causes. Rakosi, on the other hand, counterattacked. On July
18, the Polish Central Committee reinstated the "Polish Nagy",
Wladyslaw Gomulka. That same date in Hungary, even though Rakosi
was cashiered, his alter ego replaced him. The Poles recognized a
national movement toward greater freedom and the Polish leader-
ship accepted it, thus avoiding a major national disaster
involving Soviet tanks. The Hungarian leader resisted change.
As a result, when both countries experienced similar situations
in late October, the Poles had more experience in the transition
from Stalin to Khrushchev and handled it better than the
On September 8 and 9, delegations headed by Gero and Kadar
left Hungary to meet with leaders in Moscow and Peking. The
timing could not have been worse. Neither returned to Hungary
until October 7. During that month period of time, a new group
emerged on the political scene in Budapest. Although they had an
organization within which to work, the Communist Leaque of
Working Youth (DISZ), and had attended The Petofi Circle
meetings, the students did not represent the leading echelons of
the liberalization movement. Apparently deciding that the DISZ
was no longer representative of their views, many students of
Szeged University formed their own student organization.78 Symp-
tomatic of their many disaffections were the myriad changes
occurring throughout the heretofore stabilized Communist Bloc.
Stalinism was a very simple system. Stalin was the "Great
General, the Great Scientist and Great Benefactor."79 When that
all changed in 1956, so did that which was taught. The confusion
at higher Party echelons ultimately had to trickle down to the
students through their instructors. What was "correct", what was
the truth, and how did one know? The beginning of the fall term
of 1956 gave the students the vehicle to come together, en masse,
to make their voices heard as a body.
Occupying, as they did, a privileged position in Hungarian
society, and considering their numbers and relative political
acumen, they were a voice that needed to the heard. September
was a month where student activty, coincidental with the rein-
statement of Nagy and the trip abroad of Kadar and Gero, rapidly
moved Budapest to a state of relative distress. It was October,
however, that brought with it the final events leading to the
On October 6, significantly the day before the return of
Gero and Kadar, the opening symbolic shots were fired. On that
day, with a crowd of about 200,000 present, Lazslo Rajk was
reinterred. At that moment, it became apparent that the multi-
tude was far beyond the capability of the government to con-
trol.80 It gave the people a feeling of solidarity with one
another, with the spirit of their fallen comrades and with those
of the revolution of 1848.81 It restored their confidence as a
movement, a force to be taken very seriously, and imbued them
with a feeling of power.82 It was a "dress rehersal" for the
events of October 22.83
A week after the Rajk reinterment, Erno Gero, after having
been gone a month and back in Budapest for a week, again left
Hungary, this time for Belgrade. With Nagy's reinstatement, and
the return of some of his former titles, the press was favorably
disposed tot he general trend of events.
On October 17, several university groups issued specific
demands regarding their curriculum. They were rewarded on the
19th by a Radio Kossuth broadcast which said, "(Minister of
Education, Konya) made several announcements...compulsory
instruction of Russian language...will cease...national defense
training will be reexamined...scholarship students will go to
Western countries (not just USSR and Peoples' Democracies)".84
These concessions only resulted in more student demands and the
Szeged University break with the DISZ.
Both The Petofi Circle and the Writers' Association stepped
up their activities. The latter called for a new Party Congress.
This act, unprecedented on the part of a minor faction and
published in Irodalmi Ujsag, "captured the essence of the
Hungarian political situation": bury the past, purge those
responsible and start over with a new, forward-looking Party.85
On the 22nd, students at the Building industry Technological
University in Budapest, gathered in a huge meeting to draft
sixteen points for submission to the government. The first
demand, as it was Petofi's demand of 1848, was the removal of
Russian troops from Hungary. Other demands included installing
Imre Nagy in the post of Prime Minister, general elections,
reexamination of Hungarian-Soviet relations and removal of
Stalin's statue in Budapest Wood's Stalin Square. Finally, the
students proposed to lay a symbolic wreath on October 23 at the
statue of polish General Jozef Bem, who along with Sandor Petofi,
was a hero of 1848.86 The Polish-Hungarian connection, epitomized
by Bem-Petofi, reflected contemporary solidarity with Poland's
own mini-revolution and the unrest sweeping eastern Europe.
On October 19, Wladyslaw Gomulka was returned to the Polish
Politburo and designated Party First Secretary. Jailed as a
Titoist, he had been resurrected after the Poznan riots of June.
If Gomulka was the Polish Nagy, he got his post in a much differ-
ent way. The Party leadership, headed by Ochal, was realy to
turn the reins of power over to the "people's choice", Gomulka.
Backed by the Army and Internal Police, Gomulka took control
without the usual approval of Moscow. Soviet troops were
mobilized and Polish border forces reportedly fired on Soviet
troops near Stettin on the Polish-German border.87 In his address
to the Central Gommittee, Gomulka denounced the "cult of
personality", recognized that there were several means to
achieving socialism and mentioned Soviet and Yugoslav styles, and
ended with the warning that Poles "will defend themselves with
all means."88 The Polish events brought strong Soviet reaction.
Pravda condemned the Polish press expressing shock that "anti-
Soviet utterances resound in this hoarse choir of slander".89
While the Yugoslaves cheered, Messrs. Khrushchev, Molotov,
Mikoyan and Kaganovich flew to Warsaw to influence the action.
Gomulka held firm against the stong line-up and the Soviets
retired on October 21, apparently convinced of Gomulka's support
for the Soviets.
But in Hungary Gero was no Ochal. Meanwhile, in Budapest, a
key issue was whether hungary's movement toward liberalization
would be subject to Soviet influence. John MacCormac, writing in
the New York Times, speculated probably not because Rakosi was
out and Gero in, and because 1) Hungary was far less
strategically important than Poland, 2) Hungary would be a sub-
stantial economic drain on the Soviets, and 3) the Kremlin ap-
peared to have reconciled itself to letting Tito have more in-
fluence with Yugoslavia's immediate neighbors. Interestingly
enough, the campaigning Eisehower, spoke for all America when he
said, "our hearts go out to the Polish People," but was vague on
the issue of specific aid to the Poles. The Republican Party
Platform, formulated in August in San Francisco, called for the
liberalization of Poland and other satellites, but no definition
of "liberalization" was offered.
While there is, on the surface, a stong parallel in the
Polish crisis and the Hungarian one, a key point is worth men-
tion. In Poland, even though the masses supported the move, it
was the Polish Central Committee which defied the Soviets by
placing Gomulka at its head without Soviet approval. In Hungary
the masses revolted not only against the Soviets, but their own
Party leadership as well. Had Imre Nagy been reinstated into the
Hungarian Politburo when Wladyslaw Gomulka was returned to the
Polish counterpart, there is room to argue that the Hungarian
Revolution might never have started.
The face-off won in Poland against the Soviet first string
stirred the souls of Hungarian students, intelligentsia, and
workers alike. Emboldened by the events, The Petofi Circle
published its list of ten demands in Szabad Nep on October 23.
Much like the student demands of the previous day, those of The
Petofi Circle were not concise but reformist in a general sense.
Imre Nagy was again mentioned as a requisite to Communist Party
reform. Also stressed were questions of relations with the
Soviet Union, the state of the economy, foreign trade, factory
self-administration and worker democracy.90 Meanwhile the
Hungarian Trade Union Council debated the decentralization of the
economy and establishment of a profit-sharing system.
Meanwhile the student wreath-laying at the statue of General
Bem was advertised as a silent, peaceful event. In fact they
sought official sanction of their event. Originally granted, the
gathering was later denied by the Minister of the Interior,
Laszlo Piros, citing the need to "assure public order".91 By mid-
afternoon92 the ban was lifted and the crowds, already in the
streets in groups, gathered as one to shout their demands. An
estimated 200,000 students, workers and army personnel gathered
in huge clusters at various parts of the city. A very large
crowd was at Lajos Kossuth Square, in front of the Parliament
Building, demanding to hear Imre Nagy. Elsewhere in Hungary,
speakers openly demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the
release of staunch anti-Communist Cardinal Mindszenty.
When the march was finally approved around 2:30, it was also
announced also the Erno Gero would address the nation that
evening at 8:00 p.m. After the formal events of the day, the
crowds, growing more restive, awaited Gero's words and chanted
stronger anti-Soviet slogans.
Those at the Parliament building, probably unaware that Nagy
was not there, increased their demands to hear him. In fact,
Nagy had just returned to Budapest after his vacation. What the
crowd wanted to hear probably was some stirring anti-Stalinist,
pro-Hungarian diatribe that would satisfy its mood. At the end
of such remarks, there would be some more Hungarian songs, a few
"Russians go home!" and the crowd may have dispersed satisfied it
had had a good day. In any event, Nagy was fetched from his home
by a friend, Tamas Aczel, and driven to the Parliament Building.
Aczel's accound of the event reflected a dawning realization on
the part of Nagy and his closest associates that they were
already behind the pace of events in the city and out of sync
with the demonstrators.93 When he finally reached the balcony
overlooking the square, he looked out on an estimated quarter of
a million of his countrymen who had waited for hours in the
growing cold after a day full of stiring poems, songs speeches
and general Hungarian chauvanism. They doubtlessly were in the
palm of Magy's hand and their hero and leader was about to speak.
In Soviet jargon, the old cliche' "comrade" was the standard
term that recognized one's affiliation in the Party. To address
someone other than "Comrade" was a severe chastisement,
epitomised in a Pravda attack on the young Polish writer Florcak
(who was arguing against the use of the catch-words "Workers of
the World, Unite!") when it addressed him as "Mr." Florcak be-
cause he did not deserve the title "Comrade".94 Imra Nagy,
reportedly extremely nervous and unsure of his position and what
the Party would say if he was too daring in his remarks, opened
his mouth and out came the Communist greeting, "Comrades!".95 The
mood of the crowd instantly changed and throughout the remainder
of Nagy's brief remarks he was booed and rejected by the crowd.96
This appears to be a very key point. Imre Nagy was bouyed
to the leadership of this loose coalition and had, in essence, no
plan to lead it. Nor did the writers or students or workers seem
to have any specific governmental plan that accepted the
realities of political life in Eastern Europe in 1956, realiza-
tion that the West would not rescue Hungary, or aware that the
Soviets were in every conceivable sense firmly enmeshed in
Hungarian political life. The Poles recognized these facts.
Hence, despite their very close ties with the Hungarians and the
parallel developments of their respective "independence" move-
ments, could only sympathize with their Hungarian brothers. The
contrast of events was readily apparent:
"The outcome of the Hungarian Revolution was to
convince the Polish people that their course of
not counting on the West and of striving for a
'modus vivendi' with the Soviet Union was correct."97
After Nagy's fumbled opportunity, the crowd was drawn to the
next event in the bizarre sequence of events that evening. At
8:00 p.m., Erno Gero addressed the nation. Perhaps intentional-
ly,98 Gero's speech inflamed the throngs throughout the city.
Its tone, its stultified Communist jargon, and its accusatory
message drove the people into acts far beyond the original intent
of the day.99 In his remarks, Gero showed an even greater lack of
affinity for the events surrounding him, but unlike Nagy who
simply disappointed the masses Gero attacked them. Calling them
enemies who slandered the Soviet Union and condemning those who
"spread the poison of chauvinism among our youth", he succeeded
in a violent provocation.100 Those near the Radio Building decided
to get their own air time to broadcast the sixteen demands of
their fellow students. (Leaflets had distributed The Petofi
Circle's demands and those of the students, plus several other
groups throughout the city the day before). The Radio Building
was guarded by a detachment of the AVH. When the crowd began to
threaten the building after a student delegation was detained
within, the AVH opened fire on the demonstrators; this action
killed several and wounding many more. This was the moment when
the unrest and frustration of thousands of people turned from
peaceful protest to revolution.101
The Hungarian Revolution followed the classic phases through
which all revolutions pass. In this case, however, the phases
were compressed in time and there for some comment needs to be
made regarding how this revolution moved from the elite level to
that of the mass. The elite refers to those Party members who
could articulate discontent. They were the writers of party
affiliation who, although they were severely chastised and in
many cases imprisoned, still operated with iii the party system and
as such were less vulnerable than those non-party elements who
remained sympathetic but blase' towards the movement. With the
students, because of their diverse origins and the need to remain
inconspicuous or risk jeopardizing their special status as
students, it was difficult for them to find an appropriate forum
to express their discontent. In fact, it was within the auspices
of the party that they were given such fora: the DISZ and the
party-sanctioned Petofi Circle. Finally, the workers were
basically incapable of expressing any criticism until very late
in the pre-revolutionary stage. The intra-party conflicts were
an alien manifestation to which the workers felt either distrust
(for any shakeup in the party would ultimately adversely affect
them) or apathy.102
The "connector" between the elite movement at the high Party
levels and at the mass level was the students. The students had
had the luxury of never having been "purged" as the writers had,
and had not had to suffer the agonizing self-criticism and guilt
mentioned earlier as a trait of the writers' movement. In
essence, they represented a youthful exuberance, a sort of invul-
nerable innocence, or idealist naivetee, that, once mobilized,
became a significant force with its own momentum. If the
masses could not find any commonality with the intra-party
struggles, they could find it in the chauvinistic exuberance of
the student-led demonstrations on October 23d.103
The revolution commenced when the AVH fired on the
demonstrators at the Radio Building. The AVH were trapped inside
and were virtually under seige. Hungarian tanks arrived but the
officers and men soon joined the students.1 Within hours, the
students acquired arms from local armories while chants of "Death
tog the AVH" spread among the crowd. Elsewhere, at Stalin
Square, the huge bronze statue of Stalin was toppled and cut to
pieces by blowtorch. Everywhere throughout Budapest there were
acts of violence directed primarily against the AVH and the
symbols of Soviet domination. A favorite target was the removal
of the Russian star in the center of the Hungarian colors.
Everywhere there appeared flags with holes cut in the middle.
The Hungarian Politburo was in session all evening and
approached a momentus decision. It is unclear exactly when and
who decided to contact the Soviets and request their military
intervention, or even whether it was asked for at all, but this
occurred on the night of October 23 .2 At the outbreak of the
fighting, the Soviets had two mechanized divisions stationed in
Hungary, the 2d at Cegled located 82 kilometers southeast of
Budapest and the 17th at Szekesfehervar, located 65 kilometers
southwest of Budapest.3 Their combined strength was about 20,000
men with 600 tanks and armored vehicles. The Hungarian Army
consisted of ten divisions, two of which were mechanized, and
others consisting of heavy artillery, antiaircraft and airborne
troops.4 The Hungarian Army was officered by many who were
trained in the Soviet Union, and it was built on the Soviet
model and used Soviet arms and equipment, but the Army remained
above all an Hungarian one. It consisted mainly of young draftees
and when they were confronted with the spectre of firing on their
countrymen to defend an uninvited outsider and an unpopular
government, they either threw in with the crowd or remained
passive. If the Hungarian forces considered passivity a help to
the revolution (by perhaps not provoking the Soviets) they may
have miscalculated. By being passive they may actually have
aided the Soviets. This point will be developed later. The role
of the Army in any revolution is generally a key factor in its
success for failue; if outside intervention had not occurred, the
revolution might have succeeded. Certainly without Soviet aid,
the Gero government would have been toppled and the Nagy govern
ment installed in its stead.
The Hungarian Politburo's request for the use of Soviet
intervention is one of many cloudy events surrounding the first
days of the revolution. But, the Soviets actually needed no
formal invitation to send troops, and some argue that had no
official request been made, the Soviets would have been reluctant
to do in Hungary what they did not do in Poland5 It may have been
that when the events got to the point of open fighting, the
Soviet Ambassador, Yuri Andropov, simply set in motion some
preconceived plan.6 It is known that Soviet troops had moved
toward Hungary at the outbreak of trouble in Poland, and that
floating bridges were constructed at Zahony on the Soviet-
Hungarian border. Further, on October 21, Soviet officers were
recalled from leave in Romania and those reserve officers
speaking Hungarian were mobilized.7 Whatever the true sequence of
events that evening, what is known is that the Soviets received
the Politburo's request in the Kremlin on October 24, while at
0200 on that date in Hungary, Soviet tanks had already deployed
At the outset, the Hungarian Army either joined the freedom
fighters, or simply disintegrated into passivity. The police,
both those in Budapest and the Frontier Guards were in sympathy
with the movement and aided with arms and equipment where
possible. These arms generally consisted of small arms but in
some instances actually included tanks and heavy machine guns.
The only armed element to remain clearly on the side of the
government and the Soviets was the AVH; they probably realized
that even to attempt surrender would have invited reprisals
against them from either former prisoners or friends and families
of prisoners, for AVH terror had touched many lives throughout
The battle lines then were drawn very early in the revolu-
tion. The freedom fighters, composed of students, workers and
general populace, aided by some individuals from the Hungarian
Army and the police, were fighting against the AVH and Soviet
tanks. Initially the freedom fighters were an uncoordinated col-
lection of pockets of resistance scattered throughout the city.
While coordination and intelligence sharing was probably done
among the larger groups, they were primarily neighborhood
oriented, receiving support from the local population, and were
extreniely suspicious of anyone not known to them or who had not
fought with them.8 There was no pre-revolutionary underground
planning to organize the freedom fighters. They were simply a
spontaneous outgrowth of the chain of events.9 They occupied
certain buildings, not necessarily the most tactically suited for
the over-all defense of a built-up area, but ones that
represented strongpoints, easily defended against tanks.10
Leaders emerged based on the given composition of the group and
its dynamics. Major leaders did emerge such as Gugely Pongracz
from around the 8th Budapest District, Colonel Pal Maleter at the
Kilian Barracks of the 9th District, "Uncle Szabo" of Buda (the
west bank of Budapest) and the various smaller group leaders of
Csepel (the 22d District), Jozsef Dudas at the Szabad Nep
building and those at Buda Castle Hill.11
If the freedom fighters formed the armed forces of the
revolution, then the Revolutionary Councils performed the admini-
strative functions, especially outside Budapest. In essence,
they supplanted the local Soviet and were variously organized
depending on locality. Sometimes they received local Communist
support; other times not. In most cases these Councils were
formed without resort to bloodshed and some became very powerful
indeed. For example, the National Council for Transdanubia
centered at Gyor talked about setting up an independant
government in Western Hungary. It was only when a delegation
from this council met with Imre Nagy on October 31 that they
decided finally against so doing.12
The question of introducing Soviet troops into a clearly
domestic problem may have caused some concern for the Soviets.
By the Warsaw Pact agreement they had the right to keep troops in
Hungary, but whether they could use them to quell domestic
violence was a stumbling block. On the larger scale, Soviet
intervention might show that its leadership in the Bloc countries
could only be sustained by force. Furthermore, it could give the
impression that the de-Stalinization process had gone too far too
fast, thus damaging the rising star of Khrushchev.13 Drew
Middleton reported in the New York Times from London, for
example, that the British "Wonder whether Khrushchev and Bulganin
can survive in office - or on earth - after the episodes that
have so clearly demonstrated the danger to the Soviet Union of
their 'de-Stalinization' policies in Eastern Europe".
Third World perceptions about Soviet intentions hung in the
balance. The U.S. had been trying to get India, for example, to
recognize the threat of Soviet imperialism, and was satisfied
that their action in Budapest strengthened Washington's argument.
To complicate the issue, other Bloc governments had told of
mounting trouble in their countries. Hungarian minorities in
Czechoslovakia and Romania were a potentially dangerous source of
protest. The Poles were clearly supportive of the Hungarian
On the other hand, Mao Tse Tung reportedly wanted the
"counter-revolutionaries" crushed by the Soviets in quick
order.14 This version differs from the Khrushchev account which
shows that there was great indecision to crush the uprising with
massive force. Mao's representative, Lin Shao-Chi played the
messenger. The Chinese had advised against troops in Poland and
apparently were satisfied they would not be used in Hungary,
until so informed by the Soviets when Lin departed for Peking.15
Meanwhile, informed U.S. sources were reported to have predicted,
"there will be no massive intervention by the Soviet Army."16 The
inability of the United States to accurately predict events in
Eastern Europe was not new in 1956 and has improved only slightly
Meanwhile, the elements of the Russian 2d and 17th
Mechanized Divisions moved into: Budapest. Their mission was
unclear and their intelligence faulty; this resulted in the
rather haphazard engagement of targets by tank guns. Initially,
there was little sustained action against any of the freedom
fighter's strongpoints, but casualties mounted on both sides.
The Hungarians used "Molotov cocktails", bottles of gasoline
whose spout was stuffed with rags which were ignited and which
would explode on contact, to destroy tanks. This weapon proved
very effective. Apparently the lessons of ingenuity and bravery
of the Russian partisans in fighting German tanks were being
applied by the students against the teacher.17 Russian tanks were
not supported by infantry and therefore were extremely vulnerable
in the narrow streets of Budapest. The Russians obviously knew
how to conduct combat in built-up areas, and their lack of ap-
plying the correct tactics here seems to lend credence to the
idea that they were introduced initially to protect Soviet diplo-
matic personnel, property and military installations and not to
crush the rebellion.18
Politically, the situation became very unstable for the Gero
leadership. Several sources comment on arguments taking place
between the various players in the Party, with most of the ani-
mosity directed at Nagy who had just been reinstated into the
Party, and who, because his name was so often chanted by the
demonstrators, was associated with the unrest. From the time he
had given his maladroit remarks on the evening of the 23rd, Nagy
was constantly at Party headquarters. For whatever reason, this
appeared to the masses as if Nagy was supporting the Party and
doing its bidding. Whether he was a "prisoner" or not is ques-
tionable, but there is no doubt that when Radio Kossuth announced
on the morning of the 24th at 0813 that a new government had
formed with Imre Nagy at its head and Erno Gero as Party First
Secretary. The radio then broadcast at 0900 the announcement that
the government, in accordance with the Warsaw Pact, had invited
the Soviets to intervene to quell the "dastardly armed attack of
counter-revolutionary gangs."19 The implication was that it was
Nagy who had issued the request for the Soviet Army. Because Nagy
was at Party headquarters, he was denied free access to the
radio, even as the newly appointed Prime Minister, in order to
clarify the situation. So it was on the first full day of the
revolution that the "ipso facto" leader of the entire nation,
Imre Nagy had been maneuvered by his own inaction and partly by
the forces ranged against him (Gero, Hegedus and Kadar) into a
position of mistrust by the revolutionary forces he was to have
led. The "man of the hour cut a pathetic figure against the
heroism of his people."20
The 0900 Radio Kossuth announcement reflected the events of
the evening of 23-24 October. In a move to stem the revolution-
ary tide, new officials were elected as reported above. However,
the hated Gero was still in control of the Party and so one of
the causes of discontent, the Communist Party leadership and its
paracitic government, was only diluted and not removed. Had
IrmeNagy been more dynamic when given his chance, his appoint-
ment as Prime Minister might have been much more significant
than it was. Cutoff and mistrusted, it would take him days to
shake the stigma of cooperating with Gero and calling for Soviet
intervention. But as the day progressed, the situation in the
streets stabilized and some semblance of normality decended over
part of Budapest. People went about their business on one street
while one block over a tank-freedom fighter battle may have been
However, the seriousness of the situation had not diminished
as reflected by the arrival about mid-afternoon of Messrs.
Mikoyan and Suslov from Moscow. They not only were accompanied
by Soviet tanks, they actually arrived at Party headquarters
inside one! The two Soviet Deputy Premiers found the Politburo
haggling amongst itself and virtually incapable of restoring
order. Mikoyan is reported to have issued Gero a severe
dressing-down, blaming him for all the problems and for
prematurely calling in Soviet forces. Sharing the blame appears
to have been the Soviet Chief of Counter-espionage, General
Tikhonov who favored the request fbr Soviet troops.21
Simultaneous with this meeting Imre Nagy prepared to address
the nation as the new Prime Minister. Apparently he requested to
disassociate himself with the decision to call in the Soviets,
but Mikoyan and Suslov refused.22 Nagy did, however, address
the population via Radio Kossuth and promised "the far-reaching
democratization of Hungarian public life...in accord with our own
National charateristics."23 Further, he authorized an extension
of the automatic death penalty for those involved in the
fighting. Earlier in the morning, Radio Kossuth proclaimed that
all fighting must stop at once and that those who refused would
receive an automatic sentence of death. Now, those who
surrendered before 1400, "would not be tried by the special
By the evening of the 24th, the revolution had spread to
virtually all of the countryside; however bloodshed was minimal.
In only a handful of cases was there significant fighting, the
most serious being in Mosonmagyarovar near the Czech border;
there the AVH reportedly machine-gunned a peaceful crowd
inflicting 80 casualties.25 Elsewhere however, Soviet forces and
their AVH allies were passive, leading western reporters to feel
that in the countryside the revolution had won, and that only the
forces in Budapest needed to gain victory for the revolution to
have succeeded. Near Nichelsdorf, on the Austrian border, Homer
Bigart reported, "the Hungarians seemed fairly confident they had
won their revolution. 'All we fear is the Russian tanks,' one
said. 'But we won't stop fighting until the Russians leave.'"26
On the 25th an event occurred that caused the ouster of Erno
Gero and set in motion a series of maneuvers that resulted in the
initial withdrawal of Soviet troops from Budapest. During a
peaceful demonstration in front of the Parliament Building, thou-
sands had gathered to hear from Nagy in person--this time in
daylight. Soviet tanks were on the scene, but their crews were
reported by a number of sources as having been fraternizing with
the insurgents. Shots rang out from AVH police located atop the
building, which caused general panic--both among the crowd and
the Soviet troops who, thinking that they were being ambushed,
returned fire into the crowd killing or wounding over 300 men,
women and children.27 So repulsed were Mikoyan and Suslov by this
act that Gero was immediately replaced as Party First Secretary
by Janos Kadar. Gero and Hegedus were then spirited away to the
Soviet Union via Czechoslovakia and disappeared from public view.
While fighting continued during the next several days, the
most intense action was on the 27th. Two freedom fighter
strongpoints at Corvin Block and Kilian Barracks were attacked
vigorously by Russian tanks. There is speculation that this was
a show of force on the part of the Soviets preceeding their
withdrawal from Budapest, and in fact this occurred three days
later. Meanwhile concessions were being made to the revolution
on the part of the government. After prolonging the last chance
to surrender to the rebels, the government finally realized that
it could no longer steep the revolution in fascist-counter-
revolutionary jargon and admitted there was a "fratricidal
battle" going on in Budapest.28
The government announced on the 26th sweeping proposals,
many of which simply took into account the events that had
already taken place such as the establishment of workers'
councils. It also announced another amnesty for those who would
surrender, but vowed to "annihilate without mercy" those who
failed to do so by 2200 on the 26th.29 Significantly, the
announcement did not mention withdrawal of Soviet troops. Nor
did it mention the removal of those who were held responsible for
the basic problems throughout Hungary, the "clique of wicked
leaders estranged from the people, who cannot be identified with
the Party."30 Unbeknownst to the people, the leaders of this
clique were in the act of departing Hungary with Mikoyan and
Suslov. As the Communist Party proper started to dissolve, Imre
Nagy could finally move from Party headquarters to the Parliament
Building, thus giving him, for the first time since his speech
there on the 23d, freer access to the situation and to the
As a result of Mikoyan and Suslov's departure, and with room
to maneuver, Nagy announced the formation of a new government on
the morning of the 27th. This government contained a significant
number of familiar Communist names, but since it also included a
number of non-Communists, it appeared to go far in favor of the
rebels. Of most significance were the addition of Zoltan Tildy
and Bela Kovacs, both former Smallholder leaders.
The effect of these changes may have been cosmetic, but
internationally they were of some significance. The New York
Times headlined, "Budapest reports peace talks underway," and
perhaps just as significantly it continued: "West Bids UN Act on
Soviet Intervention."31 The paper also reported Secretary of
State Dulles had offered economic aid to the satellites that was
not dependent on the form of government; this was not intended to
bring the satellites into the Western sphere as military allies,
but was offered in friendship to signify a no-longer divided
Europe. The aid would never reach Hungary. The Soviets used the
diplomatic fora to condemn the United States for its role in
fostering unrest in Eastern Europe, claiming that Washington's
intelligence network had $100,000,000 devoted annually to subvert
the Soviet Union. Prophetically, "this broad-side against
Western 'intervention' clearly lays down the line of counter-
attack the Soviet Union plans to follow in defending its
actions."32 To the Soviet charges Dulles replied, "Tommyrot!"
The freedom fighters continued to refine their stands on a
number of issues. Meanwhile, their demands, and the concessions
made by the Nagy government, while still not in sync, were moving
in the same direction. The revolutionaries demanded a cease fire
and that the government accept the main points of the 23 October
demands.33 The Nagy government met these prerequisites and so
announced on the radio on October 28. At 1320 on that date, a
"general cease fire to stop further bloodshed"34 was announced,
and later Nagy broadcast his government's recognition that the
movement was not "counter-revolutionary", the government would
fully integrate the revolutionary councils into the government,
the AVH would be abolished as soon as order was restored, and the
Soviets had agreed on an immediate withdrawal of forces from
Budapest.35 In fact, the AVH was abolished almost immediately,
not after the restoration of order, and was replaced with a "new,
democratic police"; this was announced on October 29.36
Much has been made about the Soviet withdrawal from Budapest
that was announced by Nagy on the 28th. It probably will never
be known if the true Soviet intent was to simply re-deploy the
two Hingarian-deployed mechanized divisions (the 2d and the 17th)
back to their respective bases, (which would allow the Nagy
government time to organize) or to pull them out of the city as a
blocking force or mobile reserve in order to help other Russian
units coming in from Romania and the Soviet Union. What is known
is that the Soviets were moving forces into hungary throughout
the period 23-30 October. Reports received in London indicated
that the Soviets were reinforcing the two divisions stationed in
Hungary with two more from the Soviet Union.37 The preparations
in Eastern Hungary of floating bridges and the recall of
Hungarian-speaking officers lent credence to these reports.
There were other reports as early as October 24 of Soviet
movement into Hungary via those bridges at Zahony and thence on
to Miskolc and at Nyirbator between Debrecen and the Romanian
border. On the 28th, soldiers were identified from the 32d and
34th Mechanized Divisions, previously stationed at Timisoara and
Arad in Romania.38 Clearly then, the Russians were
reinforcing their original two divisions from the outset;
whether this was based on a decision from the outset to crush the
revolution, or whether just preliminary maneuvering in
accordance with a Soviet operation plan is not known.
Whatever the trigger that set these Soviet forces into
action, they met no resistance from Hungarian forces,, nor, except
in built-up areas, did they experience any ambushes or counter-
mobility activities by partisan forces aligned in the countryside
with the freedom fighters of Budapest and other cities.39 Once
again, the passivity of the Hungarian Army allowed the Soviets
freedom to maneuver at will. As a result, the Soviets were in
a position to meet whatever diplomatic solution finally was ham-
mered out. Return to the status quo would mean merely moving the
Romanian and Ukranian Soviet forces back to home bases and the 2d
and 17th back to Cegled and Szekesfehervar. The decision to
attack in force would equally be facilitated.
It is a comment on the lack of coordination exhibited by the
revolutionary leaders that allowed the Soviets unimpeded maneuver
early in the action. Once in place with their lines of communi-
cations secure, it was too late for any Hungarian force--either
regular army or revolutionary National Guard--to repulse the
strength of Soviet arms. On the other hand, since all sources
agree that the revolution just "happened" and was not planned,
any coordinated defense beyond what actually took place would
have been remark-able, if not miraculous.
The period between the 28th and the 30th found the Nagy
government trying to convince the country that it was in fact in
charge and that the Soviets were withdrawing. But disbelief still
existed: a general strike called in all the industrial centers,
especially Gyor and Miskolc, was in effect. Autonomous provin-
cial governments, especially centered around Gyor, referred to
the Nagy government as that "government of Budapest".40
Target of many of these provincial governments was the
makeup of the Nagy government, which still contained too many
Communists and some old-line Stalinists. However, across the
spectrum, there was generally a movement in the same direction
toward the same goals from the standpoint of "the government"
among all the diverse revolutionary organizations that sprang up
after October 23.41 This very diversity marked a change in the
composition of the revolutionary leadership. While the intelli-
gentsia and university students who spearheaded the changes
demanded of the government, when the movement shifted to a mass
effort they lost influence due to their fewer numbers than in
other councils representating other groups. In fact, the
university students were among the first to leave the street
fighting, lost cohesiveness, and ceased to be a factor in
events.42 The intelligentsia, however, were extremely active
throughout the revolution, in greater proportion than any
Finally, of most significance in this phase, were the young
workers and high school students who made up the bulk of freedom
fighters. Their motivations may have been questionable. and their
military efficacy doubtful, but their bravery was not.44
These were the roving bands who attacked Soviet tanks as targets
of opportunity rather than in any concerted effort coordinated
by, for example, the leadership of Pal Maletar at Kilian
Barracks. Once again, to expect much coordinated effort in the
initial stages of the revolution was folly. However, this is not
to say that there was never any coordinated effort amongst the
freedom fighters at any time during the Hungarian revolution. A
period of consolidation and cooperation would come, but only
after October 30. That challenge will be discussed later.
Meanwhile, it was during this critical period October 28-30
that the United Nations began to debate the Hungarian issue. So
significant was the crisis that the Security Council called a
special Sunday session for the first time since 1950. The item
entitled, "The Situation in Hungary" was introduced by France,
Great Britain, the United States and Northern Ireland pursuant to
the provisions of Article XXXIV of the Charter. Article XXXIV
authorizes the Security Council to investigate any situation or
dispute which might "endanger the maintenance of international
peace and security."45 This Sunday session voted to add the item
to the Security Council agenda at some-undetermined time. It was
added over the protest of Dr. Peter Kos, the Hungarian permanent
representative to the United Nations, who argued that the
situation was "exclusively within the domestic jurisdiction of
the Hungarian People's Republic and consequently did not fall
within the jurisdiction of the United Nations."46 Soviet
Representative Arkady A. Sobolev cited Article II which
prohibits the United Nations to act in "matters which are
essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state."47
To say that Kos and Sobolev were operating in concert might
be overstating the obvious. In fact, one source says that Kos
was actually a Soviet agent, Led Kondirktorov.48 That Kos was
totally out of sync with the Nagy government is reflected by the
report that Nagy "warmly welcomed" the debate.
In any event, the failure of the Security Council to adopt a
specific resolution came as a shock to the freedom fighters in
Budapest,49although it should not have surprised anyone given the
Soviet veto power. All along, the revolutionaries had clung
to the hope of either United Nations or Great Power intervention.
This hope had no basis in fact. From the outset, Eisenhower had
said (as he did for the Poles). "our hearts go out to the
Hungarian people".50 Dulles made it clear that the United States
did not expect Hungary to be an ally. So emphatic were American
officials on the issue of intervention that the Soviets couldn't
help but draw the conclusion that unless the United Nations did
something, they were free to operate in Hungary as they saw
The Soviets recognized this but the freedom fighters did not
have the same access to diplomatic channels and much of their
information came from Radio Free Europe. This institution has
been criticized for meddling in the revolution. Paying "pathetic
homage" to their cause, it used Hungarian exiles (with their own
prejudices) to intrude into the revolutionary events, giving
gratuitous advice and questioning the motives of the Nagy
government.52 The result was that the freedom fighters were led
to believe that the massive might of Western opinion, if not
strength, was behind them. In fact, Washington was merely
sympathetic but powerless to do anything but offer the
aforementioned economic aid to Eastern Europe, an area which did
not lie within the United States' sphere of interest.
On October 28, another crisis of world-wide importance
crowded the Hungarian Revolution out of the headlines. The
Hungarian debate at the United Nations got put on the back-burner
when the Israelis moved into the Suez. On the 29th, the United
States immediately went to the Security Council for action and
that situation was debated almost immediately. It is clear that
the Suez crisis diverted world attention away from the Hungarian
revolution. When Britain and France also landed in Egypt they
drew the wrath of President Eisenhower. This split in the U.S.-
British-French block greatly weakened any condemnation by them of
the Soviet Union's action in Hungary.
A final fact militating against United States involvement
was the pending Presidential election. Election day was November
7 so the late-October uprising placed it on the plates of issues
very late indeed. Considering the general lack of interest in
the United States as regards the Eastern European region, it is
not surprising that the revolution generated so little concern.
Candidates usually tread very lightly on specific issues around
election day and are reluctant to call for any vigorous action
unless public opinion demanded it. Apparently the Suez Crisis
was such an issue. Hungary was not.
In Budapest, there was ample evidence of Soviet troop
withdrawal out of the city. The demands of the revolutionaries,
now echoed-more closely than ever by the Nagy government, ap-
peared to be fulfilled. By the 30th, fighting had virtually
ceased. This day was the key to the revolution: it was the high-
point in the Hungarian struggle, but also was the beginning of
the end.53 On the 30th, efforts were intensified to consolidate
the gains of the revolution and too coordinate efforts of the
government, workers' revolutionary councils and the freedom
fighters. There was growing confidence that the gains paid for
in Hungarian blood would be allowed to stand. Szabed Nep
lambasted a critical Pravda editorial by attacking the Soviet
organ which had claimed that the revolution was inspired by the
west and that it had failed.54 At the United Nations, Shepilov
told western reporters that the Soviets would withdraw within the
next few days and that Soviet troops were ordered not to shoot.
Defense Minister Georgi K. Zhukov, when asked if there had been
Soviet troop reinforcement within the pact 48 hours, responded
that there had been none in the past 64 hours.55 While
technically it may have been true, significant Soviet maneuver in
and around Hungary, had already occurred. Nevertheless, Bill
Jordan reported from Moscow that the Soviet leaders were
preparing their public for concessions to the Hungarian
At the governmental level, Nagy reinstated the multiparty
system to replace the monolithic old one that the Communists had
thrust on Hungary. Accommodation too of the provisional
revolutionary councils took place with a key being the
aforementioned meeting between Nagy and the representatives of
the National Council of Transdanubia (Gyor). When the the latter
were satisfied with the direction of the Nagy regime and that
their demands would be essentially met, a major hurdle toward
reconcilliation was overcome. One of these demands, incidentally,
was to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, and this would be called
for later by the Nagy Government. There was never a coordinated
unity among the various revolutionary councils and the Nagy
government, but there were attempts to do so. Jozsef Dudas,
leader of the Corvin Block, attempted to establish a coalition of
councils under the Hungarian National Revolutionary Committee; he
called for delegates to a meeting on November 2 for such a
purpose as to rival the Nagy government. Dudas instead was
arrested (later released) and nothing came of the move.57
At the military level, consolidation was a matter of life
and death for the revolution. The freedom fighters needed to be
brought under the auspices of the government, but by an organ
devoid of the stigma associated with the Defense Ministry. The
Army had to be reorganized. Similarly, the newly formed police
and Frontier Guards needed some-thing other than the Ministry of
the Interior.58 This new institution was the Revolutionary
Council of National Defense (RCND).
The RCND was organized on October 28 by a group of freedom
fighters and other revolutionary forces from the Army and po-
lice. This group was approved by Imre Nagy and elected General
Bela Kiraly, formerly Chief of the training centers of the Minis-
try of Defense, as its head. Its stated aim was "to organize new
armed forces from the Army, police, workers and youth."59 While
the authority for the RCND had government approval, the Ministry
of Defense, still considered unreliable, had the power to direct
the armed forces. To eliminate this duality, at a convention
held on October 30-31, the Revolutionary National Defense
Cdmmittee (RNDC)60 was established. Held at the Ministry of
Defense but under the auspices of the Revolutionary Military
Council of the Army, over 250 representatives of several organi-
zations attended, including the Revolutionary Insurgent Forces,
the Revolutionary Military Council of the Army, the Revolutionary
Council of the National Police Command and those of the Frontier
Guards. Also invited was the Revolutionary Army Committee of the
Third Motorized Army Group (Hungarian) that replaced the Soviet
units in Budapest.61 General Kiraly was elected Chairman of this
Committee as well as the aforementioned RCND.
One of the first moves of the RNDC was to remove several
Stalinist Army leaders from high "command positions. Generals
Lajos Toth, First Deputy Minister of defense and Chief of Staff,
Ieno Hazi, Ferenc Hidvegi both Deputy Directors of the main
political department, and Istvan Szabo Deputy Minister of
Defense, were removed.62 Secondly, the Committee renamed the
Hungarian Army with its traditional title, Honved. Thirdly, the
RNDC moved forward in the establishment of a new security force
composed of personnel from the Army, police and factory guards to
replace the AVH, and to reestablish the National Guard under the
command once again of General Kiraly. Kiraly stated that the
National Guard was the successor to the "heroic National Guards-
men of the glorious revolution....who smashed the forces of
aggression at the victorious battles of Ozora and Pakozd...in
1849."63 If the implication was that this new National Guard
would do the same, any doubt was removed by a statement issued by
the RNDC which said that they would "oppose, with arms, any
external or internal enemy which set foot on Hungarian soil,"
including the Soviets.64
It was apparent that the reorganization of the military
forces was fairly complete by November 1, but it certainly was
not total. Before being ousted as Chief of Staff, General Toth
was able to redeploy Hungarian forces in Budapest to new posi-
tions and gave them new assignments. This caused confusion and
delay that would not be overcome before the Soviets returned in
force. Kiraly says that the positions from which his forces were
moved were "highly satisfactory" for defending the capitol
against Russian attack.65 He blames the inability to rectify
this situation on the pro-Soviet forces still on the RNDC, who
included Generals Varadi, Szekely and Kana.
Other examples of this so-called sabotage were the division
of Budapest into two zones, the inner and outer, and the
reinforcement from Moscow of the pro-Soviet Hungarian Army
leadership. Nagy approved the divison of Budapest into two
zones, but National Guard Commander General Kiraly only had
control over the inner zone, while Colonel Andras Marton
controlled the outer one. Evidently Kiraly had the idea to
strengthen the outer zone in order to prepare a delaying action
which would serve a two-fold purpose: to hold the Russians out
of the city for up to two days and allow some maneuvering room
and allow the government a chance to escape into exile should
the outer defenses be breached.66
Regarding the influence of pro-Soviet Hungarian Army lead-
ers, apparently the Soviets had a plan of subversion by which
Hungarian officers who were in the Soviet Union were sent back to
Budapest where the pro-Soviet clique placed them into important
positions. Here they were able to keep the Soviets appraised of
plans and efforts on the part of the RNDC and National Guard and
to create so much confusion that some forces were never maneu-
vered into their proper positions. These officers included
General Pal Ilker, given command of the political department of
the army, General Uszta, liaison with the Soviet Command and
Embassy, and the "top spies" General Borbas and Colonel Feher.67
General Kiraly is now a professor at Brooklyn College in New
York. General Kiraly stated that there was no overall plan
published for the defense of the capital in the sense of an
operation plan or order. Nor did he have time to determine his
order of battle, so pressed was he to organize the Guard and
maintain order. However, he did want to move forces from the
inner zone to the defensive perimeter to control tactically
important positions. The bulk of the Hungarian Army, with most
of its armored corps consisting of two mechanized divisions,
(with about 400 tanks) and most of the infantry lay in the
immediate locality of Budapest. However, the pro-Soviet officers
on the staff were able to severely cripple the available combat
power by moving division artillery out of the Budapest area so
that it was unable to play a major role in the defense of
Budapest and otherwise break up tactical units. As a result,
Kiraly probably had no more than a handful of tanks and about 400
troops available to effect his plans.68
Kiraly emphasized that the defense of Budapest was not to be
a repeat of Stalingrad. In other words, there would be no orders
to hold out at all cost. Budapest had already been destroyed in
World War II and no one wanted a repeat of that tragedy; rather a
delaying action would occur for the purposes stated above.69
The delaying action that Kiraly wanted to execute was
dependent on two factors. First, Imre Nagy would have had to
declare war in order for the troops to initiate attacks on the
Soviet troops maneuvering in Hungary and, secondly, the
unfettered ability to communicate with his tactical forces.
Neither factor was present when the second Soviet intervention
commenced on the morning of November 4. Nagy was adamant on the
point of not provoking the Soviets with any military action and
was so concerned with appearances that even something as routine
as discussing Soviet deployment and troop strength was forbidden
around him. As it became clear that the Soviets were in a
position for a final attack on the capital, Nagy still refused to
declare war or let Kiraly do so. Only a declaration of war could
have mobilized the Hungarian forces into action, so indoctrinated
were they not to fire on the Soviets. Attesting to the
discipline of the Hungarian forces was the apparently total
cessation of fighting within Budapest after the October 30.
Considering a bloody revqlution had taken place for several days
before, that was no mean feat.70
Command and control was tenuous at best. General Kiraly
stated that command channels were far from complete and not
secure. Therefore orders issued could be and were subverted by
pro-Soviet personnel. This notwithstanding, the influence of
the pro-Soviet faction was apparently steadily declining while
the government continued to reorganize and the hope grew that the
revolution would be free from Soviet domination.71
The period from October 30 to November 3 was one of hope for
the revolution and of re-ordering relations with the Soviet
Union. On the 30th, Moscow broadcast a statement concerning the
withdrawal of Soviet forces from her satellites and, more broad-
ly, the overall relationship between Bloc nations and the Soviet
Union. It stated that, at the request of the Warsaw Pact, the
Soviet Union would consider withdrawing forces from a specific
country. By making withdrawal dependent on a Pact endorsement,
Moscow shrewdly diluted the ability of any one state to cause
actual withdrawal to take place The broadcast further expressed
the regret that events had led to bloodshed in Hungary, and
concluded with the hope that reactionary forces would not cause
the abandonment of the Communist system. John MacCormac reported
"Victory is near" in the New York Times and Elie Abel was able to
report the release of staunch anti-Communist Cardinal
Also on the 30th Mikoyan and Suslov returned to Budapest
for more meetings with the government and Hungarian party. The
following day Nagy and Minister of State Zoltan Tildy
presented the Russians with a new picture of Hungary, one
which was significantly different than the one they had left
only days before. Not only was there a multiparty
government, but the Communist Party had nearly
disintegrated. Furthermore, Imre Nagy, now emboldened with
the apparent success of the movement and advised by those who
felt they no longer needed Moscow's guidance, constituted a
new force with which Mikoyan and Suslov hadn't reckoned. To
complete the metamorphosis, the reorganization of the armed
forces was continuing apace. But it was Tildy who dropped the
The theme of "Russians go home" was evident in the revolu-
tion from the outset. As the movement matured, the theme was
refined to specific demands, at first directed to Soviet troops
in Budapest but later to all Soviet forces in Hungary.
Renunciation of the Warsaw Pact was the vehicle by which the
total Soviet troop withdrawal could take place. This move was
called for by many different organizations before the 31st, and
the Transdanubian Council made it one of its strongest demands.
As late as the 30th, a five man delegation from Gyor headed by
Attila Szigeti reiterated the importance of repudiating the Pact
and intimated that Western Hungary might renew the idea of an
independent government should Nagy back down on this issue.73
Even his own RNDC, which was created in the early hours of
October 31, adopted repudiation of the Warsaw Treaty, but with
the caveat that the signatory Governments assemble as a
preliminary step;74this was probably an acknowledgement of the
Moscow announcement of October 30 on the subject. Therefore,
when Mikoyan proposed withdrawing those Soviet troops introduced
as part of the contingency forces (e.g. forces beyond those
previously stationed in Hungary as part of the Warsaw Pact)
immediately, and those stationed as part of the Pact by mutual
agreement of the Pact signatories, Tildy rejected the offer. He
countered that all Soviet forces should be withdrawn immediately,
and that Hungary would repudiate the Warsaw Pact regardless.75
While it is apparent from a number indicators that the Soviets
had conceded the gains of the revolution to Nagy and his
government, withdrawal from the Pact and the ensuing declaration
of Hungarian neutrality (a la Austria), was the one step too far.
Several sources, including General Kiraly, tell of the
machinations that the Soviet Politburo underwent in deciding to
intervene militarily in Hungary. Above is the account of the
maneuvering of Soviet forces. It may have been that these maneu-
verings were simply contingency operations against the potential
dangers of the Suez situation, but they probably were part of a
contingency effort for the occupation of Hungary.76 In either
case, Soviet troops were already in position and may have been
the key factor in the decision of the Politburo to intervene. In
the West some commentators assumed that the Soviet Union would
not crush the rebellion because the Hungarians might be joined by
other Bloc forces and because Moscow did not want a crisis in
both the Middle East and Hungary.77 This thinking was fallacious
in the event. Similarly, "world opinion" carried little weight.
The Soviets, perceiving a divided West over Suez and little
concerned over Third World opinion, realized that the last hope
of the rebels was the United Nations. Suez, while not a crisis of
Moscow's but of Washington's, provided the perfect cover for
Russian intervention into Hungary. Under these circumstances,
hindsight leaves little doubt that the revolution would be
crushed to preserve Communism and Soviet interests in Hungary,
with the blame would be hurled at "fascists" and "agents of
foreign espionage services."78
Through the period of October 31-November 1, General Kiraly
received reports from railroad stations, considered a reliable
source of troop movement, that the Soviet forces were in fact
moving out of Hungary. This was the beginning of the ruse,
executed by pro-Moscow elements within the government, to allow
Soviet domination of the revolution. A second element resulted
from the meeting between Janos Kadar, Party Secretary, and
Mikoyan and Suslow on November 1. It is generally agreed that
this was the point where Kadar agreed to form a separate govern-
ment, backed by the Soviets, following the downfall of the Nagy
government. Kadar had already accepted what the Soviets must
have explained to him was the inevitable and agrteed to become
their puppet when he executed his role in the ruse. At the
cabinet meeting held to announce Hungarian withdrawal from the
Warsaw Pact, Kadar launched a diatribe against the Soviets
declaring that he would fight tanks with his bare hands if
necessary. Andropov only listened~79
Yuri Andropov played a key role on November 1. Nagy had
summoned Andropov to protest increasing reports of Soviet troop
movements into Hungary, saying they violated the Mikoyan-Suslov
agreements.80 Further, he informed Andropov of the decision, made
public at the cabinet meeting mentioned above, to withdraw from
the Warsaw Pact and Hungary's intention to declare neutrality
supported by the Big Four and the United Nations.81 Andropov
played the deception perfectly. While acknowledging these
demands, he obfuscated the picture to gain time and lied. When
confronted with the evidence of Soviet movements that began to
appear like reinforcements, Andropov commented that these were
fresh forces only to relieve only..those who had been part of the
intial hostilities. To the news that Soviet troops had occupied
Hungarian airfields, thereby negating the usefulness of the
Hungarian Air Force, Andropov lied that this was simply a move to
facilitate the evacuation of Soviet forces and civilians from the
country as a preliminary to a general withdrawal.
Finally, after announcing the formation of the new Communist
Party, Kadar, last seen in company of Ferenc Munnich at the
Soviet Embassy late on the first, disappeared, not to be seen
again until after the Soviet invasion. The Soviet deception was
On the 2nd, Andropov recommended meeting to negotiate the
Soviet withdrawal. Meanwhile, the Soviets moved an estimated
3,000 tanks and supporting arms into Hungary and formed a ring of
steel around the city of Budapest. This notwithstanding, Nagy
was encouraged by the prospect of negotiations and two delega-
tions were chosen to discuss the political situation and the
military aspects of Soviet troop withdrawal. The political dele-
gation was to meet in Warsaw to discuss political aspects of
withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact and of Hungarian neutrality. It
was to have been composed of Geza Losonczy, Minister of State,
Jozef Korago, Colonel Andras Marton, Ferenc Farkas and Vilmos
Zentai;82 but this delegation would never meet. The delegation
to discuss the military aspects of the withdrawal of Soviet
troops from Hungary consisted of Minister of State Ferenc Erdei,
Major General Istvar Kovacs, Chief of the General Staff, Colonel
Miklos Szucs, Operations Section Chief and General Pal Maleter,
Minister of Defense.
Maleter, hero of the defense of Kilian Barracks, was
catapulted to fame during the revolution. A student of General
Kiraly's at the Staff Academy, Maleter was a Lieutenant Colonel
when dispatched to Kilian Barracks with a section of tanks to put
down the uprising. Appreciating that the freedom fighters there
were Hungarian patriots, he sided with them, became their leader,
and defended the Barracks against some of the fiercest fighting
of the first Soviet intervention.
On November 3, Soviet troop strength had increased from
about five to about 15 divisions in Hungary, sealing most of the
Austrian border and severing all lines of communication out of
Budapest.83 The ease by which the Soviets were able to move
into position was ordained by Imre Nagy's specific orders that E
nothing should provoke the Soviets into committing those forces
into action. At this point, Kiraly was certain that there was no
way to stop the Soviet victory. At best, he hoped that Nagy
would at least allow him to commit the outer defense perimeter of
Budapest to action to delay the inevitable so as to allow the
government a chance to escape.
To the Soviet credit goes the ability to implement and
execute their plan. Potential obstacles were many, including
river crossings, potential Hungarian Army attacks, potential
partisan activity and an ill-defined mission, probably to create
the environment that would allow the Kadar government to take
over. The first two movements of Soviet troops were into
Budapest at the outset of hostilities and into strategic centers
by which fresh troops according to Andropov were relieving
previously committed ones. The second maneuver moved troops out
of the city of Budapest, but into Hungary from border areas where
they were subjected to less scrutiny from the population. (See
Appendix C). They then converged in an area about 150 kilometers
from Budapest in a semicircle that included an area south of the
Matra mountains around Gyorgos, along the Budapest-Debrecen high-
way in the area of Cegled-Szolnok and in the vicinity of the
Dunaujvaros-Kecskemet highway about 80 kilometers south of
Budapest. While some troops moved into the Transdanubian plain,
only in Szekesfehervar was there any consolidation.84
The third Soviet troop movement, started on the evening of
November 1-2, rushed in massive forces from Romania,
Czechoslovakia and the Ukraine. The latter, at Zahony, was the
major avenue of approach but tended to become a bottleneck. The
routes through Czechoslovakia, somewhat more developed than
others, relieved some pressures on the Zahony route. In the
south, Soviet troops moved in from Timisoara, but Romanian routes
tended to overextend the Soviet communications and most of the
movement was from the north and east.
From the Soviet perspective, it was imperative that the
operation be executed with alacrity. Should the Soviet forces
become bogged down, not only would the Hungarians have a chance
to counterattack, but Soviet prestige, already wounded by the
events in Hungary and Poland, might suffer severe damage, thereby
inviting Western aid, intervention or worse yet, a combination of
Western intervention and Bloc support for Hungary. It can be
argued that Prime Minister Nagy exercised the height of naivete
in not recognizing the Soviet maneuvers for what they turned out
to be--the prelude to massive armed intervention. That is per-
haps true, but even in the face of this massive Soviet buildup,
there was hope that armed conflict could be avoided and Nagy must
have known that in the long run a military victory was
Hope lay in two fora. In theory anyway, one was the United
Nations. While Hungary moved to the back burner after the Suez
crisis started, it received a higher priority when the Nagy
government declared its neutrality and its intention to withdraw
from the Warsaw Pact. This reached the United Nations on
November 1 when Nagy requested that Hungarian neutrality be put
on the General Assembly's agenda. The general population learned
of these events by a bulletin broadcast that evening. Many
sources indicated a genuine disappointment on the part of the
Hungarians when aid in the form of some sort of United Nations
action was not forthcoming. Many hoped that a United Nations
delegation would come to Budapest to somehow forestall the im-
pending Soviet attack. Some believed that the Secretary-General
himself was coming. Still others believed that the armed might
of the West was going to freeze the Russians in place. Whatever
the case, there is little doubt of the general belief in the
United Nations' potential ability to disuade the Soviets. It
appears as a case of believing what the populace desperately
wanted to believe. The United Nations report of the situation
says that any of the above expectations were "not very precise",
and "Undoubtedly there was disappointment that the United Nations
as not acting with greater speed and determination."85 (Unlike
what was done in the Suez situation, a cease-fire and possibility
of sending a multinational force). Others, however, would echo
the following view of that organization's actions in the
Hungarian crisis, "that in the case of Hungary, where UNO finds
itself up against a first-class power, the Organization has been
able to do nothing, and has not the slightest intention of ever
trying to do anything...The truth is that in the present stage of
development to refer a crisis to UNO is not to pass the buck but
to throw the buck away."86 The belief that the United Nations
would act was so strong however, that on November 3, both
newspapers and radio carried a story regarding the arrival of a
delegation from it. Newsmen who drove out to the airport to meet
the flight were told that it had to turn back due to bad weather
and land at Bratislava in Czechoslovakia, but that authorities
there refused it permission to land in Budapest. There appears
to have been not a word of truth to the report.
Nagy's other forum for hope was the negotiations for a
Soviet troop withdrawal originally agreed to by Suslov and
Mikoyan and formally proposed by Andropov. These began on
November 3 at the Hungarian Parliament. The Hungarian delegation
was headed by General Pal Maleter. The Soviet delegation was led
by General of the Army Mikhail Malinin, Deputy Chief of the
General Staff and Generals Cherbanin and Stepanov. At 1730 on
the 3rd, an agreement was reached on all points. Soviet troops
would depart on January 15, 1957, but until then the Soviet
forces would be treated as the friends of Hungary and would be
fed and transported by Hungarians means. Also, Soviet war
memorials, which had in some places been desecrated, would be
restored and preserved. These agreements, though concurred in by
all parties, were to be signed by the delegations at another
meeting to take place at Soviet military headquarters at Tokol at
2200 that evening.
The Hungarian Revolution was within hours of being crushed.
At Tokol, isolated on an island in the Danube just south of
Budapest, the Hungarian delegation was cut off from the govern-
ment. Further negotiations proceeded until around midnight when
General Serov, Chief of the KGB, entered the meeting with his
henchmen and arrested the Hungarian delegation. This occurred
despite their status under international law as accredited
negotiators for their government. When the Nagy government could
no longer contact its negotiators, there must have been some
apprehension that a bad situation was about to turn worse.
And what of Janos Kadar, unheard from since the evening of
November 1? Kadar, who had publicly expressed support for the
Revolution and the Nagy government, apparently remained a stead-
fast Moscovite. When events of the revolution, between October
26 and 30 , appeared to be leading toward success with the
Soviets abandoning the Hungarian Communist Party, even Kadar's
pleading could not pursuade Mikoyan and Suslov to request
Moscow's intervention. However, after the eventful meeting at
which repudiation of the Warsaw Pact was discussed, the Soviet
attitude clearly changed. Kadar was convinced that the Soviets
would intervene in force and he simply changed sides to the one
which he perceived to be the winner in a military confrontation.
He left Budapest on the evening of November 1 with Ferenc Munnich
via the Soviet Embassy and went to Uzhgarod, the capitol of the
Carpatho-Ukraine; there he met with others who joined him and
the Soviets in creating a government for Hungary friendly to
Moscow's interests. The Soviets were not amateurs in this
regard and foresaw the need of a government in place to fill the
void created when Soviet forces crushed the Nagy government.
While the Soviets may have wanted Ferenc Munnich to serve as
Prime Minister in order to uphold the post-Stalin principle that
head of government and head of party should not be the same man,
Munnich himself recommended Kadar for that post as well as Party
Secretary. This was acceptable to the Soviets and the new
"regime" was created, taking the name Hungarian Revolutionary
Reportedly, between 0300 and 0400 on November 4, Imre Nagy
was told of the existence of the Pro-Soviet Kadar regime operat-
ing out of Szolnok.88 Events moved swiftly thereafter. Nagy
called a cabinet meeting to discuss the events but at 0505
Munnich broadcast that he and Janos Kadar, Antal Apro and Istvan
Kossa had broken away from the Nagy government. They cited one
reason, to be given time and time again in concert with Soviet
justification for massive intervention: the Nagy government was
unable to control the forces of fascism and counter-revolution
and that they had "decided to fight...fascism and reaction and
its murderous gangs."89 Munnich concluded by appealing to
all, especially Communists, to support "the Hungarian
Revolutionary Worker-Peasant Government and its struggle for the
liberation of the People."90
Apparently during the period from November 4-6, no actual
representatives of the new government were in Budapest and that
Kadar himself may have been on his way to Moscow.91 In any
event, there was no evidence of overt support for Kadar, and
when the Soviets attacked, the issue was purely Soviet might
against whatever Hungarian forces could be mobilized for defense.
The Soviet attack began in the vicinity of Kilian Barracks
and the Corvin Block at around 0500. The Hungarian Army, accord-
ing to General Bela Kiraly, simply dissolved. They had been
outmaneuvered and any opportunities to organize a counterattack
were long since lost. General Kiraly still attempted to get Nagy
to issue a declaration of war to those freedom fighters and
Guardsmen who were at least able to offer some resistance, but
Nagy refused; the Prime Minister said that the attack was a
mistake and that Andropov was with him demanding from Moscow an
explanation.92 Kiraly subsequently reported a major breech of
outlying defensive positions to which Nagy replied, "I don't need
any more reports."93 Finally, at 0520 Nagy broadcast to the
Nation that, "Today at daybread Soviet forces started an attack
against our capitol, obviously with the intention to overthrow
the legal Hungarian democratic government. Our troops are fight-
ing. The Government is in its place."94
Those pathetic words were a hollow tribute to the thousands
who would continue the fight against overwhelming odds. Once
again, within days, Nagy "cut a pathetic figure". The Hungarian
Revolutiona was doomed.
General Bela Kiraly feels that from the moment Imre Nagy
made his broadcast, the Soviet Union and Hungary were at war.
The government may have been in place, but it was not to last.
Under the onslought of Soviet armor, the Hungarian Army dissolved
and appreciable resistance, uncoordinated and in many cases
subverted from within, was over within days. By the November 14,
only isolated pockets of guerrilla warfare remained, while as
many as 200,000 Hungarians were fleeing for freedom.
Imre Nagy had vacated the Parliament Building by the time
Soviet forces reached it. He sought, and was given, asylum in
the Yugoslav Embassy. In mid-November, the Yugoslav Government
approached Kadar with the proposal that Nagy either be allowed to
return to his home, or be authorized to go to another country
under Soviet influence, or renounce his former beliefs and de-
clare for the Kadar government.1 Possibly the Soviets were
pushing the last proposal because should Nagy undergo the ritual
self-criticism, it would then be possible to add legitimacy to
the Kadar government by perhaps placing Nagy in the post of Prime
Minister. If that was the case, they didn't understand Nagy very
well. He might have vascillated in the rush of events surrounding
the Revolution, but he was steadfast in his refusal to "repent".
Later, with Kadar's written authorization, Nagy (and others who
sought asylum with him) were allowed to return home with
immunity. On November 22 when Nagy emerged from the Yugoslav
Embassy he was immediately arrested by Soviet military personnel
and spirited away to an undisclosed location. Imre Nagy was
executed sometime before June 16, 1958, along with General Pal
Maleter and others for their alleged crimes.
The Soviet Military Command virtually ran the country after
the second incursion. Kadar was the Soviet puppet and without
Soviet backing, he was powerless. The Nagy abduction was just
one example. When Kadar tried to form a coalition government in
mid-November, both the Soviet diplomatic and military structure
vetoed the idea. When a general strike was called throughout
Hungary to protest the Soviet invasion, several groups made
withdrawal of Soviet forces a prerequisite for resumption of
work. One such group, the Greater Budapest Workers' Council,
was told by the Soviet Commander-in-Chief General Grebennick that
it was the Soviet Military Command who was in charge and not the
Kadar government, and that he had "the power to force the
Hungarian workers to return to work."2 In fact, the relations
between Workers' Councils and the Soviet Command, over the issue
of resumption of work was a key issue for several weeks after the
end of the revolution. Workers' Councils were harrassed
continually by Soviet troops, with threats of arrest should the
Councils not use their influence to get workers back to work.
Public administration was the same. Revolutionary Councils,
while still in existence, were essentially under control of the
Soviet Military Command. Local commanders issued orders
throughout the country. Typical was one broadcasts by the Soviet
commander of Vas County that "as the local administrative organs
have been unable to maintain order and to secure public
safety..., the Commanding Officer of the city and county has
ordered patrols of Soviet troops to guard public buildings and
The Kadar Government, in an attempt to gain public support
for itself, issued promises that were in essence the Nagy plat-
form but without mention of neutrality or free elections. Free
Socialism as violent revolution. "Ballots were just as effective
as bullets." And while Kadar early announced that the first
objective of his government was "national independence and
sovereignty,"4 it was apparent from the outset that Soviet forces
would remain so long as it served their purposes. In March and
April 1957 Kadar underscored the point when he stated, "Soviet
troops will remain here as long as their presence is needed."5
Other indications of returning to neo-Stalinist days were
evident. Kadar dissolved the AVH (which had already been
dissolved under Nagy), but replaced it with a new security group
known as the "R" group. This group was augmented by other
security forces such as the Security Force Regiments, Mixed
Action Groups, Factory Guards, Frontier Guards and the Militia,
all of which became reinfested with former AVH personnel and
served the same purpose as that force.6 Kadar depended upon these
organizations, and the Soviet Military Command found former AVH
members extremely useful in identifying freedom fighters and
those in the army who had sympathized with the revolution.
Soviet forces emptied jails containing AVH personnel, who in
turn repaid their liberators with enthusiasm.
Even without free elections, Kadar, with Soviet permission,
could have continued to attempt the establishment of a coalition
government. Instead, Hungary returned to the one Party system.
In a convenient rewrite of facts, the Communist newspaper
Nepszabadsag on April 26, 1957, argued that coalition for
coalition's sake was not desireable because it could provide
anti-socialist forces a legal smokescreen within which to
operate, and added that non-Communist forces were unwilling to
Other reforms under Nagy which were abrogated by the Kadar
regime were compulsory study of Russian and of Marxism-Leninism,
and the workers' councils were "reduced to an empty farce."8 The
benefitial impact that these councils had on economic growth then
was largely negated at a time when Hungary needed a strong
economy more than ever. Economic. reforms under the Nagy regime
were also set back, for example, the dissolution of many
collective farms and industrial worker benefits. Kadar supported
these economic reforms initially, in order, probably, to gain
support for his government, but within eight months, collective
farms were increasing, the tax burden increased and industrial
wages cut, and the use of shock-workers and production norms were
Within a year after the revolution, many of the gains made
by the revolution and initially supported by Kadar were gone.
Even the AVH was restored to a place of honor, and the "bourgeois
decadence" allegedly encouraged by the literary elite under the
reform movement was severly restricted. As one author put it,
"Hungary has slipped back into relative obscurity."10
In historical perspective, the Hungarian Revolution was just
another eruption of the natural human passion for liberty and
self-destiny. These freedom movements dot the historical time-
line from the moment early man first fought for his territorial
rights. Some of these seeds of freedom, conceived by the minds
of men capable of entertaining such thoughts, became rooted in
the soil of the masses and bore fruit. Such was the case in
England and the United States. Sometimes the fruit is perverse
and the revoltuion only moves from one form of dictatorship to
another. Such was the case of Nicaragua and Cuba. And of
course, sometimes the sapling is wrenched from the ground before
the buds can open. Unfortunately, this was the case of Hungary.
Eastern Europe was thrust into the limelight in 1956 not
only for the events in Hungary, but for those in the entire
Eastern Bloc. In a sense, Hungary was the climax of a series of
efforts by the various peoples of the region to adjust the yoke
of Soviet domination. These efforts can be described as the
emergence of national communism which, while equal to and
independent of the Soviet Union, was nonetheless communist. The
Hungarians took their effort at national communism one step
farther and sought neutrality through removal from the Warsaw
Pact. Other regional efforts, in Poland and Yugoslavia for
example, sought only to be treated as equals with the Soviets.
When the fateful decision was made in Hungary to go farther, to
move closer to the West and to create a split in the Warsaw Pact,
the Soviets reacted in a predictable way. Their suppression of
the revolution was swift, violent and decisive. It made a
statement to the world, but more importantly to the Soviet Bloc.
The Soviets may be willing to accept changes within the Party
structure of a satellite. They were even willing to accept
greater equality in relations with a satellite. They clearly were
not, however, willing to accept the loss of influence that
Hungary was forcing on them in an area of vital Soviet interests.
Eastern Europe was and remains today a Soviet sphere of influence
and there exists no external power that can change that fact.
The United States, for all its military power and world
influence, will not to go to war with the Soviet Union over the
freedom of the Danubian plain. Where the Soviets might look for
a challenge to their leadership in the area is a collective
effort by several Eastern European countries. Astonishingly
enough, the suggested leader of this collective effort would most
likely be Hungary.
Nearly thirty years after the Hungarian revolution, Hungary
has emerged as a potential regional leader. Janos Kadar, once
reviled as a traitor and a Soviet puppet, was perceptive enough
to realize the inevitability of change and through an
evolutionary process has brought Hungary to a strange mixture of
communism and capitalism - sort of Marx with a MasterCard - where
the profit motive is applied where necessary and bumper crops
lead all other satellite countries. In 1970 Hungary was
postulated as the potential leader of the Danubian Confederation,
a concept not unique in Hungarian history, along with Yugoslavia,
Czechoslovakia, Romania and Austria. What would the Soviet
reaction be to such an event? If the stated aims of such a
confederation were simply trade and cultural in nature, the
Soviets would be hard pressed to find a reason to subdue it. It
would, on the surface, pose no more a threat to the Soviet Bloc
than the European Common Market does to NATO. However, given the
recent history of the area, of which the Hungarian, Polish and
1968 Czechoslovakian episodes are a part, the Soviets would be
forced to find some way to emasculate such a confederation.
The Soviets need not fear an outside threat in the region.
The resolve of the Soviets, if doubted after 1956, was
reconfirmed in 1968 when another fledgling effort at freedom was
smashed by the Soviet Army. The circumstances were similar to
1956, world events were similar (presidential election, Olympics
and young society had moved from the "Wild Bunch" to the hippies)
and the Soviet response was the same. The United States and
United Nations inability to influence the action was the same.
Only in recent events in Poland, where the West would appear to
have even the slightest chance of exerting pressure, do the
Soviets, despite all the rhetoric, appear to be moving with
caution. In 1956 and in 1981 the Poles were astute enough to
deal cautiously with the Soviets because they never expected help
from the West. Perhaps that mutual respect allows Solidarity to
be as influential as it is. On the other hand, in recent memory,
when the Soviets attacked Poland in concert with Nazi Germany and
it brought them in to the most devastating war of all time.
Possibly the Soviets ascribe to Poland the status of being the
symbolic country that, while strongly influenced by Soviet
policy, will not be dominated by them and over which the West
would be willing to commit forces. Polish forces appeared ready
to fight in 1956 (unlike the Hungarian Army) and appear ready to
do likewise at this time.
And what of the United States? Did its inability to help
the Hungarians move it to revamp its foreign and military policy
in the region? Not perceptively. What the events of 1956 did do
was bring about the Eisenhower Doctrine. But it was not the
Hungarian Revolution and Eastern Europe that evoked the January
1957 remarks; it was the concurrent Suez Crisis and the Doctrine
was aimed at stemming Soviet influence in that vital area of
United States interest. The use of armed force was clearly an
option that Eisenhower would entertain. Nearly a quarter of a
century later, President Jimmy Carter would make similar remarks
and spur the creation of the Rapid Deployment Force. In the
final analysis then, it appears that in those areas of economic
and strategic interest, the United States is willing to commit
force. In those areas where the interest is only mild,
Washington is willing to accept the status quo. The Soviets
appear to agree in principle, although their subversive methods
continually attempt to erode regions which are currently in the
United States sphere.
What purpose then did the Hungarian Revolution serve?
Perhaps it can be argued that it disclosed a chink in the Soviet
war machine, that Moscow could never fully count on satellite
armies to fight Soviet battles. This is a potentially important
discovery when we too often ascribe to the Soviets an
invulnerability which they may not deserve. Should war break out
in Europe, just how concerned would the Soviets be about their
southern flank? Enough to divert combat power to the region like
the Germans did in Italy? It is an interesting concept, but one
that may not ever be tested. Of more importance, the revolution
served as the litmus test to measure United States resolve and
Soviet permissiveness. Since that time, with the exception of
events in Czechoslovakia, progress in Eastern Europe has been
evolutionary. The United States was quick to exercise its might
in dealing with its recalcitrant allies, France and England.
Both superpowers appreciated that the events of October -
November 1956 were tests of strength by subordinate powers.
Where the Soviets could act, they did. Where the United States
could exert pressure (and keep the Soviets from acting) it did.
The Hungarian Revolution then resolved very little. Its
major contribution was in revealing the now predictable Soviet
response to crisis. However, those thousands who gave their
lives in those cold gray days of late autumn 1956 made a
statement. Sandor Petofi would have been proud of them, for
they chose as their lot freedom over slavery.
Click here to view image
1 Melvin J. Lasky, The Hungarian Revolution, A White Book (New
York, N.Y.: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957, p. 25.
2 Paul E. Zinner, Revolution in Hungary (Freeport, N.Y.: Books
for Libraries Press, 1962), p. 10
3 Ibid., p. 11.
5 Ibid., p. 13.
6 Lasky, A White Book, p. 15.
7 Paul Kecskemeti, The Unexpected Revolution (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1961), p. 15.
8 Lasky, A White Book, p. 17.
9 Ibid. Other election results were: Smallholders, 57%;
Social Democrates, 17%; National Peasants, 7%.
10 Ibid., p. 19.
11 Lasky, A White Book, p. 17.
12 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 37.
13 Ibid., p. 45.
14 Ibid., p. 48.
15 Ibid., p. 49.
16 Lasky, A White Book, p. 18.
17 Kecskemeti, p. 18.
19 Ibid., p. 31.
20 Ibid., p. 42.
21 Ibid., p. 35.
22 Ibid., p. 44-45.
23 Zinner, Revolution in Hun ar , p. 165.
24 Ibid., p. 166.
25 Ferenc A. Vali, Rift and Revolt in Hungary (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961), p. 100.
26 Ibid., p. 96.
27 Ibid., p. 153.
28 Ibid., p. 154.
29 Ibid., p. 158.
30 Ibid., p. 161.
31 Ibid., p. 164.
32 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 179.
33 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 179.
35 Edward Crankshaw, Khrushchev Remembers, trans. and ed.
Strobe Talbott (Boston, Toronto: Little Brown and Company, 1970),
36 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 180.
37 Ibid., p 176.
39 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 201.
40 Bela K. Kiraly and Paul Jonas, eds. The Hungarian Revolution
of 1956 In Retrospect (Boulder, Colorado: East European
Quarterly, 1977), p. 26.
41 Ibid., p. 27.
42 Kecskemeti, p. 64.
43 Sandor Haraszti, sentenced to death with Rajk, committed to
life imprisonment and finally released from prison. Ibid., p. 66.
45 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 30.
46 Ibid., p. 31.
47 Kecskemeti, p. 67.
48 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 192. Interestingly
enough, the criticism was written by the same "Sandor" mentioned
in footnote 43.
49 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 202.
50 Noel Barber, Seven Days of Freedom (New York, N.Y.: Stein
and Day, 1974), p. 17.
51 Kecskemeti, p. 69.
52 Paul E. Zinner, ed., Documents on American Foreign
Relations, 1956 (New York, N.Y.: Harper & Bros., 1957), p. 201,
53 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 215.
54 Ibid., p. 223.
56 Kiraly and Jonas, ed., p. 114.
57 Ibid., p. 96.
58 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 222.
59 Lasky, A White Book, p. 37.
61 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 220.
63 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 196.
64 Lasky, A White Book, inset p. 30.
65 Lasky, A White Book, p. 30.
66 Kecskemeti, p. 73.
67 Lasky, A White Book, p. 32.
68 Kecskemeti, p. 75.
69 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 231.
70 Kecskemeti, p. 75.
71 Lasky, A White Book, p. 33.
72 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 234.
73 Ibid., p. 235.
74 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 217.
75 Ibid., p. 218.
76 Lasky, A White Book, p. 33.
77 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 205.
78 New York Times, October 22, 1956.
79 Leslie B. Bain, The Reluctant Satellites (New York, N.Y.
The Macmillan Company, 1960), p. 21.
80 Eyewitness account given to the author by Dr. Paul Zador,
then a university student in Budapest.
81 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 247. October 6 was the
anniversary of the execution of 13 Hungarian Army Generals at the
end of Hungary's War for Independance in 1849.
82 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 227.
83 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 247.
84 Lasky, A White Book, p. 42.
85 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, .p. 229.,
86 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 266.
87 New York Times, October 21, 1956.
90 Lasky, A White Book, p. 47.
91 Ibid., p. 48.
92 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 267.
93 Tibor Meray, That Day in Budapest, trans. Charles Lam
Markmann (New York, N.Y.: Funk and Wagnalls, 1969). p. 165.
94 New York Times, October 21, 1956.
95 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 267.
96 Meray, Budapest, p. 170.
97 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 91.
98 Ernest A. Nagy, Crisis Decision Setting and Response: The
Hungarian Revolution, National Security Affairs Monograph 78-1
(Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Research
Directorate, 1978), p.3. Nagy likens the Gero speech to the
99 John L. Sorenson, "Urban Insurgency Cases" (Santa Barbara,
Calif.: Defense Research Corporation, 1965). p. 42.
100 Lasky, A White Book, pp. 51-52.
101 United Nations Report of the Special Committee on the
Problem of Hungary (New York, N.Y.: General Assembly Official
Records: Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 18 (A/3592), 1957),
102 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 199.
103 Kecskemeti, p. 80.
1 UN Report, p. 6.
2 Nagy, Crisis, p. 3.
3 R. B. McConnell, "Conventional Military Force and Soviet
Foreign Policy" (Master's Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School,
1978), p. 95.
4 Ibid., p. 97.
5 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 58.
6 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 277.
7 UN Report, p. 5.
8 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 64.
9 Ibid., p. 66.
10 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 322.
12 Ibid., p. 325.
13 McConnell, NPGS, p. 93.
15 Crankshaw,Khruschev, p. 419.
16 New York Times, October 25, 1956.
17 Sorenson, Urban Insurgency Cases, p. 43.
18 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 256.
19 Lasky, A White Book, p. 58.
20 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 250.
21 Nagy, Crisis, p. 5.
22 Several sources discussed Nagy's attempts to take his
accounts of the issue of calling in Soviet troops to the people.
Whether he was forcefully restrained, or persuaded not to do so,
he did not explain himself until late in the revolt.
23 Lasky, A White Book, p. 59.
24 Meray, Budapest, p. 339.
25 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 261.
26 New York Times, October 29, 1956.
27 New York Times, October 27, 1956.
28 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 288.
29 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 268.
30 UN Report, p. 95.
31 New York Times, October 28, 1956.
33 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 271.
34 Lasky, A White Book, p. 109.
35 Ibid., p. 115.
36 UN Report, p. 96.
37 New York Times, October 28, 1956.
38 UN Report, p. 26.
39 John Gellner, "The Hungarian Revolution: A Military Post-
Mortum", Marine Corps Gazette, April 1958, pp. 53-57.
40 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 294.
41 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 279.
42 Ibid., p. 272.
43 Kecskemeti, p. 110.
44 Gellner, Marine Corps Gazette, p. 57.
45 New York Times, October 28, 1956.
48 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 146.
49 Lasky, A White Book, p. 131.
50 New York Times, October 29, 1956.
51 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 147.
52 Meray, Budapest, pp. 335-336.
53 Nagy, Crisis, p. 10.
54 New York Times, October 30, 1956.
57 Vali, Rift and y.evolt. p. 328.
58 Ibid., p. 316.
59 Bela K. Kiraly, "The Hungarian Armed Forces", East Europe,
June 1958, p. 14.
60 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 63. Also referred to as the
Revolutionary Committee for the Defense of the Hungarian
61 UN Report, p. 88.
62 Kiraly, East Europe, p. 14.
63 Kiraly and Jonas, eds., p. 67.
64 UN Report, p. 88.
65 Kiraly, East Europe, p. 14.
68 Interview with Bela Kiraly, Brooklyn College, New York,
December 21, 1983.
72 New York Times, October 31, 1956.
73 Zinner, Revolution in Hungary, p. 319.
74 UN Report, p. 88.
75 Raymond L. Garthoff, "The Tragedyof Hungary: A Revolution
Won and Lost" (Santa Monica, Calif.: The Rand Corporation, 1956).
76 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 360.
77 New York Times, October 31, 1956.
78 Editor's note, "The Hungarian 'Counterrevolution'", The
Problems of Communism, March-April 1957, p. 47.
79 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 364.
81 Garthoff, "The Tragedy of Hungary", p. 7.
82 UN Report, p. 56.
83 Garthoff, "The Tragedy of Hungary", p. 7.
84 UN Report, p. 27.
85 UN Report, p. 57.
86 E. H. Wyndham, "The Military Situation in Europe", The Army
Quarterly, January 1957, p. 139.
87 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 373.
88 UN Report, p. 45.
91 Ibid., p. 47.
92 Kiraly and Jonah, eds., p. 70.
94 Lasky, A White Book, p. 228.
1 Vali, Rift and Revolt, p. 387.
2 UN Report, p. 105.
3 Ibid., p. 101.
4 Paul Landy, "Hungary Since the Revolution", The Problems of
Communism, September-October 1957, p. 9.
6 UN Report, p. 104.
7 Landy, "Hungary Since the Revolution", p. 9.
9 Ibid., p. 10.
10 Ibid., p. 8.
Barber, Noel. Seven Days of Freedom. New York: Stein and Day,
1974. Easily readable-novel. Not good reference.
Crankshaw, Edward. Khrushchev Remembers. Translated and edited
by Strobe Talbott. Boston, Toronto: Little Brown and Company,
1970. Good work but of little value in the study of Hungarian
Editor's Note. "The Hungarian 'Counterrevolution'". The
Problems of Communism, March-April, 1957, pp. 47-51. Good
insight into East Europe mentality.
Garthoff, Raymond L. The Tragedy of Hungary: a Revolution Won
and Lost. Santa Monica, California: The Rand Corporation, 1956.
Gellner, John. "The Hungarian Revolution: A Military Post-
Mortum." Marine Cords Gazette, April 1958, pp. 52-57.
Interesting attempt at military analysis of Hungarian Revolution.
Reflects paucity of Soviet information.
Jonas, Paul and Kiraly, Bela K., eds. The Hungarian Revolution of
1956 In Retrospect. Boulder: East European Quarterly, 1977.
Good short reference for all countries of East Europe.
Kecskemati, Paul. The Unexpected Revolution. Sanford: Stanford
University Press, 1961. Very good readable work.
Kiraly, Bela K. "The Hungarian Armed Forces." East Europe, June
1958, pp. 4-15. Good insight to problems faced by Hungarian
Kiraly, Bela K. Brooklyn College, New York. Interview, December
21, 1983. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Landy, Paul. "Hungary Since the Revolution." The Problems of
Communism, September-October 1957, pp. 8-15. Interesting, but
must be placed in context.
Lasky, Melvin J. The Hungarian Revolution, A White Book. New
York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957. Although disjointed, a superb
McConnell, R. B. "Conventional Military Force and Soviet Foreign
Policy." Master's Thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, 1978. Good
Meray, Tibor. That Day in Budapest. Translated by Charles Lam
Markmann. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1969. Very readable but
Nagy, Ernest A. Crisis Decision Setting and Response: The
Hungarian Revolution. Washington, D. C.: National Defense
University Research Directorate, 1978. Provides good quick
New York Times, October 21-31, 1956.
Sorenson, John L. Urban Insurgency Cases. Santa Barbara,
Calif.: Defense Research Corporation, 1965. Good
United Nations Report of the Special Committee on the Problem of
Hungary. New York: General Assembly Official Records, Eleventh
Session, 1957. Good reference, very detailed but easily
Valid Ferenc A. Rift and Revolt in Hungary. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1961. One of the best references read.
Wyndham, E. H. "The Military Situation in Europe." The Arms
Quarterly, January 1957, pp. 139-143. Of limited use.
Zinner, Paul E., ed. Documents one American Foreign Relations,
1956. New York: Harper and Bros., 1957. Limited use.
Zinner, Paul E. Revolution in Hungary. Freeport, N. Y.: Books
for Libraries Press, 1962. One of the best references used.
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