Group of Soviet Forces in Hungary
Southern Group of Forces (SGF)
Soviet troops had been stationed in Hungary since April 1945, when they pushed the German army completely out of the country. After Hungary signed a peace treaty with the Allies in 1947, Soviet forces remained in order to secure lines of communication with Soviet troops occupying Austria. Soviet forces withdrew from Austria in May 1955 but remained in Hungary at the request of the High Command of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, which was formed one day before the Austrian treaty was signed.
In May 1957, the Soviet-installed government under Kadar signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to legally recognize the Soviet forces that had occupied the country in 1956. Called the Decree Having the Force of Law No. 54 of 1957, it justified the Soviet presence as a defense against NATO "aggression" and West German rearmament. The agreement mentioned no specifics, such as the number of Soviet troops, their deployment within Hungary, and the facilities made available to them, although such items may have been written down in a secret protocol. The version of the agreement made public mentioned only that the Soviet troops were to be stationed "indefinitely" and that the compact could be changed only by mutual consent.
Officially called the Southern Group of Forces (SGF), Soviet troops in Hungary numbered 65,000, according to NATO estimates made in November 1988. At that time, the troops were under the command of Lieutenant General Aleksei A. Demidov. The Soviet forces in Hungary corresponded strategically to the Group of Soviet Forces stationed in East Germany, the Northern Group of Forces in Poland, and the Central Group of Forces in Czechoslovakia.
The SGF, headquartered in Budapest, commanded the 13th Guards Tank Division in Veszprem, the 2d Tank Division in Esztergom, the 253d Motor Rifle Division in Szekesfehervar, and the 93d Guards Motor Rifle Division in Kecskemet. These forces were supported by an air assault brigade, five fighter regiments, two fighterground attack regiments, several combat helicopter units, and reconnaissance aircraft. In a war against NATO, the SGF and the Hungarian troops would be used as part of the Southwestern Theater of Military Operations (teatr voennykh deistvii-- TVD).
In December 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would unilaterally remove some of its forces from Eastern Europe. This force reduction, which began in April 1989, was to be carried out over a two-year period. It would include the tank division deployed at Veszprem and the surrounding area, an armored training regiment, a paratroop battalion and interceptor squadron based at Tokol airport in Pest County, a chemical defense battalion, and the SGF training school for NCOs in Szolnok. This partial withdrawal would remove 450 tanks; 200 guns, trench mortars, and mine throwers; 3,000 vehicles; and 10,400 of the 65,000 Soviet troops in Hungary. In April 1989, Hungarian foreign minister Gyula Horn said that all Soviet soldiers might be removed from the country in the first half of the 1990s.
The Soviet troops were generally isolated from Hungarian life. They did not interfere in Hungarian affairs and appeared in public usually in small groups and only in certain restricted areas. The Hungarians generally did not like the Soviet soldiers and did not fraternize with them.
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