The Hungarian Revolution Begins – Archive, 1956 | Hungary

Police open fire in Budapest: anti-Russian crowds in disorder in the streets

October 24, 1956

Budapest, October 24 (2h)
One person was reportedly killed and several others injured when Hungarian police opened fire on thousands of Hungarians demonstrating here hours ago. Protesters, demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country, attempted to topple a 26-foot-tall statue of Stalin.

Protesters – workers, students and soldiers – shouted “Ruskies (Russians) come home”, “Down with Gero”(The Hungarian communist leader) and“ We want a government with Nagy ”(the former prime minister sacked by the Stalinists).

The unrest began yesterday when ten thousand students staged two protests demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops as well as a public trial for the former Communist Party leader, Rakosi. They also demanded the formation of a freely elected government.

Disconnected phones
The fighting began when the Communist Party’s Central Committee entered an emergency session, presumably to examine the growing unrest. After the announcement of the meeting on Budapest radio, all telephone communications between Budapest and the west were cut. The lines to Prague, however, remained open.

As the party leaders met, thousands of protesters in overalls began to converge on the Stalin statue in Stalin Square shouting that it was a symbol of tyranny. Efforts to tear down the monument with cables failed. By now the crowd had grown to a few hundred thousand people. The huge red star that adorned the roof of a trade union building right in front of the Stalin statue has been knocked down.

The protests came to a head after Mr. Gero made a surprise broadcast calling reports that Hungary wanted to relax ties with the Soviet Union “lies and rumors”. With that, the crowd made their way to the state radio building and the police started using tear gas.
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Liberalization in Hungary: context of unrest

Of Victor Zorza
October 25, 1956

Munich, October 24
The ferment of liberalization in Hungary has continued to skyrocket in recent weeks. Over the past week, Hungarian Radio and Szabad Nep, the Hungarian Communist Party newspaper, have come under the control of the liberalization group completely. A wave of meetings of political and apolitical organizations swept across the country over the days with their resolutions calling for ever further liberalization. Last week, university students, first in Szeged, then in Pecs and Budapest, joined in calling for detailed lists of reforms. These underlined the equal relations with the Soviet Union, the final purge of all the Stalinists, the return of Nagy to power and the convening of a Hungarian party congress.
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Editorial: revolution

October 25, 1956

Russian troops were called in to crush the Hungarian revolution of October 23-24, 1956, just as Russian troops were called in to crush the Hungarian revolution of 1849. The circle has come full circle; Mr. Khrushchev is here. Soviet communism inherits from the tsars the unenviable role of the empire against whose dead hand groups of students rise up and carry the flag in the streets, protesters die on bridges and city squares, and beatings fires reverberate in factories and government offices, as tottering ministers – today as in the 19th century, cry out for “peace, discipline and order.” The end of it all is force – Russian force to support governments whose own resources have melted. So it was in Hungary.

After that ? A land like Hungary, its sealed borders, its communications cut off, its population under martial law with Soviet troops within and beyond its eastern borders, can only hope to fail in such a revolution. Yet, as of this writing, shots are still being fired; and in Poland, thunderstorm clouds seem to be gathering again. The fortunes of Eastern Europe are hanging by a thread. The choice is not, unfortunately, between total liberation and total repression; it is between a partial, cautious and delicate improvement – a political tightrope walk – and a Russian bloodbath. The best hope for those countries that have suffered too much is to keep their feelings just enough on a leash to continue pushing the Communists to freedom without pushing them to the point of falling back on brutal repression.
This is an edited excerpt. Read the entire article.

A group of men hold a flag on top of a chariot in front of the Parliament during the Hungarian uprising, Budapest, 1956. Photograph: Hulton Archives / Getty Images

Soviet tanks crush resistance

November 5, 1956

Yesterday at 8 am, the Soviet high command in Hungary ordered the government of Mr. Nagy to surrender before noon “or Budapest will be bombed”. The Soviet armored forces then entered into action. Just after 1 p.m. Moscow radio announced: “The Hungarian counter-revolution has been crushed.
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