History of the Soviet Union

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1956 Jun 23 - Nov 10

Hungarian Revolution of 1956


The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a countrywide revolution against the government of the Hungarian People's Republic (1949–1989) and the Hungarian domestic policies imposed by the Soviet Union (USSR). The Hungarian Revolution began on 23 October 1956 in Budapest when university students appealed to the civil populace to join them at the Hungarian Parliament Building to protest against the USSR's geopolitical domination of Hungary with the Stalinist government of Mátyás Rákosi. A delegation of students entered the building of Hungarian Radio to broadcast their sixteen demands for political and economic reforms to the civil society of Hungary, but they were instead detained by security guards. When the student protestors outside the radio building demanded the release of their delegation of students, policemen from the ÁVH (Államvédelmi Hatóság) state protection authority shot and killed several protestors.

Consequently, Hungarians organized into revolutionary militias to fight against the ÁVH; local Hungarian communist leaders and ÁVH policemen were captured and summarily killed or lynched; and anti-communist political prisoners were released and armed. To realize their political, economic, and social demands, the local soviets (councils of workers) assumed control of municipal government from the Hungarian Working People's Party (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja). The new government of Imre Nagy disbanded the ÁVH, declared the Hungarian withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October the intense fighting had subsided. Although initially willing to negotiate the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Hungary, the USSR repressed the Hungarian Revolution on 4 November 1956, and fought the Hungarian revolutionaries until 10 November; repression of the Hungarian Uprising killed 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet Army soldiers, and compelled 200,000 Hungarians to seek political refuge abroad.