Leading up to the Revolution:
  • At the end of WW2, Russia occupied Hungary and as a result Hungary became a communist country
  • After signing a treaty with the powerful Soviet Union, Hungary lost control of its previous government, the Independent Small Holders Party.
  • Led by Matyas Rakosi, The Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party came to power and with it came more communism
  • Churches were oppressed, the education system was controlled by the government, Stalin statues were built, the economy and people's living conditions went down, and 280,000 people in Hungary were arrested every year between 1947 and 1956.
  • When Stalin died in 1953, Imre Nagy became prime minister in Rakosi's place. He was less harsh than Rakosi, and sought to improve the economy and the conditions in Hungary.
  • Rakosi came to power again in 1955, and shortly after Erno Gero came to power. University students and other Hungarians became upset at the conditions in the government, and began to protest.
  • The protesters were inspired by protesters in Poland who managed to get their old leader back into power (Wladyslaw Gomulka)

Map of Hungary 1956
Map of Hungary 1956

The Start of the Revolution:

  • On October 23, 1956, a student demonstration began with the permission of the Hungarian government
  • 200,000 people (students from the Technical University, workers, etc) protested first at the Statue of General Bem (in the Hungarian Revolt of 1848, he was a well respected Polish General) and then outside the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest
  • A proclamation of independence was created by The Hungarian Writer's Union and the Sixteen Points (more freedom for Hungary) were included as well
  • They rallied against Soviet control of the country, commanded that Imre Nagy be the Prime Minister once again, and for freedom in elections and the press
  • The protesters cut out the Communist coat of arms from their flags, and carried flags with holes in the middle
  • A statue of Stalin was torn down
  • Things got out of hand when Erno Gero announced in a radio broadcast that he would not accept their proclamation of independence and that the crowd was out of control
  • The Hungarian crowd gathered at the radio station to air their own protests, but the Hungarian Secret Police (AVH) wouldn't let them. Guns were fired, fire was set to police cars, and so Gerno asked for Soviet troops to come in and help stop them

The torn down statue of Stalin
The torn down statue of Stalin

The Soviet UnionSteps In:
  • After October 23 the whole nation continued to fight with whatever they had in small but important ways to rebel against the Soviets
  • Soviets tanks first come to Budapest on October 24
  • Imre Nagy became prime minister once again, new Secretary of State became Joseph Kadar (he took Gerno’s place)
  • No peace when Nagy becomes prime minister because of Soviet Tanks firing on Hungarians
  • On October 28 the Soviets leave
  • Nagy’s goals to eliminate the Hungarian Secret Police, create multiple parties in Hungary, get rid of Soviet forces in the country, and to reject the Warsaw Pact were approved by Hungary
  • However, Hungarian hopes were soon destroyed

Soviet tanks in Budapest
Soviet tanks in Budapest

The End of the Revolution:
  • Soviet Union decided to end the Revolution
  • November 4, 1956- 1000 Soviet tanks move into Budapest
  • Kadar took over Nagy’s place in government
  • 2,500 Hungarian civilians and protesters were killed by Soviet tanks and air strikes
  • 13,000 Hungarians were injured and 700 Soviets soldiers were killed
  • The fighting stopped by November 10 and the Revolution ended by November 11, 1956
  • Many Hungarians were executed (like Nagy), arrested, deported, or sent to jail
  • 200,000 Hungarians left the country
  • Kadar brought more freedom to Hungary

Soviet Tanks in Budapest
Soviet Tanks in Budapest

What was it like to live through the Hungarian Revolution?
Stories from Hungarians who lived through the event say that:
  • People lost their means of getting food while fighting was happening, and were nearly shot while trying to find food. It was terrifying for the Hungarians to watch the fighting through their windows and for children to see their mothers and fathers lose or almost lose their lives.
  • They thought that they were going to die and that the world was about to end
  • People were prepared to fight for their country with whatever they had- there was a great sense of nationalism in Hungary
  • The Hungarians were disappointed and angry at the Americans- The Suez Canal crisis took their attention and the Americans did not help the Hungarians win their revolution. Some believed that if the Americans were involved, communism would have ended sooner.

Influence in the Cold War
  • First major and serious revolt in a communist country
  • Major turning point in the Cold War
  • Hungary had no troops or financial aid, only beneficent supplies
  • If they had been more aggressive, it would have brought on a "Thermonuclear Apocalypse"
  • Having their revolution crushed ended up stopping the risk, fear and chance of the Soviet Union going into nuclear war with the world

Nov. 5, 1944
Soviet troops invade Hungary
Oct. 23, 1956
Students protest against communist gov't in Budapest (Revolution begins)
Oct. 24, 1956
Battles raging on streets of Budapest
Oct. 25, 1956
Soviet tanks open fire on unarmed protestors
Oct. 26, 1956
Revolution spreads to countryside
Oct. 30, 1956
Soviet troops withdraw

Significant Individuals


Matyas Rakosi, gensek of Communist Party in Hungary to 1956; Tass 1952
Matyas Rakosi, gensek of Communist Party in Hungary to 1956; Tass 1952

Born: March. 14, 1892
Died: February. 5, 1971
Served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in WWI
-Joined Hungarian Communist Party in 1918
-Became General Secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party in 1945
-Became Prime Minister in 1947
-Tried to impose authoritarian rule, resulting in 2,000 executions and over 100,000 imprisonments
-Rakosi expelled 200,000 members of the Hungarian Communist Party who were against his policies
-Was replaced as Prime Minister in 1953 by Imre Nagy
-Came back to power in 1955, but removed in 1956


external image 225px-ImreNagy.jpg
Born: June. 7, 1896
Died: June. 16, 1958
  • Originally as locksmith, then served in Austro-Hungarian Army in WWI
  • Served 2 years as Hungarian Prime Minister in 1953-1955
  • Promised to raise production and distribution of consumer goods
  • Accused of being the responsible for the countries economic problems (attacks led by Rakosi) in 1955, Rakosi taking power again


external image COLDkadar2.jpg
Born: 1912
Died: 1989
  • During WWII was a member of the Czech Resistance movement
  • 1946 became deputy chief of Budapest's police
  • Became Secretary of State
  • Promised Nagy a safe way out of the country, but broke it when Nagy and his followers were kidnapped Nov. 23, 1956
  • Made a series of economic reforms to raise living standards
  • Help power until 1988


external image 225px-GeroErno.jpg
Born: 1898
Died: 1980
  • Worked at Federation of Socialist Young Workers during WWI
  • 1918 became member of Hungarian Communist Party
  • Was a Comintern instructor during Spanish Civil War representing Hungary (1939-1941)
  • Took power July 1956

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“1956 Hungarian Uprising”. 4 January 2011. http://www.budapest-life.com/budapest/1956-hungarian-uprising

Byrne, Malcolm. The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents. 4 January 2011. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB76/

“1956: ‘Fighting for Our Freedom’”. 5 January 2011. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/witness/october/23/newsid_4356000/4356786.stm

“1956: Hungarians rise up against Soviet rule”. 5 January 2011. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/witness/october/23/newsid_4356000/4356786.stm

"Matyas Rakosi". 11 January 2011. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDrakosi.htm

"Imry Nagy". 11 January 2011. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDnagy.htm

"Erno Gero". 11 January 2011. http://www.rev.hu/history_of_56/szerviz/kislex/biograf/gero_uk.htm

"Janos Kadar". 11 January 2011. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDkadar.htm

"1956 - Hungarian Revolution". 7 January 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=554ZJUv-avQ

"Timeline: Hungarian Revolution" 7 January 2011. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5379586.stm


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11 January 2011. http://www.culturalfoundation.hu/kepek3/15367.jpeg

11 January 2011. http://www.arpadmodels.co.uk/images/HungaryMap.jpg

11 January 2011. http://static.newworldencyclopedia.org/a/a3/Rakosi_Matyas.jpg

11 January 2011. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/a5/ImreNagy.jpg/225px-ImreNagy.jpg

11 January 2011. http://wpcontent.answcdn.com/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/be/GeroErno.jpg/225px-GeroErno.jpg

11 January 2011. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDkadar.htm