One Day That Shook the Communist World: The 1956 Hungarian Uprising and Its Legacy

One Day That Shook the Communist World: The 1956 Hungarian Uprising and Its Legacy

Paul Lendvai

Language: English

Pages: 308

ISBN: 0691132828

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


On October 23, 1956, a popular uprising against Soviet rule swept through Hungary like a force of nature, only to be mercilessly crushed by Soviet tanks twelve days later. Only now, fifty years after those harrowing events, can the full story be told. This book is a powerful eyewitness account and a gripping history of the uprising in Hungary that heralded the future liberation of Eastern Europe.

Paul Lendvai was a young journalist covering politics in Hungary when the uprising broke out. He knew the government officials and revolutionaries involved. He was on the front lines of the student protests and the bloody street fights and he saw the revolutionary government smashed by the Red Army. In this riveting, deeply personal, and often irreverent book, Lendvai weaves his own experiences with in-depth reportage to unravel the complex chain of events leading up to and including the uprising, its brutal suppression, and its far-reaching political repercussions in Hungary and neighboring Eastern Bloc countries. He draws upon exclusive interviews with Russian and former KGB officials, survivors of the Soviet backlash, and relatives of those executed. He reveals new evidence from closed tribunals and documents kept secret in Soviet and Hungarian archives. Lendvai's breathtaking narrative shows how the uprising, while tragic, delivered a stunning blow to Communism that helped to ultimately bring about its demise.

One Day That Shook the Communist World is the best account of these unprecedented events.

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of the resistance groups, Banyasz, is a former active nationalist. The liaison man for the insurgents is the priest of the local church, Domján.”8 He listed these names, quoting as his source agents of the Interior Ministry and stressed that the Corvin Passage was the hub of the entire insurrection in Budapest. Similar information was also discussed at the Soviet party Presidium’s sitting on 28 October. Since these alleged colonels and other names do not appear in any sources, not even in the

categorically declined their election to the Central Committee as a protest against Gerö’s confirmation as first secretary, called on Nagy at party headquarters. They told him that what was happening was a great national uprising and by no means a 6 76 Chapter 6 counterrevolution. The two of them stressed that “we did not agree with the government’s present attitude, nor with the Russian intervention, the martial law and the other measures,” and they tried to induce Nagy to resign. Nagy was

people. This usually took place before the local buildings of the State Security and the police, the party committee and the town council, as well as the jail. These were the symbols of the party state. The crowd demanded the disarmament and dissolution of the State Security Service, the removal of the symbols of authority (red star), and the release of political prisoners. The demonstrators then proceeded to the Soviet war memorials. Their removal was an expression of spiritual liberation and

or sometimes even in the government lounge of Vnukovo Airport. Malin, who kept the minutes, could not even write shorthand: he only tried to adhere to the speakers’ ideas, style, and sometimes indirectly their emotions. These fragmentary notes nevertheless give us a fascinating and rare insight into the at times pointed discussions in the course of the decisionmaking process in the Kremlin. The previous day’s declaration—as referred to earlier—about the relationship to the other Socialist

support the current government. He argued that it was still possible to wait ten to fifteen days to see how the situation would unfold, although he agreed that “we cannot let Hungary escape from our camp.”15 145 146 Chapter 13 Mikoyan had already protested against the decision to invade at a meeting with Khrushchev, and had asked that another meeting of the CPSU Presidium be called, a demand Khrushchev refused on the grounds of a unanimous resolution. At this meeting all the members, and in

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