Anti-Soviet Movements in 1956
death destabilised the Iron Curtain countries. In
1956, Khrushchev faced crises in two countries which
Poland, a number of political prisoners were set free.
At the same time, a bad harvest led to unrest.
workers led a protest of people calling for ‘Cheap Bread’ and
‘Higher Wages’. When
the police shot some of the marchers, there was a riot.
Government officials were killed.
Mr Gomulka, (who had been in prison) took power.
sent Russian troops into Poland to put down the rebels.
But he left Gomulka in power – Gomulka continued the process of
destalinisation, but he kept Poland loyal to Russia and the Warsaw Pact.
At the Writers' Congress in 1956, several authors
criticized the political repression
in , and
on May Day of 1956
held demonstrations in Prague and Bratislava, demanding freedom of speech
and access to the Western press.
Novotny, suppressed the movement and reinforced a hard-line Stalinist
loving your country.
where the government controls what
the newspapers/ radio etc. say.
an early form of fax, connecting typewriters down a telephone line.
did the Polish Uprising of 1956 fail?
basic cause of the Hungarian revolution was that the Hungarians hated
were poor, yet much of the food and industrial goods they produced was
sent to Russia.
Hungarians were very patriotic, and they hated Russian control –
which included censorship, the vicious secret police (called the AVH
after 1948) and Russian
control of what the schools taught.
Hungarians were religious, but the Communist Party had banned
religion, and put the leader of the Catholic Church in prison.
from the West
thought that the United Nations or the new US president, Eisenhower,
would help them.
the Communist Party tried to destalinise Hungary, things got out of
Hungarian leader Rakosi asked for permission to arrest 400
trouble-makers, but Khrushchev would not let him.
Revolution web sites:
Security briefing - an American site
The Institute for
the History of the 1956 Hungarian revolution - v. detailed and
- Giles Hill on
the Hungarian Revolution
23 October, there were riots of
students, workers and soldiers.
They smashed up the statue of Stalin, and attacked the AVH and
24 October, Imre Nagy took over
as Prime Minister. He
asked Khrushchev to take out the Russian troops.
28 October, Khrushchev agreed,
and the Russian army pulled out of Budapest.
October – 3 November:
The new Hungarian government introduced democracy, freedom of
speech, and freedom of religion (the leader of the Catholic Church was
freed from prison). Nagy
also announced that Hungary was going to leave the Warsaw Pact.
November, at dawn, 1000
Russian tanks rolled into Budapest. By
8.10 am they had destroyed the Hungarian army and captured Hungarian Radio
– its last words broadcast were ‘Help!
Hungarian people – even children – fought them with machine
4000 Hungarians killed fighting the Russians.
are notoriously hard for historians. Western textbooks
published before 1989 said that the Russians killed 30,000
Since the end of the Cold War in 1989, Russian and Hungarian documents
have come to light which have led historians to revise the figure to
c.4000 Hungarians killed fighting the Russians, and up to 300
Khrushchev put in Janos Kadar, a supporter of Russia, as Prime
are quiet, not afraid.
Send the news to the world and say it should condemn the
The fighting is very close now and we haven’t enough guns.
is the United Nations doing?
Give us a little help.
We will hold out to our last drop of blood.
The tanks are firing now. . .
last message – a telex from a newspaper journalist – from Hungary.
were FIVE reasons why Khrushchev acted harshly in Hungary:
decision to leave the Warsaw Pact – Russia was
determined to keep its ‘buffer’ of states.
asked Russia to act to stop Communism being damaged.
had obviously lost control; Hungary was not destalinising – it was
in Russia forced Khrushchev to act.
thought, correctly, that the West would not help Hungary.
TWO reasons why the West did not help
and France were involved in the Suez crisis in Egypt.
did not think Hungary worth a world war.
When the UN suggested an investigation, Russia used its veto to stop
Hungarian refugees fled into Austria.
stayed in control behind the Iron Curtain – no other country tried
to get rid of Russia troops until Czechoslovakia in 1968.
in the West were horrified – many British Communists left the
West realised it could do nothing about the Iron Curtain countries –
but this made Western leaders even more determined to ‘contain’
A British cartoon from the time.
Communist Hammer and Sickle emblem on the soldier's helmet.
wreath from the United Nations with the label: 'Help for Hungary - a
resolution from UNO [United Nations organisation]'.
What is the cartoon saying?
made the Hungarian revolution so heart-rending was the desperate bravery
of the rebels. One
journalist found a little girl of 12, dead, armed with a machine gun.
Russian invasion of Hungary:
Budapest in 1956 the Hungarian uprising has been crushed by Russian tanks
and the city was in ruins. On
buildings, government posters show the friendly assistance given to
Hungary by the Soviet Union.
men meet on the street.
know come to think of it, we Hungarians are very lucky people.'
What? You don’t mean you’ve become one of them?'
no, but just think. The Russians came here as friends. Imagine what
they’d have done if they came here as enemies!'
Study Source B. Discuss as a class: 'The West was responsible for the deaths in Hungary, not the
Why was Hungary a so-much-more bloody affair than Poland?