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Case Study 1: Hungarian Uprising October, 1956

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1 Case Study 1: Hungarian Uprising October, 1956

2 Why was there opposition in Hungary?
Hard-line leader Matyas Rakosi No freedom of speech Secret police made people disappear 1000s of Soviet troops & officials in country Russian street signs, schools & shops Hungarians had to pay for Soviet troops June 1956, party members oppose Rakosi Rakosi asked USSR for troops, help in arresting 400 leading opponents Kh’s Moscow refused request Kh ordered Rakosi retired ‘for health reasons’ Erno Gero was unacceptable replacement 23 Oct: huge student demonstrations Stalin’s statue pulled down Kh’s USSR started withdrawing Soviet forces Kh allowed new gov’t under (Red) Imre Nagy


4 Imre Nagy’s Government
Nagy takes over in crisis Hungarians created 1000s of councils to replace withdrawing Soviet power 1000s of (H) soldiers defected to rebel cause, taking weapons w/ them Nagy’s radical plans (Communist, reformer) Hold free elections Create impartial courts Restore private ownership of farmlands Called for total Soviet withdrawal from (H) Planned to leave Warsaw Pact Planned to declare neutrality in Cold War Counted on Eisenhower, US President, supporting (H)’s attempt to break w/ USSR Which of these demands do you think would be most threatening to the USSR?

5 How did the Soviet Union respond?
Kh unwilling to lose (H) Kh willing to accept some reforms Kh not willing to let (H) leave Warsaw Pact November: 1000s of Soviet troops, tanks move in to Budapest, and (H) resists Hungarian Revolt-Revolution-Uprising Two weeks of bitter fighting "This is Prime Minister Imre Nagy speaking. At dawn, Soviet troops attacked our country in order to overthrow the legitimate Hungarian democratic government." 3-30,000 Hungarians, Soviets killed 200,000 Hungarians fled to Austria Imre Nagy imprisoned, executed Why do you think Hungary’s membership in the Warsaw Pact was so important to the Soviet Union? Why do you think the Hungarians received no support from the West?


7 Activity: Looking for visual clues …
Look at the four flags. The flags are from: Rakosi’s gov’t, Rebels in the 1956 uprising Kadar’s gov’t, State flag after 1989 They are not in the right order. Work out which one is which

8 Results Resistance crushed in two weeks
UN did not help World preoccupied w/ Suez Crisis Khrushchev put Janos Kadar in charge Took several months to crush all resistance 35,000 anti-Communists arrested 300 executed Kadar cautiously introduced limited reforms (H) would definitely stay in Warsaw Pact

9 Focus Task: Revolting Perspectives
Explain which of these statements you most agree with, and why you agree with it (50 words): ‘The severity of the Red Army in dealing with Hungary in 1956 shows how fragile the Soviet hold on Hungary really was.’ ‘The speed at which the Red Army crushed resistance in Hungary shows how completely the Soviet Union controlled Hungary.’

10 Fin

11 PSDs on the Hungarian Uprising
Living standards were declining and yet the papers and radio kept saying that we had never had it so good. Why? Why these lies? Everybody knew the state was spending the money on armaments. Why could they not admit that we were worse off because of the war effort and the need to build new factories? … I finally arrived at the realization that the system was wrong and stupid. A Hungarian student describes the mood of 1953 Wearing western clothes was considered dangerous. To cite a small example: my colleague John showed up at lectures one day in a new suit, a striped shirt and necktie from the United States. His shoes were smooth suede and would have cost one month’s wages in Hungary. After classes John was summoned by the party officer. He received a tongue-lashing and was expelled. Written by Laszlo Beke, a student who helped lead the Hungarian uprising in 1956 Using the texts above, give reasons why the Hungarians disliked Communist control

12 PSDs on the Hungarian Uprising
[Source 1] In Hungary thousands of people have obtained arms by disarming soldiers and militia men … soldiers have been making friends with the embittered and dissatisfied masses … The authorities are paralyzed, unable to stop the bloody events. From a report in a Yugoslav newspaper. Yugoslavia, though Communist, did not approve of Soviet methods [Source 2] We have almost no weapons, no heavy guns of any kind. People are running up to the tanks, throwing in hand grenades and closing the drivers’ windows. The Hungarian people are not afraid of death. It is only a pity that we cannot last longer. Now the firing is starting again. The tanks are coming nearer and nearer. You can’t let people attack tanks with their bear hands. What is the United Nations doing? A telex message sent by the Hungarian rebels fighting the Communists. Quoted in George Mikes, The Hungarian Revolution, 1957

13 [Source 3] October 27, On my way home I saw a little girl propped up against the doorway of a building with a machine gun clutched in her hands. When I tried to move her, I saw she was dead. She could not have been more than eleven or twelve years old. There was a neatly folded note in her pocket she had evidently meant to pass on to her parents. In childish scrawl it read: ‘Dear Mama, Brother is dead. He asked me to take care of his gun. I am all right, and I’m going with friends now. I kiss you. Kati. Written by Laszlo Beke, a Hungarian student [Source 4] How do Sources 1 & 2 differ in the impression they give of the Hungarian uprising? Why do you think they differ? Do the photos in Source 4 give the same impression as either Source 1 or 2? Write a paragraph explaining the nature of the fighting in Budapest using Sources 1 through 4

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