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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Social Democrats, members of the nobility and Communists. Tens of thousands of Hungarians, soldiers and civilians, perished in Soviet captivity. Twenty thousand people died in bomb The Road to Revolution attacks, which began in April 1944. There is no doubt, however, about the validity of the comment made by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from the formerly Hungarian, now Romanian, township of Sighet in Transylvania: “Not all victims were Jews—but all Jews were victims.” Under the

at the party’s headquarters to try to “manage the crisis,” could do was to acknowledge the fait accompli of the intervention. Only later, in view of international protests, was it necessary to have a formal request by the Hungarian government to legitimize the Soviet deployment. As Imre Nagy had several times categorically refused the retrospective signature, András Hegedüs, who had meanwhile been relieved of his post, had to sign the request to the Soviet government on the twenty-sixth, predated

situation had arisen: the emergence of Soviet tanks had turned an uprising against the Stalinist dictatorship into a national war of independence. During the following four to five days the inhabitants of the houses close to the armed action were to all intents and purposes cut off from the outside world. I could not even think of going to the editorial office. We had to flee to the cellars. The condemnation of the popular movement as a counterrevolutionary attack, the declaration of martial law,

was to take place during the following days and weeks in Budapest and Hungary would far exceed the worst fears of János Kádár, the head of a Soviet colony’s phantom government, placed in power with the help of Soviet tanks, and closely supervised for a long time to come. Operation Whirlwind and Kádár’s Phantom Government A t 4:15 a.m. on a foggy, cold, and damp Sunday—it was the fourth of November—the people of Budapest were startled out of their sleep by the sound of tank cannons and

conflict with the workers. In line with their principles announced during the revolution, the workers’ councils—which were entitled to direct the enterprises in accordance with a government decree of 13 November— did not tolerate any party to function in the factories, offices, and cooperatives under their control. As late as the beginning of February, the state party was forced to operate in a political desert. This is vividly illustrated in the Communist youth magazine by the account about a

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