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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city. Our house on the corner was in a strategically important position, since only the narrow Liliom Street separated it from the nearby Kilián Barracks. A few hundred meters away on the other side of the street, which no longer belonged to the Ferencváros District but to the Józsefváros, small streets led to the Corvin Passage, a building complex constructed in 1928 on the corner of Üllöi Avenue and József Boulevard. Exactly in the middle there was a large cinema set back from both major 4

the fighters. The insurgents recognized early on the strategic significance of the blocks of buildings at the junction of those main roads that fan out from the Danube and that served as the indispensable routes for the 57 58 Chapter 4 Soviet tanks. The fact that they were in control of the intersection of Üllöi Avenue and the Great Boulevard (Nagykörut) revealed itself time and time again as a deadly trap for the Soviet troops. That was where one of the bastions of resistance was situated:

pessimistically in their last reports of 29 and 30 October to the Soviet party leadership that in retrospect it seems surprising that the decision on the second Soviet intervention was made only on 31 October and not sooner. While Nagy was spending the night at home and did not achieve any results regarding the disarming of the rebels, reported the Soviet politicians, two party committees and the offices and printing presses of the Szabad Nép were occupied by the insurgents. The Hungarian Army

Hungarian humorist George Mikes achieved the greatest success in the world press; it was an eerie story that he had made up out of thin air.10 It has been proven that many escaped common-law criminals took part in the particularly abhorrent and bestial acts of revenge before the party building. Up until the time that the situation became consolidated at the beginning of November, altogether thirty-seven ÁVH officers and soldiers, policemen, and regular army soldiers were lynched. Some three

on 17 January. Déry and Háy soon received the reckoning for their courageous actions—nine and six years in jail respectively.24 For the sake of the chronology of events, now would be the time to talk about the dreadful period of reprisals. Yet if we want to comprehend the Hungarians’ attitude at that time and the Kádár regime’s later record of success, we first have to examine the stance of the West, and in particular of the United States, before, during, and after the revolution. 183 This

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