Why was there opposition in Hungary?
- Hungary was led by hard-line Communist Matayas Rakosi.
- Hungarians hated the restrictions which Rakosi's Communism put on them.
- Hungarians were feeling bitter about losing freedom of speech.
- They lived in fear of the secret police
- They resented thousands of Soviet troops and officials in their country.
- Some places had Russian street signs, Russian schools and shops. Hungarians had to pay for all of them.
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The opposition in Hungary
- In June 1956 a group within the Communist party in Hungary opposed Rakosi.
- Rakosi appealed to Moscow for help. He wanted to arrest 400 leading opponents.
- Moscow did not help him. The Kremlin ordered Rakosi to retire for "health reasons".
- The new leader Erno Gero was no more popular to the people.
- A huge student demonstration took place on the 23rd of October and the giant structure of Stalin in Budapest was torn down.
- The USSR allowed a new government to be formed under the well respected Imre Nagy.
- Soviet troops and tanks withdrew and Hungarians created thousands of local councils to replace Soviet power.
- Several thousand Hungarian soldiers defected from the army to rebel cause, taking their weapons with them.
- Nagy's government began to make their own plans. They planned to hold free elections, create impartial courts, restore farmland to private ownership.
- It wanted the total withdrawal of Soviet presence in Hungary
- It also planned to leave the Warsaw pact and declare Hungary neutral in the Cold War.
- There was widespread optimism that president Eisenhower would support the new and independant Hungary.
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How did the Soviet Union respond?
- Kruschev at first seemed ready to accept these reforms. However he could not accept Hungary's withdrawal of the Warsaw Pact.
- In November 1956 thousands of Soviet troops and tanks moved to Budapest.
- The Hungarians did not surrender. Two weeks of bitter fighting followed.
- Around 3000 Hungarians and 7000-8000 Russians were killed.
- 200,000 Hungarians fled across the border into Austria to escape the Soviet forces.
- Imre Nagy and his leaders were imprisoned and then executed.
- The Hungarian resistance was crushed within 2 weeks.
- The west protested to the USSR but couldn't help due to the Suez crisis in the middle east.
- Kruscheve put down Janos Kadar as leader
- Kadar took several months to crush the resistance.
- Around 35,000 anti-Communist activists were arrested and 300 were executed.
- Kadar cautiously introduced some of the reforms being demanded by the Hungarian people.
- However, he did not waver on the central issue of the the membership of the Warsaw Pact.
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