The Soviet Invasion of Hungary


Why did Hungary want to break free from Soviet rule?

Hungarian people had always felt a strong sense of identity because before 1918 they were a major part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. They did not like being part of the Soviet Empire and having to take orders and follow rules given by Moscow.

Stalin's actions made Hungarian nationalists have increased anti-Soviet feelings: 

  • Free elctions had been held in November 1945, where the communists did not get the majority of the votes. However, Stalin ignored the decision of the Hungarian citizens and made sure that the Hungarian government had communists take up the most important posts.
  • Elections were again held in August 1947, but Stalin made sure that these elections were rigged so that the communists would win.
  • Stalin did not treat Hungary well; he ruthlessly dealt with the people who did not support communism or Soviet rule. 
  • The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Mindszenty, was imprisoned for life by Stalin. Hungarian communists were attacked if they showed any signs of disagreement with Stalin.
  • Laszlo Rajk, a leading and popular communist in Hungary, was hanged in 1949 because he was too independent-minded.

What happened after Stalin died?

Stalin died in 1953. After his death, Matyas Rakosi ruled Hungary with much brutality. People in Hungary were unsure about the freedom that the new Soviet leadership will provide them. But they were hopeful because:

  • The new Soviet leadership was friendly to Tito and Yugoslavia, which was a country that had successfully broken away from the Soviet Empire. Hungarians thought that they too would be able to follow this path.
  • The new Soviet leader, Khrushchev, criticised Stalin's brutality in a famous speech


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