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Hungary, Sixty Years After the Revolution

How 1956 Echoes Today

Soviet tanks in Budapest, October 1956. FORTEPAN / NAGY GYULA / WIKIMEDIA

This autumn marks the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. In October and November 1956, the country at the heart of the European continent underwent three weeks of political turmoil that shook the region and exposed the ideological fissures behind the Iron Curtain. Tens of thousands of Hungarians took to the streets to protest their oppressive government and the heavy-handed meddling of the Soviet Union in Hungary’s affairs. 

The protesters managed to persuade the leader of Hungary, Imre Nagy, that their cause warranted his government’s consideration. A committed communist, Nagy declared that the Soviet troops occupying the country would withdraw from it, pledged to dissolve the state security forces, and endorsed the uprising as “a great national and democratic movement, embracing and unifying all our people.” But in the first week of November, the protesters suffered a bruising defeat. Soviet forces crushed the uprising, invading key areas of the

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