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The 1956 Hungarian Uprising Essay

1653 words - 7 pages

The 1956 Hungarian UprisingWhile the Hungarian uprising of 1956 cannot be considered a major international crisis of the Cold War, it does bear looking at as a regional challenge to Soviet domination and a demonstration of the Wests and the United Nations reluctance to become involved in the Soviet sphere of influence. The causes of the uprising can be traced to Hungarian nationalism and their almost sullen acceptance of the imposed communist government post world War Two. Hungary's long history as a predominately Catholic nation chaffing and resentful under the communist's anti-religious edicts. The death of Stalin and Khrushchev's destalinization efforts raising hopes for more balanced rule. The immediate spark was student demonstrations and their attempts to have their demands broadcast on the Hungarian radio network.Hungary as an independent entity has existed since 1000AD. In its long history it has suffered many invasions and imposition of foreign rule. The takeover by Moscow backed communists was but another example of this. There was a small Communist Party in Hungary during the Second World War. They carried out small scale and largely unsuccessful operations against the Germans. Post war elections gave the Smallholders Party 57% of the vote. The communist Hungarian Workers Party only managed 17%. The Soviet commander Marshall Voroshilov refused to allow the Smallholders party to form a government. Instead he established a coalition government with the communists holding key posts. One of key positions was minister of the interior held by the war time communist leader Laszlo Rajk. This allowed the communists to control the security police (AVH) and in turn arrest the leaders of the Smallholders Party and other opposition activists. Slowly one by one (salami tactics) opposition to the communists dwindled as opponents were arrested imprisoned or sent into exile. Once the communists had control a number of show trials were held as the leadership fought for control. It quickly became evident to the majority of the population that the best chance of survival was to keep your head down and just get on with your life as quietly as possible. A Stalinist regime was in place with all that entailed.In December 1948 Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty who had opposed both German and Hungarian Fascists during the war was arrested, he was accused of treason. Under torture he confessed to the charges against him and was sentenced to life in prison. This left the Catholic population leaderless and fearful. The Protestant churches were also purged and their leaders replaced by those willing to support the communist government. While this appeared to solve the immediate problem it in fact forced opposition both religious and political underground.The death of Stalin in 1953 was the catalyst for a series of demonstrations and callings for less repressive rule in the Soviet dominated satellite states of Eastern Europe. Khrushchev's secret speech of February 1956...

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