FROM THE FLAG - REMEMBER '56.
A special symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising featuring invited artists from former Soviet occupied Europe.
"We have faith that there is on the march in the world . . . an immense movement of emancipation which is culture and which is born of freedom to create and of freedom to work. Those Hungarian workers and intellectuals . . . have left us a glorious heritage which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not win, but which in one single day they gave back to us". - Albert Camus, October 23, 1957.
In February 1956, the new Russian leader Khruschev made a bitter attack on the dead Stalin and his policies and in July 1956 in a gesture to the Hungarians, Rakosi was forced to resign. In fact, the Hungarians had expected more but they did not get it. This situation, combined with a bad harvest, fuel shortages and a cold and wet autumn all created a volatile situation.
On October 23rd 1956, students and workers took to the streets of Budapest (the capital of Hungary) and issued their Sixteen Points which included personal freedom, more food, the removal of the secret police, the removal of Russian control etc. Poland had already been granted rights in 1956 which had been gained by street protests and displays of rebellion. Hungary followed likewise.
On October 31st, 1956, Prime Minister Imre Nagy broadcast that Hungary would withdraw itself from the Warsaw Pact. This was pushing the Russians too far and Janos Kadar, the Foreign Minister, left the government in disgust and established a rival government in eastern Hungary which was supported by Soviet tanks. On November 4th, hundreds of Soviet tanks went into Budapest to restore order and they acted with immense brutality even killing wounded people. Tanks dragged bodies through the streets of Budapest as a warning to others who were still protesting. Probably 30,000 people were killed and to flee the expected Soviet reprisals, probably 200,000 fled to the west leaving all they possessed in Hungary. Nagy was tried, executed and buried in an unmarked grave. By November 14th, order had been restored. Kadar was put in charge. Soviet rule was re-established.