3: The Hungarian Revolution
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Melvin J. Lasky, ed., The Hungarian Revolution (1)
PETOFI CIRCLE'S TEN DEMANDS.
The leadership of the Petofi Circle has passed the following resolution at its meeting:
1. In view of the present situation in Hungary we propose that the Central Committee of
the Workers' [Communist] Party should be convened with the minimum possible delay. Comrade
Imre Nagy should take part in the preparatory work of this session.
2. We consider it necessary that the Party and Government should reveal the country's
economic situation in all sincerity, revise the second Five-Year Plan directives, and work
out a specific constructive program in accordance with our special Hungarian conditions.
3. The Central Committee and the Government should adopt every method possible to
ensure the development of socialist democracy, by specifying the real functions of the
Party, asserting the legitimate aspirations of the working class and by introducing
factory self-administration and workers' democracy.
4. To ensure the prestige of the Party and of the state administration, we propose that
Comrade Imre Nagy and other comrades who fought for socialist democracy and Leninist
principles should occupy a worthy place in the direction of the Party and the Government.
5. We propose the expulsion of Matyas Rakosi from the Party Central Committee and his
recall from the National Assembly and the Presidential Council. The Central Committee,
which wishes to establish calm in the country, must offset present attempts at a Stalinist
and Rakosiite restoration.
6. We propose that the case of Mihaly Farkas be tried in public in accordance with
7. The Central Committee should revise resolutions it passed in the period which has
just elapsed -resolutions which have proved wrong and sectarian- above all the resolutions
of March 1955, the December 1955 resolution on literature, and the 30 June 1956 resolution
on the Petofi Circle. We propose that the Central Committee should annul these resolutions
and draw the proper conclusions as to the persons concerned.
8. Even the most delicate questions must be made public, including the balance sheets
of our foreign trade agreements and the plans for Hungarian uranium.
9. To consolidate Hungarian-Soviet friendship, let us establish even closer relations
with the Soviet Party, State and people, on the basis of the Leninist principle of
10. We demand that at its meeting on 23 October the DISZ Central Committee should
declare its stand on the points of this resolution and adopt a resolution for the
democratisation of the Hungarian Youth Movement.
PETER VERES ADDRESSES THE DEMONSTRATION:
University students gathered in front of the Petofi statue in Pest shortly before 15:00
hrs. They sang the "Kossuth Hymn" and carried banners inscribed "Long
Live the Youth of Poland" - "For Freedom in the Spirit of the
Friendship between Bem and Kossuth" ... The demonstrators, including a number of
well-known professors, carried Hungarian and Polish national flags. The actor Imre
Sinkovits recited Petofi's "Arise Hungarians!" Then he read
the students' demands.
The group which had been demonstrating at the Petofi statue in Pest then marched to the
Bem statue in Buda, where they were joined by nearly 800 students and teaching staff
members from the Petofi Military Academy, as well as others from the Polytechnical
University, the Agricultural University, and the High School of Physical Education. The
students wore cockades in the national colours. National flags were distributed from
Peter Veres, President of the Writers' Association, then read a seven-point resolution
passed by his Praesidium:
"We have arrived at an historic turning point. In this revolutionary situation we
shall not be able to acquit ourselves well unless the entire Hungarian working people
rallies as a disciplined camp. The leaders of the Party and Government have so far failed
to present a workable program. Responsible for this are those persons who, instead of
expanding socialist democracy, are still obstinately organising themselves to restore
Stalin's and Rakosi's regime of terror in Hungary. We Hungarian writers have formulated
seven points, the demands of the Hungarian nation:
1. We want an independent national policy based on the principle of socialism. Our
relations with all countries, and particularly with the USSR and the people's democracies,
should be regulated on the basis of the principle of equality. We demand a review of
treaties and economic agreements between States in the spirit of the equality of rights
for the nations involved.
2. An end must be put to national minority policies which disturb friendship between
peoples. We want true and sincere friendship with our allies -the USSR and the people's
democracies. This can only be realised on the basis of Leninist principles.
3. We demand a clear disclosure of the country's economic situation. We shall not be
able to emerge from this crisis unless all workers, peasants, and intellectuals can play
their proper part in the political, social, and economic administration of the country.
4. Factories must be directed by workers and technicians. The present humiliating
system of wages and norms, and the disgraceful condition of social security benefits, etc.
must be reformed. The trade unions must truly represent the interests of the Hungarian
working class. [48/49]
5. Our peasant policy must be established on a new basis. Peasants must be given the
right to decide their own fate freely. Political and economic conditions for free
membership in cooperatives must finally be created. The present system of deliveries to
the State and of taxation must gradually be replaced by an system ensuring free socialist
production and exchange of goods.
6. If these points are to be realized there must be changes of structure and of
personnel in the leadership of the Party and Government. The Rakosi clique is seeking a
restoration, and it must be removed from our political life. Imre Nagy, a pure and brave
Communist, who enjoys the confidence of the Hungarian people and all those who have
systematically fought for socialist democracy in recent years, must be given the posts
they deserve. At the same time, a resolute stand must be made against all
counter-revolutionary attempts and aspirations.
7. The development of the situation demands that the PPF [Patriotic People's Front]
should assume the political representation of the working classes of Hungarian society.
Our electoral system must correspond to the demands of socialist democracy. The people
must elect their representatives in parliament, in the Councils, and in all autonomous
organs of administration by free, secret ballot."
Hungarian News Agency
IDEOLOGUES AND MARSEILLAISE
I have been the witness today of one of the great events of history. I have seen the
people of Budapest catch the fire lit in Poznan and Warsaw and come out into the streets
in open rebellion against their Soviet overlords. I have marched with them and almost wept
for joy with them as the Soviet emblems in the Hungarian flags were torn out by the angry
and exalted crowds. And the great point about the rebellion is that it looks like being
As I telephone this dispatch I can hear the roar of delirious crowds made up of student
girls and boys, of Hungarian soldiers still wearing their Russian-type uniforms, and
overalled factory workers marching through Budapest and shouting defiance against Russia.
"Send the Red Army home," they roar. "We want free and secret
elections." And then comes the ominous cry which one always seems to hear on these
occasions: "Death to Rakosi." Death to the former Soviet puppet dictator-now
taking a "cure" on the Russian Black Sea Riviera-whom the crowds blame for all
the ills that have befallen their country in 11 years of Soviet puppet rule.
Leaflets demanding the instant withdrawal of the Red Army and the sacking of the
present Government are being showered among the street crowds from trams. The leaflets
have been printed secretly by students who "managed to get access," as they put
it, to a printing shop when newspapers refused to publish their political programme. On
house walls all over the city primitively stencilled sheets have been pasted up listing
the 16 demands of the rebels.
But the fantastic and, to my mind, really superingenious feature of this national
rising against the Hammer and Sickle, is that it is being carried on under the protective
red mantle of pretended Communist orthodoxy. Gigantic portraits of Lenin are being carried
at the head of the marchers. The purged ex-Premier Imre Nagy, who only in the last couple
of weeks has been readmitted to the Hungarian Communist Party, is the rebels' chosen
champion and the leader whom they demand must be given charge of a new free and
independent Hungary. Indeed, the Socialism of this ex-Premier and -this is my bet-
Premier-soon-to-be-again, is no doubt genuine enough. But the youths in the crowd, to my
mind, were in the vast majority as anti-Communist as they were anti-Soviet -that is if you
agree with me that calling for the removal of the Red Army is anti-Soviet.
In fact there was one tricky moment when they almost came to blows on this point. The
main body of students and marchers had already assembled outside their university in front
of the monument to the poet-patriot Petofi who led the 1848 rebellion against the
Austrians. Suddenly a new group of students carrying red banners approached from a side
street. The banners showed them to be the students of the Leninist-Marxist Institute,
which trains young teachers of Communist ideology and supplies many of the puppet rulers'
The immediate reaction of the main body, I noticed, was to shout defiance and
disapproval of the oncoming ideologists.
But they were quickly hushed into silence and the ideologues joined in the march with
the rest of them, happily singing the Marseillaise.
Sefton Delmer, Daily Express (London), 24 October [49/50]
YOUNG MARXISTS VS. "RED FASCISTS"
The revolution which broke out on the 23rd October on Joseph-Bem-Square started off as
a peaceful manifestation. The students' demands, summed up in sixteen points and
distributed in the streets of Budapest in the form of leaflets, were those of impatient
Certain observers insist on the essentially nationalistic characteristics of the
manifestations. Incontestably the presence of the Soviet Army on Hungarian territory, the
visible outward signs of foreign occupation (there was no practical difference between
Soviet and Hungarian uniforms), rekindled the flame of Hungarian nationalism which had
never been extinguished. But it was not only a question of nationalism; the students of
Budapest also wanted true socialism.
It was for free independent Socialism that young Hungarians began the struggle against
the only armed fascists who on the night of the 23rd October still wished to save their
government: the red fascists of the political police, appointed to safe guard the last
vestiges of the Stalinist government.
Numerous eye-witnesses have affirmed that at the beginning of the revolution the
insurgents had no arms. It was only after Gero s menacing and disastrous speech on his
return from Belgrade that the State Police (which must not be confused with the
"AVO", or political police) joined the students and distributed arms to them in
front of the Hungarian radio broadcasting house in Sandor Brody Street. Next morning the
entire Budapest garrison officers, non- commissioned officers and soldiers, joined the
students and opened armament depots to them.
The officers responsible were nearly all of them Communists and not "fascist
agents or Horthyist [50/51] officers." The Army's revolt was a result of the turn of
events which took place during the night on the banks of the Danube in the neo-Gothic
building which overlooks Parliament.
On the second floor an extraordinary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers'
Party, presided over by Gero, took place at 22.30. Thanks to a personal report by one of
the participants, it is possible to give a detailed account of this historic meeting.
Assessing the situation, Gero began by trying to convince his colleagues of the necessity
of a Soviet intervention, as the "popular forces" (nepi erok in
Hungarian; this is the title he gave to the political police) were being overwhelmed and
the government was in danger. Janos Kadar and then Gyula Kallai (another Titoist who had
just been released from prison) replied that the only way to avoid catastrophe was for
Gero to resign immediately. Istvan Hidas (Vice President) and Laszlo Piros (Home
Secretary) violently opposed this suggestion. Piros referred to Imre Nagy and his friends
as "accomplices of the fascists who are at the moment sweeping through the capital.
The youth, meanwhile, were in the midst of their all-too-specific struggle against
Soviet armoured cars and political police for the abstract ideas of "liberty"
and "democracy". They had no leader, no definite programme; they only felt that
their courage would guide them.
Budapest's youth, which filled the streets of the capital on 23rd October, was joined
by the entire population. By "youth" we mean all citizens from 14 to 30 years of
age-students, apprentices of the Csepel and Ujpest factories, and school-boys. The young
people who began the manifestation of 23rd October were mainly led by students, including
scholars of economics and those of the Lenin Institute. Thus, that afternoon those who
demanded that the programme of democratisation and "desatellisation" be
accelerated, were precisely those young persons who were best informed about politics . .
. Most of them were members of the Communist Party, and they continued as Marxists. It was
they who started the Revolution, with the support of writers and Communist journalists.
Intellectuals were thus at the source of this Revolution, as in 1848. A few hours later
some of the workers of Budapest joined the insurgents . . . Often, under the leadership of
the local secretary of the Communist Party, workers assembled in groups and then left
together to fight the enemy . . .
Thomas Schreiber, Le Monde (Paris), 4 December
ERNO GERO'S SPEECH
Dear Comrades, Beloved Friends, Working People of Hungary!
Of course we want a socialist democracy and not a bourgeois democracy. In accord with
our Party and our convictions, our working class and people are jealously guarding the
achievements of our people's democracy, and they will not permit anyone to touch them. We
shall defend these achievements under all circumstances from whichever quarter they may be
threatened. Today the chief aim of the enemies of our people is to shake the power of the
working class, to loosen the peasant-worker alliance, to undermine the leadership of the
working class in our country and to upset their faith in its party, in the Hungarian
Workers' Party. They are endeavouring to loosen the close friendly relations between our
nation, the Hungarian People's Republic, and other countries building socialism,
especially between our country and the socialist Soviet Union. They are trying to loosen
the ties between our party and the glorious Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the party
of Lenin, the party of the 20th Congress.
They slander the Soviet Union. They assert that we trade with the Soviet Union on an
unequal footing, that our relations with the Soviet Union are not based on equality, and
allege that our independence has to be defended, not against the imperialists, but against
the Soviet Union. All this is a barefaced lie-hostile slanders which do not contain a
grain of truth. The truth is that the Soviet Union has not only liberated our people from
the yoke of Horthy fascism and German imperialism, but that even at the end of the war,
when our country lay prostrate, she stood by us and concluded pacts with us on the basis
of full equality; ever since, she has been pursuing this policy.
There are people who want to create a conflict between proletarian internationalism and
Hungarian patriotism. We Communists are Hungarian patriots. We were patriots in the
prisons of Horthy fascism and in the difficult years of underground work and illegality .
. . We declare that we do everything in our power to build up socialism in our country . .
. on a Marxist-Leninist basis -which we have in common with other socialist countries- at
the same time taking into account the peculiarities of our country, its economic and
social situation, and Hungarian traditions. Yet, while we proclaim that we are patriots,
we also energetically state that we are not nationalists. We are waging a constant fight
against chauvinism, anti-Semitism and all other [51/52] reactionary, anti-social and
inhuman trends and views. Therefore, we condemn those who try to spread the poison of
chauvinism among our youth, and who use the democratic freedom which our state has assured
the working people for nationalistic demonstrations.
However, not even this demonstration shakes the resolution of our party to proceed on
the road of developing socialist democracy. We are patriots but at the same time we are
also proletarian internationalists.
Our relations with the Soviet Union and all other countries building socialism are
based on the fact that our parties-leading parties in our respective countries are
inspired by the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, that we love our people and respect all
other peoples, and that we follow the principle of complete equality and non-interference
in each other's affairs, while at the same time, we give friendly mutual aid to each
other. We help each other in order to further the progress of socialism in our countries
and the victory of the lofty ideals of socialism in the whole world .
The unity of the Party is always a great necessity. Without unity our Party would have
been unable to defy the murderous terror of Horthy fascism for a quarter of a century.
Without the unity of our Party and the working class, the people's democracy could not
have triumphed in our country and the working class allied to the laboring peasantry could
not have gained power. This unity, the unity of the Party, working class and working
people, must be guarded as the apple of our eye. Let our Party organisations oppose with
discipline and complete unity any attempt to create disorder, nationalistic
well-poisoning, and provocation.
Worker-Comrades, Workers! We must put it frankly: the question now is whether we want a
socialist democracy or a bourgeois democracy. The question is: do we want to build
socialism in our country or to make a hole in the building of socialism and then open the
door for capitalism? The question is: do you allow the power of the working class and the
worker-peasant alliance to be undermined, or will you stand up resolutely, disciplined,
and in complete unity with our entire working population, to defend the worker's power and
the achievements of socialism?
Radio Kossuth [52/53]
THE BATTLE OF THE RADIO BUILDING
In the early evening of 23 October enthusiastic students had demonstrated at the Bem
statue, in front of the parliament building, and also in front of the radio building. They
were disciplined, orderly demonstrators. Employees of the radio station greeted them with
the Hungarian national flag from the balcony. A deputation went to see the management and
made requests. Agreement was reached on several points. When the delegates appeared on the
balcony they were prevented from talking to the crowd by ir responsible hooligans who
intermingled with the crowd in increasing numbers. The delegates were not even listened
Stones were thrown at the windows of the radio building. The crowd attacked the mobile
recording van which was in readiness to make a recording of the delegation's visit.
Another car was burnt. At this stage most of the students and young workers left the scene
in groups. From the Koerut (Ring Road) new groups and, later on, armed hooligans arrived.
Somewhere they had broken the gates of a barracks and got hold of weapons. The crowd now
broke the gate of the radio building. The guards tried to keep them off with water hoses,
at the same time trying to extinguish the flames of the burning car. When this was of no
avail they were compelled to use tear gas. The situation was becoming more and more acute,
minute by minute.
The windows of the building were broken by the crowd and people climbed through the
fence. They had armed themselves with bricks from a nearby building site and did much
damage. The slogan now was: "Occupy the radio". The guards fired shots into the
air. The guards then tried to repel the attack without harming the attackers but the crowd
fired more and more shots. The first victim was a major of the State Security authority.
During the first hours six soldiers were shot dead. But the security guards did not fire.
There was a state of siege in the radio building but transmissions went out undisturbed.
Later on, two lorries arrived with armed hooligans. They occupied nearby buildings and
fired at the studio. Then, and only then, as a last resort -after many guards had been
killed and innumerable ones had been wounded- did they receive the order to return the
fire. The attackers, in possession of automatic pistols and hand grenades, intensified
their assault more and more. In the mad fire of bullets, the workers of the radio managed
to broadcast. When the mob broke into the building the radio workers prevented the
provocateurs from succeeding in silencing Radio Kossuth.
As you can hear, dear listeners, the program of Radio Kossuth is somewhat different
from the scheduled program, but the Hungarian radio -Radio Kossuth- is on the air. No
counter-revolutionary hordes, not even well organised counter-revolutionaries can silence
it. Our studio has suffered great damage. Many a security guard has died a hero's death.
The workers of the radio stood in the fire of bullets, often in the fire of machine-gun
bullets, but not in vain. Already in the small hours of this morning we were on the air
and have been on the air all day. This is Radio Kossuth Budapest.
Gyoergy Kalmar, Radio Kossuth, 24 October [53/55]
NAGY AS "PRISONER"
When young Hungarian blood was already flowing, Sandor Erdei and Laszlo Benjamin and I
decided to call on the potentates then in power in an attempt to bring them to their
senses and demand that they should not allow Hungarian youth to be fired on. In vain. They
did not interrupt their deliberations. What did the life of hundreds or thousands of
students and workers, or that of a nation matter to them? They just carried on with their
discussions. Woolly-minded writers had no business to poke their noses into their affairs.
We sent in the demand of the Writers' Association that they should hand over power to
those who enjoyed the affection of the people and that they should not order firing on the
people. For an hour and a quarter -from 22.30 to 23.45- we waited and waited. For a second
we saw Istvan Kovacs and Jozsef Revai emerge with frightened faces.
Finally, we were admitted to Andras Hegedus' room. He told the lie that a fascist
counter-revolution had broken out which they would quell by arms. Should they not be
strong enough to do it, they would call in Soviet troops. He said all this when, on their
orders, the university students marching in Sandor Street were already being murdered;
when the calling-in of Soviet troops was already a fait accompli. He said that
smilingly, like someone who had already thought out the devilish plan together with his
accomplices of trying to shield behind Imre Nagy. But we could not see Imre Nagy, and
could not talk to him. He was then indeed a prisoner. We only saw his son-in-law, Ferenc
Janosi, who had been persecuted and deprived of his military rank, hanging about lonely
and haggard in the waiting room, and who was panic-stricken about
his fate. Thus, on the night of the revolution, we returned to the Writers' Union, when
death on caterpillar tracks-the tanks-was roaring in the streets of Budapest, and when it
was in fact Andras Hegedus and Erno Gero who were at the controls of the tanks, guns, and
Zoltan Zelk, Free Radio Kossuth, 31 October [55/56]
INTERVIEWS WITH STUDENTS
The student demonstrations were planned not on Tuesday, but on Monday night, October
22, in the collegium of the Polytechnic Institute, in the King's Castle in Buda. A student
who took part gave me the following account:-"After dinner on Monday night, the 1,500
students in our collegium were suddenly called to a meeting in the hall. The Army colonel
who lived above us in the King's Castle and taught military science at the Polytechnic
Institute told us that a demonstration was being planned for the following day. We were to
demonstrate our sympathy for Poland through a march to the statue of Josef Bem -the Polish
general who led the Hungarians during the revolution of 1848. This was to be our symbol of
protest against the present Government."
The student said it was a long and controversial meeting, and lasted until 1 a.m.
Together with the colonel, the students framed 14 demands, which the mass student
demonstration was to submit to the Government. At first the demands were moderate, but as
the meeting progressed they became more radical. The first five finally emerged as frankly
political demands. They called for:-
(1) A central congress of the Communist Party to elect a new leadership; (2) Imre Nagy
to replace Hegedus as Premier; (3) continued friendship with the Soviet Union, but on a
new basis; (4) withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary; (5) the holding of free
Some of the rest dealt with economic questions, and the others concerned the
re-establishment of academic freedom in Hungary.
During the night these demands were printed by the Polytechnic students for
distribution at the mass meeting in the university park on the following day. Also, all
cars passing the park were stopped and the passengers handed copies.
The same student, who was corroborated by others, told me about the course the meeting
took on Tuesday: -"It commenced about noon. About 1,500 were present, including the
officer candidates from the Military Technical Academy. This military participation was
particularly noticeable, and the crowd grew rapidly as student delegations from the law,
agricultural, and medical faculties in other parts of the city arrived. Several workers'
delegations from factories nearby in Buda also took part.
"The same colonel presided over the meeting, and was assisted by professors and
student leaders. He began by saying that the Minister of the Interior had refused
permission for a request to demonstrate, and suggested we send a delegation now to get
"A group of 10 professors, students, and a few workers was dispatched at 2.15, but
returned in half an hour without having succeeded. They brought instead the Assistant
Minister of the Interior, who began to address us with the usual empty words. We whistled
and shouted, and the colonel joined in ridiculing him. Finally, we voted to demonstrate
anyway, and at 3 p.m. we began our march along the bank of the Danube."
From this point onwards, the initial organisation began to be superseded by the weight
of outsiders joining the procession. Another of the participants told me: -"I am sure
they wanted us to demonstrate for reforms of the regime, not for its overthrow. When this
began to happen we were branded 'counter-revolutionaries.' However, once it began, there
was no stopping.
"Just as we left the university park word passed around that the bulk of the
medical students were demonstrating across the river at the monument to Petofi -the
Hungarian national poet- [56/57] hero of the revolution of 1848. We decided we would join
them after our demonstration."
Most of these students got no farther than the Parliament building, for by the time
they swarmed into Kossuth Square there was already a large crowd of students and others
assembled. Some merged with the crowd in calling for Imre Nagy, others continued on to the
Petofi Monument, others dispersed to different parts of the city to demonstrate, and still
others went back to the university. All semblance of unified organisation disappeared.
When Mr. Nagy finally did appear on the Parliament steps, he left the crowd unsatisfied
by his guarded remarks. As one student said to me: "He was only a private citizen
now, and was afraid to answer our demands because of Gero . . . At the same time, we did
not push our demands for the removal of Premier Hegedus in favour of Nagy, for fear of
armed intervention by the Government."
A 17-year-old girl who studied at the electrical technical school in Budapest spoke of
her aims that afternoon: "I joined the crowd in front of the Parliament at 4.30 that
afternoon. For weeks we had been talking about reforms -at first educational, and then
more and more political and economic. We were peaceful. We only wanted to better the lot
of the students. No one thought it would end in revolution. We sang our national anthem
and then put out the Red Star which shone on the top of the Parliament."
In the disordered events which ensued, the riots on front of the radio station that
evening mark a decisive turn in the road from protest to outright revolt. After it became
known that the station was crowded with AVH men and that the director had refused
permission to a student delegation to broadcast their expanded demands, the station became
a central rallying point for all the separate demonstrations throughout the city...
Workers who had finished for the day, students, and, generally, civilians of all types
pushed their way through the streets. Trucks were used to transport people from all over
the city to the station, the simple call "to the radio station" being enough to
jam the empty trucks with willing demonstrators.
A young architect who responded to the call, and who subsequently became my interpreter
and guide among his fellow Hungarian exiles, described the scene as follows: -"By 10
p.m. the people, by their sheer weight, were pushing in the doors of thc station. At first
the AVH tried to disperse us with tear-gas, and then to keep us away by a united charge
with bayoneted rifles held crossways. We resisted by tripping and kicking them. Then, for
fear of their lives, they began shooting. It was terrible -innocent people were killed
because they could not move in the crowd. It was the last blow.
"Some of the people had small sporting rifles which they had taken from the
officers of Mohosz -the Hungarian Voluntary Defense Federation, a military sports
organisation sponsored by the Communist Party. They returned the AVH fire as best they
"Then two trucks of soldiers arrived from Buda across the river, but neither
officers nor soldiers fired on the people. No order was given, and the soldiers remained
in the trucks. They began slipping their guns over the side of the trucks into our
"I took a machine-gun and began firing it at the AVH in the station windows. By 11
a.m. the next day the crowd had occupied the radio station but it was totally destroyed by
So, revolution and bloodshed began in earnest. What had commenced as an organised
student demonstration for reform of the regime snowballed in a matter of hours into a mass
revolt against the system itself. All participants with whom I talked agreed that the
sympathy of the Army was never in doubt. The young architect, who spent the next six days
on the rooftops against the AVH, put it this way: -"Some Army units, especially their
officers who were revolutionary at heart, wanted to remain neutral at first, for they
feared we could not succeed. Such hesitation could not last, however, for they hated
Communism -and the AVH particularly- as much as we. By Wednesday morning the Government
had to call for Soviet help, for all its internal supports - except the hated AVH-had
George Sherman, The Observer (London), 11 November [57/58]
October 24, 1956
Travellers reaching this Austrian border town said that heavy artillery was in
operation and several Budapest buildings were burning when they left the Hungarian capital
today. Tanks were reported to have ringed Budapest along a perimeter 25 miles outside the
capital and there were said to be at least 350 persons dead, including soldiers. [58/59]
The travellers said Hungarian police and troops did not appear to be taking any action
against the rioters, but were looking on the scene with detachment. Most of the soldiers
had torn off the Communist badges from their caps. An Austrian eyewitness of the rising
"I woke up this morning to the sound of machine-gun fire and explosions which
sounded like artillery. The trams weren't running. The fighting was taking place along the
Korut and Voeroes Boulevards, and most of the side streets were blocked by tanks. Early in
the morning a large number of jet fighters flew over and repeatedly opened fire at groups
of civilians who were demonstrating. I couldn't see whether the fighters were Russian or
"When I left the city by car at noon I saw a great number of dead soldiers and
civilians on the streets. Driving was extremely dangerous since shooting was still going
on. . .
Reuters and United Press International, 25 October
NAGY: "CEASE FIGHTING!"
Here is Imre Nagy [noon]:
People of Budapest, I announce that all those who cease fighting before 14.00 to-day,
and lay down their arms in the interest of avoiding further bloodshed, will be exempted
from martial law. At the same time I state that as soon as possible and by all the means
at our disposal, we shall realise, on the basis of the June 1953 Government program which
I expounded in Parliament at that time, the systematic democratization of our country in
every sphere of Party, State, political and economic life. Heed our appeal! Cease
fighting, and secure the restoration of calm and order in the interest of the future of
our people and nation. Return to peaceful and creative work!
Hungarians, Comrades, my friends! I speak to you in a moment filled with
responsibility. As you know, on the basis of the confidence of the Central Committee of
the Hungarian Workers' Party and the Presidential Council, I have taken over the
leadership of the Government as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Every possibility
exists for the Government to realise my political program by relying on the Hungarian
people under the leadership of the Communists. The essence of this program, as you know,
is the far-reaching democratization of Hungarian public life, the realisation of a
Hungarian road to socialism in accord with our own national characteristics, and the
realisation of our lofty national aim: the radical improvement of the workers' living
However, in order to begin this work -together with you- the first necessity is to
establish order, discipline and calm. The hostile elements that joined the ranks of
peacefully demonstrating Hungarian youth, misled many well-meaning workers and turned
against the people's democracy, against the power of the people. The paramount task facing
everyone now is the urgent consolidation of our position. Afterwards, we shall be able to
discuss every question, since the Government and the majority of the Hungarian people want
the same thing. In referring to our great common responsibility for our national
existence, I appeal to you, to every man, woman, youth, worker, peasant, and intellectual
to stand fast and keep calm; resist provocation, help restore order, and assist our forces
in maintaining order. Together we must prevent bloodshed, and we must not let this sacred
national program be soiled by blood.
The Hungarian Government is preparing for peaceful and creative work. The Government is
determined not to allow itself to be diverted from the road of democratisation, from
realising a program [59/61] corresponding with the interests of the Hungarian people and
discussed with the broad masses of the people. We do not want to pursue a policy of
revenge but of reconciliation. For this reason the Government has decided that all those
who voluntarily and immediately lay down arms and cease fighting will not be subjected to
summary prosecution, as is the case with groups which have so far surrendered.
Workers! Defend the factories and machines. This is your own treasure. He who destroys
or loots harms the entire nation. Order, calm, discipline -these are now the slogans; they
come before everything else.
Friends! Hungarians! I will soon announce in detail the program of the Government, and
it will be debated in the National Assembly which will meet soon. Our future is at stake.
Before us lies the great road of raising our national standards. Line up behind the
Government. Ensure peace, the continuation of peaceful and creative labour, so that every
worker of our country can work undisturbed for his own and his family's future. Stand
behind the Party, stand behind the Government! Trust that we have learned from the
mistakes of the past, and that we shall find the correct road for the prosperity of our
country. . .
Radio Kossuth [61/62]
MOSCOW'S FIRST REACTION
Late in the evening of October 23 underground reactionary organizations attempted to
start a counter-revolutionary revolt against the people's regime in Budapest.
This enemy adventure had obviously been in preparation for some time. The forces of
foreign reaction have been systematically inciting anti-democratic elements for action
against the lawful authority.
Enemy elements made use of the student demonstration that took place on 23 October to
bring out into the streets groups previously prepared by them, to form the nucleus of the
revolt. They sent agitators into action who created confusion and tried to provoke mass
A number of governmental buildings and public enterprises were attacked. The fascist
thugs who let themselves go began to loot shops, break windows in houses and institutions,
and tried to destroy the equipment of industrial enterprises. Groups of rebels who
succeeded in getting hold of arms caused bloodshed in a number of places.
The forces of revolutionary order began to repel the rebels. On orders of the
reappointed Premier Imre Nagy martial law was declared in the city.
The Hungarian Government asked the USSR Government for help. In accordance with this
request, Soviet military units, which are in Hungary under the terms of the Warsaw treaty,
helped troops of the Hungarian Republic to restore order in Budapest. In many industrial
enterprises workers offered armed resistance to the bandits who tried to damage and
destroy equipment and to mount armed guards.
By the end of the day on 24th October the enemy adventure was liquidated. Order was
restored in Budapest. Speaking on 24th October over the radio, the Chairman of the Council
of Ministers Imre Nagy called on the whole people to maintain calm and order.
The attempts of the counter-revolutionaries to find supporters in Debrecen and some
other towns met with no success.
The Central Committee of the Hungarian Workers' Party and the Government are receiving
telegrams from all parts of the country in which Hungarian workers express their wrathful
indignation at the criminal action of the counter revolutionaries and assure the Party and
Government of their readiness to defend staunchly the people's democratic regime against
any enemy attempts and to strengthen friendship with the Soviet Union and with all
TASS (Moscow), 24 October [62/64]
I learned about the dramatic meetings of the Central Committee from a very good source
. . . At the first one none of the new members of the CC participated, neither Imre Nagy
(who had been asked to take part) nor Geza Losonczy or the others . . . So this first
session was dominated by the purest Stalinist spirit. Not without some protests, Gero had
pushed through the appeal to Soviet troops and the proclamation of martial law.
The extent to which he acted on his own initiative, or on orders, is an open question.
In any case, with Machiavellian cunning, Gero and his [64/65] "friends" decided
at the same time to hang on Nagy the office of Prime-Minister in order to discredit him
from the beginning.
Later in the night, the Central Committee met again in a second session with Nagy and
his friends now attending. While the AVO was firing murderous salvos in the crowds, they
carried on a confused discussion. The Gero-clique, still a majority, insisted that Nagy
include reliable Stalinists in his government. The debate soon became turbulent and Kadar
supported Nagy, whom he later would replace. But Nagy still remained a kind of hostage.
Nothing clear or definite came out of the discussion, and the hastily adopted final
resolution carried a Rakosi stamp.
When news spread about the Soviet intervention, most of our older friends, particularly
those with some political experience, were convinced that all resistance would be useless
from now on. What could unarmed Hungarian students and workers do against Russian armed
force? "Foreign arms arriving by parachute" existed only in the imagination of
During the night of 24 October, the offices of the Hungarian News Agency on Nap Hill
had the appearance of a besieged building. Blankets camouflaged the windows. Everywhere
there were bottles wrapped in rags. The editors sat under their desks, still arguing
fiercely. "How could Nagy have appealed to the Russians?" "Had he
really?" The short declaration he made on the radio had seemed peculiar; his voice
seemed to show nervousness; there was something wrong somewhere.
The first thing we did was to decide to stop giving the radio any service; it just kept
on spreading lies. On the other hand, we tried the impossible, to inform Imre Nagy about
the actual situation in the country, just as our correspondents in the provinces reported
it hour by hour.
In Rakosi's Hungary, the political and economic leaders of the country -all told about
200 persons- had a special telephone network which wasn't tied up with Central. Through
this secret line, the "K line" as it was called, we tried to reach Imre Nagy. It
was impossible. The Prime-Minister's special line was controlled by the Stalinists. Then
we tried to contact Kadar. Another failure. A female voice answered for him, and when we
told her that in the Miskolc region the AVO slaughtered a crowd, she exclaimed,
"Lies!" and hung up.
Only on the following morning were we able to get a connection with a Minister. As a
matter of fact, he called us. It was Kossa, one of the Government's Stalinists. He scolded
us bitterly for one of our items announcing that in Debrecen a revolutionary committee had
taken power and was absolute master of the situation. Even at this moment the Stalinists
expected others to lie and were still lying to themselves. . .
Dezso Kosok, Franc-Tireur (Paris), 18 December
"AN ATMOSPHERE OF REVOLUTION"
On Wednesday, from early morning until nightfall, an atmosphere of revolution reigned
over the city.
Tanks were rattling through the streets along with trucks with steel-helmeted soldiers
armed with sub-machine guns. There were overturned cars and barricades.
The question that puzzled both the demonstrators and Western observers was on whose
side the Hungarian Army stood. Some signs indicated that the soldiers were on the
demonstrators' side. A column of tanks roared along the Budapest [?] Boulevard toward the
besieged radio building. The crowd cheered enthusiastically and the crew of the tanks
waved back, with national flags unfolded on their turrets. Many young Hungarians were
given a ride on the top of, the tanks.
It appeared the army either sided with the youth or remained neutral. The tanks and
trucks drove into the narrow streets surrounding the radio building, site of the fighting
between the youths and unarmed A.V.H.-soldiers earlier that evening. They stopped there
but did not seem to interfere in what happened. The streets around the radio building
appeared to be a battlefield. Streets and doorways were packed with young demonstrators,
including many women, cursing the A.V.H. and hailing the army. Opposite the building an
army passenger car was burning. About a dozen of the youth leaders climbed the first floor
balcony of the radio station with a huge Hungarian flag and [65/66] remained there while
the windows of the second and third floors were packed with uniformed A.V.H. soldiers. All
windows of the building had been smashed earlier.
While I was there between 11 p.m. and midnight the A.V.H. refrained from harsher
methods and only a few tear gas bombs were thrown occasionally. But many young men on the
street showed submachine gun bullets to Western newsmen. Many told contradictory stories
of earlier fighting around the building. How the fighting actually started is still a
mystery. But it is safe to assume that the crowd either wanted to occupy the radio station
or became enraged when a delegation that had entered was apparently prevented from
returning. "Yes, we want to get in and tell the world the truth over the air," a
young woman told me with tears running down her cheeks. The tears rolled because of tear
gas bombs. While a car was burning and a machine gun was rattling, the crowd shouted abuse
at the A.V.H. and cheered the soldiers . . . On some corners the mob took over complete
control, especially as no policemen or soldiers or A.V.H. men were to be seen, except the
troop concentrations around the radio building. There were also primitive barricades of
overturned benches and roadblocks on Stalin Road, and neighboring streets. At a corner of
Stalin Road a huge government passenger car had been overturned and used as a roadblock.
About 2 o'clock in the morning I made a last stroll in the city.
Most of the young people I talked with maintained that the overwhelming majority of the
soldiers supported them in one way or another. There were, for instance, reports that the
students and other elements got their sub-machine guns and ammunition from the soldiers.
On Wednesday, when the Government announced that it had to call in Soviet troops
because it was "not prepared," the revolution of the previous night changed into
war. It is understood that the Soviet soldiers moved into the town at 4 o'clock in the
morning. A printed leaflet that was pushed into my hand Tuesday night said among other
things that eight Hungarians, including an army major and an army captain, were killed in
the battle for the radio building. The official version broadcast Wednesday said the
A.V.H. had opened fire only when eight of their men had been killed. The broadcast
stressed, more and more emphatically, that it was counter-revolutionary elements,
fascists, and the like, that did the fighting against the soldiers and A.V.H. men, aiming
at the overthrow of the regime. . .
Endre Marton, Associated Press, 25 October By permission. [66/67]
THE CRADLE WILL ROCK
The workers of the Csepel Works have sent us the following letter: " Dear Comrade,
the workers of the Csepel Iron and Metallurgical Works profoundly denounce the reactionary
attack. . . Our workers disarmed the provocateurs and chased them out . . .
Fellow-workers! Hungarian mothers and fathers! Call back your children so that this
unnecessary bloodshed can be stopped!" .
Young intellectuals, Hungarian students! We appeal to you in the tragic hours, in the
difficult situation of our nation, in the name of the Petofi Circle.
Fellow-sportsmen, dear friends! Allow me to convey in these grave hours the sentiments
and thoughts of the entire Hungarian sporting community, the outstanding sportsmen
preparing for the Olympic Games, and the members of the Hungarian international football
team. We know each other well, as we have always been together whenever Hungarian
sportsmen and women have competed for the glory of the Hungarian tricolor.
The honour of our country and a great many future successes of our sportsmen are now at
stake. We do not want to shed one another's blood; we want to create a better and happier
life for Hungarian youth. Our sports life stands on the threshold of gigantic tests. How
uplifting it would be, and how happy we should feel if the Hungarian national flag were
again to be hoisted on the mast of victory in Melbourne! ...
Jozsef Groesz, Archbishop of Kalocsa, has made the following statement in connection
with the shocking events in Budapest: 'The attitude of the Catholic Church is open and
clear. We condemn massacre and destruction. Members of our flock know this. I therefore
hope confidently that believers will not take part in such activities. Set an example . .
The parents of Laszlo [last name unintelligible], 17-year-old, have been notified that
their son is taking part in the fighting. His mother has had a nervous breakdown. If he
wishes to see his mother alive he should go home immediately.
Sorry, but the Children's Hour has been cancelled. Do not be angry, children, that you
have to go to sleep tonight without your bed-time stories.
KADAR: "WITH BURNING ANGER"
Workers, comrades! The demonstration of university youth, which began with the
formulation of, on the whole, acceptable demands, has swiftly degenerated into a
demonstration against our democratic order; and under the cover of this demonstration an
armed attack has broken out. It is only with burning anger that we can speak of this
attack by counter-revolutionary reactionary elements against the capital of our country,
against our people's democratic order and the power of the working class. Towards the
rebels who have risen with arms in their hands against the legal order of our People's
Republic, the Central Committee of our Party and our Government have adopted the only
correct attitude: only surrender or complete defeat can await those who stubbornly
continue their murderous, and at the same time completely hopeless, fight against the
order of our working people.
At the same time we are aware that the provocateurs, going into the fight
surreptitiously, have been using as cover many people who went astray in the hours of
chaos; and especially many young people whom we cannot regard as the conscious enemies of
our regime. Accordingly, now that we have reached the stage of liquidating the hostile
attack, and with a view to avoiding further bloodshed, we have offered and are offering to
those misguided individuals who are willing to surrender on demand, the opportunity of
saving their lives and their future, and of returning to the camp of honest people.
The fight is being waged chiefly by the most loyal units of our People's Army, by the
members of our internal security forces and police, who are displaying heroic courage, and
by former partisans with the help of our brothers and allies, the Soviet soldiers. Yet
this fight is at the same time a political fight in which our Party and our working class
constitute the major force.
Janos Kadar, Radio Kossuth (20:45)
"WELCOME WITH AFFECTION"
Several listeners here turned to us with the question, "explain under what
conditions and with what task did the Soviet units come to Budapest?" We will answer
our listeners' question as follows: These Soviet units are stationed in Hungary in
accordance with the Warsaw Pact. On Tuesday, the enemies of our people turned the
demonstration of university youth into an organized counter-revolutionary provocation;
with their armed attacks they endangered order and threatened the life of the people
throughout the country. Conscious of its responsibility and to restore order and security,
the Hungarian government requested that Soviet troops help to control the murderous
attacks of counter-revolutionary bands. These Soviet soldiers are risking their lives in
order to defend the peaceful population in our capital and the peace of our nation.
After order is restored, the Soviet troops will return to their bases. Workers of
Budapest! Welcome with affection our friends and allies!
The workers, as a distinct, unified, social force, did not make their weight felt until
Wednesday. They mingled in the demonstrations and riots on the Tuesday night, but during
that day most had stayed in the factories -unaware of what was happening.
A 28-year-old refugee who had fought alongside these workers tersely summed up their
role in the revolution: "The young workers were the power of the revolution. The
students began it, but when it developed they did not have the numbers or the ability to
fight as hard as those young workers."
A 21-year-old worker in the huge United Electric factory in Ujpest -an industrial
suburb of Budapest- described how his factory joined the revolt:
"On Tuesday we worked, but we talked as we worked. We talked about wages, about
the results of the writers' meeting. We had printed copies, and knew what they meant when
they said it was impossible to go on in this way. We could not live on what we got from
our work. After work we saw the students demonstrating, and joined in."
"On Wednesday morning the revolt began in our factory. It was unorganised and
spontaneous. If it had been organised, the A.V.H. would have known and stopped it before
it started. The young workers led the way and everyone followed them."
He paused, and then added thoughtfully: "Yes, it was the young workers who made
the revolution against Communism -the workers on whom the whole system was supposed to be
Then he continued his description of what happened that morning: "We usually began
work at 7 a.m. Those of us who came by train from outlying districts waited in the factory
as usual for the other workers to arrive. Just before 7 a.m. a truck filled with young
workers with arms arrived at the gate. When one began to shoot at the red star on top of
the factory a member of the management gave orders for the doors to be closed.
"We were now divided into two groups -those inside and those outside. We who were
inside broke into the Mohosz office and took the sporting rifles. A Communist woman leader
tried to stop us by putting a guard over the rifles. It was no good, everyone, including
the foremen, was united. With the guns we broke out of the factory and everyone marched
into the city.
"When we first acted, we had no communication with anyone. We were not in touch
with other factories. But as we marched, more and more workers joined us, some with arms.
On the corner of Rakoczi street, a university student began to organise us into small
groups and instruct us in the slogans to shout. Then we marched to the American Legation,
where we demonstrated.
George Sherman, The Observer (London), 11 November [68/71]
October 25, 1956
THE SHOOTING IN PARLIAMENT SQUARE
It turned out that last night's shooting [24 Oct.] was more than a mopping-up
operation. At 10 a.m. a crowd of about 2,000 men and women, waving flags and shouting,
"This is a peaceful demonstration!" passed in front of the United States
Legation toward the near-by Parliament building. They greeted the United States flag,
waving from the Legation building, with beaming faces. The marchers waved their hats and
some shouted: "Why don't you help us?"
Then an amazing thing happened. Two huge Soviet tanks and an armored car drove up
packed with young Hungarians fraternizing with the Russian soldiers. All were smiling
uneasily. Other tanks and also a number of Soviet guns were mounted at various corners of
the huge Gothic Parliament building. The demonstrators sent a three-member delegation into
the building, which houses the office of Premier Imre Nagy. While waiting the return of
their delegation, they shouted slogans such as "Down with Gero!" and
"Release our prisoners!" The Russians remained friendly but kept away from the
crowd and prevented the demonstrators from reaching a gate leading to the Premier's
I took cover in a doorway and, looking out, saw a tank firing wildly. Then three
armored cars drove up packed with Soviet soldiers, but they aimed their guns toward the
sky before they fired. How many became the victims of the shooting in Parliament Square
today could not he ascertained. I saw a body of a woman lying under the arcades of the
Ministry of Agriculture, opposite the Parliament building, and three other bodies lying on
the street car track.
When I revisited the scene in the afternoon the bodies had been taken away. One
eyewitness said there were about two to three hundred dead on this square but figures
naturally are exaggerated sometimes in such critical times. I could not see a single
Hungarian soldier, neither army nor security police. At least in this area all the work
was done by Soviet troops. The crowd shouted, "The radio is telling lies!" The
Budapest radio is the only operating medium of public information -no newspapers have been
printed for two days- and it frequently has called the rebels
"counter-revolutionary," "reactionary elements," "fascists"
and "armed gangs". I cannot know, of course, what the political sentiments of
the crowd at the Parliament building were but it is a fact that none of them had arms.
I was present when a truck with a few Hungarian frontier guards was halted at a corner
near the Parliament building and a young man in the crowd discovered that there were
firearms in the truck.
"Go and get them!" said one of the soldiers.
"No, our weapon is the flag," said a middle-aged man who seemed to be in
command of the unit...
Endre Marton, Associated Press, 25 October, By permission. [71/72]
The demonstrators' got as far as the Parliament building, which was protected by Soviet
tanks. The demonstrators did not shoot, because they had no arms; and the Soviet soldiers
did not fire. When the people stopped in front of the Parliament building, machine guns
opened fire from the rooftop of the building opposite, showering the people with bullets
and mercilessly mowing them down. When the Soviet soldiers saw this, they immediately
moved their tanks forward, and their fire silenced the machine-guns on the rooftops.
Dozens of people were killed on the spot, and many others were wounded. This is the work
Western propaganda took advantage of the massacre for slanders, by saying that the
Soviet soldiers caused the bloodshed, and this for no other purpose than to incite the
Hungarian people against the Soviet Army. The truth, however, is that the Soviet soldiers
by firing silenced the .machine-guns of the counter-revolution which sowed death among the
B. Konieczny, Rude Pravo (Prague), 11 November [72/76]
LEAFLETS, PAMPHLETS, DEMANDS
One of the worst massacres of the last three days happened when Russian tanks opened
fire without any clear reason on a crowd of passive and unarmed people in the Parliament
Square yesterday. The total dead here alone is put at over 100. Women and children were
among the dozens mown down. Ambulances had removed the bodies when I drove by three hours
later but some bloodstains were still on the pavement.
A few minutes later I witnessed a scene which showed well enough the part Hungarian
army units are playing in the uprising. It took place in the army printing press in the
Bajcsy- Zsilinszky Street.
This had been seized on Wednesday by the political police forces of the regime and had
been recently retaken by military rebels. From the windows and balconies officers in
uniform were hurling to cheering crowds below copies of a manifesto which had just been
rolled off inside. It spoke in the name of the "Provisional Revolutionary Hungarian
Government," and demanded the immediate end of martial law, the disarming of the
political police, and Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact under the terms of which
Soviet troops are stationed in the country.
Neither this rebel leaflet nor any other I have seen so far openly demands the end of
any form of Communist rule in Hungary. This is probably because the word Communism has
lost here any specific meaning.
But the demand also printed on this sheet for "genuine democratic government"
told its own language. So did the roars of assent from the crowd as they read the smeared
and crumpled leaflets under the headlamps of cars.
Gordon Shephard, Daily Telegraph (London), 27 October [76/77]
Copies have reached Vienna of a leaflet bearing the imprint of the Army Printing Press
"We swear by the corpses of our martyrs that we shall win freedom for our country
in these critical times. The leaders of the Party and Government have been concerned only
with preserving their power. What kind of leadership is this which takes hesitant steps
solely under pressure from the masses?
"Their arbitrary actions have exacted enough sacrifices in the past 10 years. Now
they have brought in the Soviet Army to suppress the Hungarian revolution.
"Citizens, we demand:
1. A new provisional revolutionary Army and national Government, in which will be
represented the leaders of youth in revolt;
2. The immediate ending of martial law;
3. The immediate cancellation of the Warsaw Agreement; the immediate and peaceful
withdrawal of Soviet troops from the motherland;
4. The heads of those who are really responsible for the bloodshed; the release of the
captured and a general amnesty;
5. A true democratic basis for Hungarian Socialism; meanwhile the Hungarian Army to
assume responsibility for order and disarm the security police.
"Without that, the danger of further bloodshed remains. We shall continue the
demonstrations till final victory, but we must remain calm. We condemn all anarchy and
destruction. Comrades, Imre Nagy and Janos Kadar are members of the new revolutionary Army
Government. There has been enough bloodshed."
(Signed) "The New Provisional Revolutionary Hungarian Government and the
National Defence Committee."
The Times (London), 27 October
ON THE STREETS
The tone of the radio changed significantly today, and Premier Nagy's last appeal in
fact was directed to "soldiers, young men, young workers and everyone who is still
fighting," almost begging them to stop.
In Buda, on the right bank of the Danube, things were much quieter although a small
group of rebels found refuge on the rocky side of Gellert Hill. They were hunted by a
Shops were closed yesterday. Some state-run groceries opened today for a few hours and
long queues were formed with people waiting for bread and other foodstuffs. There were
neither buses, nor trams, nor taxis and only a few passenger cars. The situation was
slightly better this morning until fighting flared up again after 10 a.m. Very few buses
and trams were in operation. They were too few to carry everyone to the factories and
offices, though the Government had asked everyone repeatedly the day before through the
radio to return to work.
All bridges were immediately blocked by Soviet tanks when they entered the city at 4
a.m. Wednesday. There were as many as six or more on one [77/78] bridge. They usually
permitted pedestrians to go through, and occasionally some cars. How many Soviet troops
were brought to Budapest could not be ascertained, but there are a remarkable number of
huge T-34 tanks. I counted more than fifty when I passed them Wednesday afternoon parked
near the Parliament building. Most of the Russian soldiers seemed very young. The same
applies to the rebels. Most of them are students and young workers. Some arrived in
oil-stained overalls at Tuesday's demonstrations.
The demonstrators showed amazing courage. I saw them boldly going straight toward tanks
and guns with only a flag in their hands and demonstrating against far superior forces
ranging from tanks to submachine guns.
What the outcome of all this will be remains anybody's guess. Premier Nagy took over
and he signed an order introducing martial law that doubtless harmed his former immense
popularity. But so far I have not heard a single shout against him.
But as to the question of who actually is in overall command of the rebels, the answer
obviously must be that no one seems to be. That is the unanimous belief of the few
Westerners, diplomats and newsmen who toured the city on both days of what must be termed
But the greatest thing doubtless is that Premier Nagy has promised to negotiate with
the Soviet Union the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary.
That was point No. 1 of the demands of the youth.
Earlier today I toured the neighbourhood of the big block of red brick houses on Madach
Square, site of heavy fighting Wednesday. The picture was frightful indeed, resembling the
grim days after the siege of the city in 1945. Shiny passenger cars with Austrian and
other foreign license plates in front of the Astoria Hotel had broken windshields. All the
windows of the hotel were smashed and big holes, unmistakably made by gunfire gaped on the
walls of various buildings. All the streets around are strewn with debris. Cables and
trolleys dangle down into the street. Shops are burned out. All this is the remains of the
fighting Wednesday afternoon, which appeared to Western observers watching events from the
windows of the British Legation as a war between tanks, machine guns and infantry on the
one side and a handful of snipers on the other. The beautiful museum near the radio
station and the Astoria Hotel caught fire Wednesday and was still burning today.
As I was sending this dispatch late tonight from Buda, the most peaceful part of
Budapest, machine guns and other weapons could be heard roaring somewhere in the city.
Steel-helmeted police stood in front of the battered Astoria Hotel. There was dead silence
around the radio buildings. Streets were dark. Two Hungarian and eight Soviet tanks
towered in the fog.
Endre Marton, Associated Press, 26 October. By permission [78/81]
"BROADCASTING THE TRUTH"
News of the revolution first seems to have spread from Budapest and other cities by way
of workers who lived outside the cities, by broadcasts against the rebels over the
Government radio, and by improvised radios set up by the insurgents.
A radio and television student told me how he had used his knowledge in Budapest.
"On Wednesday morning students in trucks brought arms to the university in Buda. Our
polytechnic collegium could not get any, however, for the A.V.H. locked us in.
"When I went home in the afternoon I made a short-wave set, and began broadcasting
our 14 demands. I stated that the Government had refused to accept them.
"During the following days I broadcast all morning the general opinion of the
people, in contrast to what the Government Kossuth radio was saying. As time went on, the
Government's line came closer to the line of the people. They could not resist the
pressure in the streets.
"When I was not broadcasting, I walked unarmed around the streets of Budapest to
see what was happening. I talked to people; I watched the fighting; I saw young girls
throw 'Molotov cocktails' at Russian tanks. Then, I broadcast to the world the truth, that
we were not the counter-revolutionaries the Government said, but rather, the whole
Hungarian people fighting for our freedom." . . .
George Sherman, The Observer (London), 11 November [81 /83]
October 26, 1956
WHAT HAPPENED IN MAGYAROVAR
This is a little town about ten kilometres away from the Austrian border. The bodies of
eighty-two people are lying side by side in the chapel of the cemetery. I counted them one
by one, and stopped in front of each of them. . . . Nearly all of them were very young, as
far as I could judge. The smell of blood, mingled with the scent of the flowers which the
population had brought, pervaded the cemetery chapel. Here lay 82 martyrs who made one of
the most glorious pages of history and who demonstrated the insurrection in one of
Hungary's provincial towns . . . They had made up a large group of people who were heading
for the barracks of the security police in order to throw out the occupants. There were
almost a thousand of them, mainly students and workers from local bauxite factories who
had been on strike for four days. The policemen awaited the attack, sheltered in small
trenches which had been dug in front of the barracks. When the group approached, an
officer, hands over his head, walked towards the group to negotiate. The crowd stopped.
The officer exchanged a few words and shook hands with some of the men whom he knew
personally, as he lived in Magyarovar himself. He even embraced two or three of them. Then
he returned to his men and fellow officers -thirty in all. He took out his pistol and as
the demonstrators approached he fired into the air. This was the signal for the massacre.
The thirty armed soldiers standing behind their machine guns unexpectedly opened fire on
the crowd, which was in no way prepared for such foul play. It had all happened within a
split-second. Numerous students and workers doubled up and collapsed. Cries of terror and
horror rose to the skies of Magyarovar. The blood ran from victims' torn flesh. The roar
of powerful grenades thrown by the security police joined the rattle of machine guns. Bits
of human flesh were strewn all around the site of this mass slaughter. This horrifying
massacre was witnessed by some of the terrorized population, who had first thought that
the occupants of the barracks would give themselves up without any blood being spilled.
The survivors had gone to ask for reinforcements. When they returned to the barracks,
the latter seemed deserted. Only three officers remained, and they were all trying to
escape. One of them had thrown himself from the window of the third floor. His body landed
on the pavement and parts of his brains had squirted out of his open skull . . . the two
others were captured. The crowd threw itself upon them. They were beaten until their
bodies were mere sanguinary objects. Then they were split into pieces as if this had been
the work of wild animals.
Bruno Tedeschi, Di Giornale d'Italia (Rome), 30 October
"We are not cruel", said someone who spoke English to me, "but the women
and children killed by grenades must be avenged"...
The head of the committee explained the insurgent attitude to me. "Three
times", he said, "the Government has acted too late. If Nagy had been appointed
Prime Minister only one day sooner, nothing would have happened, or at most a few
demonstrations. For while we want democracy and freedom, we also want socialism. If Nagy
had not called in the Russian troops everything would have returned to normal on the first
day because we had confidence in his government. If Gero had been expelled from the
Communist Party twenty-four hours earlier, there would have been no need to appeal to the
Russians. If Gero, when speaking on the radio, had not described us as 'terrorists' and
'fascists', if the Government had understood our claims, the revolt would have ceased
immediately. Unluckily the Government took a day too long to realize that we were neither
fascists nor terrorists. The [83/85] Russians had begun firing. The civil war turned into
a patriotic war of Hungarians against Russians. We do not want the Russians in our
country. They are taking the uranium from our mines and exploiting our mineral resources.
The whole army joined our ranks and even the Communists fought at our side. On the first
day, the democrats fought against the Stalinists. Then, after the Russians had fired, the
whole army and population, whatever their party, spontaneously reacted against the foreign
troops. We are not organized. We have no leader. We have no arms. The revolt broke out of
itself without any preparation."
That is what the insurgents of Magyarovar told me. They want free elections, democracy,
a representative government, freedom for all parties, a general amnesty, the trial of the
Stalinist leaders. The departmental committees controlled by the insurgents (at Gyor,
[Raab], Komarom, etc.) have submitted claims, summarized in a dozen or so items, and often
contradictory. No mention is made therein of altering the political structure; the
economic reforms and social achievements are questioned by no one...
Giorgio Bontempi, Il Paese (Rome), 28 October [85/84]
Your Correspondent was able to cross into Hungary from the Austrian frontier town of
Nickelsdorf, on the main Vienna-Budapest road, and go on about 10 miles to the town of
Magyarovar. In Magyarovar on Friday morning, some 80 people were killed and about 100
wounded when a detachment of A.V.H. (State secret police) opened fire on a large unarmed
crowd of demonstrators who had gone to their barracks on the outskirts of the town to tear
down the red star.
The people of Magyarovar took their revenge. Of the four officers of a detachment of
A.V.H. about 20 strong, one was killed on the spot. The three others took refuge in a
cellar of the barracks. One of the three, said to have been the commander, escaped. The
others were killed in the afternoon. One was lynched; the other was hanged from a plane
tree in the Lenin Ut, one of the main streets of the town.
The demonstration in Magyarovar followed what, from accounts reaching here, is the
standard pattern of the protest of the Hungarian people. About 10 o'clock in the morning a
crowd assembled in the centre of the town and set out for the barracks with the intention
of replacing the red star by the Hungarian red, white, and green tricolour. By the time
the crowd reached the barracks it appears to have numbered several thousand -by some
accounts, most of the population of the town, which numbers 22,000, was there.
In front of the barracks the crowd sang the national anthem and other Hungarian
patriotic songs. This part of the proceedings was described to your correspondent by a
middle-aged professional man who had been there. Speaking quietly and with evident
truthfulness, he said: "The A.V.H. opened fire with machine-guns and flung
hand-grenades. They gave no warning. People were mown down. It was an entirely peaceful
demonstration. We wanted only to remove the star."
After describing how the A.V.H. officers were killed he added: "What will happen
now is in God's hands, but we want freedom for Hungary." A woman who joined in the
conversation said: "I was in Budapest two days ago. It was the same there as here
yesterday. The people demonstrated peacefully, shouting: 'Down with the red star!' and
'Out with the Russians'."
Magyarovar and the surrounding countryside are now in the hands of a national committee
of 20, representing the workers and the young people of the town. The committee has turned
out the previous Communist administration and has its headquarters in the town hall, which
is also the seat of the county administration. There are no Russian troops in or about
Magyarovar. The nearest appeared to be in Gyor (Raab).
A member of the committee said: "We do not regard ourselves as
counter-revolutionaries, but the new Government must base its policy on the wishes of the
people. We have shown here what we think of the old system and want a free and independent
Hungary controlled by a Government that does not rely on foreign armed support. We are
willing to support the new Government, but it must show its spirit before we trust it
In Magyarovar, we were first shown the tree in the Lenin Ut on which the A.V.H. officer
was hanged. The twigs on one of the branches were torn. There was a big splash of blood on
the kerb. Ironically enough, the street signs bearing Lenin's name had not been removed. A
Hungarian who had joined the group was hoisted up by two others so that he could be
photographed taking down one of the shields. As he pulled it off the old name of the
street could be seen on the reverse side.
From there we were taken to the cemetery, the main walk of which, thickly lined with
plane trees, was crowded with mourners. In a mortuary, the bodies of six men and three
women were lying on the floor, the blood still unwashed on their wounds. From their
clothing all seemed to be working-class people. Some had tiny bunches of flowers on their
breasts. Outside two other corpses lay on biers.
In the main hall of a chapel near by, hung with black curtains and with an altar at the
far end, 14 bodies lay on the floor. Behind the curtains on the left were the bodies of
two women and one man on the floor; behind the curtains on the right, the body of a young
man. Two other bodies here were in coffins. One was a young woman: the other was a child
of about 18 months. "Send out the news of this," said the man who lifted the lid
of the child's coffin to show the lightly shrouded corpse.
The Times, (London), 29 October [84/87]
THE GOVERNMENT IN DESPAIR
Although only at noon today Radio Budapest said that Mr. Nagy would try to negotiate a
[Soviet] withdrawal by January 1, the promise was not repeated in the Central Committee's
declaration broadcast in the afternoon. Nor, incidentally, was it mentioned in Moscow
radio's summary of Mr. Nagy's speech or in any other East European reports on the
situation in Hungary, except in those put out by the official Polish news agency.
The rebel radio at Miskolc rejected the promises Mr. Nagy had made in a broadcast reply
to demands by the workers of Borsod County, and reiterated the rebels' demands, including
the right to strike, and called for the continuation of the present strike until such time
as the demands were met. It announced the formation of a "workers' council" for
the Greater Miskolc area and called upon the population to cooperate with it.
It would seem that what the Hungarian people desire most, next to moral support, would
be a reference of the whole matter to the United Nations. The use of Soviet troops in
Hungary may lend itself to some form of action there. The whole matter is likely to be
aggravated, possibly in the near future, by the apparent success of the rebels, which, if
it continues, will require the bringing of considerable Soviet reinforcements into
The obvious danger is that the revolt may spread to the other satellite countries and
thus threaten to knock not only Hungary but the whole of Eastern Europe out of the Soviet
bloc. It would appear to serve the Soviet interest much better to arrive at some
accommodation with the rebels, as indeed they have done in the case of Gomulka, in order
to stop the rot, or the fighting, from spreading.
The Nagy Government is still in no mood to surrender to the rebels, but this evening a
new trend was discernible in Budapest Radio broadcasts. It looked as if, by agreeing to
treat with workers' committees representing various industrial areas, by stating
irrevocably that the Government "accepts all their demands" -while taking care
not to name them- and by recommending the further formation of such committees in other
areas, the Government was trying to take the wind out of the rebels' sails.
These are the tactics of a desperate group of people now representing what must have
become a very small minority of the Hungarian population. Indeed, it is by no means
certain that the Government remains in Budapest. Certainly the broadcasts that claim to
come from Budapest Radio -which seems to have been wrecked in the fighting- do not come
from the centre of Budapest. In the past few days, the radio has given its telephone
number to listeners- so that parents may send messages to be broadcast to their sons- and
these numbers proved to be those of buildings in outlying parts of the city.
The one object that certainly does remain in the hands of the Government is the
Budapest Radio transmitter, located some way out of the city. If only the rebels had first
attacked the transmitter site and not the building which housed the studios, the whole
course of the revolution might have been different. . .
Victor Zorza, Manchester Guardian, 27 October [87/90]
From what I have seen and been told already there is no doubt that the spearhead of the
revolt was in units of the Hungarian Regular Army itself. The Kossuth academy, the
Hungarian officers' training school, went over en bloc to the rebels.
Others, like the Hadik Barracks, were taken by force, but after half-hearted
resistance. Several military commanders are said to have shown themselves
"benevolently neutral" by taking no part, but offering the rebels free pick of
their arsenal. Three independent eyewitnesses told me how they had seen Hungarian officers
distributing arms to the civilian demonstrators. The rebels had also been in possession of
some Soviet-type tanks, whose number is put conservatively at about a dozen. One which
roared down the Danube embankment with its turrets open was piled high with civilians
throwing out patriotic leaflets.
But all accounts of tank incidents are blurred by the problem of identification. The
entire armoured element of one Soviet mechanised division, numbering more than 150 tanks,
is thought to have been called in with other Russian troops. In an attempt to disguise the
detested Soviet presence, Hungarian flags have been hung on many of their tanks. In other
cases Hungarian tanks are filled with Russian crews. The rebels seem to have only one
clear way of identifying themselves. This is to fly Communist flags with the hammer and
sickle slashed away to leave a ragged hole in the middle. Rumours that some Russian troops
fraternised with the rebels and taught them how to fire from Soviet tanks are probably
wishful thinking, arising from this identification muddle.
It seems fair to say that in some cases the Soviet troops appeared reluctant to carry
out their unpleasant job. Yet in other cases their hastiness or willful brutality have
caused needless slaughter...
This is the most impossible thing to convey out of the tragic Budapest scene yet the
most important, the choking hate of the ordinary people against their present masters and
the Russians who protect them. For these three days and nights, under the cloak of a
military revolt with which they were mostly unconnected, they have been able to give vent
to this hate.
The worst side of this hatred is a still unshaken joy and hope at seeing anything
Western. A dozen or more times driving around Budapest my car has been hemmed in by
passers-by, shouting in English, German, or Hungarian "For God's sake tell the truth
about these massacres!" and "Do they know in the West what these Russians are
One man, thrusting an old Hungarian blade through the car window, cried: "This is
our only weapon. When are you going to help us?" .
Gordon Shepherd, Daily Telegraph (London), 27 October [90/93]
"A CITY OF MOURNING"
Tonight Budapest is a city of mourning. Black flags hang from every window. For during
the past four days thousands of its citizens fighting to throw off the yoke of Russia have
been killed or wounded. Budapest is a city that is slowly dying. Its streets and
once-beautiful squares are a shamble of broken glass, burnt-out cars and tanks, and
rubble. Food is scarce, petrol is running out.
But still the battle rages on. For five hours this morning until a misty dawn broke
over Budapest I was in the thick of one of the battles. It was between Soviet troops and
insurgents trying to force a passage across the Danube.
Two of the rebels into whose ranks I literally wandered died in the battle, one of them
in my arms. Several were wounded. Tonight, as I write this dispatch, heavy firing is
shaking the city, which is still sealed off from the rest of the world.
To get here I drove through endless Russian check points and through fighting that has
now killed thousands of civilians. . . . Where formerly the trams ran, the insurgents have
torn up the rails to use as anti-tank weapons. At least 30 tanks have been smashed so far,
many with Molotov cocktails. Their burnt-out skeletons seem everywhere, spread on both
sides of the Danube. Even trees have been dug out as anti-tank barricades. Burned-out cars
are used by the rebels at every street corner, but still the Soviet tanks are rumbling
through the city. There are at least 50 still in action, together with armoured cars and
troop carriers. They fire on anything, almost at sight.
At the moment I can hear, like thunder rolling in the distance, the sound of their 85
mm. guns. They are battling for some objective which sounds about a quarter of a mile
away. The Chain Bridge probably. The insurgents have plenty of ammunition, stored in a
central dump, but it is all for automatic weapons and the making of Molotov Cocktails.
Travelling around the city is a nightmare, for no one knows who is friend or foe, and
all shoot at everybody. There is no doubt now the revolt has been far more bloody than the
official radio reports suggested. Casualties number many thousands. The Russian are just
unloosing murder at every street corner. . . . I owe my life to a young girl insurgent
who, speaking a little English, helped me to safety after the Russians had opened fire on
It took me three hours to drive from the border to the outskirts of Buda, the hilly
part of Budapest. Twice on the way I was stopped by Soviet troops. But each time I
persuaded them to let me through. I made for the Chain Bridge that spans the Danube. In
front of the bridge stood a barricade of burned out tramcars, a bus, old cars, and
uprooted tramlines. It was at least the 50th barricade of its kind I had seen since I
entered the city. As I drove towards it, lights full on and the Chain Bridge on my left,
heavy firing started from the centre of the bridge. Machine-gun bullets whistled past the
car. Then, when some heavier stuff began falling I switched off the lights, jumped out and
crawled round to the side.
It was foggy. For ten minutes the firing, in a desultory fashion, went on. Then I heard
a whispered voice -a woman's. She spoke first in German, crawled round to where I was
crouching, then in halting English told me to get back in my car. She herself, walking,
crouched by the car, guided me into a side street. Then, together, we darted back to the
I found nine boys there, their average age about 18. Three wore Hungarian uniform, but
with the hated Red Star torn off. Others wore red, green, and white armbands, the national
colours of Hungary. All had submachine guns. Their pockets were filled with ammunition.
The girl, whose name I discovered was Paula, had a gun too. [93/94]
Half-way across the bridge I could see the dim outlines of two Soviet tanks. For an
hour they fired at us. But never a direct hit -a shell smashed straight through the bus.
One of the boys was killed instantly. I tried to help a second boy who was hurt, but he
died five minutes later. The shelling went on. We crouched under cover and only splinters
hit us. The rebels kept up machine-gun fire all the time. Paula was wounded in the arm,
but not seriously. I helped her dress it with one of my handkerchiefs.
"Now you see what we are fighting against", said Paula. She was wearing
slacks, bright blue shoes, and a green over-coat.
"We will never give in -never", she said. "Never until the Russians are
out of Hungary and the AVH (she pronounced it Avo) is dissolved.
Noel Barber, Daily Mail (London), 27 October [94/96]
October 27, 1956
TANKS, BOMBS, AND YOUTH
Again I tried to get through to the Kilian Barracks, this time with success. Dozens of
destroyed tanks shot to pieces, ruined houses, corpses, mark the neighborhood of the
Budapest Alcazar. Behind its thick walls stand soldiers, students, young workers,
remarkable youngsters. I am introduced to a tall, impressive looking officer, the
commander of these 1200 men. He introduces himself as "Colonel Acs". What he
said to me then, while still fighting, he would later repeat again as a celebrated hero,
for this "Colonel Acs" was actually the legendary Pal Maleter. "For us
there is only one alternative", he said in accent-free German. "Either we win,
or we fall. There is no third possibility. We have confidence in Imre Nagy, but we will
lay down our weapons only to regular Hungarian troops, and we will put ourselves at the
disposal of the new government immediately if it is really a Hungarian government."
After this quick visit, I went to the hospital where the wounded from the Kilian
Barracks lay, young boys and girls who had gambled courageously with their lives for the
freedom of their country. How often in the last years, seeing youngsters in the West
gadding about without ideals, have I asked myself what will become of this youth? And now
here, severely wounded, some in agony, two and three to a hospital bed, lie kids who could
be a Franzl from Ottakring, or a Poldl from Prater Park. No, this youth is not lost. They
have high ideals.
In the same hospital, another incident: the head physician leads me to the bed of a
little boy, a small, pitiful figure, with long dishevelled [96/97] blond hair fall mg over
his face, white as chalk. "Is he badly wounded?" I whispered. The doctor
answered, "Not at all."
"What's he doing in the hospital?" I ask astonished. "The boy is totally
exhausted. With a machine-gun he defended, all by himself, an important street
intersection for four days, only taking a break now and then to fetch food and new
munition. He fought four sleepless days and nights, and now he's completely out with
exhaustion." The boy's name was Jancsi; he is thirteen years old . -
Eugen-Geza Pogany, "Ungarns Freiheitskampf" (Vienna, 1957)
Gabor, who was 22 years old, was the "Commander" of 1,500 young men of about
the same age... Their headquarters had been set up in the building of a chemical
experimental centre, a sturdy, thick-walled structure which provided a certain security
... Gabor had discovered in the building some bottles of nitroglycerin, which were
probably intended for laboratory experiments. He told me that his find had reminded him of
the French film The Wages of Fear ...
He made arrangements to have the bottles, which contained 15 litres of the powerful
explosive, carefully transported to insurgent headquarters at the Korvin Cinema, a few
feet from Ulloi Street ...
...Powerful bombs were fabricated with the help of students and chemists...
Consequently, in that quarter the insurgents were able to attack the tanks by hurling at
them bottles containing nitroglycerine which tore huge and ghastly holes in the steel
walls. I myself saw these holes, they could not have been made by the machine guns or the
cannons used by the insurgents.
... "Sandor died in 'Villanyi Ut' when the Soviet tanks arrived. He was a little
hero. The rest of us were hiding behind the main entrance of a building, waiting for the
tanks to go by. We were armed with automatic pistols and lots of grenades. The tanks came
from the south, from beyond the Danube, by way of Szabadsag Bridge. There were five of us.
Sandor was the youngest. He was 16 years old. His father was dead, and he lived with his
mother. We wanted him to go home, but he showed his tri-coloured arm-band: 'It was my
mother who sewed it on. I'm staying.'
"The firing began, first in scattered flurries, then with increasing intensity.
Suddenly we heard the rattling of the tank-bands. A tank was approaching. It could not be
far off. The Russians were coming from Bela Bartok Avenue. They tried to take rather wide
streets so as to avoid the danger of jets of petrol. We were all livid. Sandor was yellow.
Of what use were our weapons against the T-34's? Even the grenades were useless. Suddenly
the tanks charged. There were five of them. 'We'll each take one,' said Geza, who was the
oldest of us. Sandor slipped to the corner where the grenades were stored. He returned
with a batch of six held together by a string. 'I'm waiting for them,' he said. When the
tanks passed in front of us, Sandor went out alone.
"I saw him run behind the tank and try to get up from behind. He actually
succeeded without attracting the attention of the Russians. He lifted his batch of
grenades and tossed them on the platform, then jumped and ran back to us. When I turned to
look at the tank again I saw that the grenades had rolled to the ground. 'Sandor,' I
cried, 'come back, come back fast!' I can still see his face. He had certainly heard me.
His eyes were wet with tears. He picked up the grenades, climbed on to the tank and threw
the lot of them at the tower. There was a blinding flash, a horrible explosion. We all
threw ourselves to the ground to avoid the splinters. I didn't want to look. Sandor was
Bruno Tedeschi, Il Giornale d'Italia (Rome), 18 November [97/100]
A REVOLUTIONARY COMMITTEE MEETS
The revolutionary committee was meeting in what might have been a library, with a
massive but modern bookcase, a tall stove faced with brown glazed tiles, and a grandfather
clock. The room was full of cigarette smoke. Everywhere there were young men wearing their
colours, either as armbands or in their buttonholes, and with tommy-guns slung on their
shoulders; they said they were going to fight in Budapest. They reminded me of a poem
about some other revolutionaries:
I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
The spokesman of the committee had, in one way, the stamp of a man in revolt. He
was wearing the classic, heavy military-style raincoat, even though it was a warm evening.
But he was agreeable and cheerful. He said he was an engineer and belonged to no party,
although he had been in prison on some political charge. It did not seem to have hardened
him. The chairman of the committee was a slightly built man, considerably older and with a
two days' growth of grey beard. He was wearing a crumpled grey alpaca jacket with,
underneath it, a rather grubby leather jerkin and an unbuttoned shirt. He, too, had a
sense of humour, although of a less evident kind. He seemed tired. Nowhere in either of
these two men was there any sign of self-importance, at least that I could see at the
time. Nor was there anything conspiratorial about them or any of their friends. There was
no sign anywhere of the professional revolutionary.
They told me that their committee, which was in touch with others of its kind in the
area and elsewhere, represented all political parties. It included, they said, some
Communists, although whether these were perhaps ex-Communists I could not discover, the
interpretation of their Hungarian and German was a little inflexible. But this was clear,
that the committee is keeping order, that there is no effective opposition to it now, that
it organises supplies of food and that there are the rudiments of a bus service being run
by it. It is also in touch with similar committees elsewhere and gets something like
intelligence reports from them. I rather doubt if these are really accurate.
The committee said that the Russians in Budapest had laid down their arms, but Budapest
radio, still controlled by the authorities, suggests that, if anything, the opposite is
true . . . The young men with tommy-guns from Magyarovar will be testing the truth of
these different stories in a stern way.
It is hard to sum up these men quickly. The lynching of the policeman who fired on the
crowd shows perhaps that there are deeper hatreds at work than I was shown. But I do know
that they feel earnestly about what they are doing and that they feel warmly towards the
West. All that we few journalists had done was to go and see them, but when we left they
kissed us on the cheeks; it might, in other circumstances, have seemed a rather forced
Ivor Jones, The Listener (London), 1 November [100/101)
DEFIANT GROUPS HOLD OUT
The Hungarian uprising has now reached its third, and potentially its bloodiest, stage.
It began nearly a week ago with unarmed student demonstrations. When these grew into a
popular tumult a military revolt, which had probably been planned long in advance within
certain units of the Hungarian Regular Army, was superimposed upon them. As far as
Budapest is concerned, this semi organised military action seems to have been subdued by
Soviet tanks. Fighting continued in the city, though on a reduced and more sporadic scale.
The severest actions have been on the hills of Buda, near the island of Csepel, south of
the city, at an intersection of the Stalin road in the middle of the capital, and at the
Maria Theresia Barracks. Here a group of students and soldiers rejected four successive
orders to surrender. They were flattened by guns of the Soviet T 34 and T 54 tanks, firing
at point-blank range.
The Russians are using their heavy tanks purely as extermination squads. They rumble
from one district to another, flattening every house where even one sniper's rifle is
heard or suspected. Moscow may restore "order" by these means, but it will never
quell the fresh waves of hate which every new action sets up.
Of the dozens of moving incidents I have seen in the streets the most pathetic sight
was the action of a little Hungarian boy, aged about eight or nine. He clambered into a
Soviet tank and poured a little can of petrol on to its tracks in an attempt to start a
blaze. It is hard to think of any Communist Government reshuffle which will pacify this
From the regime's standpoint the main threat has now passed back to mostly unarmed mass
demonstrators, who, having smelt blood and sensed their enormous moral power in the past
few days, are even more determined than they were a week ago.
Typical of this latest phase are a few hundred students and workmen who were reported
today to be barricaded behind stone and rubble barriers in the two main squares of Buda.
As far as is known on this side of the river they have hardly any arms or food. They face
certain extermination as and when the Russians choose to open fire. Yet they have rejected
surrender appeals across the barricades, even when made by friendly soldiers of the
Hungarian Army. Their answer was: "We will stay here and die if necessary -until the
Russians agree to leave our homeland."
Similar outbursts of fanatical patriotism are reported from all over the country. In
the Eastern provinces a sort of peasants guerilla war is said to have broken out, with the
rebels going for their local enemies with shotguns, or even in mediaeval style with
scythes and pitch-forks. At Tatabanya the colliers are reported to be on strike and
preparing an unarmed protest march on the beleaguered capital. Regional revolutionary
committees [101/102] have been set up in Sopron and Hegyeshalom, on the Western frontier.
In all cases the main targets of hate have been the Russian troops and the AVO, or
political police. Thus in this third stage the Red Army, which has hitherto concentrated
its efforts almost entirely on the capital, is now forced to disperse them on a hundred or
more smaller punitive actions in the countryside. This is not the same direct threat to
the regime's seat of power as was put up in Budapest a few days ago by sections of the
Hungarian Army. But the cumulative damage to the Russian cause may be greater in the long
One can now truly speak of an active national revolt, stretching from Neusiedler Lake,
in the West, to the Transylvanian Mountains in the East. In an attempt to stifle this
revolt before news of it can reach the outside world Red Army reinforcements have poured
into Hungary in strength over the weekend. They came across the Rumanian and Russian
borders. Two of the new units have been identified for certain by military observers here.
One is a complete armoured regiment transferred from Timisoara, in Western Rumania. The
other is a mortar battalion which has come in direct from Russia across Hungary's narrow
strip of frontier with the Soviet Union. I saw rocket batteries from the mortar battalion
in action against rebel targets on the Buda hills. Of the two Soviet Army divisions
stationed permanently in Hungary only one is known for certain to have been committed in
the Budapest fighting. The other is presumably dealing with local actions which have now
broken out in other provinces.
One thing is certain. Nowhere does the Soviet command trust any Hungarian Army unit,
whatever its alleged loyalties. One rebel told me that even some of the "loyal"
Hungarian tanks fighting under Russian orders had been allowed only two rounds of
ammunition for warning shots. At least one senior Hungarian Army commander is reported to
have paid with his life for siding with the rebels. His name is given as General Kis, and
he is said to have been shot out of hand by the Russians for refusing to order his troops
to fire on demonstrators.
Meanwhile, as Red Army reinforcements have poured in from the East, the discredited
Communist leadership in Budapest has fought to save its skin by roping itself to its
Gordon Shepherd, Daily Telegraph (London), 29 October
THE SOVIET TROOPS
The attitude of Soviet troops in Hungary differs from place to place, reported a member
of the rebel forces in Nickelsdorf on the Austrian border. In many areas the Red Army
soldiers are exercising obvious restraint. In Raab (Gyor) in West Hungary on Saturday
there was a strong concentration of Soviet troops, who did not attack the insurgents, not
even to defend themselves when demonstrators pelted them with stones. The Hungarian
informant also said that near Gran regular Hungarian Army tank units handed over their
vehicles to the revolutionaries...
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 29 October
The Ministry of Defence has issued the following communiqué: The Town Council of Baja
rang up the Ministry of Defence this afternoon and asked for information about the rumour
that Soviet troops are engaged in large-scale military operations in Budapest. Are these
rumours true? The Ministry of Defence informs inquirers that they are not. By this morning
the bulk of the armed groups was liquidated. Military action is now confined to a few
nests. It is true that Soviet troops have helped, and are helping very much in liquidating
groups which have attacked the workers' power. In many places, however, insurgents trapped
in larger buildings have asked to be allowed to lay down arms to Hungarian People's Army
units, and their request has been granted. As the military activities are subsiding,
formations of the Hungarian army are gradually taking over the task of maintaining order
everywhere. If those armed groups which are still resisting do not lay down their arms
after being summoned to do so by the Hungarian army units, they will be completely
Reports reaching London supported the Hungarian Nationalists' claim that they hold the
five towns of Gyor, Sopron, Szentgotthard, Magyarovar and Miskolc.
Soviet tanks entering the country bypassed Miskolc. They were prevented, at least
temporarily, from crossing the River Tisza at Szolnok [102/103] by Nationalists, who
threatened to blow up the bridge.
Russian formations based in Rumania are now known to be engaged in the fighting. Some
of their troops are among the wounded in the hospitals.
Some Russian soldiers are believed to have thrown in their lot with the Nationalists.
The trade union paper Nepszava, which carried two Nationalist manifestos on
Friday, demanded among other things "political asylum for Soviet fighting men who
have come over to support our people."
Diplomatic Correspondent, Daily Telegraph (London), 29 October
It is clear from the latest reports from Hungary that the calculations of the counter-
revolutionary insurgents are suffering failure. The newly formed Hungarian Government
headed by Imre Nagy is master of the situation in the country. The Hungarian Workers'
Party and the Government of the Republic are doing everything possible to restore order as
quickly as possible.
During the last few days bourgeois propaganda has been spreading naked lies about the
situation in Hungary and has kept silent about the main thing: the fact that a
counter-revolutionary putsch flared up in Hungary and that its organisers began to
overthrow the people's power, the very people's power which had been won with such great
difficulty by the Hungarian workers in the struggle against fascism.
The events of the last days in Budapest leave no doubt that the forces which started
the counter-revolutionary putsch were anti-national forces deeply hostile to the cause of
building socialism in Hungary. Moreover, those forces have very close and direct ties with
In his report from Vienna the other day the UP correspondent wrote that the
participants in the insurrection against the people in Hungary were well-armed. This is a
matter of a well-trained and armed underground. At present, bourgeois organs of the
Western press prefer to keep silent about who is organising and financing subversive
actions against countries of the Socialist camp. But it is already clear to the whole word
that the U.S. Congress annually appropriates 100 million dollars for this shady business.
And last summer the USA appropriated an additional 25 million dollars to intensify
subversion in the People's Democracies. But is this all? Remember that the great campaign
for sending off balloons with inflammatory propaganda was organised from West German
territory by imperialist agents. Remember how many dirty and provocative rumours are
spread every day by the so called "Radio Free Europe", which is financed by
American dollars. If we added to this, direct diversionary and spying activities by
Western Intelligence organisations in these countries, it becomes even clearer who the
real initiator is of the anti-people's putsch in Hungary.
Reactionary insurgents played on temporary economic difficulties. For their dark
purposes they used various shortcomings in the work of the Hungarian State apparatus and
individual instances where revolutionary legality had been violated. The enemies of the
People's Democracy did not shrink from anything. As the Polish paper Trybuna Ludu
points out, peaceful demonstrations of the Hungarian population were joined by organised
counter-revolutionary elements who were ready to turn the mood of the Hungarian public
against the most sacred cause -the cause of socialism.
As a result of the armed outbreak by reactionary putschists a situation arose in
Hungary which involved the question of defending the democratic conquests of the Hungarian
working people. In order to protect these sacred gains from the designs of the
counter-revolutionary insurgents, the Government of the Hungarian People's Republic
appealed for help to the Soviet Union. At the request of the Hungarian Government, Soviet
troops took part in repulsing the sallies of armed reactionaries and in establishing order
All honest men are convinced that the working people of Hungary will find strength and
courage to give the reactionary putschists a deserving rebuff and to safeguard the
peaceful construction of their free motherland.
Antoly Sherstyuk, Radio Moscow [104/105]
By chance I meet two prominent authors who played a major role in the writers' revolt .
. . They lead me into the archives of the parliament, where I get to see, as the first
foreigner, a document of historical significance: the proof that it was not Imre Nagy who
had asked the Russians for Soviet military intervention against the Hungarian insurgents.
The original document is actually signed "Imre Nagy" but not with his own
written signature. There where it should stand is type-written, fine and clean: Nagy Imre,
m.p. . . .
Eugen-Geza Pogany, Ungarns' Freiheitskampf (Vienna - 1956) [105/106]
"WAITING FOR INSTRUCTIONS"
Last night the Szabad Nep building was bombarded by Soviet tanks. Why? Because
yesterday its editorial expressed the timid opinion that the accusation
"counter-revolution" was somewhat exaggerated. At this, Stalinists in the Party
leadership decided Szabad Nep had joined the revolution! The Stalinists alarmed
the Soviet commander and obtained agreement from the War Ministry. Tanks fired at the
first floor, then at the third floor. Only after delegates from the newspaper managed to
explain to the Soviet officers that there must have been some mistake, they were firing at
the official organ of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Communist Party -did the
The editor-in-chief of Szabad Nep received us in his office which, by some
miracle, was saved. Many people, cut off from their homes, were sleeping in the room. The
editor explained: "There was no counter-revolution. The crimes of the A.V.H. and a
false evaluation of the situation offended the whole nation and brought about a
nation-wide revolution. The Party does not exist. All its leaders can rely on is the
apparatus. Real Communists turned away from the leadership and the ideology it
represented. The abyss between the leadership and the nation has become definitive since
the moment of the Soviet intervention . . . We must tell the masses the whole truth."
"Are you doing that in your newspaper?"
The editor hangs his head and after a moment's silence answers: "We are the organ
of the Central Committee. We are waiting for instructions."
Marion Bielicki, Po Prostu (Warsaw), 2 December [106/109]
"EVERY STREET IS A CEMETERY"
Premier Nagy has surrendered to all the demands of Hungary's freedom rebels -and told
the Russian troops to quit Budapest immediately. . . . Nagy's surrender offer, made only a
few hours before the United Nations debated Hungary, could bring peace after six days of
I believe that the rebels will parley if, as promised, the AVH is liquidated -and hope
that the Russians will leave the country later. But who is to speak for them in a city
where no man treads the street without the fear of a bullet? The revolt would have long
since ended if the Red Army had not been here.
Meanwhile, as I write this in the dying city of Budapest, fresh Soviet troops, brought
in from Poland, are fighting hand-to-hand street battles with the freedom fighters. Three
more columns of Russian troops are on their way to the capital -one from Poland, one from
Russia, and one from Rumania. The bridges that span the Danube are alive with infantry
-and, a new departure, artillery. Not satisfied with 75 mm tank guns, the Soviets have put
six or eight pieces of artillery on each of the major bridges. There is desolation
everywhere and fighting lasted all day yesterday in Buda, just across the Margaret Bridge.
It is clear now that the Russians grossly underestimated the qualities of the freedom
fighters. Tanks have got them nowhere in the narrow streets of Budapest, where almost
every window is draped with a gigantic black crepe flag. But with the infantry it is going
to be tougher. These new troops are clearly battle-scarred veterans, and the mood is
changing. This morning down one deserted, smashed-up street where the fighters had even
torn up stones, I saw a Soviet tank trundle by dragging the bodies of four Russian
soldiers. Whenever they felt like it the tank crew blasted open a window or house. It was
their way of showing revenge.
This morning I tried to cross the Margaret Bridge to Margit Square, where rebels had
fought desperately for 12 hours yesterday. No sooner had my car -with a Union Jack on one
side and a white flag on the other- moved on to the bridge than the Russians opened fire
on me. I backed, and then walked halfway across on foot, a flag in one of my upheld arms.
They stopped me halfway across and I soon saw why.
In the middle was a three-ton-lorry, and round it -like icing on a wedding cake- the
road was covered with flour. Two bodies lay by its side -the driver and his mate.
Ostensibly they had been bringing flour into the city. But the Russians found a cache of
arms hidden and shot them out of hand.
Lined up by the bridge were 15 trucks of Soviet infantry. I could not pass, so I went
back to the car and drove along the river -despite the curfew- to Stalin Bridge. Here I
managed to get across, helped by packets of American cigarettes. It was guarded by
Hungarians. I made my way through the back streets to Margit Square, where a scene of such
desolation lay before me that I just can't describe it. Nearby is a railway siding, and
the rebels had somehow dragged out four complete railway passenger carriages and turned
them over to form a gigantic tank-trap. One was smashed to firewood and halfway up it
-looking as silly as broken tanks always do- lay a Soviet tank, half burned out. Behind
the barricade hundreds of fighters waited in pouring rain. The whole square was literally
-and I mean literally- torn to pieces. Every stone that could be taken from the road and
pavements had been pickaxed to use for shelter walls. In one corner is a large café.
Every single chair was smashed. Hardly a shop window was left and even above the cracks of
rifle fire was the echo of the old days of the blitz -the crashing of broken glass.
The city itself dies slowly and gallantly, but every street is a cemetery -every home a
weeping one. The killed run into thousands, the wounded have no hospital space.
And the Soviets are advancing towards Budapest in force. The column from Poland came in
via Kosice, and had its first brush at Miskolc. They detoured the city after meeting large
demonstrations. The last report I had of them they had reached Hatvan. There were many
trucks of infantry. The column from the Soviet Union has entered via Debrecen and reached
the city of Szolnok. Troops from Rumania are also in Szolnok.
Everywhere people ask me one thing. "When is help coming?"
"Please, anything, even one gun." a girl begged me.
"Can't the British help, we are fighting for the world," said another.
It makes me ill, unable to reply.
There are tears all the way, and I feel terribly that if the Russians win the
Hungarians are going to feel a thousand times worse the disappointment experienced by the
East Germans in their rising in 1953...
What makes the situation so difficult is that though the Government has agreed to most
of the demands of the fighters there is no leader with whom authority can deal. Government
speakers can only plead on the radio. But each group of fighters fights separately. The
Russians have deliberately and calculatingly kept the fight alive, and now -unless
pressure comes from outside- they must reduce the country.
Once out of Budapest, it is a different story.
I am luckier than most correspondents, for I have a fast car, and, by now, a sizable
quantity of petrol stacked away.
Later I toured the country, and it is clear that the rebels control a belt from west to
east along the Austrian frontier about 30 miles deep into Hungary. Everywhere in this belt
the AVH has been disarmed or shot.
The rebels have two radio stations and the hospitals and public works. There are no
Russians there at all -I have covered all this territory. They have even unaccountably
withdrawn from Gyor, perhaps to lend help in Budapest. Yesterday I saw no Russians west of
Komarom, which is 25 miles beyond Gyor on the Vienna-Budapest road. There I saw a column
of Soviet tanks -presumably withdrawing from Gyor. How can it be anything else but just a
question of time, if the Soviet troops go in?
If Budapest were subjected, the heart would go out of the country, and then it might be
easy for the Soviets to win victory against the boys and girls who are fighting for
liberty in this stricken land. In Budapest it could still go on for a few days. It is a
sort of "Warsaw", with a gun at every corner. I am pretty hardened to the sight
of war, but this is terrible.
These kids, with clotted blood sticking to the bandages around their arms and heads,
fighting tanks -and now artillery- with submachine guns and home-made grenades!
Noel Barber, Daily Mail (London), 29 October [110/112]
IN AN AVH-HEADQUARTERS
On the floor we find, in a pile of torn and partly burned documents, the register of
the Security Police for the year 1951. Page after page is filled with names, professions,
and addresses of political prisoners. 699 names for this year alone. Next to most of the
names there is the remark "Transferred" . . . and then the name of another
prison. Only opposite a single name in this whole book-keeping of ruined destinies is
there the remark "Discharged." The record of prisoners is a catalogue of
workers, drivers, waiters, mechanics, office employees -a grey mass of little people, 699
names in one year alone, in the political prison of Gyor. But Hungary has 14 provinces,
and every province has a political prison...
Adolph Rastén, Politiken (Copenhagen), 29 October
SOVIET COMMANDER PROTESTS, THANKS
We read now the statement of the Soviet Military Commander of Gyor: "We will not
interfere in your national political affairs . . . I think that the rising of the
Hungarian people against the oppressive leaders is just . . .
According to the Commander's statement, certain elements got into this movement who are
practically anarchists; they wouldn't agree with any regime. "I think the Hungarian
people is strong enough to maintain its achievements and to constrain these elements to
obedience. The commander feels very sorry that a few provocateurs incite against Soviet
soldiers. They were stoned and spat at, although for their part they do not wish to
interfere, not even by their presence, with the life of the town. The Commander begs the
population of Gyor and its sober citizens to curb the dangerous elements, all the more so
because he himself has experienced the most friendly attitude in the past. In the past
women in the families of many Soviet and Hungarian soldiers were on very friendly terms,
and also the members of both armies befriended each other in many cases. Their children
played on the same play-grounds. The Commander thanks gratefully for the considerate
behaviour of the citizens of Gyor who even yesterday, without a request from the Russians,
asked them about their material needs and offered to give them 40 liters of milk for their
children. They are in no need... In connection with the Gyorszentivany affair the
commander said the following: "I have investigated the affair personally, but I could
not establish any transgression." In spite of that he asked us that in case we
observe any irregularity we should inform him immediately. They would punish any kind of
excess most severely. As an example he mentioned the open trial that passed sentence
against a Soviet soldier in January 1956. He was sentenced to 23 years in the penitentiary
because he assaulted a child in Gyor. Hearing of this severe sentence even the child's
mother asked for leniency. The Hungarian people may be assured that the Soviet State and
the Soviet Army will punish even the slightest Soviet excess most severely!
When we parted, the Soviet Military Commander told me that he was leaving with the best
impressions and asked us to tell this to the inhabitants of Gyor by press and radio. He
assured us repeatedly the Soviet troops are making no preparations whatsoever for an
attack, because they believe the peace of the world is at least as important as the peace
Radio Free Gyor [112/115]
NAGY DENIES "COUNTER-REVOLUTION", ANNOUNCES SOVIET AGREEMENT
People of Hungary! Last week, bloody events followed, one after another, with tragic
rapidity. The fateful consequences of the horrible mistakes and crimes of the past decade
are unfolding before us in the painful events which we are witnessing and in which we are
participants. During our thousand-year-old history fate was not sparing in scourging our
people and nation, but such a shock as this has perhaps never before afflicted our
The Government rejects the view that sees the present formidable popular movement as a
counter-revolution. Without doubt, as always happens at the time of great popular
movements, in the last few days, evil-doers seized the chance of committing common crimes.
It also occurred that reactionary, counter-revolutionary elements joined the movement and
tried to make use of events for overthrowing the people's democratic system. But it is
also indisputable that in this movement, a great national and democratic movement
embracing and unifying all our people, unfolded itself with elementary force. This
movement has the aim of guaranteeing our national independence and sovereignty, of
advancing the democratization of our social, economic and political life, for this alone
can be the basis of socialism in our country.
The grave crimes of the preceding era released this great movement. The situation was
aggravated even further by the fact that up to the very last the leadership was unwilling
to break totally with its old and criminal policy. This, above all, led to the tragic
fratricidal fight in which so many people are dying on both sides.
In the midst of the fighting was born a Government of democratic national unity,
independence and socialism, which has become the genuine means for expressing the people's
will. This is the firm resolve of the Government: The new Government, relying on the
strength and control of the people, and in the hope that it will obtain the full
confidence of the people, will immediately begin to realize the people's just demands.
The Government wants to rely, first of all, on the militant Hungarian working class
but, naturally, it wants to rely also on the entire Hungarian working people.
The Government strongly supports the worker, peasant and student youth and university
students, their activity and initiative; great scope should be secured for them in our
purified political life, and it will do its best to see that young people starting their
careers should enjoy as good a financial situation as possible. The Government will
support the new democratic autonomous bodies created on the initiative of the people and
will endeavour to integrate them into the State administration.
In the interest of avoiding further bloodshed and ensuring a peaceful clarification of
the situation, the Government has ordered an immediate and general cease-fire. It has
instructed the armed forces to open fire only if attacked. At the same time it appeals to
all those who took up arms to refrain from all fighting activity and to surrender their
arms without delay. For maintaining order and restoring public security, a new security
force has been created, at once, from units of the police and Honveds, as well as from the
armed platoons of the workers and youth.
The Hungarian Government has come to an agreement with the Soviet Government that
Soviet troops will immediately begin their withdrawal from Budapest and, simultaneously
with the establishment of the new security forces, will leave the city's territory.
The Hungarian Government is initiating negotiations to settle relations between the
Hungarian People's Republic and the Soviet Union, including the question of the withdrawal
of Soviet troops stationed in Hungary. All this is in the spirit of Soviet-Hungarian
friendship, equality among socialist countries and national independence.
After the restoration of order we are going to organise a new and single state police
force and we shall abolish the State Security Authority. No one who took part in the armed
fighting need fear further reprisals. [115/116]
The Government will propose to the National Assembly that the national emblem should
again be that of Kossuth and that the 15th March should again be declared a National
People of Hungary! In these hours of bitterness and conflict, people are prone to see
only the black side of our history during the last 12 years, but we must not allow
ourselves to entertain such an unjust view of things. These 12 years mark historic
achievements, both lasting and ineffaceable, which have been attained by Hungarian
workers, peasants and intellectuals under the leadership of the Hungarian Workers' Party.
In this force, the spirit of sacrifice and creative work, our revived people's democracy
has the best guarantee of Hungary's future. [17:23]
Radio Kossuth [116/118]
"WHEN YOU HAVE LIED TOO MUCH..."
In a small crowd in front of a tobacco shop, nobody was even trying to buy more than
one or two packages of cigarettes. I asked, "why not?" "It's very
simple," an elderly woman explained. "Everything will be all over now; another
day's fighting and Soviet troops will withdraw. Nagy has promised. There are even rumours
that the AVO is going to be dissolved."
But a young man interrupted her: "Who will believe him? He's just taking us
Soon everyone had joined in the discussion. For them the main question was:
"Should we believe Nagy or not?" Opinions varied, but most people thought Nagy
should be trusted . .
Will Nagy be able to regain the confidence of the nation, which only last Tuesday
considered him its leader . .
A. told me that Nagy had decided to break with the Stalinists . . . We decided to go to
the Central Committee together.
We were not allowed in, but a young girl, probably a secretary, came out to speak with
us: The Central Committee is still in session, but its decisions will probably be
favourable. Nagy seems determined to act energetically. "And high time too!" she
added with a sigh, "otherwise we'll all be drowned in this chaos." We asked her
what was happening in the countryside. Nobody knew exactly, but one thing was certain: the
revolutionaries controlled a large part of the country. Some of the revolutionary leaders
promised Nagy their support if he fulfill their essential demands: to withdraw Soviet
forces, disband and disarm the A.V.H., and rid the government of people compromised by
their Stalinist past...
From an armoured car two soldiers threw out packages of newspapers. Nobody picked them
up. Everybody waited for the armoured car to drive off. But then only a few people
responded. One young man gathered up several copies, shouted something, and tore them to
bits. Then everybody did the same thing, even though these fresh copies of Szabad Nep
have replaced (in their upper left hand corner) the old star with the new Kossuth emblem.
I recalled the face of the editor as he talked to me about his article about the necessity
for truth. Does he know what is now happening to his newspaper?
The young man shouted: "Don't read this slop! Whatever Communists print serves the
Russians and not the Hungarians. That's why their soldiers are distributing Communist
newspapers. The Kossuth emblem is just a pretext.
I asked almost desperately. "But why don't you even read it?"
Somebody answered: "Even if it is the truth, it comes too late. It cannot find its
way to human hearts. When you have lied too much, nobody will believe you.
I spent the night with Hungarian friends. In the room more than thirty people were
sprawled about on improvised couches. I knew some of them. The small man next to me was a
steel worker; another was a skilled worker in the shipyards; there was also a plumber, a
bookkeeper, and a young medical student.
I asked them: "But what do you really want? What are you fighting for?" About
fifteen people answered my question. The answers were different, but the essential themes
were the same: a free and independent Hungary, a country in which nobody will land in
prison just because of a bureaucrat's fancy. They want a Hungary free of 75,000
irresponsible armed A.V.H. agents. They want a Hungary where you can talk freely to one's
neighbour, without being afraid that he might be a police informant. They want a Hungary
where power will belong to the people, and not to a small elite abusing the slogans of
Did they want socialism?
The steel worker answered fiercely:
"We want justice, freedom, truth. If socialism doesn't give that to us, we don't
Each word I felt as a reproach .
These people identified the system in which they live with socialism. The ship-worker
then said: "We are going to build our own socialism." But the bookkeeper was
skeptical: "Ideas are beautiful, but people are capable of spoiling every
"We are not going to allow anybody to spoil anything now," protested the
"And fascism," I ask, "aren't you afraid of fascism?"
Everybody shouted, but I understood the words of the student: "Nobody wants
fascism . . . We won't allow it." .
Marian Bielicki, Po Prostu (Warsaw), 9 December [118/119]
"WE WILL FIGHT ON UNTIL --"
In the bus half-a-dozen men were sitting in ragged clothes, red-eyed and weary, their
unshaved faces stubbled with several days' growth. One wore a bloodstained bandage around
his head. And then there was a pretty blonde seven-teen-year old girl who loaded Red-Cross
boxes, doing the work of two, with revolutionary enthusiasm for four.
While jolting along all were arguing with one another. What had the revolution
achieved? Nothing? Everything? Could Communist Nagy remain prime minister? Or should all
those who had been tied up with the regime for the past eleven years make way for a
provisional government until free elections could be held? Should all political prisoners
be freed? Should the Communist Party be banned? Or should it remain in power as the
exponent of a national Hungarian socialism? And the basic question: Should the Russian
soldiers -of whom there are an estimated 80,000 in Hungary- be attacked with any weapon
that happens to be at hand, with scythes or tanks, or should one leave them alone? On each
question these Hungarians held basically different views.
When much later we arrived at Raab [Gyor], I stood in front of city hall as a group of
young students -none could have been older than twenty- stepped out on the balcony. One of
them shouted down at the thousand people gathered in the square: "Whatever the
national committees may decide, we, the youth of Hungary will fight until our beloved land
is freed from Soviet yoke, until the Communist party is no longer the despotic master of
the country, until all those have gone who are responsible for our 11-year misery, until
truly free and secret elections, held under the control of the United Nations, make a
government possible which is elected by and for the people!" The words of the young
student were followed by long lasting applause.
When we approached Veszprem -north of the Plattensee- two trucks with Soviet troops
came towards us. The Russians were holding on to their machine pistols and were staring
gloomily into the street. A few kilometers further we suddenly saw tanks, artillery and
soldiers in prepared positions on both sides of the street.
A Soviet officer stopped us. He got into the bus, saw the Red-Cross supplies and
motioned us to go on. Three minutes later we ran into Hungarian positions. Here we
stopped and asked for the officer-in-charge. He explained that they had an agreement with
the Russians: "If you won't shoot, we won't." .
Ten minutes later we arrived in Veszprem. At the City Hall I was introduced to the
chairman of the National Revolutionary Committee for Veszprem County one of the ten
Hungarian administrative districts west of the Danube. He said that like most of West
Hungary, his city was quiet. Almost everywhere, the army, police, and the local
authorities had joined the revolution last Tuesday. Only the secret police had caused
In Veszprem, after disarming members of the secret police -which was done without
bloodshed- the revolutionaries unlocked a special prison for political prisoners. The
chairman of the revolutionary committee said: "I was there myself. We found eight men
in the subterranean cells. Among them were three Yugoslavs. They were mental and physical
wrecks. One of them could not speak because -it seemed- his tongue had been torn
The chairman told how in several places the Russians had come to an amicable
understanding with Hungarian troops. He explained to me that most Soviet units were
dependent on Hungarian food supplies. Then the chairman put a car and a driver at my
We left Veszprem. The driver, who knew the area well, suggested a short cut. We were
driving almost cross-country, when a Soviet motorized patrol spotted us almost at the same
time as we him. The Russian jumped down and opened fire on our car with his submachine
gun. He must have been a poor marksman. Only two bullets hit the car. Suddenly his machine
pistol went silent. My driver lowered the rifle in his hand; for all the clatter of the
machine pistol, I had not heard him shoot, but I saw the Russian crumple and fall. We got
back into the car and drove off at top speed.
In every town through which we passed, as soon as it became known that "people
from outside" were there -we were given enthusiastic hand-shakes. Newspaper and
revolutionary proclamations were pressed into my hand. "Demands of the soldiers of
Rajka", "the 15-point program of the miners of Dudar", etc.
Peter Howard, Reuters, Suddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), 30 October
"- AND A GREAT FEELING OF GUILT..."
Then a girl, the only one in a crowd of rebels, took up the tale. "To-day is my
seventeenth birthday," she said, a little bashfully, with just a hint of pride in her
voice. Seventeen and she was one of the rebels who were defying the massive might of the
Soviet Army. Seventeen, and she had just come from the town of Gyor, sixty or so
kilometres from the frontier, where, someone else told us, 80 members of the Security
Police had been "liquidated" by the workers; where, she announced proudly,
"we put up a ladder against the Russian memorial, threw a noose round the Red Star on
top of it, and pulled it down.
She was 17, but the Budapest youths who had attacked Russian tanks with bare hands were
younger. Many were now dead. "What is your estimate of our casualties?" she
asked. "Estimates vary from 200 to . . ." Perhaps the journalist who was
replying was going to say 10,000, a figure that has been mentioned in some reports. But
would it be fair to the girl? The thousands of dead, however few or many of them there
were, had been her compatriots, her comrades in arms. Why name a possibly wild figure?
But her question had been purely rhetorical. She drew herself up to her full height, a
look of steel came into her blue eyes. "I must tell you that the dead must be counted
not in hundreds but in many, many thousands," she said. "What is the feeling of
the Hungarian people about the sacrifices they are making," another journalist asked.
"They believe that by thus drawing the attention of the world to what is happening
they will compel the Russians to get out," she said, and without pausing, asked:
"And what is the feeling of the British people?" We all hesitated. No one was
anxious to reply...
Haltingly, one of the reporters began to frame an answer. "First, amazement."
Then an pause ... "Second ... admiration." Then quickly, desperately, as if he
wanted to withdraw each word as soon as he had uttered it: "And a great feeling of
guilt." The girl came back like a flash:
"There is much to feel guilty for" ...
Victor Zorza, Manchester Guardian, 29 October [123/126]
1. From "Easter, 1916" in Collected Poems of W.
B. Yeats, Copyright 1924 by The Macmillan Company, and used with their permission, and the
permission of Mrs. W. B. Yeats and the Macmillan Company of Canada Ltd.
October 29, 1956
Dear listeners, a four-member delegation of faculties of the Sopron University,
representing professors and students, has arrived in Gyor. They represent 1,600 young
students and will present their demands. The first point is that further bloodshed should
be stopped. In order to do that the Government should withdraw without delay requests by
which it attacked our insurgents. In accordance with the peace treaty it shall take steps
in order that Soviet armed forces may be withdrawn from Hungary in the shortest possible
time. Many demands of Sopron students agree with the demands of trade unions, the Petofi
Circle, etc. But the demands of Sopron youth call the attention of the country to very
many correct things. They too want a free and democratic Hungary with all power
concentrated in the hands of the people. They stated that they do not agree with the
present composition of Parliament and Government, and therefore do not believe them
suitable to draw up a new electoral law. They demand that a new parliament should be
formed from representatives of town and village national councils; this provisional
assembly should then immediately take adequate measures and also elaborate a new electoral
law. They demand a revision of all our relations with the Soviet Union and full
compensation for damages which were caused by our dependency on the Soviet Union.
They do not agree with that part of Imre Nagy's address yesterday in which he announced
that the AVO will be disbanded. They demand that the Government announce that the AVO has
Radio Free Gyor
The Minister of the Interior has abolished all special police organs invested with
special rights. He has also abolished the State Security Authority (AVO). There will be no
need for such an organisation in our democratic public life. No formation belonging to any
kind of State Security organ is now on duty in the streets of Budapest. Those now serving
in our State police force, which is being reorganised, are people who are in no way
responsible for past crimes.
Radio Kossuth (16:57) [126/128]
PROGRAM OF THE HUNGARIAN INTELLECTUALS
The Revolutionary Committee of Hungarian Intellectuals was formed on 28th October in
the Central Building of the Lorand Eoetvoes University of Sciences, Budapest. The
Committee united every organisation of intellectuals -writers, artists, scientists and
university students alike. The Committee then issued the following appeal to the Nation's
Praise to all who, sword in hand, fought against the enemy's overwhelming superiority,
and praise to the man in the street who, unarmed, fought against tanks and machine-guns!
Our thanks go to those Soviet soldiers who refused to raise their arms against the
Hungarians! We proudly face the world's judgment . . . The power of our country is, at
last, in the hands of the people. Our youth, our army, our police, the worker councils,
and the peasants have fought side by side. Together, we have the strength to organise our
life, independent, free, and democratic. This is the reason why we appeal to our heroic
fighters, to the young workers and peasants, to the students, the members of the Petofi
circle, and to the members of the peoples' colleges, to enroll in the national guard so
that, along with the army, the police force and the workers councils, they may safeguard
order and security in our country. We trust that our claims will be satisfied by peaceful
means, and that there will reign perfect understanding between our government and the
workers councils under the combined protection of the national guard and other patriotic
formations. We will not stand for, and are ready to fight against, any attempts tending to
restore Stalinism or bring about a counter-revolution.
Hungarians! We may disagree on certain problems, but we all agree as regards our
principal claims. Here is the program that we propose to submit to our government:
(1) The immediate settlement of our relations with the Soviet Union. The withdrawal of
Soviet troops from Hungarian territory.
(2) The immediate cancellation of all commercial contracts with foreign countries which
are prejudicial to the interests of our national economy. The country must be informed as
to the nature of these commercial contracts, including those covering uranium and bauxite
(3) General and secret elections. The candidates must be nominated by the people.
(4) Industrial plants and mines must really become the property of the workers.
Factories and land are to remain the people's property and nothing is to be given back
either to capitalists or big landowners. Factories must be managed by freely elected
workers councils. The government must protect the craftsmen's and small tradesmen's right
to do business.
(5) The ruthlessly exploitative norm schemes now in effect must be abolished. Low
salaries and pensions must be increased as far as economically possible.
(6) The union must really defend the interests of the working classes and their leaders
are to be elected freely. Working peasants may create their own associations for
protecting their interests.
(7) The government must guarantee free agricultural production and help small
landowners and cooperatives formed voluntarily. The hated system compelling delivery of
produce must be abolished.
(8) Peasants who have sustained losses by the enforcement of collectivisation must be
done justice and receive compensation.
(9) Absolute freedom of press and assembly must be guaranteed.
(10) October 23, the day our nation's uprising against oppression began, shall be
declared a national holiday.
In the name of the Hungarian Intellectuals' Revolutionary Committee:
The Students Revolutionary Committee: Istvan Prozsar, Jozsef Molnar, Janos Varga.
The Hungarian Writers Association: Sandor Erdei, Secretary General, Gyula Sipos, Tibor
The Hungarian Press Association: Sandor Haraszti, Miklos Vasarhelyi, Ivan Boldizsar,
The Fine Arts Association: Laszlo Benca, Jozsef Somogyi.
The Hungarian Musicians Association: Endre Szervanszky, Pal Jardanyi.
The University Professors: Tamas Nagy, Mate Major, Ivan Kadar, Gyorgy Markos.
On behalf of the people's colleges: Laszlo Kardos, Otto Toekes.
The Petofi Circle: Gabor Tanczos, Balazs Nagy.
MEFESZ: Gyorgy Liebik..
Szabad Nep (Budapest), 29 October [127/128]
A "SUSPICIOUS" YUGOSLAV FEELS "UNEASY"
Today at last we succeeded in getting into Budapest . . . We have been trying to do so
in vain for the last four days.
Our first impressions of the capital: It looks like war time . . ., everything seems
like the situation on a battlefield immediately following a cease-fire.
In Ferencvaros, the well-known suburb of Budapest, a part of the capital which suffered
serious damage in the last few days, tanks were to be seen left and right; several
buildings were damaged. Next to the Hungarian colors black banners were also flying on
Suddenly we noticed two or three young men with rifles. They were in plain clothes
carrying a tricolor . . . We were ordered by one of them to stop. The young man asked for
our papers. He then pointed to the dead bodies and destroyed arms.
The young man warned us of the danger in which we were and offered to help us get out -
. . He took us to a half-demolished house in a street where young men with rifles and
tricolors were seen. The house was also full of armed young men and girls. A woman was
preparing coffee. The young man said: "These are Yugoslav journalists."
One of the Hungarians who had come along with us addressed the young man as
They said in reply: "Here, we're not in the habit of using such greetings."
This sounded suspicious. Only then could we realize that we were not among civil guards
appointed by the Government but in a group of rebels. They immediately started to talk
about their bravery, about the number of tanks destroyed. First, they wanted to take us to
the first floor, to the Headquarters, but they changed their mind and took us to the first
aid station instead.
This was a small room in which we were met by five or six doctors who started to
discuss things with us . . . First of all, they stated that as long as Soviet troops are
stationed in Budapest and Hungary they would not give up fighting. Of course, there were
various people there and different comments were made. The arguments given by some were
quite correct. Some were boastful and used reactionary slogans too often.
A young man -he could not have been more than sixteen- had a bunch of onions. He
explained that on Tuesday, when it all had broken out, he had bought a kilo of onions for
his mother; later on, he kept the onions for luck. He boasted about his bravery and wanted
to give the impression of being politically a very mature man. Actually, he held no
conceptions and was unable to say just what was at stake.
As soon as we realized where we were we began to feel uneasy. When we were about to
leave, a kind of commander, in plain clothes and unarmed, apologized and asked for our
papers. We produced our passports and explained how we got there. He excused himself
again, questioned us, and let us go. One man with him unbuttoned my coat, touched my
overcoat and said that there was no need to question me any more as it was obvious who I
was and where I came from. To tell the truth, the material of my overcoat appealed to him.
When we walked out in the street we became aware of machine-guns in the windows of
neighbouring houses. Young men were also on the [128/129] alert there. One can presume
that they could not feel exactly at ease, but, luckily, there was no firing at that time.
We went back to our car. They even suggested escorting us "to the other side" .
. . We returned without any difficulty along the main road leading to the centre of the
city and soon reached our destination. The situation was quite normal there. People were
busy and moved quickly in the street. Many shops were opened. It was getting dark already
and it was necessary to look for accommodations.
Those are my first impressions of Budapest.
Vlado Teslic, Borba (Belgrade), 30 October
WATCHING THE RUSSIAN RETREAT
Soviet tanks and troops crunched out of this war-battered capital today carrying their
dead with them. They left a wrecked city where the stench of death already rises from the
smoking ruins to mingle with a chill fog from the Danube River. I arrived here from Warsaw
by plane, car and foot, walking the last five miles.
No sooner were we on the road north to Budapest than we ran into a massive southbound
Soviet convoy headed by two armored cars. Ten T-54 tanks, their Red stars still visible
through [129/130] the grime of gunpowder, oil and blood, waddled behind, leaving Budapest
behind. Then came numerous motorcycles and trucks. On the back of one tank lay the corpse
of a Soviet soldier, his eyes staring vacantly back at the Hungarian capital. Other bodies
were in the trucks. The Russian tankmen in their black crash helmets looked tired and
grim. They were retreating for the first time since they steam-rolled out of mother Russia
into central Europe during World War II. Whether they are moving on order from Moscow is
A Hungarian peasant spat on one tank as it passed him an arm's length away. The Russian
crew did not notice. Hatred literally oozed from the Hungarians who silently lined the
roadsides watching the Soviets evacuate Budapest. The Russians were nervous but alert.
They manned their 100 millimeter tank cannon which were zeroed at the horizontal for
firing straight ahead if necessary. And they held tightly to the handles of machine-guns
mounted in the tank cockpits and on truck tops.
Soon we came across the first signs of fighting. Huge cannon holes punctured workers'
houses. Windows were shattered. A strange music filled the air -the tinkling of broken
glass being trod on, driven on, swept aside. Telephone and high tension wires hung crazily
and tangled like wet spaghetti as if a hurricane had passed through. We reached a railroad
crossing. The crossing gates appeared ridiculous, they were so unnecessary. No trains
would be running on that railroad for some time. Sleeping cars had been turned over as
roadblocks. Their sides were stitched with machine-gun bullets as if a giant sewing
machine had methodically worked them up and down, zigzagged and came back for a final
Now we ran into convoys of Hungarian trucks pressed into duty as ambulances and flying
Red Cross flags. The doctors looked like butchers, so blood-spattered were their
once-white aprons. Trucks passed full of moaning wounded. Then a truck with a large sign
proclaiming "Dead Bodies." The stench now was overpowering and as we neared the
city the acrid smell of cordite also assailed our nostrils.
We were now in the Budapest suburbs, and more and more Soviet troops and tanks could be
counted hurrying the wrong way. I counted at least 60 Red Army tanks in one convoy. They
looked like circus elephants lumbering one be hind the other, twitching from side to side
as their heavy steel trucks slipped on debris or an oil slick. "Budapest city
limits," the sign said, and with it came the distant chattering of machine-guns. An
impressive-looking Soviet tankman blocked the road and waved us into a detour.
"Mopping up" operations were still going on. A tank gun coughed in the distance
and a split second later came a muffled concussion that pressured the eardrums. The crack
of rifles sounded from snipers who would prefer to die rather than give up.
The street now was so littered I had to abandon the car. I began walking... There was
Rakoczi Street, one of the main thoroughfares, leading down to the bank of the gently
flowing Danube. A Soviet tank was roaring down the street and I jumped quickly into a
Hungarian women completely ignored the tank except for looks of such cold hatred that
the emotion must have penetrated the steel side like x-rays .
The curfew is still in force from 3 p.m. until 10 a.m. but people did not seem to be
taking much notice of it. Reports circulated here that rebels in the West of Hungary were
marching on Budapest. The reports could not be confirmed here .
It is doubtful if the Soviets have ever churned up such hatred, anywhere, anytime...
A. J. Cavendish, United Press, 29 October. By permission. [130/132]
BETWEEN HATE AND PRIDE
From the military point of view Hungary is now back precisely where she started a week
ago, with the difference that the Red Army garrison, which had always been stationed only
in the countryside, is now nearly four divisions strong instead of two. Reports from the
eastern frontiers suggest that Russian forces are still moving into Hungary despite all
the conciliatory moves announced in Budapest yesterday.
Even Hungarian anti-Communists I have spoken to admit the speech by Mr. Nagy, the Prime
Minister, last night had a ring of sincerity. But it is argued that even if his intentions
are as honest as those of any discredited Communist in present day Hungary can be, he
still faces two big obstacles in living up to them. One is the opposition of some of his
party colleagues still known to be bitterly hostile to any form of genuine coalition rule.
The other is the Kremlin's reluctance to abandon its military grip on Eastern Europe as a
Until Hungary is allowed to secede from the Warsaw Pact, which virtually binds her to a
permanent Soviet garrison, little hope is felt on the military front. And on this vital
point the regime has not even dared to raise hopes, let alone make promises...
Meanwhile Budapest is returning to a stunned semblance of its normal self. The shops
have reopened. The first street-sweepers are at work clearing some of the numberless
mounds of brick and glass splinters. . . . Occasional gun-fire has been heard in the city
during the past 12 hours. There is still a general tension, from which new flare-ups may
at any moment spring.
In any case, as I reported yesterday, it is in the Hungarian provinces that
widely-scattered rebel movements are now at their most defiant, and it is not known what
the Red Army may feel compelled to do there to "restore order." . .
The rebel activity at Veszprem is particularly impressive, since this province, north
of Lake Balaton, is the seat of the permanent Soviet garrison. There are signs that the
Russian troops themselves are becoming increasingly uncomfortable in their role. Some of
them have told Russian-speaking Hungarians that the Soviet orders of the day, which
preceded the advance on Budapest, alleged that a "Fascist revolution aided by Western
troops" had to be put down in the city. Instead, they have been blasting from street
barricades soldiers from a Communist army side by side with young students and workers.
The hate which has welled up against them must have penetrated the thickest Mongolian
skull. One or two cases of Russian looting have been reported, but in general there have
been no excesses. It is likely that all Soviet troops are under strict orders to be on
their best behaviour when not actually occupied with exterminating rebels.
The moral discipline and loyalty of the Budapest population have been astounding to
anyone who knows them, and remarkable by any standards. There has been an unwritten law,
obeyed throughout the city, that no plundering should take place. In one street I saw
watches and fountain pens lying untouched in a smashed shop window. Another food-shop with
an empty display counter had the notice "Goods not plundered but removed inside for
safety." . . . The people have taken a fierce pride in disproving the lies put out by
Radio Budapest last week that the capital was "a prey to looters and rioters."
Gordon Shepherd, The Daily Telegraph, (London) 30 October
MOSCOW VIEWS: SHEPILOV, ZHUKOV, "PRAVDA"
At tonight's reception in the Turkish Embassy, the Soviet Foreign Minister Shepilov and
the Minister of National Defence, Marshal Zhukov, replied to questions put to them by
foreign journalists in connection with the latest events in Hungary.
Asked whether the Soviet government has received a message sent by the Austrian
government about the cease-fire, Minister Shepilov replied that he heard about it over the
radio. He went on to say that the Soviet troops have already stopped firing, and if the
insurgents cease fire and if there is no danger, Soviet troops would withdraw from
Speaking about the causes of events in Hungary, Shepilov said that there are circles
who wish to improve the work of the state administration and also the welfare of the
people. One cannot deny the fact, Shepilov went on to say, that there were bureaucratic
manifestations in the past. One must satisfy the demands of workers, [132/133] peasants
and intellectuals for the improvement of the situation.
Shepilov said that it is a well-known fact that there were counter-revolutionary
elements and criminals, who were also referred to in the declaration of the Hungarian
government; they were the first to take up arms. According to Shepilov, they had long
prepared themselves to do that.
Asked whether the Soviet troops will withdraw, Shepilov replied: "The sooner the
activity of anti-national and anti-democratic elements stops, and if there is no danger,
the sooner would the Soviet troops withdraw."
Asked what he could say about Nagy's statement that he would demand that Soviet troops
definitely withdraw from Hungary, Shepilov replied: "I have said all that I have to
say about that".
The Minister of Defence, Marshal Zhukov, also replied to questions of journalists.
Asked whether Soviet troops started action in Hungary because they were asked by the
Hungarian government to do so, Marshal Zhukov replied: "Yes".
Asked whether the Soviet troops in Hungary suffered heavy losses, the Marshal replied:
Replying to a remark made by journalists that in the Security Council today there was
mention of new Soviet troops having been sent to Hungary, Marshal Zhukov said that no new
Soviet troops had been sent to Hungary in the course of the last 24 hours nor in the
course of the last 64 hours either. He said that there were enough Soviet troops in
Hungary to proffer aid. However, Zhukov said, the situation in Hungary is improving. A
government has been formed which is enjoying our support and the support of the Hungarian
Asked what he could say about the statement made by the Hungarian Prime Minister Nagy
about the formation of new armed forces composed of workers, Zhukov replied that this fact
shows that the Hungarian government is relying on the working class.
Asked whether the Soviet troops will definitely withdraw from Hungary, as was said by
the Hungarian Prime Minister Nagy, Zhukov said that he could not reply on behalf of the
government to this question.
Asked by the journalists whether the Warsaw Pact included a clause according to which
one country should lend support to the other not only in case of danger from abroad, but
also with regard to internal problems, Zhukov replied that the stipulations of the Warsaw
Pact in some statements and in the writing of the western press have been wrongly
interpreted and that the provisions of the Warsaw Pact also apply to internal aid.
At the end of the conversation with the journalists, Zhukov said that agreement should
be reached on the disbandment of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. -
T. Popovski, Borba (Belgrade), 30 October [133/136]
October 30, 1956
"NOT INSURGENTS, BUT FIGHTERS FOR FREEDOM!"
This morning Budapest awoke in mild October sunshine. People were walking about in the
vast Square of Heroes. All vehicles are flying the Hungarian tricolors. A few Soviet
armored vehicles roared by. No shooting was heard. A man distributed newspapers in the
street; people snatched them . . . At a street-corner they gathered around a policeman.
There were lively discussions. Everyone carries one or two newspapers. These are the
latest editions calling for the withdrawal of Russians and free elections.
Some shop-windows are riddled with bullets, but shoes, or candy, have remained
untouched. Not a single factory is working; yet no one is short of food. "Such is
this revolution, such are these people. And above all they are not thieves -a student told
me. I asked him whether this applied to those who were still holding some districts by
armed force. "Of course," he said, and he gave the following illustration. This
morning these so-called "plunderers" took a group of people caught stealing to
the police, with posters on which was written: "We are thieves and brigands" .
We called on the commander of the city police . . . The news came that insurgents had
attacked the Municipal Party Headquarters. The Colonel shrugged his shoulders in
resignation . .
Then we started towards the Danube to Eotvos University. The headquarters of the
students is there. A tricolor sentinel is in front of the building . . . Armed young
people are running up and down. We entered the printing room. Students are running off
mimeographs, putting the question to Imre Nagy: "Let him say who called in Soviet
We are received by a member of the Presidium of the Committee. He told us they are
strong enough so that when the Russians withdraw, he is convinced they will be able to
maintain law and order. He too is a Communist. He assures me that socialist
accomplishments are not at all threatened. "We are able to stop any attempt to
restore the old order. We are convinced that we can gather into our organisation all those
who are still fighting. They are not fascists," he said.
In another room there is an elderly man, a captain, and a middle-aged civilian. The
civilian is a representative of former Horthy officers and he came with the suggestion
that they, too, as an organisation, should be included in the National Guard. The old man
is a Writers' representative serving as liaison to students and the police. He rejects
steadily the proposal of the Horthy follower. "We do not want to restore Horthy's
Hungary, just as we do not want Stalin back."
I ask about the insurgents. . . The captain corrects me- "Not insurgents, but
fighters for freedom."
In one street we are stopped by young men with rifles. They are fearless. In our car is
a young man with a machine-gun. The driver shows the permit of the "Students'
Revolutionary Committee". The young men smile, salute, and let us go on...
Vlado Teslic, Borba (Belgrade), 31 October
Hungary's seven-day battle for freedom has reached a critical stage. I spent last night
at the headquarters of the Liberation Forces of Western Hungary some 50 miles from here,
and heard disturbing reports brought by student couriers from Budapest this morning. One
spoke of two Rumanian infantry divisions crossing the Hungarian border in support of
Soviet reinforcements which arrived from Rumania during the weekend.
It seems certain that Russian military operations, which in the early days were
confused by political and tactical issues, are now running according to a well-directed
and ruthless plan. The reported statement of Mr. Shepilov that Soviet troops will be
withdrawn from Budapest only after the rebels "have surrendered" is taken here
very seriously. Only the total and united support of the Hungarian Army could change the
present situation, and this is not yet forthcoming. Though the regular army has, in the
past few days, in large numbers, and in various parts of the country, sided with the
Liberation fighters, and has nowhere fought against them, no major decision by the army as
a whole has been taken to support the people's fight . . . [136/137]
It is difficult to see how this tremendous human struggle will now resolve itself. The
concessions made by the new Government of Mr. Nagy are far-reaching, and even one-third of
them would have satisfied the Hungarian people a week ago. So they might today, if only
the people did not feel that once they lay down their arms the promises made would not be
kept. There is no one here who dares to accept them.
I still see the same fire and determination in young and old, in man and woman, as I
did in the first hours when I arrived in Hungary a few days ago. There is no sign of
fatigue, and I have met no one with a thought of compromise or surrender. But there is
great anxiety about the fate of Budapest here tonight. If all resistance there ends, it
will be a terrible blow. Without outside military help -which they know today they cannot
obtain- they know also that their ultimate fate is the same. Their hope that Moscow would
withdraw when the Kremlin knew where the majority of the Hungarian people stood is
Lajos Lederer, Observer Foreign News Service (London), 30 October
Kilian Barracks is the 200-year-old building in which Colonel Maleter and soldiers of
the Hungarian Army's Labour Corps have been successfully staging a miniature Stalingrad
against the Russians. I got into the barracks myself a couple of hours later and had a
talk there with the colonel . . . He was indignant when I told him people outside were
saying he had surrendered.
"Who says that? The lying radio, I suppose. We have not surrendered, and if our
demands are not granted we shall carry on our fight until they are."
Colonel Maleter told me he had given his demands to a Hungarian officer admitted to the
barracks after the Russians had withdrawn: -[138/139]
1. If the Government of Imre Nagy accepts and fulfills our demands, we and the other
army units shall support the Government.
2. Greater Budapest must be evacuated by the Red Army by this evening and the rest of
Hungary by November 15.
3. We Freedom Fighters will not surrender our arms but, with the rest of the army, we
shall take over police powers to assure peace and good order until a new police has been
organised to replace the present one.
4. The honour and patriotism of the Freedom Fighters must be publicly confirmed by the
Government and the Government must publicly confirm its approval of their uprising.
"Do you think Imre Nagy and his Government are going to accept all those
demands?" I asked.
Said the colonel, smiling grimly: "Yes, I think they will."
Sefton Delmer, Daily Express (London), 31 October [139/143]
RUSSIANS ARE GOING
Communiqué of the Minister of National Defence: As a result of the heroic revolution
for the social and national rebirth of the country, I have concluded an agreement with the
Command of the Soviet Armed Forces concerning the order of withdrawal of these troops from
Budapest. According to this agreement, all Soviet troops stationed in Budapest will have
begun to withdraw at 16:00 on 30 October. This withdrawal will be completed according to
schedule by dawn on 31 October. Parallel with the withdrawal of Soviet troops, I order the
concentration of certain units of the People's Army. Units of the People's Army, the
police and the National Guard together will assume charge of the maintenance of order.
(Signed) General Karoly Janza
Hungarian News Agency [143/147]
MIKOYAN "ACCEPTS EVERYTHING"
On October 30th, in the Parliament building, General Pal Maleter, commanding officer of
all Hungarian armed forces, reported in my presence to the government that Soviet armored
units were crossing in large numbers our border in the North-East. In the ensuing
discussion we agreed not to disclose this in releases to the press as long as the
government had the opportunity to take up this question with the Soviet ambassador. By
recalling this I wish to prove that all actions of the Nagy government were carefully
deliberated with due consideration for the prestige of the Soviet Union. The government
sought to avoid any break, and to solve all problems by peaceful means. For this reason,
the news bulletin dealing with the new Soviet troop movements was broadcast only the next
On October 30, I was present when Mr. Mikoyan, member of the Soviet politbureau, put
through a telephone call to one of the Ministers of State of Imre Nagy's government. He
expressed his wish of meeting the Minister. The meeting took place one hour later and
lasted for some 60 minutes. Before his departure I advised the Minister of State to find
out from Mr. Mikoyan what the Soviet's attitude was towards the multiparty system and the
withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and what stand the Soviet Union intends to take
concerning the evacuation of its troops from Hungary. Further, whether the decisions of
the government will be accepted.
The Minister of State returned from the meeting in a happy mood, saying: "He
Considering this, I am in a position to declare that competent Soviet circles were not
only fully informed about the most minute details of all developments in Hungary's
politics, but were actually in concurrence with these. -
Statement of Mr. Jozsef Koevago, former Mayor of Budapest,
United Nations Special Committee, 28 January 1957 [147/153]
October 31, 1956
A YUGOSLAV FINDS UNREST AND UNCERTAINTY
This morning the voice of the Petofi radio station woke us up: "We do not
recognize this Government -we demand a provisional Insurgents' Government until elections
are held." Radio Gyor -on two kilowatts- was speaking and its program was being run
by speakers of the Budapest radio station in Balaton [?]. There are now two radio programs
in Budapest: "Free Kossuth Radio" broadcasting government declarations,
and "Free Petofi Radio" transmitting from Gyor. In Gyor a few days ago
some revolutionary committee took authority and refused to recognise the Government. This
small radio station relayed the program of "[radio] Free Europe" for two hours
and for another two hours some announcements from Budapest were broadcast. While we are
reporting this the station is broadcasting tunes from the film "The Third Man".
Our first glance at the street was focused on trucks and tanks loaded with civilians,
soldiers, and policeman, who were armed from head to foot. The people greeted them. One
now feels a general relaxation of tension. People were walking, seemingly carefree and
gay, and went into shops where food is being sold. Excitement was introduced only by men
selling newspapers, which are in great demand and are completely changed both in headlines
Rakoczi Street, the main thoroughfare of this city, offers an unusual picture. All
shop-windows and walls are full of slogans: "Russki Haza" [Russians go
home] or, in Russian "Russkie Domoi." There are many posters, papers,
leaflets, or mere notes. There are even poems. About fifteen to twenty various
"movements" are referred to, various "revolutionary committees" and
individuals. Everyone is demanding something "on behalf of the revolution",
"on behalf of the people". All these demands and these slogans are so different
and are so varied that it is hard to find one's way. Many of these demands and slogans are
suspicious. Here is a typical poster:
"Hungarian patriots! The government betrayed us again because Soviet troops are
withdrawing only from Budapest. We no longer trust the government of Imre Nagy. As a
member of the United Nations we demand that the United Nations immediately send
international supervisory troops. Let the Soviet troops withdraw from the whole of
Hungary! Until then we demand UN troops."
(signed) "Movement of New Hungarian Life"
Citizens read every possible poster, mostly without comment. The walls are covered with
slogans: "Call A Strike," "We Don't Need Communism," "Free
Mindszenty," "Free Elections." These slogans are typewritten or
hand-written with chalk, India ink, lead pencils, or are printed on the finest paper.
On a large door in a small street there is chalk-written: "The Workers Council
will be elected at 10 o'clock on Wednesday". In the same street leaflets are
distributed: "We don't need Workers' Councils -the Communists have their finger
in this pie."
At a place where traffic is heaviest, a hoarse voice is heard over the microphone:
"We won't lay down arms! We shall not be subdued by the Government. We are the
Authority until Soviet troops withdraw from the whole of Hungary, until all treaties
hitherto concluded are rescinded and new elections take place". This is the
loudspeaker of armed troops which even today are outside any control by organised
authority. Their representative came to the Parliament for talks with Imre Nagy last
evening. Talks have been resumed today. This is Jozsef Dudas. It is interesting that this
man was once a member of the Communist Party, but he was expelled because of separatist
tendencies. After the war he joined the Smallholders' Party and belonged to its
This morning armed units run by Dudas people attacked Party committees. Armed groups
went into the streets carrying all kinds of weapons. In contrast to students and workers
who carry out police duties they do not wear badges on their sleeves.
This Dudas group is fairly powerful and numerous. One runs into it everywhere. Their
leadership occupied the building and the printing office of the former Szabad Nep.
. . . They call for a provisional government in which they [153/154] would admit Nagy and
Kadar of the Communists, and Bela Kovacs (and not Tildy) of the Smallholders' Party. The
movement is called "The Committee of the Hungarian National Revolution". Dudas
is even signing permits for free passage through the town.
We visited another newspaper Igazsag -"Truth," which is the organ of
the youth and the army, backing Imre Nagy. It is very hard to find out who is backing whom
here, who is behind whom.
From everyone with whom we talked we have received the reply that there is no danger of
abolishing revolutionary achievements, such as returning factories or land to former
owners. It is interesting, however, that all people are predicting a right-wing course in
Leftist groups are the least noticeable. First of all, the Hungarian Workers' Party
seems not to exist. One has the impression Communists are now seeking suitable
organisational forms. This will take a long time. The trade unions were reorganised today.
They are abandoning former views, but will ask for Workers Councils.
For the time being the Army is most compact, the best organised progressive force.
Although passive for the most part, it was divided in the course of recent events.
"Revolutionary Councils" were set up yesterday in the military commands. The
commanding officer of the Air Force took the initiative. After being ordered to fire on
the masses if they began to march on the headquarters, he refused and "revolutionary
committees" were then set up in all services of the Army and even in the Ministry of
Defence. Many commanding generals have been dismissed. Today the Army maintained order
together with civilians, some wearing badges, some not.
Even today we heard shooting. A real persecution has begun against former officers of
the State Security, and today it became a regular frenzy. Groups of armed civilians looked
for such officers in various hide-outs. They all defended themselves and were killed on
the spot. Crowds
gathered around these places and, even more, around mutilated corpses which were
displayed in the streets. In front of the building of the municipal Party committee, after
yesterday's clashes, a former colonel was detected. Found on his corpse was a note showing
that he received a salary amounting to 9,000 florins (the average salary is 800 florins).
People tore up the money found on him and pinned it to the corpse. Suspects are identified
and if they belong to the Security Service they are simply hanged by the crowd.
From time to time Soviet tanks pass through the streets. Obviously they are
withdrawing. They arrived as a hanging was taking place, and stopped for a moment, not
knowing why the people had gathered. The crowd dispersed, but the tanks proceeded without
interfering. . .
Vlado Teslic, Borba (Belgrade), 1 November
VIGILANCE AND CONCERN
Yesterday, October 30th, we were the first to inform the population of the country of
Marshal Zhukov's order to the Soviet troops to begin their withdrawal from the territory
of Hungary. As reported, the withdrawal of Soviet units has begun. However, for reasons
that we and the people of the country do not understand, large Soviet forces
-anti-aircraft units, tanks, and troops- have changed their direction and again entered
the territory of Hungary from Zahony, in the direction of Nyiregyhaza. The reason for this
circular movement of Soviet troops is incomprehensible to us. We observed the movement of
Soviet troops all night . . . and we informed the President of the Council of Ministers of
the happenings during the night. We spoke by telephone with the Minister of State, Zoltan
Tildy, and with the Deputy Minister of Defence, and we earnestly requested them to take up
the matter with the Soviet Commanders most energetically. We requested them to obtain the
withdrawal of Soviet troops as soon as possible, and to give priority to their answer to
Radio Miskolc, so that this answer may immediately be transmitted to the population of the
country. At our request the Council of Ministers was called together, and we received the
following answer this morning:
"I can reassure you of the creation of an independent, free, and democratic
Radio Free Miskolc [154/159]
"THE STRUGGLE FOR THE MASSES"
In Budapest, as in the whole of Hungary, a feverish struggle for the masses is under
way. . . . A process of political differentiation is going on. The prevailing majority of
those who went into the streets last Tuesday to demonstrate against Stalinism did so to
develop Hungarian socialism and to rid it of its shackles.
All parties which have joined Imre Nagy's coalition -the Smallholders Party, the
Peasants Party and the Social Democratic Party- have begun to organise themselves. Since
in principle a multi-party system has been endorsed, consideration is being given to
creating or re-forming some more parties, first of all the Catholic Party, which was
formerly very powerful and influential. Thus, it is hard to say what the political outcome
of the developments now taking place in Hungary will be.
Disorder still prevails in the streets. In fact there is no real authority as yet, at
least not a centralized one. Bloodshed had not yet been stopped. In front of the Opera
House, bodies of twelve policemen, members of the AVO who were killed during renewed
unrests yesterday, still lie on the pavement. A number of Communists whom I contacted are
frightened because more and more often one hears that Communists are being assassinated.
Today I went to the "Csilaga" [?] printing works. I was told, and not only
there, that in Budapest today real anarchy prevails in the publication of newspapers and
leaflets. A group of 20 armed men enters a printing shop, taking control of it for a half
hour or an hour, and print what they want.
Of course, there are some people who refuse to leave the printing shops, who occupy
them. Thus, a group of insurgents led by Dudas, a former deputy of the Smallholder Party,
took full control of the badly damaged building of the Szabad Nep.
Nobody can find out what is going on. One paper appears and then is stopped; others are
published under new names, or an old one appears with new editors. The picture changes
every minute. There are newspapers which appear only once. Today the situation was as
follows: for the last two days no copies of the Szabad Nep appeared, the organ of
the Hungarian Workers Party. It is questionable whether it will be published at all any
more. The organ of the United Hungarian Youth Organization no longer appears and the
organization itself has been dissolved. At first Szabad Nep appeared under the
name Magyar Szabadsag, but then it was also discontinued when the printing plant
Today the Communists are said to have succeeded in arriving at an agreement with Dudas
to print a Communist paper there. The paper Magyar Nemzet, former organ of the
People's Front, is still being published, but as an independent paper and organ of a group
of progressive intellectual anti-Stalinist Communists. So far the editor-in-chief is a
member of the Cabinet, Losonczy, a man who was kept in prison a long time by Rakosi's
supporters. The army organ, Szabadsereg, has been renamed Magyar Honved
and it comes out as the organ of the Revolutionary Council of the Hungarian Armed Forces,
which was formed yesterday and which has unanimously and decisively sided with Imre Nagy
and his present government. . .
For the last two days the streets have been flooded with the Magyar Fuggetlenseg,
which is being published in the printing works of the Szabad Nep and is edited by
a group of insurgents around Dudas. This is a paper in which the most varied elements mix.
Very popular, perhaps most popular is a paper called Igazsag, published by a
group of Communists and progressives who were the first to side with the insurgents. From
the very start almost all the insurgents considered the paper as their own because it
emerged from their midst and was striving for the abolition of Stalinism in Hungary. This
paper is now supporting Nagy. [159/160]
A paper published by young revolutionary students supporting the platform of national
liberation and the revival of 1848 traditions is called Egyetemi Ujsag. Also very
popular is Nepszava, the traditional organ of Social Democracy. Tomorrow Kis
Ujsag will reappear the organ of the Smallholders Party, and Szabad Szo,
organ of the Peasant Party. But they will not be the only ones.
During all this time, the struggle to consolidate the peace of the country is being
continued. The key question is how to organize the security forces. A serious step was
taken today in the Kilian Barracks, which was one of the centers of the uprising. . . .
Representatives of the most important armed insurgents' groups held a joint meeting and
formed the Revolutionary Commissariat of Security Forces; they have decided to join their
forces-estimated now at about 10,000 men- to the National Guard; together with the regular
police and the army, the Guard must secure order in Budapest.
About 100 armed men, mostly leaders of the uprising, were assembled in the hall of the
Kilian Barracks. . . . Colonel Pal Maleter seemed to be the most popular among them. He is
a former Spanish volunteer, a Communist who, as Commander of the Barracks, joined the
insurgents and fought against the Soviet troops. Many people want to see him as commander
of the National Guard. Certain differences between individual groups of insurgents were
settled at the meeting, particularly those existing between the three most important and
most numerous groups assembled. Those led by Maleter; those who fought in the Corvin
cinema; and the group from Buda led by Lt. Colonel Marian. A committee of 20 men was
formed, including the commanders of the armed groups mentioned, in order to organize their
merger with the National Guard. This was a very serious step toward settling conditions in
Djuka Julius, Politika (Belgrade), 1 November
THE REVOLUTIONARY STUDENTS
The Hungarian revolution began as a student movement. This I can say with absolute
conviction, having just returned from Budapest, where I discussed the matter with the
The events in Budapest on that Tuesday evening had in fact been slightly preceded by
uprisings in two other university towns -Szeged and Pecs. There the students had simply
called upon the town councils to resign and had re-elected emergency committees from their
own numbers. These committees of 15 to 30 members containing professors and students, had
a single president, who in more cases than not was an undergraduate. The attitude of the
older members of the community was that this was a student movement, and as such should be
led by them. That youth was willing to ask the advice of age was very apparent. This
advice was readily forthcoming. Following the student's lead the factory workers took
similar action in the non-university towns.
I did not discover whether or not these revolutionary committees are in any way
coordinated from one single centre. Gyor, halfway between Vienna and Budapest, claims to
be rebel headquarters. Certainly it has a nationalist-held station and is in a good
position to press its claim. I was assured by the revolutionary committee of Sopron that
they, and for that matter other towns, are not directed by Gyor. .
The purpose of these committees ... is one of maintenance at the moment. In face of the
general strike it is up to them to keep the food supplies running. The responsibility with
which this has been taken on is fantastic. Where one would expect [160/161] to find a
certain amount of indecisiveness and youthful experimenting, there is in fact efficiency
that would do credit to a stable community. Sopron, being one of the distribution centres
for supplies coming from Austria, is an outstanding example of this state of affairs.
The student committee of the revolution in Budapest itself seems to be an even more
powerful body. Its president, a young man named Josef Molnar, works in constant liaison
with Colonel Maleter, commanding the Hungarian Army in Budapest. Almost all the students
at this university of technology are armed.
To the older people of Hungary this uprising has come as a surprise -an uprising in
spite of the fact that almost all those taking part have had educations doctored by
totalitarian methods. The reaction to this now is that nothing said by the Russians is
believed. Tito has been condemned by the Russians. In consequence he is on the highest of
pedestals in Hungary, in spite of the fact that this revolution aims not only to oust
Russian Communism, but even national Communism.
Ian Rankin, The Observer (London), 4 November [161/165]
The youth of Budapest who demonstrated in favor of the people's justified claims have
repeatedly been called lately "fascist rabble." The following episode clearly
shows that it was no fascist rabble that marched through the streets of Budapest.
Meeting an AVO officer, a raging crowd was about to strike him, but realizing that he
was a Jew, several of the armed demonstrators took his defence.
Noble gesture! The soldiers of freedom, those "fascists", rose in the defence
of an officer so that their revolution would not be branded as an "anti-semitic and
Igazsag (Budapest), 30 October
SMALL BOYS AND THEIR "GUITARS"
The last Soviet tanks were just moving out of Budapest when we reached the outskirts
after a long journey interrupted by innumerable security checks. The tanks had not put out
white flags, as the Hungarians had boldly demanded; but they had the air of a defeated
army all the same. Their guns were masked. Their turrets were closed, the crews hidden
inside. Nobody looked out. Not I think, because they were afraid of being shot at; rather
that they could not bear to see the ruin they had caused. It was already dusk. Candles
were burning in every window. They were the only lights in all Budapest-the torches not of
victory but of thanksgiving.
It had been a strange journey. The road was jammed with convoys carrying medical aid
and food. It would have been hard for us to get through without two students, Ferko and
Pista, armed with the inevitable guitars , who acted as our personal bodyguards and helped
us to fight our way through the check points manned by Freedom Fighters.
They told us a great deal about the first days of the uprising. The Freedom Fighters,
they said, had arrested all the AVOs they were able to round up. Many of the secret police
had been killed in the process, but only a few had been victims of revenge: most had died
in action. The Party apparatus had disintegrated completely on the very first day of the
rising, but there had been no massacre of Party officials. "We raided the Party
offices, took away their weapons and told them to go home. Only a few were held. In fact,
many of them joined us."
They were also very definite about the Jews. There had been reports of pogroms, all the
more easy to believe in that so many leaders and officials of Party and police were Jews.
"It simply isn't true about pogroms," they cried. "The Jewish community
suffered as much as any other. They are all with us fighting for our freedom. Go and see
for yourself! You will find thousands of Jewish boys and girls among the Freedom Fighters,
especially in Budapest. Hundreds have died fighting."
These two were typical of so many we were to meet -both members of the Communist youth
organisation, both totally rejecting everything it stood for, and totally unaffected by
the teaching of the Leninist gospel. Their ideas of right and wrong were a good deal
clearer, in spite of the vaunted conditioning process, than one normally meets among the
youth of the West. Nor were they perturbed by the future. "There will be no chaos
when the Russians leave," they said, "we all know now what we want."
In Budapest, all the same, there was a good deal of chaos. In that autumn twilight we
heard mothers calling tremulously and vainly for their vanished children. And we saw the
graves. Every park, every garden, every patch of earth had its little cemeteries.
We stopped at one near the Margit Bridge. Small boys in their very early teens were
standing guard over the graves, carefully dressed in Honved uniforms which had probably
belonged to their elder brothers. Instead of rifles they clutched "guitars"
almost as big as themselves. Candles were burning on the newly-dug graves.
These small Hungarian boys, with their devoted, incomprehensible and wholly
self-appointed activity, were, for me, the most astonishing and moving aspect of the
Budapest scene in those days of brief triumph. Next day, Peter Strasser and I found
ourselves guarded not only by Ferko and Pista, our companions of the journey, who would
not leave us, but also by a whole gang of small boys, all armed to the teeth, who refused
to let us out of their sight and glorified in the privilege of acting as a private army
for two middle-aged "foreigners." [165/166]
They did not belong to Budapest. They had all come in from outside "to see how
they could help"-without a word to their parents, without leaving even a note
("They know where we are"), they had walked and hitch-hiked into Budapest,
begging or stealing tommy-guns and grenades, to do their bit. Alarmed at the multiplicity
of weapons, pointed in all directions and treated with the utmost casualness, I asked one
of the "gang" why he had to have six pistols: wasn't one enough? "We know
how to shoot, Uncle," he replied. "But we don't know how to load."
Lajos Lederer, The Observer (London), 25 November [166/169]
November 1, 1956
HOPES AND FEARS OF THE REVOLUTION
There was lively activity in Parliament today. In the last two or three days the
Parliament has become the center to meet and decide things. Imre Nagy, members of the
Government, leaders of the newly formed parties and representatives of "Revolutionary
Committees" are constantly present. Arriving every day are delegates with demands of
newly-formed authorities from all over the country. The immediate withdrawal of Soviet
troops is a common characteristic of all these demands. They have an ultimative character.
"Otherwise the strike will continue". And this means the paralysis of
communications and the stoppage of all production...
This morning we succeeded in getting in to the secretariat of Imre Nagy. The Prime
Minister was too busy to see us. He was meeting with representatives of many organisations
which in these days have seized arms and thus power. They arrived with information on new
movements of Soviet troops across the Hungarian frontiers. An astonished representative of
the Revolutionary Military Committee asks: "How is it possible that this now happens
after we have gone so far towards calming down the situation?" He was very dejected.
Pressure by the newly-established political parties has a strong influence on the
decisions of Prime Minister Nagy. But their demands are in harmony with the general
atmosphere in the country. Dissatisfaction increased from hour to hour, when it was
learned that Soviet troops, after withdrawing from Budapest, have taken up positions at
the approaches to the capital. That is why the general strike is still in force in Hungary
. . . More and more one hears: "We are not moving in a circle but rushing toward a
catastrophe. We cannot start production, nor force the people to surrender their arms
before foreign troops are withdrawn. And we have coal only for the next two days. This
also means that we shall be left without light. The consequences will be felt more and
more. We shall arrive at the brink of economic collapse!"
The hands of the trade unions are still tied. The old T.U. organisation was disbanded.
The new one was formed only recently. The new organisations are energetic and clear-headed
as far as denouncing everything that was formerly customary is concerned. But they have
also made their call on the workers to return to work contingent upon the withdrawal of
Only the workers' youth organisation is calling for a resumption of work...
There is acute fear. People are constantly in the streets . . any dramatic news
threatens to start riots. Today former members of the secret police are objects of attack,
tomorrow others will be attacked as well. A certain psychosis of uncertainty is being
born. Today, for instance, long queues formed in front of banks and post-offices -people
who want to withdraw their savings.
But today many more soldiers may be seen maintaining order . . . They patrolled the
streets together with members of the newly-established National Guard -formed from the old
police and students. Armed insurgent groups were seen more rarely, and then only in
certain districts. This success is undoubtedly due to yesterday's meeting of the
representatives of insurgent forces. . . After many efforts the progressives succeeded in
reaching an agreement among them. Among these forces the most important and most positive
role is played by Colonel Maleter.
... Yesterday he was appointed deputy to the Minister of War and is most energetic in
the re-establishment of peace and order. An important role is also played by the chief of
the police Kopacsi, who during the riots refused to attack the insurgents. Today both are
leading members of the Military Revolutionary Committee.
Today various parties have, so to speak, shown their identity cards . . . The
Smallholders Party and the Social-Democrats . . . are energetically defending the idea of
a complete neutrality like [169/170] Switzerland and Austria. It is interesting that this
is also the attitude of all other groups and organisations which have appeared until now,
including the most progressive forces among the youth and the workers, who carried the
main burden of fighting during the four bloody Budapest days.
The secretary-general of the Social-Democratic Party Kelemen received a group of
Yugoslav journalists today. We learned that this party will fight most resolutely for the
maintenance of the acquisitions of the working class, and that it will aid Workers
At present only the Communists are behind the time. The Party of Hungarian Workers does
not seem to exist. It seems that this party is unable to recover from the heavy blow.
According to information, the party wants to reorganize itself completely, that is to say,
to start again from scratch. Its new name will be 'Hungarian Revolutionary Workers
Vlado Teslic, Borba (Belgrade), 2 November
"NOT WITH A RED SCARF!"
The nearer we got to Budapest the more frequently we were stopped by armed guards of
freedom fighters. They were young boys, students and industrial workers, very polite and
very pleased to see us. These youngsters were carrying their guns not from any joy of
fighting but from a deep conviction that they must get rid of Russian domination and
Moscow's hated henchmen, the secret police.
"What will happen after your final victory?" we kept asking. And again the
answer was surprisingly unanimous, especially as concerted leadership was so obviously
lacking: "There should be several parties, and elections as soon as possible."
We then tried to find out their views on how far the economic changes of the present
regime should be reversed. They left us in no doubt that they certainly did not want the
big landlords to come back to their estates but that they also did not want the enforced
collectivisation of the peasants on their newly acquired land to continue. And what should
become of the big industrial plants which had been erected in recent years and were the
property of the state? Certainly, they should remain state-owned and so should all the key
industries. But the rest of the economy should go back to its former owners, especially
where the small man was concerned.
In Budapest everyone seemed to be out in the streets. Old men and young kids,
housewives and workers, gathered in crowds round our cars, eager to talk, eager also to
try and get some share of almost forgotten luxuries. As we were passing the crowds on a
bridge I pulled off my modestly red scarf to wave it at them and immediately noticed heads
turning away. A young motor-cyclist who was showing us the way immediately whispered to
me: "Not with a red scarf."
We were deeply impressed by the way in which Hungarian youth took up arms against the
Communists. In a hospital there were wounded boys of twelve, thirteen and fourteen years
of age who had thrown hand grenades and bottles of petrol at Russian tanks or had stood in
ambush armed with guns. We were also strongly impressed by the completeness and discipline
of the general strike. As long as the resistance movement was in power all essential
services were performed without fault. The food shops were open, potatoes, bread and flour
seemed to be in sufficient supply; there were no traces of plundering or demoralisation.
At the central bus station where I filled up my car with petrol for the return journey
they refused to take money -it being state-owned, they could not issue me with a bill!
-and would not even accept a tip. No alcohol was allowed to be served, not even with a
When we left Hungary on November 1st we had not seen one single Russian soldier. We
were told by people who watched them that the Russians had taken an hour to get out of
Budapest. Near Gyor a Russian division was in barracks with the gates locked. The fears of
Communist officials then may be deduced from the fact that we had to refuse a Hungarian
diplomat's plea to take him, his wife and plenty of luggage with us across the boarder.
[sic] We left with the delusion that the fight had been won.
Correspondent, The Economist (London), 17 November [170/171]
ANNA KETHLY LEAVES
From Budapest I brought Anna Kethly, leader of the Hungarian Social Democrats, and
former vice-chairman of the Hungarian Parliament, to Vienna today by car. She is attending
a meeting of the bureau of the Socialist International. This is the first sight of the
free world which this gentle and indomitable woman has had since her long years of
imprisonment under the Communists.
The streets of Budapest are strewn with glass and telephone wires, and last night as we
drove into the semi-deserted city the only people to be seen were groups of victorious
Freedom Fighters checking our documents at every street corner. There are crowds of boys
between 16 and 18, armed with tommy guns and army rifles, rather self-consciously got up
like revolutionaries in a film. At one corner some of them pointed out a Communist secret
policeman hanging dead from a tree on a side walk and insisted on our inspecting the body.
They looked and behaved like people in a film, and yet these are the youngsters who in
seven days of desperate fighting forced the monster of world communism to give way and
acknowledge defeat. Later we went to the lobby of the St Margit Palace Hotel where we saw
about thirty of these youngsters with caps flung backwards over their heads and hand
grenades in their belts sitting in the lobby in an animated discussion with some Hungarian
poets and actresses. They were discussing the future of mankind.
By contrast I met the famous woman leader of the Social Democrats at her party
headquarters where the Hungarian Social Democratic party was re-founded two days ago. She
had been trying to fly to Vienna in the morning but Soviet troops had reoccupied the road
to the airport and she could not get through. Now she was standing in her black over-coat,
grey-haired, receiving delegations of Social Democratic workers from all over the country,
"Kethly Anna" as the Hungarians say, putting the surname before the Christian
name, is the idol of those thousands of workers who never gave way to communism.
The Hungarian Social Democrats have reorganised their party, and have rigidly excluded
all members who have supported the merger with the Communists, such as the former State
President, Szakasits. The Social Democrats have now joined the new coalition Government of
the "National Communist" Premier Imre Nagy. They may do so later, but that will
depend on their own democratic decision.
Manchester Guardian, 2 November [171/172]
Reports reaching here said that for three hours early today Soviet tanks, guns and
lorries were crossing into Hungary at Zahony. Hungarians said there was a flow in both
directions, but more entered than went out. Other Russian troops were reported to be
digging in to form a cordon around Budapest, from which they withdrew yesterday. They were
15 to 25 miles from the city.
Hungarian troops arriving here from the southeast reported seeing Russian tanks on the
outskirts of the city. The insurgents had issued an ultimatum to the Soviet forces to
withdraw to the line of the River Tisza by November 15, and completely evacuate Hungary by
December 31. If the Russians do not agree the rebels will resume fighting. Workers of
Csongrad, South-East Hungary, have decided to stay on strike until Soviet troops leave the
country . . . Groups of rebels still prowled the streets of Budapest and the city's sewers
to-day. They were searching for members of the Hungarian secret police. When they found
them in the sewers they shot them and dumped their bodies. Eye-witnesses reported that
when the insurgents had shot secret police-men in the streets they poured petrol on the
bodies and burned them. Despite pleas by the Government, nobody was back at work in the
factories. There was no public transport. Nearly everything was at a standstill.
The Catholic People's party resumed its activities in Budapest. Cardinal Mindszenty,
Roman Catholic Primate of Hungary, who returned here yesterday after eight year's
imprisonment, said that he would not decide whether to support a broad coalition
Government for a few days.
Prince Paul Esterhazy, the Hungarian former landowner, has been released from prison
and is back in Budapest, according to press reports. He was sentenced to 15 years
imprisonment in February, 1949, for alleged treason and espionage.
Budapest radio reported that Hungarian officers, now attending the Signals Academy in
Leningrad, said in a telegram that they were putting themselves at the disposal of the new
Government and the Revolutionary Council of the Army. The officers asked the Government to
recall them immediately. . .
Daily Telegraph (London), 2 November [172/173]
QUESTIONS IN "FORTRESS BUDAPEST"
Soviet tank units which left Budapest yesterday have dug in 10 miles outside the
capital and encircled the city, except for a small stretch leaving the road open to Vienna
for the medical and food supplies coming in from there. They have also forcibly occupied
the large civilian airport at Ferihegy and requisitioned all civilian aircraft. Western
military attachés who were able to go there this afternoon confirm the Russian move.
This news, after the relief following the withdrawal of the Soviet. troops from the
capital, has caused great dismay among the heroic citizens of Budapest. It is not quite
clear what this Russian move means; it may be in connection with the flying visit of Mr.
Anastas Mikoyan and Mr. Mikhail Suslov -the second in the last seven days- who arrived
here this morning for talks with members of the Hungarian Government, including Janos
While the Soviet leaders hesitate and may or may not cut their losses in Hungary,
Budapest itself, which looked like being lost only 48 hours ago, is now firmly in the
hands of the insurgents.
I had a talk today with the commander of the newly-formed Budapest forces, Major
General Bela Kiraly, who is super-intending the organising of the army, the police, the
workers' brigades and the university students into one unit. He said that they will resist
any attempt to undermine the revolution's achievements, whether it comes from inside or
outside the country. Their aim is to preserve these achievements intact pending new
elections and the formation of a new Government. Budapest is now full of units of the
Hungarian Army coming up from the provinces and has taken on the appearance of a fortress.
There is no sign, of jubilation or joy as one might have expected. Are the Russians
returning to Budapest or not? Are the Russians going to stay in Hungary or not? Those are
the questions which every body asks in Budapest.
Lajos Lederer, Observer Foreign News Service (London), 1 November
The Russians, we heard, were drawing a ring of tanks around Budapest. They had occupied
all the airfields and were permitting no foreign plane to land or take off. Soviet
reinforcements were rolling in from the east over the Rumanian border. The atomic
physicist shook his head. "Why all that, if they intend to pull out? They aren't just
going to accept defeat. They'll bring in more men and more tanks and smash the
revolution," he repeated again and again. "And what will you do?" I asked.
"Fight," he answered simply. "If you knew what it was to live through these
ten years of abasement, terror, and treason, you would understand. We can't go back to the
way things were, not now. It has nothing to do with heroism; it's much less dramatic than
that. It's simply that there isn't a single one of us who wouldn't rather be dead than go
through the hell we were living in again." I tried to reassure him. "The Soviets
won't dare," I said. "What about world opinion? De-Stalinization? The
concessions in Poland? They're only trying to prevent the revolution from getting
completely out of hand; the tanks and the reinforcements are a damper, nothing more."
This was exactly the sort of thing that the military attachés of the British and American
embassies in Budapest were saying to Western journalists. "Nothing that can't be
explained by the requirements of an orderly withdrawal.
But the Hungarians knew better . . .
Peter Schmid, Die Weltwoche (Zurich) and
Commentary (New York), January 1957 [173/175]
ATTITUDES OF CHURCHMEN
Cardinal Mindszenty, Primate of Hungary, received Hungarian and foreign Press, radio
and television representatives at his Buda palace and made the following statement:
"After long time imprisonment I am speaking to all the sons of the Hungarian nation.
In my heart there is no hatred against anyone. It is an admirable heroism that is at
present liberating the fatherland. This struggle for liberty is unexampled in world
history. Our youth deserves all glory. They deserve gratitude and prayers for their
sacrifices. Our army, workers and peasants have shown an example of heroic love of the
fatherland. The situation of the country is very serious; conditions for the continuance
of life are lacking. The path of fruitful development must be found as speedily as
possible. I am now gathering information, and in two days' time I will broadcast to the
nation about the means of achieving this development."
Hungarian News Agency [175/176]
PAL MALETER'S PRESS CONFERENCE
Representatives of Western newspapers called on Maj. Gen. Pal Maleter, military
commander of the insurrection and Deputy Minister of Defence, at the insurgents HQ . . .
First of all, he informed the foreign journalists that according to military
reconnaissance new Soviet forces have entered Hungarian territory during the past few
days. "The view of the Hungarian Army", said Maleter, "is that we want to
live in friendship with all peoples. Our Army, however, has weapons, and if necessary it
can defend itself against the intruders. In the interests of putting the situation in
order we stand behind the National Government, behind Imre Nagy and Zoltan Tildy. But the
Army makes its further support for the Government dependent on whether the Government
fulfils its promises.
"What negotiations has the Government entered into up to now with this end in
view?" asked the journalists.
"Zoltan Tildy conferred on Wednesday with Mr. Mikoyan, who promised that those
troops who are in Hungary not for the purposes of the Warsaw Treaty will be withdrawn from
Question: Does this mean that the so-called Warsaw troops will remain?
Answer: This is out of the question. Tildy has informed Mikoyan that we shall repudiate
the Warsaw Treaty in any event, and our Government demanded that negotiations in this
respect should begin as soon as possible.
Question: What will happen to those troops now coming to Hungary?
Answer: Naturally, we shall regard them as being outside the Warsaw Treaty and shall
treat them accordingly. I must declare, however, that the people of Hungary are mature
enough not immediately to regard tardiness in connection with promises made by foreign
leaders as an act of provocation. Nonetheless, we shall not throw away our arms before
national independence has achieved complete victory.
The journalists then asked Maj. Gen. Maleter to speak about the insurrection, the
fighting, and the relations between the insurgents and the Army.
Answer: This insurrection was organised by nobody. The insurrection broke out because
the Hungarian people wanted peace, tranquillity, freedom and independence -to which the
foreign occupiers replied with weapons. At the beginning of the struggle unarmed single
groups, independent of each other, attacked the intruders, and achieved their successes
with the weapons they thus obtained. Hungarian youths made their own weapons.
Maj. Gen. Maleter then showed such a weapon. It was an ordinary siphon bottle from the
tap of which hung two 15-cm. ribbons. The siphon was filled with petrol which saturated
the ribbons. With such bottles many Russian steel monsters were rendered harmless. The
burning petrol, flowing from the siphon, set the tanks on fire and burnt them out.
Question: Please tell us something about your part in the battles.
Answer: In the early hours of last Wednesday I received an order from the then Minister
of Defence to set out with five tanks against insurgents in the 8th and 9th city districts
and to relieve the Kilian barracks. When I arrived at the spot I became convinced that the
freedom fighters were not bandits but loyal sons of the Hungarian people. So I informed
the Minister that I would go over to the insurgents. Ever since, we have been fighting
together and we shall not end the struggle so long as a single armed foreigner is in
Free Radio Kossuth [176/177]
INTERVIEW WITH KADAR: "THE THIRD LINE"
Today I talked to Janos Kadar, first secretary of the new Hungarian Communist Party. He
told me it was the first interview he had given to a Western journalist. Kadar is 44 years
old. He is of medium height, has light brown hair, speaks very slowly, almost in an
Question: What type of Communism do you represent, Mr. Kadar?
Answer: The new type, which emerged from the Revolution and which does not want to have
anything in common with the Communism of the Rakosi-Hegedues-Geroe-group.
Q: This "new Communism," if it can be termed as such- is it of the Yugoslav
or Polish type?
A: Our Communism is Hungarian. It is a sort of "third line," with no
connection to Titoism nor to Gomulka's Communism.
Q: How would you describe this "third line?"
A: It is Marxism-Leninism applied to the particular requirements of our country, to our
difficulties and to our national problems. It is not inspired either by the U.S.S.R. nor
by other types of Communism, and I repeat that it is Hungarian National Communism. This
"third line" originated from our Revolution during the course of which, as you
know, numerous Communists fought at the side of students, workers, and the people.
Q: Will your Communism be developed along democratic lines, if they can be termed as
A: That's a good question. There will be an opposition, and no dictatorship. This
opposition will be heard because it will have the national interests of Hungary at heart
and not those of international Communism.
Q: Prime Minister Imre Nagy, with whom I had an interview yesterday, told me in reply
to a particular question, that it was not he who had called [177/178] in the Russians to
intervene in the struggle. But he told me the name of the person who had been responsible.
He mentioned Gero. Is all this correct?
A: I can tell you that Gero perhaps knew of it and gave his agreement to it, but it is
Andras Hegedus who called in the Russians.
Q: Did Mikoyan and Suslov really come to Budapest during the insurrection?
A: Yes -they were in Budapest.
Q: And with whom did they confer? The Minister paused, and then answered: "I don't
Q: What will be the future relations between the new Hungarian Communist Party and the
U.S.S.R. and Western Communist Parties?
A: Relations will definitely be friendly, but as yet we have not established contact
with Western Communist parties. After what has happened, they do not wish to draw closer
Q: What do you think of Italian Communism?
A: The course taken by Italian Communism is definitely the right one for Italian
Communists, just as the Marxist-Leninist "third line" is right for us.
Q: What do you think of the widespread Western opinion that after Stalin's death, two
different trends of opinion have evolved within the Soviet Central Committee and the
Government in Moscow?
A: This is an error which appeals to Western countries. Two different trends exist
neither in the ranks of the Party, nor in the Government. There is only one thing that is
certain, and that is that the old Stalinists are now adapting themselves to a new
Communist tendency, which obviously gives rise to discussions. My own personal opinion,
and, believe me, I am right, is that there is no question of two different trends.
Q: What is to be the fate of those Communists who were in the forefront
in the days of Rakosi and company and who fought at the side of Soviet troops and the
A: Our government will take no action against them. But we wish it to be clearly
understood that we have nothing in common with these people.
Q: Will you be a participant in the delegation which is going to the U.S.S.R.?
A: The Soviets will definitely extend an invitation, but we do not yet know who will
take part or who will lead the delegation.
Q: What do you think of Titoism and what will be your relations with Tito?
Janos Kadar, who had, up until then, spoken through my German interpreter, now said to
me in German: "Sehr gut" (very good).
Q: Will you accept Western aid if it is offered to you?
A: Yes, we would accept it. We need it, as our country is in a state of economic
Il Giornale d'Italia (Rome), 2 November [178/180]
JANOS KADAR AND "SCHIZOPHRENIA"
The last time I saw him, Janos Kadar was hurrying along one of the corridors of the
parliament building in Budapest. It was the middle of November 1956...
Then I took him for granted. He fitted very well into the dismal landscape, the
graveyard of our revolution. But writing now in London, I see him with the eyes of the
normal world of human beings...
Laszlo Rajk was his friend . . . In the Spring of 1949, Mrs. Rajk gave birth to a son.
In the Soviet-model name-giving ceremony Janos Kadar acted as godfather. A few weeks later
Rajk was arrested ... Janos Kadar, the Minister of Interior, declared in speech after
speech that Rajk was a despicable spy . . . It was Janos Kadar who tricked his best friend
and former idol into committing physical and moral suicide by confessing a long series of
unlikely crimes at his public trial, promising Rajk that he would not be executed and
would live somewhere in the East under a different name...
In 1951 Janos Kadar himself was arrested . . . He was treated with the utmost
brutality. After his release he told the Central Committee how he was tortured . . .
Because he knew from personal experience that promises made to candidates for show trials
are never kept, he did not sign the confessions demanded from him . . . I saw Kadar after
his ordeal. I was a witness at his own rigged trial. But I answered only in generalities
.... After my testimony I turned to go out slowly to have a good look at him. The other
three in the dock looked at me with friendly approving eyes. In Kadar's gaze there was
only misunderstanding and wonder...
Afterwards he spent nearly two years in solitary confinement. In 1954 Imre Nagy
succeeded in releasing from concentration camps and prisons some ninety thousand political
prisoners . . . After his release from jail, Kadar visited Mrs. Rajk who was just freed
after 5 years in prison herself . . . He told her that he was the one who on Rakosi's
instructions persuaded and tricked Laszlo Rajk...
"Can you forgive me," Kadar asked.
"I forgive you. My husband would have been murdered anyway . . . But can you
forgive yourself? . . . If you want to live as a decent person, you should inform entire
Hungary about the secret of the Rajk trial . . ." He left -and did nothing.
In 1956 it was obvious to the Central Committee and Politburo members that they had to
sacrifice Rakosi if they wanted to save their own skins. They thought of Kadar as a likely
successor. But Rakosi heard of it . . . At the next session of the Central Committee in
May he made a few remarks about the "unwise behavior of Comrade Kadar in joining some
people who demand the punishment of those responsible for the Rajk trial." Rakosi
gave a sign to one of his assistants, who brought in a magnetophone tape recording and
played it back . . . It was a shattering conversation: Janos Kadar persuading his best
friend, Laszlo Rajk, not to be obstinate and to confess everything the police and the
Russians wanted him to... . . .
Out of prison Kadar changed into the ultimate type of split personality, a kind of
"controlled schizophrenia", a conscious mixture of delusion and cynicism, of
obsession and opportunism. Many leading Communists suffer from this. They want and need
power. But this naked primitive ambition is deeply unsatisfying unless they self-hypnotise
themselves, at times, into that fine fervour of feeling, of fanatical faith which started
them on their way. Often they lean on their former public selves, and even on private
selves. They exercise double-think and double-speech, but their emotional life is ruled
not by double but by treble or quadruple-feeling. In all its varieties, this constitutes
the "communist neurosis" ...
On 31 October and 1 November Kadar took part in the work of the Revolutionary
Government. But on Thursday evening between 8 and 9 p.m. Kadar and Munnich told their
associates that they had to go to dinner, and sneaked out of the Parliament building,
where all the Government offices were located during the revolution, and went over to the
Soviet Army Command. Their driver returned with the news that they drove to the Soviet
Embassy and there got into a waiting car. The driver had the impression that everything
was arranged beforehand. I was told about this that very night by one of the most
important leaders of the revolt who used to sleep at my flat during those days. He
returned late at night very worried. He told me about it with the request to keep it
secret. On Saturday afternoon I heard George Heltai, Imre Nagy's foreign policy adviser,
who was with Nagy in Parliament the whole time between 26 October and 4 November, tell a
friend in my presence about Kadar's disappearance on Thursday ...
By then, probably, Moscow decided to crush Hungarian independence and Kadar offered his
services. The Soviet troops were then in a circle around Budapest. On the 1st of November,
a few hours before he sneaked away, a seven-men preparatory committee was set up to found
the new Communist party. The leader was Kadar. The other six men have since been arrested,
deported, or executed. . .
George Paloczi-Horvath, Der Monat (Berlin), March 1957 [180/183]
BREAKING WITH THE WARSAW PACT
At close quarters in the Parliament building today, I was able to follow the
development of the new phase in the revolutionary history of Hungary. I was in the
ante-chamber of the hall, in which a Cabinet meeting of the Government had been called.
The meeting with the Soviet Ambassador was interrupted, and when it was resumed a
little later in the afternoon, the Hungarian Government had received information according
to which new Russian troops had invaded Hungary over the Rumanian border.
During long hours of agitated debate in the Cabinet chamber, the Hungarian Government
was now disputing with the Soviet Ambassador on the question as to whether Hungary should
remain in the Warsaw Pact or not. It seems that Moscow has given Hungary the ultimatum to
cancel its renunciation of the Warsaw Pact.
But the Government did not waver in its decision, and in a dramatic radio speech
tonight Prime Minister Imre Nagy informed the Hungarian population that the Budapest
government had renounced the Warsaw Pact .
The meeting of the Government lasted until 21:00 hours tonight. In an atmosphere
breathless with excitement officials announced the decision. Tears were in their eyes.
In the headquarters of General Maleter, officers said to me that it might now be a
question of Hungary's existence. "Will the West help?" they asked. "Help
us, help us!" . . .
Adolph Rasten, Politiken (Copenhagen), 2 November [183/184]
ANGUISH AND THE "MAILED FIST"
Budapest to-night was a city as intense and embattled as in the cruellest days of the
fighting. But the tension and the battle was in men's minds. Those who had fought with
arms in their hands -or indeed with bare hands- no longer faced the Soviet troops across
the streets and bridges of this city, but faced them in their minds.
For the Russians are out of Budapest, but they are moving on Budapest again. And the
question is not "to fight or not to fight"-for it would be an insult to the
Hungarian people today to suggest that such a question could even occur to them- but how
to avoid the extermination of the flower of the nation's youth if it does come to a fight.
Mr. Nagy, the Premier, has suggested a possible solution in his appeal to the United
Nations and to the four Powers...
The details of Soviet troop movements, as disclosed by sources which are usually best
informed on these matters, indicate that the military situation is very serious indeed. It
is not only that Soviet troops have been observed pouring across the border at Zahony, at
the frontier with Russia, or that large troop concentrations have been observed across the
border. Strong Soviet columns were known to have reached at seven o'clock tonight the
towns of Kisujszallas and Fuezesabony, this side of the river Tisza. Both towns are
astride the railway lines to Budapest. And from Miskolc, a stronghold of the revolution in
Northeast Hungary, came the news that up to 850 Soviet tanks had been sighted at various
strategic points in the area.
Against this mailed fist of Soviet military might the Hungarians can now put up only
their indomitable spirits. The anguish in their minds takes them into tortuous byways of
speculation, which may well cause pain to those in England who have applauded and admired
from afar this nation's courage and, as some might have said, recklessness. For many here
believe, wrong as they might be, that in their hour of need, England has betrayed not only
her own traditions but also the conscience of mankind by choosing this moment to fish in
the troubled waters of Israeli-Egyptian enmity.
Budapest to-night is a city of light and darkness. The light is in the heart of its men
and women. The darkness, the terrible darkness of rational fear, born of the determination
to fight, is in their minds. Here and there little flashes of hope penetrate the darkness.
Perhaps the Russians are bringing in the reinforcements not so that they may fight, but to
help in the orderly dismantling of their bases, and to cover their withdrawal from the
country against possible attacks by the insurgents? Perhaps.
Mr. Mikoyan, the Soviet Deputy Premier and party praesidium member, is still in town,
and he is said to have met some of the Hungarian leaders again today. The meeting, as
distinct from the tense atmosphere in which Mr. Nagy's message was passed to the Soviet
Ambassador, is said to have been in friendly and even light-hearted terms. Perhaps it was.
But anxiety still wrings the hearts of Hungarians...
Victor Zorza, Manchester Guardian, 2 November [184/185]
How often have we not heard the hypocritical words of lying bourgeois propaganda
concerning the Western Powers' alleged respect for the sovereign rights and independence
of other nations and States! How many dirty charges have not been levelled against the
Soviet Union in connection with events in Hungary! The Soviet Government has faithfully
followed Lenin's principle of respect for other nations' sovereignty and it is far from
the very thought of forcing its will on Hungary or of interfering in her national affairs.
Radio Moscow (in Hungarian) [185/189]
November 2, 1956
In a dispatch from Budapest, Politika notes that the dreadful atrocities and
violence committed against Communists by the reactionaries are not stopping in Budapest.
The correspondent writes that such acts still continue and that it is a bad sign that the
extreme right-wing elements have raised their heads and believe that a favourable time has
come for their activities. As is known, during the past few days many bestial murders of
Communists have taken place. Further, the paper points out that there are many signs
pointing to a sharp intensification of fascist activities.
TASS, 3 November [189/190]
A SOVIET TOURIST IN BUDAPEST
We arrived in Hungary on 19 October with other Soviet tourists. We spent four days
touring this beautiful country and were everywhere given a most cordial and hearty
welcome. On Tuesday, 23 October, on our way to a theatre we saw crowds of people in the
streets of Budapest. They were lined up in ranks and carried placards, many of which bore
the inscription "Long live Hungary!" ... The students together with members of
the intelligentsia and workers were demanding the redress of errors and omissions
committed by the Hungarian Government. They were legitimate demands.
On that first evening I saw from the hotel in which we were staying a man with a rifle
appear in the deserted street. He took up a position in one of the drives and, taking
careful aim, began shooting out the street lamps. The lamps went out one by one and
darkness enveloped the street. What prompted the marksman to do this? Just hooliganism?
Hardly. I think he was one of the bright sparks of the reactionary underground who wanted
to create confusion and chaos in the city. Quite soon afterwards there were flashes of
gunfire and sounds of battle and we saw wrecked and burning buildings in the streets of
Budapest, overturned tram-cars and other vehicles. Firing would die down and then flare up
again. Hostile elements were aiming at paralysing the city's life but the workers of
Budapest were repelling the rebels. Detachments of armed workers tried to restore order in
the streets and prevent looting. In many places, including the area around our hotel,
workers' patrols were posted.
One member of our hotel staff, a middle-aged man with grey hair, told us: "Our
workers cannot have had a hand in this looting and rioting. It is fascism raising its
head." And that is what it was. The counter-revolutionary underground was in action
in Budapest. Fascist reactionary elements had arrived there from abroad. The hostile
venture was gathering momentum and the Hungarian Government asked the USSR Government for
aid. In response to this request Soviet military units stationed in Hungary under the
Warsaw Treaty entered Budapest to help to restore order. The overwhelming majority of
Hungarians welcomed this move in the hope that life in the city would quickly return to
normal. I myself saw in one street how the people were welcoming the Soviet tanks.
One Hungarian, a member of the hotel staff, described the following incident to us.
Firemen-volunteers, absolutely unarmed, were putting out a fire in one of the public
buildings. Suddenly, from a small house opposite, shots were fired by fascist louts who
opened fire on the unarmed firemen. Several of them fell. Our tank was stationed in the
street. The tankmen immediately aimed their gun at the house where the bandits were
entrenched. This was sufficient to make them run into a side street. Several firemen ran
up to the tank and shook hands with the tankmen. This episode gives a good testimony of
the attitude of the Hungarians towards the Soviet troops. However, reaction did not cease
its activities. When we walked along some of the streets we saw that the walls of houses
were thickly covered with counter-revolutionary posters
When Soviet troops began withdrawing from Budapest an unbridled White Terror started in
the Hungarian capital. We Soviet tourists recall [190/191] this time with horror. It is
difficult to describe the chaos which reigned in the city where public buildings were
destroyed, shops looted, and where crowds of armed bandits, obviously fascists, walked
along the streets committing bestial murders in broad daylight. I shall never forget what
I saw with my own eyes. I think it was on 30 or 31 October. A man in a sports suit walked
along the Lenin Boulevard. He might have been one of those who tried to restore order in
the city. Several armed ruffians wearing counter-revolutionary tricolours ran up to him. A
horrible inhuman cry was heard. A whole crowd of bandits appeared from somewhere. I was
unable to see what they were doing with their victim, but in a few minutes he was hanging
on a nearby tree with an eye gouged out and his face slashed with knives.
Some time ago I read how the fascists in Germany burnt progressive literature on
bonfires. We saw similar things...
A group of some hooligans looted and set fire to the House of Books. Thousands and
thousands of books were smouldering in the muddy street. We were there, witnesses of this
barbarity. The works of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Tolstoi, Pushkin, and other famous authors
were lying in the mud, black smoke rising. We saw an old man who lifted a few books, then
carefully wiped the mud with his sleeve, pressed them to his breast and walked slowly
away. Many people did the same.
In the Hotel "Peace" the atmosphere in those days was extremely tense. The
counter-revolutionaries tore the red star from the front of the hotel and trod it
underfoot on the pavement. We were old that the Hotel "Peace" from now on would
be called Hotel "Britannia". The person who told us about it looked around and
added quietly: "It doesn't matter. It will only be temporary."
More than once we were witnesses of acts which manifested the friendly attitude of the
Hungarians towards the Soviet people. This friendly attitude was felt by us Soviet people,
when we were leaving Budapest . . . In small groups of two or three people we made our way
along the devastated streets towards the Danube in order to board a Red Cross steamer. We
were accompanied by a worker .... a young girl. She led us from one cross-road to another,
fearlessly seeking the safest way. At the pier we heartily embraced her. She said:
"Someone in the West wants us to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Don't believe
them, dear friends. We Hungarians are for socialism and we are with you." When we
were in Czechoslovakia on our way home, we learned that the counter-revolution in Hungary
was routed and that life was becoming normal in the country. Now we are at home in Moscow.
We shall not forget that Hungarian girl who said that the Hungarians were for socialism
and that they were with us.
E.M. Bazarina, Radio Moscow, 10 November [191/192]
"PRESERVING REVOLUTIONARY PURITY"
The Government of the Hungarian People's Republic calls on members of the State
Security Authority and on the security organs of the Interior to report without delay and
in their own interests to No.25 Marko Street, where they will be screened by a screening
committee. Those who are not responsible for illegal acts will be free to go home as soon
as their case has been examined. Those who are responsible for such acts will be called to
account for them in an independent court of law . . .
Free Radio Kossuth
"PRESERVING REVOLUTIONARY PURITY"
...As to the lynchings in Republic Square, it is worth recalling that the mob was
eventually driven off by tanks under the Hungarian flag: a Paris-Match
photographer, bravely getting pictures, was among those fatally wounded by their fire. On
the following morning I happened myself to be talking to General Istvan Kovacs (deputy of
the newly appointed General Maleter) at the Ministry of Defence, when he was informed by
telephone that another crowd was intent on lynching suspected AVH men (political
policemen) : I heard him give sharp orders for an army unit to intervene and arrest the
Basil Davidson, New Statesman & Nation (London), 8 December
During dinner, Roman tells of his visit today to the camp in which the AVH men are
locked up. He spoke to several of them. They are calm and hold absolutely no grudge
against the insurgents. On the contrary, more than one owes them his life . . . We learned
that in the past 24 hours no summary executions took place in Budapest...
Viktor Woroszylski, Nowa Kultura (Warsaw), 9 December
LETTER OF L.H. (Hungarian Revolutionary Council of University Students)
As one who was not only a witness of, but who also played an active part in, the
Hungarian revolution, I would like to reply to some (inaccurate) statements...
The truth is that the book burning was confined to two book shops, one of which was the
"Horizon" book-shop, selling Russian language publications, and the other
"Szikra" [Spark], selling Communist Party publications. The symbolic meaning of
this demonstration was identical with the pulling down of the Stalin monument: they
expressed the determination of the fight against spiritual oppression inside the country,
and against military oppression from outside. These two motives continued to be apparent
throughout, culminating in the logical demand for national self-determination. To attempt
to assess these as symptoms of extreme nationalism seems to me rather strange. It is even
more strange if one wants to reinforce this allegation by citing the demand that Hungarian
uranium should be sold to the West and not to the East. The simple truth is that what we
asked for was that our uranium should be sold for money...
I would like to stress that nowhere in Hungary did I see the reappearance of uniforms
of the pre-1945 Horthy army. What is even more important, however is the fact that the
spirit of the pre-1945 epoch never reappeared...
New Statesman & Nation (London), 8 December [192/195]
MINDSZENTY'S PRESS CONFERENCE
Cardinal Mindszenty resumed his role as leader of Hungary's Roman Catholics by
receiving [1 November] a delegation headed by Vice-Premier Zoltan Tildy, one of two
non-Communists in the Imre Nagy Cabinet. Informed sources said Cardinal Mindszenty told
the delegation that he wants the formation of a Christian Democratic party with a voice in
the Cabinet and cannot consider supporting the present regime unless this is accomplished.
These sources said the Cardinal envisages a party "on the Adenauer line,"
referring to the West German CDU. But they added that the Hungarian party should embrace
"all Christians," including the nation's Protestant Lutheran population. The
sources said they believe Cardinal Mindszenty is willing to accept a coalition government
including Hungary's "Tito Communists."...
United Press, 3 November, By permission.
Replying to someone who asked him if he was confident about the future of Hungary, the
Cardinal said, after a brief pause "Naturally." The press conference was
suddenly interrupted by the Cardinal himself, when a Hungarian journalist [195/196] asked
him to comment on the report that certain political groups wanted to make a Prime Minister
of him. The Cardinal stiffened and said in a cold tone: "I am the Primate."
After which he left the room.
Although the conference had been called on his initiative, the Cardinal sometimes
seemed ill at ease. He avoided certain questions nicely by saying, among other things,
"I must ask you kindly to leave me some peace."...
But the obvious irritation in which he left us. after the so controversial question of
his eventually succeeding to power, shows that he has no intentions at all along those
Giorgio Bontempi, Il Paese (Rome), 3 November
MEETING JOZSEF DUDAS
I cross the square where, during the first days of the revolution, the Statue of Stalin
was pulled down from its pedestal. More precisely, it was cut down at knee-level with an
acetylene lamp. This produced a unique monument: a pair of enormous boots on an elevated
platform. From the right boot a straw tuft was frivolously sticking out, inviting a new
volunteer to lace the shoes.
Tall, colorful, black-haired, a large expressive but repulsive face, with mildly
prominent cheek bones. A Tyrolean hat, a coat thrown around his shoulders like a phantasy
cape, a gun at the belt, black trousers. He enters the room, surrounded by his
We asked Dudas to define the movement which he represents. Without much thinking he
throws four adjectives at us: "national - revolutionary - democratic -
The program of the movement is as follows: The Russians must leave Hungary immediately.
The Government must unite with the revolutionary forces, with the Workers, Peasants, and
Soldiers Councils, as well as with the centers representing the people. The government
should be supplemented with the help of representatives of the traditional democratic
parties. But one would not tolerate rightist groupings or Fascists. "It is necessary
to preserve socialism at the same time as guaranteeing all citizens freedom of conscience.
All economic dogmas should be rejected."
"As our point of departure," he concluded, "we take the conditions of
life, social needs, the interests of the workers and peasants, and at the same time we
shall adhere to the platform of national unity."
All this was sufficiently general to warrant approval . . . We tried to corner him by
asking about his attitude toward existing political parties and whether he intends to
found a new party.
"It is now a question of consolidating the gains the revolution has made up to the
present day. Later, if the situation develops favorably, I shall probably follow one of
the existing parties which pursue our objectives."
"Which party do you feel closest to?"
"Today not one has worked out an economic program. As far as essential political
questions are concerned, there is agreement among all the democratic parties, and they are
all equally close to me.
"Do you support the present government?"
"Only in part. I could only fully support a coalition government of Imre Nagy,
Janos Kadar, Bela Kovacs, Anna Kethly, Sandor Kiss- as well as a representative of the
National Revolutionary Committee."
It is not difficult to guess who that representative would be. In the course of the
conversation, one feels ever more clearly that, apart from the program -which after all
has probably been outlined in a rather sincere way- Jozsef Dudas nurtures an uncommon
personal ambition. Toward the end of the conversation this ambition reveals itself fully:
"Our most urgent tasks are to form a provisional coalition Government, to
establish with the Russians the date for the withdrawal of their troops from Hungary, to
fix the date of free, general, and secret elections, to re-establish peace and order in
the country. In connection with all these problems I established contact with Moscow last
night, and I suggested joint measures to straighten out the situation. I also suggested a
government of the kind I just mentioned."
I don't know whether what I just heard had been mere bluff, or whether there was any
real basis to it. In any case Dudas' ambitions are not of the most modest. But who is this
chief of the National Revolutionary Committee, who publishes his own paper, surrounds
himself with an entourage worthy of an ataman, who boasts of a "contact with
Moscow" and who, in an interview accorded Polish journalists, proclaims his desire to
enter the Hungarian government? Is this really "a Fascist"? What does it all add
up to? Is he simply the leader of a gang, an adventurer, a "strong man" pushing
for personal popularity and power? And if this is the case -how important is the danger of
Dudas threatening the popular revolution? How many more Dudases may there be in the
Viktor Woroszylski, Nowa Kultura (Warsaw), 2 December [196/197]
Jozsef Dudas can't speak to me; he is suffering from laryngitis, and was being treated
by a doctor who speaks French. My four questions are answered with a pencil:
Q: How strong do you estimate the Soviet forces that have entered Hungary?
A: About 500 to 900 tanks have been inundating our territory for the last 24 hours,
despite our proclamation of neutrality.
Q: Who is the head of the Hungarian army?
A: Cooperation exists between the Hungarian armed forces under the command of a
revolutionary committee. If necessary, the Government will designate a military chief.
Q: What are the relations between the Nagy Government and other committees?
A: The government supports our action.
Q: What military measures have you taken?
A: Hungarian tank units and artillery regiments are moving from the position of Lake
Balaton towards Budapest in order to prepare the defense of the city...
Between 6 and 6:30 p.m. a fight broke out between partisans of Jozsef Dudas and
revolutionary troops belonging to an opposing group.
According to information we have gathered, Jozsef Dudas, the organizer of the
[National] Revolutionary Committee wanted to establish his headquarters in the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, located in Buda, on the banks of the Danube. Between this building and
the military prison, violent rifle-fire developed... But we have as yet no information on
the outcome of this encounter.
According to unconfirmed sources, this little war can be booked to the account of
opposition groups which begin to manifest themselves .... in order to seize power. Certain
observers go so far as to say that by radically breaking with Moscow, Imre Nagy has gained
a political advantage over his adversaries, and thus will be in a position to group
support around him.
"We went too fast", one Hungarian explained to me. "We should never have
authorized the parties in our country to reorganize themselves so rapidly. A central
military power would have been necessary until order was restored. There would still have
been time enough after that."
J. J. Leblond, Le Dauphiné Libéré (Grenoble), 3 November
GYOR: "THE WESTERN PATTERN"
Gyor ... was the center of the provincial as distinct from the Budapest revolution ...
The man in charge was Attila Szigeti, a former member of parliament and a personal friend
of Imre Nagy. Under the Rakosi regime he had been pushed out of parliament. Now, as the
highest political authority in this part of Hungary, his task was to reconcile the
viewpoints of his large freedom committee with those of the central government ... On one
occasion a man arrived in Gyor purporting to be a new leader sent by the revolutionaries
in Budapest. He spoke against [197/198] Szigeti, and asked the crowd to appoint him
instead. Eventually he was taken to the prison in Gyor, accused of being an AVH
agent-provocateur, sent to create anarchy and to frustrate the revolution.
Attila Szigeti maintained his position as leader throughout ... But there were no
Communists at all among the Gyor delegates -although there were numerous army officers.
Nevertheless there was no intention of abolishing the Communist Party. At Gyor, although
there was no place for them in the town hall, the Communists walked about freely. In the
provinces, only the AVH were physically attacked... If we abolish the C.P. in
Hungary," they said, "it would give our adversaries an excuse for saying this
was a reactionary revolution. Let the C.P. take part in free elections and we will see how
beloved are the Communists." There was also, among these delegates, a feeling against
the emigré groups in the West. Those who had spent ten years in America could not hope to
return to take up key positions...
At the Budapest parliament, the spokesmen of "national Communism", the men of
Nagy and Kadar, realised that a vast tragedy was approaching . . . They already took the
Russian intervention for granted. The tragedy, as one of them put it to me in Nagy's
office, was that "the revolution has over-rolled itself, and that the government has
ended up in the hands of the right-wing" ... By "right-wing", however, my
informants meant the Peasants, the Small Peasants, the Social Democrats, and, of course,
the embryo Catholic party. Nobody in the Budapest parliament pretended that there was any
question of a return to the Horthy regime. The whole point (and it was a questionable
"tragedy") was that, instead of Titoism, an all-party coalition system on the
western pattern had been set in motion.
It was a question of East or West, and the Hungarian people had clearly said West. This
was the fundamental problem for the Russians...
Bruce Renton, New Statesman & Nation (London), 17 November
"POEMS ON BROKEN WALLS"
There has been a great deal of loose talk about rapine and looting. I should like to
testify that the Budapest rising must have been the cleanest revolution in history. Three
Before the Russians came back there stood in the main thoroughfare large boxes bearing
notices: "Give to those who remain alive!" These were full of 100-forint notes.
They were unguarded. They were emptied periodically by small boys sent to collect the
contributions. Nobody else touched them. After the battle they were still there.
In the main streets there was nothing but broken shop windows. After the battle the
goods were still in the windows, untouched, among the broken glass. Valuable jewels and
watches lay there for the taking. Nobody took them...
The only thing the Freedom Fighters took was food. They had no food. They entered the
food [198/199] shops at night and took what they needed. But they made lists of what they
had taken, and left these lists in the shops, together with the money which they thought
One other thing. In all the streets were poems. The most celebrated Hungarian writers
had pinned up their tributes on broken walls, in their own handwriting. They did this
while the fighting was going on, in short, declamatory verses:-
You are heroes
But not the heroes of our songs of the
We have no word for you
We shall not rest until we have found
Or:- Every minute a hero dies
But every minute a new hero is born.
These verses flutter above the graves of the unknown...
Lajos Lederer, The Observer (London), 18 November
THE REVOLUTION OF TRUTH
On the day I left Budapest -the 2nd of November- most of the foreign journalists
crowding the lobby of the Hotel Duna were keenly aware of impending tragedy and disaster.
The spokesman for the revolutionary military committee had already forecast, the evening
before, the eventuality of "a fight to the death". But on that Friday morning
the atmosphere at the office of the Hungarian Writers Association, next door to the Soviet
Embassy, had been entirely different. There, everything was intense and hopeful: a moving
and strange air of exhilaration pervaded the rooms. Most of Hungary's distinguished
writers were there, working and conferring, for their literary centre was functioning as a
kind of brain-trust for Prime Minister Nagy. I listened to the discussions of new plans
for reconstruction and education, for various publishing projects, and for a new issue of
the literary journal, Irodalmi Ujsag, which was due to come off the presses in a
Through an interpreter (for he does not speak any foreign languages) I talked with
Peter Veres, Chairman of the Writers Association, a famous peasant writer and political
leader, who stood there with his old-fashioned heavy boots and handlebar moustache like
some Hungarian Gorky. "We have learned that an author must have the right to keep his
silence on political issues, as well as the freedom to speak out on behalf of his
As he spoke to me, a peasant from the region of Gyor was announced. He tramped in with
mud on his boots. He came to ask Veres to get him a publisher for a long manuscript on
which he had spent "many, many nights". Veres told him that this, under the
circumstances, would have to wait. There was a brief argument. The farmer went into a
corner, sulking and muttering. Veres went on to ask me not to publish any complete
verbatim accounts of his remarks because "I am, after all, a writer and it is so rare
that the spoken word can have style..."
On this last morning, I met again the playwright Julius Hay, in whose house I had spent
the previous afternoon. Madame Hay, who is a member of one of the Budapest theatre groups,
told me how happy she was that her husband's new play, which had been suppressed by the
censorship, would be produced as soon as "the patriotic strike of the actors"
was over. I asked Hay how it was that he and other "old Bolsheviks" were now
openly fighting the Party leadership. He replied: "There were many reasons for the
break. The first, I confess, was my instinctive disgust with Stalinism's utter lack of
taste and its insensibility in every field of art and letters. As writers, we were all
sharply aware of that. Secondly, there was the experience of deep social injustice in our
society. A third motive was the glaring failure, even bankruptcy, of our type of economic
system. There was finally -and it may have been the most important element- the pressure
of our youth...
"We writers", Hay explained to me, "have always thought of ourselves as
the avant-garde in the struggle for freedom. This is a Hungarian tradition of which we are
very proud . . . I was supposed to be a guide for our youth, but in reality, the youth had
become a guide for me. For years I had been lecturing them. I gave interminable
ideological answers to every question. I could feel that my young listeners found it all
very shallow and boring. At first I thought: how strange and incomprehensible it is that
we, the older generation, should work to [sic] selflessly to build the future of a happier
Hungary for our young people, and that these very young people should not care at all! Why
were they so blind, so unfeeling, so cold? Gradually I began to wonder. Were they all,
every last boy and girl in Hungary, hopeless reactionaries? Or could it be that we, the
old men, were wrong, and that they were right? I began to talk with more frankness. I
looked at their problems with more openness. In my public meetings, which were attended by
eager thousands, I forced myself to answer every question directly. Some weeks ago, they
asked me at a meeting in Gyor, "What is happening in our uranium mines?" I knew
the Russians were there, but could only answer: "I [199/200] just don't know... But
as a Hungarian citizen, I ought to know! And you ought to know! Keep asking! And so they
He went on: "And as for me, I keep on asking too. Have we been building in this
country a socialist society, marred only by some ugly distortions, or was this not a
horrible regime for which I have no name and which was all distortions and no socialism?
Even now, I long for the Party which once had our love and loyalty. But its leadership has
destroyed it. It is difficult to love a thing which does not exist. I would still support
a new and pure Marxist movement. But I would not want to become a Party member ever
again... Was I courageous in speaking for truth, even under Rakosi? The pressure of the
young on us all was so great that I can only say, in the words of one of our poets, 'I was
too much of a coward to remain dishonest!'
I talked, too, with Tibor Dery, an inspirer of the Petofi circle of Hungarian
intellectual dissidents, and a Communist of long standing. I was surprised when he asked
me to pass on greetings to one of his closest Viennese friends -a well-known Stalinist
functionary who has never deviated from the Party line. Yet Tibor Dery told me, in his
halting but perfect French, "Cette révolution est la plus grande, la plus pure,
que vous ayons connue. Peutetre la premiere revolution victorieuse dans toute notre
Francois Bondy, Preuves (Paris) and Encounter (London), December 1956 [200/201]
NEW SOVIET TROOPS ON THE MOVE
Further information on Soviet troop movements in Hungary particularly in the Eastern
Counties: This morning two Soviet armoured trains entered the frontier station of Zahony.
After occupying the station, the Soviet troops occupied the line from Zahony to
Nyiregyhaza. According to Miskolc University's radio station, a strong armoured unit
arrived in the village of Kisvarda on the night of 1 to 2 November. Debrecen also reports
the uninterrupted transit of Soviet troops. Units of tanks and self-propelled guns have
been moving through Szolnok from east to west. Only supply vehicles had been seen
travelling in the opposite direction. Two hundred Soviet tanks which had entrenched
themselves for several days between Szolnok and Abony have
now started moving westward . . . Szolnok denies the report that Soviet troops have
occupied the airfield there: Soviet formations are stationed around the airfield but have
not yet tried to take possession of it. Nor has the airfield at Pecs been occupied. Tank
units arrived in the area of Gyongyos on 1 and 2 November and have entrenched themselves
there. Soviet troops are camping in the Nagyrede area. No Soviet soldiers have been seen
for years in the above- mentioned places. Soviet armoured units near Dombovar have
surrounded the airfield at Taszar a few kilometres from Kaposvar. Soviet reconnaissance
units advanced as far as the outskirts of Kaposvar. About 20 lorries of Soviet infantry
have arrived in Nyreghaza [sic] from Zahony on the evening of 2 November. Some units of
motorised artillery crossed the Hungarian-Soviet border at Beregsurany.
Hungarian News Agency
Only two things seem to be clear in the confused picture of military movements reported
throughout Hungary to-day.
One is that Russians intend for the present to reinforce Hungary and to establish an
iron grip all along the strategic road and railway links along the line at
Budapest-Szolnok-Debrecen Nyiregyhaza-Zahony. The other is that they wish to have enough
tank forces around Budapest to be able to isolate it from the rest of the country if they
wish. They could then exercise the strongest psychological pressure on the Nagy regime.
For the first time in a week Soviet tanks were reported to-night to have sealed the
main Budapest-Vienna road just inside the Hungarian border.
It is still not clear whether the Russians are playing a game of blackmail against the
Hungarian regime or whether they are preparing for another bloodbath.
Intelligence reports collected by the Central Revolutionary Committee in the capital
say that 304 Soviet tanks were counted crossing into the country yesterday at the
Soviet-Hungarian border village of Zahony. Another 301 were said to have entered the same
day from Rumania. Of this second force some 250 stayed at Debrecen. The remainder moved on
At major airfields in the country were by to-day in Russian hands. This morning,
according to the same rebel sources, Soviet tanks had moved in to occupy the airfields at
Szeged and Kecskemet in Southern Hungary, which they had hither-to left unmolested.
An authoritative independent estimate puts the total strength of Soviet forces in
Hungary at the moment at about eight full divisions, mostly armour. This is about four
times the size of the permanent garrison and twice the size of the garrison, plus
reinforcements, which attempted to quell the uprising.
One thing has been clear throughout. The Hungarian rebels are prepared to fight on to
the last man should the Russians renew the attack. Throughout the day Hungarian Army
reinforcements have been moving into the capital. The mood of the rebel leaders to-day was
grave, but firm.
Cardinal Mindszenty said that among those who had risen against the regime had been
"very many Russian soldiers." This reference to Soviet troops touches on what
may he for the Kremlin the most serious aspect of the whole rebellion: unmistakable signs
that the regular Russian garrison in Hungary has become heavily "contaminated."
These Red Army demonstrations of sympathy with the Hungarian people have been continuing
even after the cease-fire. One report [201/202] from Kecskemet today speaks of Russian
troops stacking their arms in the town and mixing with the townspeople. Some of them are
reported to have said that whatever orders they received they had no intention of acting
as oppressors. This sort of thing strikes at something more than Moscow's hold on one
small satellite. It strikes at the Soviet regime's grip on Russia as such.
Gordon Shepherd, Daily Telegraph (London), 3 November
The Soviet troops that attacked [after 3 November] were not the same as those which,
during the first intervention, had suffered so crushing a defeat at the hands of young
"good-for-nothings" in the Hungarian capital. The troops stationed in Hungary
had been relieved between the 28 and 30 October. In fact the occupation army had been
largely "contaminated" by contact with the Hungarian population, and scenes of
fraternization had been numerous. On October 27th I was brought to the Hotel Royal . . .
to serve as interpreter between a group of Russian tank men and Hungarians surrounding
them. The Russians explained that they wanted to shoot only at the enemies of socialism,
and that they could see we were no fascists. . .
Dezso Kozak, Franc-Tireur (Paris), 25 December [202/203]
INTERVIEW WITH TILDY
The Soviet Government tonight agreed that a joint Soviet-Hungarian commission shall
meet in Budapest tomorrow at noon to discuss Hungarian complaints that Russian troops are
still rolling in. It will discuss too the ultimate withdrawal of Soviet armour from
Hungary . . . But in Budapest, however, the news has caused remarkably little reaction . .
. The main reason is that the members of the new inner Cabinet have their misgivings that
this Russian move is just another manoeuvre.
That was the fear of Zoltan Tildy, the silver-haired Minister of State, leader of the
Smallholder Party . . . The only real chance of success for these talks,' Tildy told me
rather sadly, "is that Soviet troop movements pouring fresh armour into Hungary, and
their operations inside our country, should stop -at least until the talks begin. The bad,
sad news is that the movements have not ceased. According to our incontrovertible
information, they are still going on."
Even while we were talking, the new Defence Minister, Colonel Pal Maleter, pulled
himself up to his 6 ft. 4 in. and asked Tildy to step into the corner so that he could
give him the latest military report.
During our talk, Mr. Tildy said the Hungarian Government would be prepared to withdraw
its appeal to UNO on one condition. "We are prepared," he said, "to
withdraw our protest to UNO provided that Soviet troops will immediately cease operations
and leave our country."
Tildy, only recently released from eight years house arrest to which he was submitted
with his white-haired wife, received me in the very same room in which I had talked with
him in 1946, when he was the deputy Prime Minister in the Hungarian Government. Then I
found him rather a weak man, waffling, and unsure of himself, giving vague and evasive
answers. Today, as he sat there with his wife and two new Smallholder Ministers, I found
him strong, firm, and decided.
"From the very beginning the Government," he said, "has wanted to solve
this matter by negotiation. But the events which have been taking place since Wednesday
afternoon are in contrast to the spirit of the previous negotiation offer that had been
agreed . . . For our protest to the Soviet Ambassador, our general staff prepared a map
showing the exact order of battle of all Soviet military units which are now coming into
the country and those which had been formerly stationed here. We insisted that we can
tolerate no kind of interference by Soviet troops in Hungary's domestic affairs. Moreover,
the Government has declared null and void all declarations made by the former Government
concerning the presence of Soviet troops. So there is no legal basis today with which the
Soviet Government can justify the operation of troops in Hungary." ...
Sefton Delmer, Daily Express (London), 3 November [203/204]
WAITING FOR THE WEST'S REPLY
"Neutrality" is the word today in Budapest. It figures in the notes addressed
today by the Hungarians to the Soviet Government, in the message to Mr. Hammarskjold, the
Secretary- General of the United Nations, and it crops up in almost every political
conversation -and there are few others in Budapest these days.
The model is Austria, not Yugoslavia with its lofty but involved concept of active
co-existence, nor Switzerland with its centuries of peace. Ravaged by war, torn by
revolution, raped by foreign military occupation, Hungary is sighing for the goal that
Austria has achieved: first the withdrawal of foreign troops, then neutrality.
Abstract as this concept is, strange as it may be to the minds of ordinary workers and
peasants, it has yet caught the imagination of the nation. "If Austria can do it, why
Yesterday Mr. Nagy said that he had asked the Big Four to recognise Hungary's
neutrality. Hungary is waiting anxiously for their reaction. The people here can
understand why Moscow is delaying its reply. But why, it has asked, have the Western
Governments not replied immediately that they acknowledge Hungary's neutrality? By
delaying its reply, even for a day, the West is making things easier for Moscow. It is, in
effect, countenancing the march of Soviet troops on Budapest...
There is no doubt about the determination both of the people and of the Government to
defend the city. "We have had a few days' rest now", said a Hungarian officer,
"and we are now ready for them again."
From all areas where Soviet troop movements are proceeding it is reported that the
people are joining the national guard in great numbers.
Yet, with all this, it is difficult to believe that the Russians would risk another
battle of Budapest. It is most likely that they are trying to intimidate the Hungarians
into giving up the city without a fight. They have obviously not learned much about
Victor Zorza, Manchester Guardian, 3 November [204/206]
From the very contradictory reports of the Hungarian press and radio and from the
numerous comments in the foreign Press the following can be quite clearly concluded.
Various dark forces which do not at all represent the interests of the people have
hastened to associate themselves with the just discontent expressed by healthy elements of
the Hungarian people in connection with certain shortcomings in the work of the State
apparatus of Hungary . . . The disorders in Budapest and other parts of the country have
been used by direct enemies of the Hungarian working people and by their foreign sponsors.
It is they who are now continuing their subversive work, hampering the normalisation of
the situation and striving to bring about a rift within the ranks of the Hungarian people
and to cause political and economic chaos.
A truth which will be bitter for the Hungarian people must be stated. Unfortunately the
enemies of the Hungarian people have to a certain extent been successful. A situation is
now arising in Hungary which threatens all the achievements of the Hungarian working
people during the years of the people's rule. Friends tell the truth to your face, because
they want to help and warn their friends against a wrong step.
There is every ground for anxiety.
V. Kartsev, Radio Moscow, 2 November [206/207]
NAGY APPEALS TO HAMMARSKJÖLD FOR UN ACTION
As the President of the Council of Ministers and designate Foreign Minister of the
Hungarian People's Republic I have the honour to bring to the attention of Your Excellency
the following additional information:
I have already mentioned in my letter of November 1st that new Soviet military units
entered Hungary and that the Hungarian Government informed the Soviet Ambassador in
Budapest of this fact, at the same time terminated the Warsaw Pact, declared the
neutrality of Hungary, and requested the United Nations to guarantee the neutrality of the
On the 2nd of November further and exact information, mainly military reports, reached
the Government of the Hungarian People's Republic, according to which large Soviet
military units crossed the border of the country, marching toward Budapest. They occupy
railway lines, railway stations, and railway safety equipment. Reports also have come that
Soviet military movements in an east-west direction are being observed on the territory of
On the basis of the above-mentioned facts the Hungarian Government deemed it necessary
to inform the Embassy of the USSR and all the other Diplomatic Missions in Budapest about
these steps directed against our People's Republic.
At the same time, the Government of the Hungarian People's Republic forwarded concrete
proposals on the withdrawal of Soviet troops stationed in Hungary as well as the place of
negotiations concerning the execution of the termination of the Warsaw Pact and presented
a list containing the names of the members of the Government's delegation. Furthermore,
the Hungarian Government made a proposal to the Soviet Embassy in Budapest to form a joint
committee to prepare the withdrawal of the Soviet troops.
I request Your Excellency to call upon the Great Powers to recognize the neutrality of
Hungary and ask the Security Council to instruct the Soviet and Hungarian Governments to
start the negotiations immediately.
I also request Your Excellency to make known the above to the Members of the Security
Please accept, Your Excellency, the expression of my highest consideration.
U.N. Document S/3726, November 2 [207/214]
November 3, 1956
THE AVH AND PRISONERS, OLD AND NEW
Former AVH members are reporting en masse at the Public Prosecutor's office, asking to
be arrested. A report was handed to Dr. Sandor Nemes, the President of the Revolutionary
Tribunal of the Public Prosecutor's office showing for example, that in a single district,
namely Budapest XIII, 30 former AVH agents reported early this morning. The situation is
similar in other districts...
Free Radio Kossuth
This morning the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Public Prosecutor's office began the
revisions of cases of political prisoners and the cases of common criminals imprisoned in
Marko Street Prison. In very many cases sentences were administered which were far too
severe in relation to the crimes committed, or such persons were arrested and are still in
prison for offenses that are no longer considered crimes. Hundreds were condemned simply
because they could not stand the hunger, misery, and the terror which existed under the
Free Radio Kossuth
The National Revolutionary Committee of Hungarian Lawyers condemned lynch law in a
communiqué . . . Individuals have been attempting to take revenge for anti-national
attitudes or personal grievances. The communiqué emphasized that strictly on the basis of
legality Hungarian lawyers protest any action that could imperil in any way the
achievements of the National Revolution. The lawyers emphasized that they do not want to
exempt anybody from the normal processes of jurisdiction, and they request the people to
maintain discipline and moderation...
Free Radio Kossuth [214/215]
"A BROKEN SYSTEM"
My friends were mostly at the Writers' Club in Bajza Street. Most of them had gone to
jail during the early months of the Rakosi terror, and emerged only in 1954, during the
"liberal period" of Imre Nagy (before they shoved him out again for
"rightist deviation", read sense of decency and justice).
I shall leave their names unsaid. Yet it is an important fact about the revolt of 1956
that it was encouraged and inspired -like its notable ancestor of 1848- by men of letters:
almost entirely, by radical men of letters. There was no coherent organisation behind the
rising of October 23 -not even any preconceived intention; but there was an inspiration.
It came from the writings of a score of men who published, week by week and gradually in
stronger words, their articles of protest in the Irodalmi Ujsag, the
"Literary Gazette". As with Petofi in 1848, so these men now.
One of them had lately married. "We met in jail, as a matter of fact. Met? Well,
not exactly. We used to tap out messages to each other. She came out earlier than I did,
but she waited for me. They'd given her a bad time. They'd torn out her toe nails. The
usual Rakosi charges: spying, wrecking, all that...
One learnt these things with shame. Counter-revolution? On Wednesday October 31st, this
Writers' Club was put in editorial charge of Budapest Radio. Almost to a man they were
principled supporters of radical social change ...
And the army?
Many units handed over their arms at once. Others stayed neutral. After the first day,
none remained with the Russians and the political police.
Its officers? A mixed bag.
A colonel showed where I could find the office of General Paul Maleter on the day
that Nagy made him Minister of War (and the day before the Russians seized him). This
colonel was fairly rubbing his hands. He said: "Just think, I've been a colonel for
ten years. With my experience, too. I fought on the Russian front, you know -and these
Communists woudn't promote me. You'll see. Now there'll be promotion".
Perhaps; and perhaps not. For Maleter and his fellow-commanders were different. Already
famous for his refusal to surrender the Kilian Barracks to Soviet tanks. Maleter impressed
one. A tall lean self-confident man: a man of action, a product of Communist training both
military and otherwise. He still wore his little partisan star of 1944 (and another Red
Star awarded for successful coal-digging by his regiment at Tatabanya) at a time when the
whole officers' corps was dragging off its Soviets-style epaulettes. "If we get rid
of the Russians" he said to me, "don't think we're going back to the old days.
And if there's people who do want to go back, well we'll see". And he touched his
Even the newly-reissued Sziv (an authoritative Catholic weekly) wrote that
Saturday morning that: "We renounce the nationalised estates of the Church." And
Mindszenty's broadcast of the same night -distorted afterwards by those anxious to prove
counter-revolution at all costs- was in fact a qualified and yet siguificant reinforcement
of the Nagy Government. Mindszenty, true enough, called that Government "the heirs of
a broken system".
That system -the Rakosi regime- did in fact collapse overnight. To defend it, among
Hungarians, there was no-one but the political police; and they were only defending
By Saturday the hunt for these hated hangmen was practically over: in the process, some
of the innocent also suffered. Only at the big party headquarters in Republic Square was
the chase still warm. There I saw men drilling for a suspected secret "bunker"
many feet down.
Giant shovels had scooped wide trenches in the Square: fruitlessly.
In the basement they were also drilling. Deep in black miry mud, pastried with filthy
sheets of paper, that basement had a long series of stepping-stones that were made of
books, bundles of books. We trod on these, wobbling as we went across that gruesome cellar
towards the arc-lit din of drilling.
I looked down to see what books had met this fate.
Engulfed in mud there lay the works of Marx and Lenin.
Yes, a broken system.
Basil Davidson, The Times of India (Bombay), 24 November [215/222]
I left the Hungarian News Agency and my editorial office at Igazsag and went
out again to gather news. Budapest seemed to justify optimism . . . It no longer showed
the excitement of the last days. . .
How many jokes there were that morning! The people were relieved, the people were
jesting. In a shop window, I saw three "mannequins", each wearing a sign with
the inscription "Gero", "Rakosi", "Apro" . . . At the Soviet
propaganda headquarters "Horizon," a huge inscription: "Store for
Rent". The motion picture theater Nap advertised a Czech film: "Irene,
Please Return Home." A facetious hand had crossed out the name of Irene and
had written in "Russki". The Bastya theater announced a French film "The
Escaped" . . . Jokers had added a subtitle: "Gero, Hegedus, Apro."
Stalin Square, where only the bronze boots were left of the enormous statue of the
dictator, was re-baptized "Boot Square". People joked about the defeated AVH ...
which only a fortnight ago tried to prevent groups of more than three people from walking
in the streets. Their call to order at that time was said to have been:
"Proletarians of the world) unite! But not in groups of more than three!"
At five o'clock in the afternoon I was present at the memorable press conference held
by the government in the Parliament building . . . In another group -under the mantle of
secrecy- important and well-informed personalities -gave "off the record"
accounts about the negotiations being conducted with the Soviets. They said agreement had
"partly" been reached on four points:
(1) Soviet troops would completely evacuate Hungarian territory and the Government
would make It clear, in the solemn farewell, that this was not a matter of
(2) Damaged monuments erected in commemoration of the Red Army's battles against Hitler
are to be restored, and the Hungarian Government would be responsible for their further
(3) A financial reimbursement would be made corresponding to the value of Soviet
property in Hungary, and indemnities would be paid for losses inflicted upon the Red Army
during the insurrection.
(4) Hungary would become a neutral country, with a neutrality, as in Finland, oriented
towards the East, and not oriented towards the West, as in Austria.
Dezso Kozak, Franc Tireur (Paris), 23 December [222/223]
HOPE, PROPAGANDA, TENSION
We received information proving that propaganda supplied to the Soviet radio and Soviet
troops tells of "fascist massacres" in Hungary. As it is feared that many Soviet
soldiers will believe these slanders, we urge every free Hungarian radio station to start
regular broadcasts in Russian and Hungarian to counteract these false rumors.
Free Radio Rakoczi
According to information from the Ministry of Defence, members of a Soviet battalion in
the Gyongyos area have handed their arms over to the civilian population, stating that
they do not wish to fight the Hungarian people. Since handing over their arms they have
been camping at the outskirts of the town.
Free Petofi Radio
A member of the Revolutionary Council of Bekes County . . . gave the following
information to a correspondent of the Hungarian News Agency about Soviet rnoves in the
neighborhood: There is a Soviet motorized unit stationed southwest of Bekescsaba and
another south of Szarvas. As far as I can see they intend to surround the city. The Soviet
commander was surprised when I asked him to avoid populated areas, for the people are in a
very excited mood and an armed conflict might ensue. The Soviet commander said that his
troops had been sent with orders to fight fascists, people who want to bring back the
fascist order. The negotiators explained that there was no question of this. They also
told the Soviet commander that Rakosi's anti-people's regime had brought the population in
a difficult position. The Soviet officers, having been informed of all this, declared that
they would never fire on the Hungarian people.
Free Radio Szombathely
The soldiers who have arrived at Gyor said that . . . they were told that the Americans
want to attack Hungary and that they must defend the Hungarian workers . . The Soviet
soldiers are unaware of the true situation and, on seeing the enthusiasm of the people,
they are more and more convinced that the Hungarian people is fighting for the
independence of its fatherland and the wellbeing of the workers.
Hungarian News Agency
Tanks are approaching ... No one is in the streets except Soviet troops on patrol.
Nyiregyhaza has been surrounded ... Every part of the county has been occupied ... The
situation has reached maximum tension.
Radio Free Miskolc [223/227]
"WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST DELAY"
Imre Nagy turned out to be, objectively speaking, an accomplice of the reactionary
forces. Imre Nagy cannot and does not want to fight the dark forces of reaction ...
The Soviet Government, seeing that the presence of Soviet troops in Budapest might lead
to further aggravation of the situation, ordered troops to leave Budapest, but ensuing
events have shown that reactionary forces, taking advantage of the non-intervention of the
Nagy Cabinet, have gone still further...
The task of barring the way to reaction in Hungary has to be carried out without the
slightest delay -such is the course dictated by events...
Pravda (Moscow), 4 November [227/228]
Sunday, November 4, 1956
THE BATTLE RAGES
From my windows I saw the horizon light up with sinister flames. The ground shook and
for three hours one explosion followed upon the other. The Russians entered into Budapest
without any difficulty. The roads leading into the town were merely guarded by a total of
about thirty Hungarian tanks.
The battle raged right in the midst of a town of one million. Dwellings, factories,
barracks, and streets just like those in Paris served as battle lines. The principal
resistance centres were workers' districts. The targets which the Soviet attacked with
particular rage and fury were the metallurgical factories in the "red outskirts"
of Budapest, districts inhabited by workers, groups of workmen's dwellings and factories
where the Hungarian Communists had their strongholds and their most active militants.
It was they -the young Hungarian Communists, the metal workers, the workers with grimed
hands, who fought the most fiercely against Soviet armoured cars.
Michel Gordey, France-Soir (Paris), 13 November [228/229]
I woke suddenly - from the heights of Buda, Soviet tanks had opened fire on the city .
. . The telephone rings. It is one of my Hungarian friends, a long-time Party member who
had joined the freedom-fighters: "We are ready to battle to the last cartridge . . .
It's up to you Westerners to help us!"
A few minutes later another telephone call. A high official of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs implores me, a French journalist, to intervene with my Government: "Send us
arms!" All my colleagues received similar appeals. (And those who sent them were not
"fascists" or "counter- revolutionaries," but well-known communists.).
The dawn is fresh. The streets are literally swarming with Soviet tanks and arms.
Guards have been posted at street-crossings. Shots are fired from all sides.
At Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Avenue, I can see a tank column maneuvering in the direction of
Alkotmany Street . . . probably towards Parliament, where Imre Nagy had sent out a
desperate appeal . . . The Hungarian News Agency at Feny Street has been partially
destroyed by Soviet artillery. All communication with the outside world has been cut off.
The bridges connecting Buda and Pest have been occupied by the Russians ...
Thomas Schreiber, Le Monde (Paris), 7 December
It could not have been more than five in the morning when we were roughly awakened by
our colleague Saporito who rushed into our room after having hastily put his overcoat over
his pyjamas. "There is shooting!" he said. "Can't you hear it?" And,
indeed, from afar a mournful rumbling could be heard, like the noise of a distant
avalanche. I got up immediately, asking Matteotti to do the same. He was rubbing his eyes,
trying to justify his desire for sleep by optimistic remarks that were immediately
repudiated by the approach of the cannonade.
As I rushed to the telephone switchboard, the whole hotel was in uproar. I met a poor
woman, quite pale, who said to me: "I left the concentration camp last week. I was in
for seven whole years". . .
Now ten armoured divisions were advancing on the capital. They entered at 6:15 with a
terrifying clash of steel. Arriving from all directions, always accompanied by the muffled
rumbling of artillery, they dispersed in threes along the main avenues towards the centre
of the city, their cannons pointing before them, and machine guns attached on every side.
At every crossroads, one tank halted, while the others continued on their route...
On the part of the Hungarian insurgents, this extraordinary battle was carried out
without the slightest attempt at dissimulation. They all knew perfectly well that sooner
or later their ammunition would be exhausted, they would have no other arms, and they
would be at the mercy of police repression. But no one troubled to take an assumed name.
None of them tried to grow beards, to wear glasses, to change their address. Their
action was co-ordinated and orderly. . . . This could be noticed by the number of messages
arriving at the students' headquarters which I was visiting. . . . The basic order was
that armoured columns should not be attacked; they had to be followed and note taken of
single vehicles which, for some reason or other, remained behind, and where they were to
be found. Then groups left to attack. . . Soon the Russians began to avoid posting
isolated tanks at any spot but always left them in pairs, one protecting the other...
Indro Montanelli, Corriere della Sera (Milan), 13 November
WAITING FOR DISASTER
It was Sunday, the fourth of November. For three days Budapest had gloried in its
triumph. But now the storm was coming back. The Russians, they said, were on their way in;
and this time in strength.
All day and all night I had resisted the implications of these rumours and more than
rumours. I myself early on Saturday morning had seen Soviet tanks moving into position
outside Budapest. I had talked to a Hungarian staff officer who had himself interrogated a
captured Russian tank commander; and the Russian had said that the attack was planned for
dawn on Sunday.
I had been told a few hours earlier by a senior member of Nagy's Government that there
was no hope. But I still allowed myself to hope, in spite of all.
And now it was Sunday. I got back to my hotel, shaken and exhausted, at 2 a.m., only a
few hours before the avalanche began. I had a last look at my young friends -some thirty
wounded boy- who were quartered in an improvised field-hospital in the hotel -the Gellert.
They were all wide awake. And they waited for inevitable disaster.
They knew the Russians were coming back. They did not wish to be consoled. They only
regretted that they were not fit to fight
After that I had joined a handful of Hungarian intellectuals, who had lost their homes
and found refuge in the hotel, to listen to the B.B.C. news. [229/230] They were the elite
of Hungarian cultural life. The news was chiefly about the Anglo-French action in the
Middle East, which seemed very far away and irrelevant. From their bitter but restrained
comments it was clear that they felt that Hungary had been "let down".
At 2.30 a.m. I had a telephone call from London -a friend asking who was in charge of
Hungarian relief- where and to whom to send medical supplies. This was the last call from
Though I had hardly slept for a fortnight, I could not sleep now. Instead, I sat on the
balcony of my room, looking out over the city. It was a grey dawn. With flickering candles
in the windows, the city was deathly quiet.
Then, suddenly, there was the rattle and rumble of tracked vehicles. A Hungarian
artillery formation, with medium guns and anti-tank guns, was moving past to take up
defensive positions on the southern outskirts of the city. It was 8:30. Not much longer to
wait. Soon the skies were flickering with the flash of gunfire, and the roar of guns shook
the air. The Battle of Budapest had begun.
The hotel entrance hall was packed with people, mostly women with tiny children. They
were waiting for an important announcement to be made by Premier Nagy...
We crossed the Ferencz Jozsef Bridge at 6.30, just before it was closed by a tank unit
of the Hungarian Regular Army. We stopped to make sure that they really were Hungarians,
for the Hungarian Army is equipped with Russian-made T-54 tanks, and its uniform is very
similar to that of the Soviet Army. They were Hungarians all right. They had taken up
their positions covering the bridges on the Pest side of the Danube. And they were
supported by truck-loads of infantry
Before we got to the British Legation we saw a strong formation of Soviet T-54s moving
swiftly towards Parliament Square. There was no doubt this time about their being Russian.
Their blind firing, with hatches battened down, right and left at every building as they
roared down the avenue made this quite clear. They had reached the centre of the city much
earlier than the Hungarians had expected. As I heard later in the day, they had broken
into Budapest through the northern suburbs from the Vienna road...
Lajos Lederer, The Observer (London), 18 November
"IF YOU HAVE ANY ANSWER, PASS IT ON"
[Hungarian News Agency message by teletype line to the Associated Press bureau in
Russian gangsters have betrayed us. The Russian troops suddenly attacked Budapest and
the whole country. They opened fire on everybody in Hungary. It is a general attack...
I speak in the name of Imre Nagy. He asks help . . . Nagy and the Government and the
whole people ask help.
If you have anything from the Austrian Government, tell me. Urgent, urgent, urgent
Long live Hungary and Europe! We shall die for Hungary and Europe!...
Any news about help? Quickly, quickly, quickly!...
The Russian attack was started at 4 a.m.
Russian MIG fighters are over Budapest. Russian MIG fighters are over Budapest. Gyor is
completely surrounded by the Russians. Szekesfehervar does not answer.
Associated Press Vienna, if you have something, please pass it on to me. The Government
waits for your answer!
We have no time to lose, we have no time to lose!...
The news of the capture of the Hungarian military leadership was confirmed by the
Government spokesman, Mr. Hamori.
Mr. Nagy is at a safe place now. Mr. Zoltan Tildy is in the Parliament now.
The time is 5:45 and the Russians stopped their fire for a minute. The street-lamps are
on and the town shows a peaceful sight, but everywhere Russian tanks are in the street. A
Russian infantry division is going toward the Parliament.
Nagy is speaking to the people on the radio. He said some elements tried to overthrow
our lawful Government. Our troops are in a fight with the Russians.
Pecs was attacked by the Russians at 2 a.m. They tried to seize the uranium mines and
the airfields, but the Hungarians stopped them. Now the town is in their hands, but all
the highways are ours .
If you have any answer, pass it on. Any answer, pass it on. Imre Nagy personally asks
help. Nagy personally asks help. And diplomatic steps, diplomatic steps...
[A series of teletype messages to The Associated Press from the office of the Budapest
newspaper Szabad Nep.)
Since the early morning hours Russian troops are attacking Budapest and our
Please tell the world of the treacherous attack against our struggle for liberty ...
Our troops are already engaged in fighting ...
The people have just turned over a tram to use as a barricade near the building. In the
building, young people are making Molotov cocktails and hand grenades to fight the tanks.
We are quiet, not afraid. Send the news to the public of the world and say it should
condemn the aggressors.
The fighting is very close now and we haven't enough tommy guns in the building. I
don't know how long we can resist. We are fixing the hand grenades now.
Heavy shells are exploding nearby. Above, jet planes are roaring, but it doesn't
[8.30 a.m.] At the moment there is silence. It may be the silence before the storm. We
have almost no weapons, only light machine-guns, Russian-made long rifles and some
carbines. We haven't any kind of [heavy] guns.
People are jumping up at the tanks, throwing hand-grenades inside and then slamming the
drivers' windows. The Hungarian people are not afraid of death. It is only a pity that we
can't stand for long.
A man just came in from the street. He said we should not think that because the street
is empty the people have taken shelter. They are standing in the doorways, waiting for the
One Hungarian soldier was told by his mother as she said goodbye to him: "Don't be
a hero, but don't be cowardly either!"
[A little later] Now the firing is starting again. We are getting hits.
The tanks are getting nearer and there is heavy artillery. We have just had a report
that our unit is receiving reinforcements and ammunition. But it is still too little. It
can't be allowed that people attack tanks with their bare hands.
What is the United Nations doing? Give us a little encouragement.
[There were between 200 and 250 people in the newspaper building with him, the reporter
wrote; about 50 of them were women.)
[9 a.m.] The tanks are coming nearer. Both radio stations are in rebel hands. They have
been playing the Hungarian National Anthem.
We will hold out to our last drop of blood. The Government has not done enough to give
us arms. Downstairs there are men who have only one hand grenade.
[At 9.15 the first Russian bombers were reported over Budapest. There were about 15
planes accompanied by fighters. Occasionally, the reporter would tap out a quick note.]
I am running over to the window in the next room to shoot. But I will be back if there
is anything new, or you ring me.
Don't be mad at the way I am writing. I am excited. I want to know how this is going to
end. I want to shoot, but there is no target so far. I will file to you as long as
[He continually inquired what the United Nations was doing. When informed of a
Washington despatch that Cardinal Mindszenty had taken refuge in the United States
Legation in Budapest, he asked. "Is that all they have achieved?"]
[Then] A Russian plane has just fired a machine-gun burst. We don't know where, just
heard and saw it.
The building of barricades is going on. The Parliament and its vicinity is crowded with
tanks . . . Planes are flying overhead, but can't be counted, there are so many. The tanks
are coming in big lines.
Our building has already been fired on, but so far there are no casualties. The roar of
the tanks is so loud we can't hear each other's voices.
[He broke off typing] Now I have to run over to the next room to fire some shots from
the window. But I'll try to be back if there is anything new.
[When he returned he wrote] They just brought us a rumour that the American troops will
be here within one or two hours.
[Then, in the midst of the fighting and as bullets hit his own building, he asked the
Associated Press to transmit for him a personal message to a relative in Britain which
said: "Sending kisses. We are well and fighting."]
The tanks are now firing toward the Danube. Our boys are on the barricades and calling
for more arms and ammunition. There is most bitter fighting in the inner city.
[9.45 a.m.] Now things are silent here, except for a few rifle shots. The tanks rolled
away from our building and have gone somewhere else.
[10 a.m.] A shell just exploded nearby. Now there is heavy firing in the direction of
the National Theatre, near us in the centre of the city.
In our building we have youngsters of 15 and men of 40. Don't worry about us. We are
strong, even if we are only a small nation. When the fighting is over we will rebuild our
We hope the U.N. meeting won't be too late.
Send us any news you can about world action in Hungary's behalf. Don't worry, we burn
your dispatches as soon as we have read them.
[10.50 a.m.] Just now the heaviest fighting is going on in the Maria Terezia Barracks.
There is heavy artillery fire...
[Five minutes later the connection was cut. The reporter did not come back.-A. P.]
Associated Press, 4 November; New York Times, 5 November;
Daily Telegraph (London), 5 November [231/233]
It was dawn . . . the day the Russians struck again.
We were awakened by the roar of heavy guns. The radio was a shambles. All we got was
the national anthem, played over and over again, and continual repetition of Premier
Nagy's announcement that after a token resistance we must cease fighting and appeal to the
free world for help.
After our ten days' war of liberty, after the pathetically short period of our
"victory", this was a terrible blow. But there was not time to sit paralysed in
despair. The Russians had arrested General Maleter, head of the Central Revolutionary
Armed Forces Council. The Army had received cease-fire orders. But what of the fighting
groups of workers and students?
These courageous civilian units now had to be told to put up only token resistance in
order to save bloodshed. They had been instructed not to start firing.
I called up the biggest group, the "Corvin regiment." A deputy commander
answered the phone. His voice was curiously calm:
"Yes, we realised we should not open fire. But the Russians did. They took up
positions around our block and opened fire with everything they had. The cellars are
filled with 200 wounded and dead. But we will fight to the last man. There is no choice.
But inform Premier Nagy that we did not start the fight."
This was just before seven in the morning. Premier Nagy, alas, could not be informed
any more. He was not to be found.
The situation was the same everywhere. Soviet tanks rolled in and started to shoot at
every centre of resistance which had defied them during our first battle for freedom.
This time, the Russians shot the buildings to smithereens. Freedom fighters were
trapped in the various barracks, public buildings and blocks of flats. The Russians were
going to kill them off to the last man. And they knew it. They fought on till death
This senseless Russian massacre provoked the second phase of armed resistance. The
installation of Kadar's puppet government was only oil on the fire. After our fighting
days, after our brief span of liberty and democracy, Kadar's hideous slogans and stupid
lies, couched in the hated Stalinite terminology, made every. one's blood boil. Although
ten million witnesses knew the contrary, the puppet government brought forward the
ludicrous lie that our war of liberty was a counter-revolutionary uprising inspired by a
handful of Fascists.
The answer was bitter fighting and a general strike throughout the country. In the old
revolutionary centres -the industrial suburbs of Csepel, Ujpest and the rest- the workers
struck and fought desperately against the Russian tanks.
Posters on the walls challenged the lies of the puppet Government: "The forty
thousand aristocrats and fascists of the Csepel works strike on!" said one of
"The general strike is a weapon which can be used only when the entire working
class in [sic] unanimous -so don't call us Fascists)" said another.
Armed resistance stopped first. The Russians bombarded to rubble every house from which
a single shot was fired. The fighting groups realised that further battles would mean the
annihilation of the capital. So they stopped fighting.
But the strike went on.
The Workers' Councils, the Writers' Association and the Revolutionary Council of the
Students decided at last that the general strike must be suspended if Hungary were not to
commit national suicide...
George Paloczi-Horvath, Daily Herald (London), 12 December [233/235]
Early on Sunday morning Mindszenty had awakened, as we all had, to the sound of
cannonading. A few minutes later Mindszenty was called to the telephone. An excited voice
told him that Nagy and his Cabinet were meeting in Parliament. Could he come immediately?
The Cardinal and Turchanyi slipped quickly into their cassocks, summoned several other
aides and left in two cars. As they crossed the Danube and turned into Liberty Square they
were confronted by the Soviet tank ring around the Parliament building. A Russian-speaking
priest in the lead car explained to a Soviet officer without mentioning the Cardinal's
presence, that the Hungarian Government had requested them to appear. The officer smiled
tauntingly and said, "I am afraid we are in control here, not the Hungarian
The alarmed Turchanyi suggested that he reconnoitre alone. He entered the building
after receiving permission from the officer. No sooner was he inside than two
blue-uniformed members of the dreaded A.V. H. -Hungarian Communist Security Forces- rushed
towards him with drawn revolvers. Turchanyi wheeled and ran from the building. As he
panted towards Mindszenty, the pursuing A.V.H. men held their fire for fear of hitting
Mindszenty ordered the driver to start the car. He held open the door for Turchanyi,
who leaped inside as their chauffeur drove the car around the square at full speed.
Turchanyi directed him to the bank building where a temporary refuge could be found. The
Cardinal and his secretary dashed inside as the car roared down the dark street to throw
off any pursuers.
By telephone and through trusted intermediaries Turchanyi immediately started
negotiations with the American Legation to grant the Cardinal asylum...
"But in taking refuge with the United States, won't you be separated from your
"No one can separate me from my people, not even the entire armed might of the
Soviet Empire. If I seek temporary asylum I do so as a last desperate measure.
Leslie B. Bain, Daily Express (London), 7 December [235/241]
DIARY OF "A SORDID CRIME"
[12:30] Violent fighting in the Szena Ter section of Buda. Regrouping of Hungarian
forces in the interior of Pecs. Soviet artillery are bombarding Csepel...
[13:55] The Russian occupation of the East Station. Szolnok has been bombarded by
Soviet aircraft. Fighting continues in the Gellerthegy part of Buda.
[14:15] Four Soviet armoured cars followed by trucks near the [French] Legation.
[15:00] Soviet troops, coming from Czechoslovakia, are passing through Komarom and
[15:15] According to a Hungarian source, Zoltan Tildy was arrested this morning by
Russians occupying Parliament. On the other hand, three "Nagyist" writers who
were inside Parliament at the time got away: Eorsi, Gyula Hay, and Lajos Tamasi.
[15:25] Fighting continues around the railroad stations.
[15:40] Soviet aircraft are flying over the city. Artillery fire on the heights of
[16:00] A battle around the Astoria Hotel, 5th city district.
[16:15] Acker, whose observation post is on the Embassy roof, reports fires burning in
the 15th district. Violent fighting near the Austrian and French Embassies in Buda.
Mortars and violent explosions nearby.
[16:30] Two sixteen year-olds are ambushed behind the Duna hotel and one of them
attacked a tank with a hand-grenade. He was slightly wounded. This is news from Chatelot.
Girard furnishes details on the battle at Hotel Astoria. His car came up against two
Soviet tanks. Bombs and shells bursting two hundred meters in front and three hundred
meters behind. Numerous bottles of gasoline thrown on the tanks . . . The avenue is in
[17:50] A violent explosion near the Legation. Soviet leaflets about "the
liberation" distributed by troops in the streets.
[18:00] Soviet mortars installed near the Legation are firing on the city.
[18:20] A Hungarian source: Battle raging around the National Theater between the 7th
and 8th city districts...
[19:00] Violent engagements between the Soviets and insurgents in the Krisztinavaros
[21:15] The Russians are occupying the Buda citadel which overlooks the city.
[21:30] No more electricity in the 5th district (southern portion). Soviet armoured
cars are withdrawing toward the suburbs in order to avoid being taken by surprise in the
center of town by teams of dynamiters during the night... [241/242]
[22:20] New explosions . . . a violent exchange of machine-gun fire .... - The approach
of tanks makes the walls shake ... Street being torn up by the tread of tanks has been
renamed twice. Formerly called Andrassy Road. It became Stalin Road. Then after the
insurrection, covered with blood, it became the Street of Hungarian Youth. Will it be
Soviet tanks are concentrated around the two buildings that house the Soviet Embassy .
. . It is bitter and ironical to hear the East Berlin radio broadcast on the intentions of
"patriots to liquidate the counter-revolutionaries." Never has so much
affrontery been associated with so sordid a crime . . . And the drama is only beginning...
[Midnight] The insurgents retire to positions in the South Station. The Russians attack
with armoured cars. The Varhegy district was bombarded at regular intervals by
Agence France Presse (Paris), 15 November [242/245]
A CRY OF WAILING
Hope had been so deceptive. Shouldn't we have known better? We were awakened by the
news on the blackest Sunday of modern European history, shattered, speechless. In Vienna
the people seemed almost to be paralyzed by the red headlines of the extra editions: "Ungeheures
Verbrechen! Der gemeinste Verrat aller Zeiten! Sie greifen an!" All day, and
half the night, as we drive from frontier post to frontier post along the Hungarian
border, we hear the news in our car radio, in the jammed saddened inns along the way . . .
The Austrian Red Cross, with surprising and heartening efficiency, has moved in to take
care of the thousands of refugees now pouring across. Camps, barracks, refugees. In the
eleventh year of peace. Once again women and children running for their lives like hunted
animals. Once again the same old folding cots, the same field-grey blankets. How often had
one seen this- the Alsatians fleeing from the battles of the Rhine in the winter of '44,
the Jews from the concentration camps, the DP's trying to make their way home, the
liberated prisoners-of-war, the expellees from Poland and Czechoslovakia, the Soviet-zone
refugees in West-Berlin . - . Near Hegyeshalom an Austrian nurse tries to calm a group of
children; a little boy begins to tremble and scream, for some one had opened a window and
the traffic of the street sounded as if a battle were still raging . . . In Eisenstadt we
listen to the news: the UN General Assembly is altogether likely to meet again soon; a
hundred people in the crowded café stand up, wave their hands angrily, helplessly, and
walk out. I talk with a student from Sopron who mumbles. "We shouldn't have burned
the Russian books, Tolstoy was among them.. . " In Klingenbach we run into an
Hungarian lieutenant and six of his men, embarrassment and bad conscience in their eyes,
who tell us that the Soviet attack had cut them off; but who is to sit in judgement, even
if they had run away? At the border crossing at Drassburg a foreign car manages to come
over: [245/246] "We thank you," says a Hungarian, rifle still slung across his
shoulder, "we thank you for sharing our suffering with us!... Somebody else cries
out: "But why don't you help us? Don't give us words or food, give us
ammunition!" And a third: "In the name of betrayed Hungary, come back to
us!" ... On the road back to Nickelsdorf we listen to the Viennese radio: a variety
program called "Take It Easy." Radio Budapest,. we are told, has come
on the air again, with music, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." In Margersdorf: a few
radio men who are still monitoring messages from Gyor, the last SOS-calls of the dying
From every side, from the excited students, from over-wrought women, from confused
young officers in their clay-brown uniforms, one hears the stories, "atrocity
stories" if you will. In the epoch of primitive war propaganda a whole generation
learned to mistrust all tales of
atrocities; then came the generation, in the era of the Gestapo and the GPU, who came
to know the truth of even the wildest most unbelievable inhumanities. How could one
distinguish, along this panicky fear-ridden frontier, history from hysteria? A pale young
girl tells of tanks running over children; students relate how their university buildings
in Sopron had been set afire; a lieutenant reports how officers and soldiers had been
executed along the road of the Soviet offensive. But then two old men tell touching
anecdotes of Russian soldiers who "fraternized," and of a few who deserted
because "the cause of Hungarian freedom was also the cause of the Russian
At the end of the day of the brutal Soviet counter-attack I looked out of the window of
a little Hungarian frontier check-point at the "Stalin" tanks which had moved up
to cut off the flight of soldiers and civilians. Everything had become quiet. And I
thought of a passage I had once read in Xenophon, describing how, one night in 405 B.C.,
people in Athens heard a cry of wailing, making its way up between the long walls from the
Piraeus, and coming nearer and nearer as they listened. It was the news of victory and
"And that night no one slept. They wept for the dead, but far more bitterly for
themselves. For they knew that they would suffer the same fate they had inflicted on
others . . ."
Melvin J. Lasky, Der Monat (Berlin), December 1956 
1. The Hungarian Revolution, ed. Melvin J. Lasky (New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, 1957), passim pp.48-246. Reprinted by permission of the
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