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5: The New York Times Reports

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The New York Times Reports

The articles beginning here and concluding on page 158 are reprinted by permission of The New York Times.


BUDAPEST, October 24, 1956

The Hungarian police fired tonight on a crowd assembled before the Budapest radio building. .. [p.1, col. 1/p. 10, col. 3]

The shooting incident in Budapest came when a crowd gathered before the headquarters of the Budapest radio and became restive. It shouted "Down with Gero!"

The crowd sent a delegation into the building. Shortly afterward flares were sent up from the roof of the radio headquarters. Five trucks filled with armed soldiers appeared and tried to make their way through the crowd. The crowd refused to give way and the trucks left.

The crowd waited. When the youth delegation failed to emerge from the building the crowd began to press against the doors. This was the signal for the political police to throw tear bombs. Apparently these were not effective and firing began.

Previously the demonstrations had been disciplined and peaceful. The police made no attempt to interfere. One meeting held across the Danube in Buda, the right bank of Budapest, numbered nearly 10,000 persons. Among them were 500 officers and soldiers.

The red-white-and-green of Hungary's national colors waved in the air and ornamented every buttonhole. The flags were supplemented by banners inscribed with slogans, such as "Do not stop half way: Away with Stalinism," "Independence and freedom," "We want new leaders: We put our trust in Imre Nagy," and "Hurrah for the Poles."

As the demonstrators marched this evening past the Hungarian Parliament, crowned with its illuminated star, they shouted: "Put out the red star." An hour later the star had been extinguished and the Parliament buildings were draped with the Hungarian national flag.

The demonstrations began after students held meetings at noon at universities in Budapest.

Office workers from Pest, the city's left bank, quickly attached themselves to the students, as did passers-by.. . . Gatherings were held in a half dozen public squares, generally before a statue of a national hero.

At every meeting a list of resolutions was distributed. They [col. 3/col. 41 expressed hatred of Mr. Rakosi and resentment over Hungary's relations with the Soviet Union. The resolutions demanded:

Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary in accordance with the 1947 peace treaty and publication of Hungary's trade agreements and reparations payments to the Soviet Union.

A reshuffling of the Government with Mr. Nagy as leader and an open trial of Mr. Rakosi.

Restoration of Hungary's traditional national emblem and her traditional Army uniforms instead of the present Soviet-style dress.

Destruction of a giant Stalin statue in a Budapest square. In the course of the demonstrations, the marchers in fact tried, though without success, to tear down the statue.

Attached to the list of resolutions was a statement that the Government had refused to permit them to be printed or broadcast.

It was announced that a mass meeting would be held at the Polytechnic University tomorrow to give further consideration to the resolutions.


BELGRADE, October 25, 1956

[p.6, col. 4] Communications between the Hungarian capital and other European centers were completely disrupted. The closing of the Austrian-Hungarian border early today caused a heavy traffic jam on both sides of the frontier. Trains bound for Budapest did not reach their destination and private automobiles once inside the country were turned back by Hungarian tanks within twenty miles of Budapest.

Telephone operators in Vienna, Belgrade and London informed prospective callers that all lines to Budapest were closed.


BUDAPEST, October 27, 1956

And yet it looked Wednesday as if the intervention of Soviet troops, who had been called in at 4:30 o'clock that morning, had quelled the revolt, The Soviet forces had eighty tanks, artillery, armored cars and other equipment of a variety normally possessed only by a complete Soviet mechanized division. The insurgent Hungarian students and workers at no time had more than small arms furnished by sympathizing soldiers of the Hungarian Army.

What revived the revolt was a massacre...

Since only a few minutes earlier Soviet tank crews had been fraternizing with insurgents, it is possible that the massacre was a tragic mistake. The most credible version is that the political policemen opened fire on the demonstrators and panicked the Soviet tank crews into the belief that they were being attacked.

But in any case when the firing subsided Parliament Square was littered with dead and dying men and women. The total number of casualties has been estimated at 170. This correspondent can testify that he saw a dozen bodies.

Far from deterring the demonstration, the firing embittered and inflamed the Hungarian people. A few minutes later and only a few blocks from the scene of the massacre, the surviving demonstrators reassembled in Szabadsag (the word means liberty) Square. When trucks filled with Hungarian soldiers drove up and warned the demonstrators that they were armed, the leader of the demonstrators brandished a Hungarian flag and replied: "We are armed only with this, but it is enough."

On a balcony above appeared an elderly Hungarian clad in pajamas and a dressing gown and clasping a huge flag. He threw it down to the demonstrators.

Another man mounted a ladder to tear down the Soviet emblem from the "Liberty" monument in "Liberty" square. It was erected in 1945 by the Russians with forced Hungarian labor.

A crowd assembled before the United States legation in the square and shouted: "The workers are being murdered, we want help."

Finally Spencer Barnes, Chargé d'Affaires, told them that their case was one for decision by his Government and the United Nations, not for the local staff. The British Minister had received a deputation and given it the same message.

Among those watching this demonstration was a furtive figure clad in a leather coat. Suddenly someone identified him rightly or wrongly as a member of the hated Avo, the Hungarian political police. Like tigers the crowd turned on him, began to beat him and hustled him into a courtyard. A few minutes later they emerged rubbing their hands with satisfaction. The leather-coated figure was seen no more.

During all these activities and while Soviet tanks continued to race through near-by streets firing their fusillades, the crowd never ceased shouting: "Down with Gero!" Less than an hour later the radio announced that Mr. Gero had been replaced by Janos Kadar, former Interior Minister and second secretary of the party... [p.2, col. 3/col. 4]

At 4 P.M. yesterday afternoon pamphlets were distributed signed by "Hungarian workers and university students." They read: "We summon all Hungarians to a general strike. As long as the Government fails to grant our demands and until the murderers are called to account, we shall answer the Government with a general strike. Long live the new Government under the leadership of Imre Nagy."

At 6 P.M. that evening a one-sheet newspaper was issued from the printing plant of the Hungarian Army. It had been occupied by the political police but apparently reoccupied by the Army. It was an Army officer who threw hundreds of copies from an upper window to a crowd waiting for them below. The sheet repeated the sixteen demands that had been formulated by Tuesday's peaceful demonstrators, which the Government had refused to print or broadcast...

[col. 4/col. 5]

The massacre before the Parliament occurred in a mysterious circumstance for which no explanation has been forthcoming.

Known is the fact that the crews of three Soviet tanks began to fraternize with the insurgents shortly before noon in front of the Astoria Hotel. They shouted that they did not want to fire on unarmed Hungarian workers.

They let a score of the demonstrators climb on their tanks and drove them to Parliament Square. This correspondent saw the Soviet soldiers there laughing and waving to the crowd of hundreds that had collected. But only a minute later from a few blocks in the distance he heard a violent cannonade and saw at the end of the street another Soviet tank firing in the direction of the crowd...

That the Soviet forces suffered at least one casualty was demonstrated Wednesday morning when a Soviet soldier, bleeding from an abdominal bullet wound, was carried into the dining room of the Duna Hotel for treatment. He was bandaged by a Western physician.

A few hours later a Soviet armored car was set on fire near Engels Square. A worker told this correspondent that some Soviet tanks had been attacked with "Molotov cocktails," made according to old Russian recipe out of wine bottles filled with gasoline...

The revolt began as a series [col. 5/ col. 6] of demonstrations that remained peaceful until about 10:30 o'clock Tuesday evening. The trouble began in front of the Budapest radio station when a delegation that had entered it to request the broadcasting of its "sixteen points" was arrested by political policemen who were guarding the building.

The crowd demanded their release and tried to storm the doors. At first the policemen tried to drive the demonstrators back with tear gas. Then they opened fire, killing one demonstrator and wounding several others.

When this correspondent arrived at midnight the radio station had been stormed. Its lower floors had been occupied by the demonstrators, while the political police held the upper ones. A group of students had mounted a balcony in front of the building, hung out Hungarian flags and Hungary's pre-Communist national emblem.

A military command car that had been set on fire burned with dense smoke and a rubbery stench. The air in the narrow street in front of the station reeked of tear gas, which was reinforced by an occasional bomb hurled from the upper floors by the political policemen.

Trucks filled with Hungarian soldiers stood by, but their occupants were taking no action.

Shortly before midnight seven heavy Hungarian tanks rumbled into the area. Some of the demonstrators fled. But the leading tank displayed the national flag, its crew cheered the demonstrators and numbers of them mounted it to shake hands with the soldiers. One youth shouted: "Come on, the army is with us!" and the crowd surged forward again to invest the building.

It was obvious that the army was refusing to make common cause with the political police. An hour later several insurgents were observed with tommy guns in their hands. They said they had obtained them from the soldiers.

Meanwhile, the crowd was beginning to grow more violent. It threw up barricades at street intersections. These were flimsy affairs made of park benches but they were guarded by youths with tommy-guns.

At one intersection the crowd overturned the automobile of a state official. It seemed for a moment as if an American car would share that fate, but the crowd grew good humored when it realized that the car was being driven by a Western newspaper man.

At 1:30 A.M. Wednesday the crowd stormed the plant of Szabad Nep, principal Communist newspaper. They brought with them the body of a dead demonstrator wrapped in a national flag.

The newspaper had just issued a one-page extra edition condemning the political police force for having opened fire on the demonstrators at the radio station.

Meanwhile, other insurgents stormed a Soviet bookstore, threw books into the street and set fire to them. The head quarters of the Soviet-Hungarian Friendship Society was wrecked . . . [col. 6]


VIENNA, October 28, 1956

Anti-Communist rebels appeared today to be firmly in control of the western part

of Hungary. The region adjoins Austria from the Danube to the southern plains, where Austria, Hungary and Yugoslavia meet.

Along the 160-mile Austrian-Hungarian border neither Hungarian soldiers wearing the Communist red star insignia nor Soviet troops were reported seen.

However, Soviet forces were being moved to the rear of the rebels facing the Austrian-Hungarian border, according to information received by Austrian military authorities.

In particular, strong Soviet tank units were reported concentrating in the area between Gyor and Komarom, south of the Danube. The railroad and main highway between Vienna and Budapest traverse this area.

A broadcast monitored here at 6 P.M. purporting to originate from the "Free Station" of Gyor, said Soviet troops in that area had given assurances they would not take any actions against the local population unless attacked. The broadcast added that during a mass meeting in Gyor's [p. 1, col. 7/p. 31, col. 4] main square orators demanded weapons in order to be able to bring aid to the insurgents in Budapest.

The broadcast also reported that Vac, Hatvan and Szolnok to the north and north-east of Budapest had proclaimed themselves "free towns."

The insurgents entrenched on the Leitha River less than forty miles from here claim to be in continuous contact by telephone with other "fighters for freedom" in Budapest...

Only at Lockenhaus, an Austrian village not far from the Hungarian town of Sopron, was firing heard this afternoon. It sounded like light artillery...

Sopron itself was reported controlled by the insurgents. The streets of that town were said to be patrolled by groups of three, consisting of one soldier, one worker and one student. Sopron's statue of Stalin was said to have been toppled from its pedestal...

Railroad service in the Hungarian border area has come to a standstill. All international traffic via the Hungarian frontier station and railroad hub, Hegyeshalom, is suspended.

The town of Hegyeshalom is understood to be ruled by a Revolutionary Committee. When this body first had its communications put on official billboards yesterday, local security police tore them down.

However, later yesterday all military and police forces placed themselves at the disposal of the insurgents. Also cooperating with them are reported to be the officers and soldiers of a new block of barracks near Hegyeshalom.

The insurgents' general strike order was rigidly observed in the entire Hegyeshalom district

Hungarians living near the border appeared to have high hopes that the West would intervene if Soviet forces attacked the rebels in the western part of the country. Hungarian railroad men expressed confidence that it would take the Russians several days to move reinforcements from Poland and Rumania into Hungary because railroad connections between eastern Hungary and neighboring countries were clogged by cars of sugar beets...


BUDAPEST, October 31, 1956

The Hungarian people seem to have won their revolution. Soviet troops are now leaving Budapest and apparently are also leaving Hungary...

This afternoon Janos Kadar, chief of the Hungarian Communist party, former President Zoltan Tildy, leader of the Smallholders party, and Ferenc Erdei, representing the former National Peasant party, broadcast to the people a promise to hold free elections, to proclaim Hungary a neutral country and to insist on the immediate departure of Soviet troops.

In other words all the parties in Hungary, even the Communist party, have united in a common front against the Soviet Union and in favor of a return [p. 1, col. 5/p. 21, col. 1] of democracy...

This was an eleventh-hour grant of the demands on which the revolutionaries have insisted ever since their demonstration a week ago turned into a revolt. It was made after the insurgents had stormed the headquarters of the political police in Republic Square in Pest this afternoon, burned down the Communist party headquarters in Buda and set fire to every Communist bookshop in the city.

During the storming of the political police headquarters Jean-Pierre Petraghini, photographer for the magazine Paris Match, received a burst of machine-gun fire in the stomach and leg while Tim Foote, photographer for Life, was slightly wounded in the hand.

They were fired on by A.V.H. tanks. Not long afterward a number of political police who had been captured by the revolutionaries paid for their resistance with their lives. Tonight the A.V.H. appealed to the Hungarian Writers Association, which started the revolutionary movement, to intervene for their 10,000 members. They said they were willing to surrender in return for an amnesty. Whether the public in its present mood of fierce hatred will be willing to consent to this is highly doubtful.

Mr. Tildy broadcast tonight an order that all political prisoners who had not already been freed by the revolutionaries be immediately released.

The Government has also ordered that the compulsory collection of produce from Hungarian farmers be canceled. This means the end of the Communist agricultural system.

This was followed by an instruction from the Revolutionary Council to the Army and police to send delegates from their revolutionary councils (this was the first revelation that such bodies existed) to a meeting to be held in the Ministry of Defence at 2 o'clock tomorrow morning. The radio also announced that the third motorized formation of the Hungarian army would replace the Soviet troops leaving Budapest.

The last group of the Hungarian insurgents who had been holding out in the Maria Theresia barracks for six days stopped fighting at 8 o'clock this morning.

They did not surrender but merely emerged from the building they had defended with incredible bravery against Soviet tanks, artillery, armored cars and infantry. They did not lay down their arms and said they were ready to resume fighting if the Russians did not leave Budapest today.

This correspondent when he drove down Ulloi Ut at 9 o'clock this morning saw havoc that was not surpassed by any of his experiences as a correspondent in World War II. The barracks, renamed Kilian, a 200-year-old building with massive walls, had stood up under the constant battering by Soviet tanks and artillery. Not only that but there was evidence in burned-out Soviet tanks and armored cars as well as in the bodies of twenty Soviet soldiers that lay still unburied in the shattered street, that its defenders had given as good as they got.

As I drove carefully up the street, steering past broken glass, broken telegraph wires, unexploded shells, unexpended ammunition and the corpses of Soviet troops, the car was immediately surrounded by a crowd of youthful insurgents.

Their faces were gray with exhaustion, their young chins were covered with a week's beard but their spirit was still indomitable.

"We greet you in the name of the Hungarian freedom fighters," said one of them in German, when we had disclosed our identity. [col. 1/col. 2] He said he had been in the barracks since October 23...

"When did you surrender?" he was asked. He drew himself up. "We never surrendered," he said. "The Russians went away and we came out."

It was unnecessary to ask him if the rebels had laid down their arms. He had a submachine gun slung over his shoulder and a pistol in his belt.

Near him stood another partisan similarly armed and with two hand grenades stuck in his waistband. A boy who could not be more than 10 years old stood holding at the ready a rifle as tall as himself.

Beside him was a 15-year-old girl with a submachine gun and a forage cap on her head, who looked on the brink of absolute exhaustion. She tried to tell my wife in Hungarian what it had been like to fight with no sleep and little food for five long days.

Our German-speaking informant confirmed that the defenders of the barracks had been under the command of a lieutenant colonel of the Hungarian Army, but he said only a few of them had been soldiers. Their commander, he said, was still in the barracks.

"We were armed with rifles, [col. 2/ col. 3] tommyguns, grenades and Molotov cocktails," he continued. "We got a lot of them from dead Russians. The Russian tanks used to attack us in the night and go away in the morning." ...

At this juncture a youthful partisan with an armband and an air of command advised us to withdraw our car. "Get out," he said, "we don't like some of the people around here. We have some scores to settle."

Some of his clear-headed lieutenants directed us to safety down a side street. As we turned down it a rattle of tommygun fire only a few yards down Ulloi Ut reinforced the wisdom of his command. The air was electric. Obviously anything could happen and might happen.

In the side street we passed a surgical clinic whose chief surgeon said that forty dead and about 500 [sic] had been carried into [col. 3/col. 4] his clinic alone from the barracks fighting. He said Soviet troops had shot up the clinic and even its operating theater.

When we left Ulloi Ut to get this story off by courier five Russian tanks were still posted only 500 yards from the barracks. It seemed obvious that the situation in Budapest would remain explosive until and unless the Russians leave.

Near the Technical University building where the revolution had its inception A.V.H. soldiers at 10 o'clock this morning shot at a crowd that had gathered before the building. Later an A.V.H. captain tried to make a run for it. He was captured by the crowd and hanged from a lamppost.

In Roeck Szilard Street in the Eighth District a crowd of children, 12 to 14 years old, quietly surrounded a Soviet tank that was standing there. Suddenly several of them jumped on the tank, one of them produced a pistol and shot into it and the rest stole the machine gun of the Russian driver. Then they fled down the street under a hail of fire from other Russian tanks.

At 10 o'clock thousands marched in mass demonstration toward the Kilian barracks. They carried black flags to commemorate those who had died there and shouted, "Whoever is a Hungarian join us."

In the Rokus Hospital, the central hospital of Budapest, lie 500 wounded. One, a major of the Hungarian Army from the Petofi Academy Military School, said that all the cadets had joined in the revolution as early as last Tuesday. They fought chiefly in Buda, where they suffered heavy casualties but also inflicted them on the secret police.

Premier Imre Nagy walked this morning from Communist party headquarters to Parliament. He was attended by two policemen wearing their new uniforms and followed by a truckload of policemen. [col. 4]


BUDAPEST, November 2, 1956

[p. 15, col. 3] At 11:30 last evening there was some cannonading in Budapest, apparently in the west, and a few bursts of machine-gun fire...

The next development was Soviet occupation of the Budapest air field. It is now surrounded by 160 Soviet tanks...

The Government's announcement that the Russians were returning caused a panic in the streets of Budapest. People hurried home to join their families.

A diplomat who visited the Soviet Embassy reported that it was deserted by all of its staff except the Ambassador and a few secretaries, and that boxes and crates were stacked as if for removal.


BUDAPEST, November 3, 1956

[p. 17, col. 1] Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty appealed to the West today for political support in Hungary's fight against Soviet domination...

He said his appeal was addressed specially to the "great powers" in the West, presumably the United States, Britain and France. He asked also for gifts to relieve the suffering here.

Speaking in German in a strong vibrant voice, the Cardinal told correspondents who crowded his small, almost bare study that "the whole Hungarian people wish and demand that Russian troops leave Hungarian territory." "The people," he added, "want to work for themselves and for the life of the nation"...

The Cardinal said he had received a telegram of blessings from Pope Pius. He said the telegram had contained nothing else. This was taken to mean that he had no political instructions from the Vatican.

As he did just after his release, he avoided a direct answer to the question whether he would take part in a government. He answered that he had not had time to get the full picture of political conditions in Hungary.


BUDAPEST, November 3, 1956

[p. 15, col. 1] . . Budapest has been surrounded since Thursday but so far Soviet tanks have not entered the city.

The Hungarian Army has not offered resistance at any point. This is not because it is unwilling to fight but because if there is to be a war the Hungarians want the Russians to take responsibility for starting it. Neither have the Russians fired a shot so far . . . All the fighting that has taken place to date has been in Budapest between revolutionists and members of the A.V.H., the Hungarian political police.

The day's political developments in Budapest include the radio announcement that Premier Nagy will reform his Cabinet by withdrawing from it all members who had compromised themselves by collaboration with the Soviet. A second was the arrest of Gyula Alapi, the state prosecutor in the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty...

Whether Russians will ever be willing to leave Hungary was the topic of wide speculation here. One possible motive, it is believed, may be the repugnance that has been shown by members of many Soviet units toward their assigned task of suppressing the revolution.

This correspondent has already related how one Russian officer in the Moritz Zsigmond Square in Buda tried to justify the presence of Soviet tanks to a crowd of students with the statement, "But we have been told you are fascists here," He also recorded the statement of some bewildered Russian soldiers to Russian speaking Hungarians that "we were told that American troops went to Budapest and have been surprised not to see any.

The Russian-speaking correspondent of The Times of London heard a Soviet lieutenant tell some citizens of Budapest Thursday: "Rakosi never told us you did not want us in Hungary. We don't like what we are doing but what can we do? We are soldiers and we must obey orders."

But the most sensational report of all came from Kecskemet. There, it is said, elements of two Soviet divisions stacked their arms outside the town, entered it and told inhabitants: "We don't want to hurt anybody. We would like some food, but we have money to pay for it."

The Soviet official with the troops is reported to have told some members of the town's Revolutionary Committee that the reason Russian reinforcements had been brought into Hungary was to prevent widespread mutiny among their own troops already there...

At another press conference a spokesman for the Revolutionary Council of the Hungarian Army said, "West of the Danube Russian units have not really remained neutral but in many cases helped it [the revolution]." It is a matter of history that more than 1,000,000 Soviet army soldiers revolted against communism in World War II. Undoubtedly thousands more would have defected had it not been for the brutality of the Nazis in Russia . . . [col. 1]

1. John MacCormac, The New York Times, October 24, 1956, pp. 1, 10.

2. EIie Abel, The New York Times, October 25, 1956, pp. 1, 6.

3. John MacCormac, The New York Times, October 27, 1956, pp. l-2.

4. Paul Hofmann, The New York Times, October 28, 1956, pp.1, 31.

5. John MacCormac, The New York Times, October 31, 1956, pp.1, 21.

6. John MacCormac, The New York Times, November 2, 1956, pp.1, 15.

7. Henry Giniger, The New York Times, November 3, 1956, p.17.

8. John MacCormac, The New York Times, November 3, 1956, pp.1, 15.

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