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Clare Doyle

Hungary 1956 – Workers‘ Revolution

Triumph & Tragedy

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When workers rose in their millions

ON OCTOBER 30 1956, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Hungary was officially announced. Power was in the hands of the working class but, as so often in revolutionary situations, they failed to see it. The opportunity for sweeping aside the old politicians and their hated system of government came and went. The reins of power fell into the hands of other forces either not willing or not able to lead the mighty workers‘ struggle to a successful conclusion.

Clare Doyle explains the background to these inspiring events and the reasons why the Hungarian revolution was brutally crushed by a new ‚Soviet‘ invasion.

„THERE WAS such elation and excitement. People were almost insane! We felt free; we could say what we wanted.“ „It was great to be human, and even better to be a Hungarian in Hungary.“ „We had taken fate into our own hands.“ Such were the moving reminiscences of veterans of the October days, expressed in the BBC4 documentary Our Revolution.

But on 4 November their short-lived dreams were brutally shattered. The Kremlin’s ’second invasion‘ was under way. Thousands of tanks and planes, started a merciless bombing operation in all the major cities.

Revolutionary fighters – young and old – put up fierce resistance. They built barricades, fired on the enemy, hurled Molotov cocktails, renewed their all-out general strike and vowed to fight to the end. Just over 2,500 people were recorded killed, and tens of thousands injured at this time. But it seems likely that the toll is far higher. Working class strongholds were targeted and tens of thousands left homeless.

This use of overwhelming force, followed by a reign of terror and brutal reprisals against the workers and ‚freedom fighters‘ of Hungary for the ‚crime‘ of making a revolution.

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