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November 6, 2020

Historic Photos of Hungarians Gathered in the Streets During Revolution Against Soviet-Backed Regime in November, 1956

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, or the Hungarian Uprising, was a nationwide revolution against the Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from October 23 until November 10, 1956. Thousands were killed and wounded and nearly a quarter-million Hungarians fled the country.

The revolt began as a student protest, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Hungarian Parliament building, calling out on the streets using a van with loudspeakers. A student delegation, entering the radio building to try to broadcast the students’ demands, was detained. When the delegation’s release was demanded by the protesters outside, they were fired upon from within the building by the State Security Police. Multiple students died and one was wrapped in a flag and held above the crowd. This was the start of the next phase of the revolution. As the news spread, disorder and violence erupted throughout the capital.

The revolt spread quickly and the government collapsed. Thousands organized themselves into militias, battling the State Security Police and Soviet troops. During the revolt there were violent incidents; some local leaders and State Security Police members were lynched or captured, while former political prisoners were released and armed. Radical impromptu workers’ councils wrested municipal control from the ruling Hungarian Working People’s Party and demanded political change. The new government of Imre Nagy formally disbanded the State Security Police, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped, and the days of normality began to return. Some workers continued fighting in opposition to both the Stalinist regime and the appearances of "bourgeois" parties in its wake.

Initially appearing open to negotiating a withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Politburo changed its mind and moved to crush the revolution. On November 4, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country. The Hungarian resistance continued until November 10. Over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. Mass arrests and denunciations continued for months thereafter. By January 1957, the new Soviet-installed government had suppressed all public opposition. These Soviet actions, while strengthening control over the Eastern Bloc, alienated many Western Marxists, leading to splits and/or considerable losses of membership for communist parties in capitalist states.
Hungarian Freedom Fighters during revolution against Soviet backed communist government.
Hungarian patriot grimacing during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Hopeful Hungarian rebel demonstrators during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Hungarian women during the revolution.
Hungarian Freedom Fighters during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Budapest rebel demonstrators, during revolution against Soviet-backed Hungarian regime.
Hungarian Freedom Fighters during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Hungarian man singing patriotic song as Soviet tanks move into Budapest during Hungarian revolution.
Russian tanks in Budapest following an attempted revolution by Hungarians against Soviet-backed regime.
Women in Budapest march in honor of the Hungarian men who died in revolution fighting Soviet-backed communist regime.
Hungarian Freedom Fighters gathered in the streets during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Hungarian Freedom Fighters during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Hungarian Freedom Fighter with gun during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Budapest boys from about twelve to late teens carrying rifles, to fight with Hungarian Freedom Fighters during revolution against Soviet-backed regime..
Hungarian Freedom Fighter during revolution against Soviet-backed government.
Woman Hungarian Freedom Fighter during revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Budapest boys from about twelve to late teens carrying rifles, to fight with Freedom Fighters during Hungarian revolution; young boy smiling, others serious.
Soviet tanks moving into Budapest during Hungarian revolution against Soviet-backed regime.
Women in Budapest march in honor of the Hungarian men who died in revolution fighting communist Soviet regime.
Hungarian boy grimacing as Soviet tanks move into Budapest.

(Photos by Michael Rougier/ LIFE Archives)




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