Since the Soviet Union had liberated it in the Second World War, Hungary was placed in the Soviet sphere of influence. Not allowed any wiggle room under the control of Josef Stalin, Hungary was under total Soviet Control. But Stalin died, leading to the rise of Nikita Krushchev, the Soviet leader who believed in peaceful coexistance", allowing the Soviet Union's satellite nations more freedoms. As good an idea as it was, it would later bite Krushchev in the rear.

Hungary Turns Communist

When Hungary was "liberated" by the Soviet Union, Mátyás Rákosi was named leader of the Hungarian Communist Party; he was, at the time, the General Secretary, and was named Prime Minister of Hungary in 1952. Rákosi had a very Stalinistic approach when it came to running his country, and ended up dragging down the Hungarian standard of living.

Hungarians Want Better Life

After Krushchev's secret speech, which stated that the Soviet Union would allow more freedoms within its satellites, the Hungarian people demanded liberalization of their economy, along with the improvement of the supply of consumer goods. This desire by the people was put into action on October 5, 1956, when 200,000 people demonstrated in Budapest against Rákosi's regime.

Seeing as Rákosi could end up causing major problems in Hungary, the Soviet Union replaced him on October 23 with Imre Nagy, hoping to please the people. It didn't. Now there were many more thousands of people were demonstrating in the streets, demanding that Hungary withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and become a sovereign nation. As a result of all of the people in the streets, skirmishes occured between the Hungarian people and Soviet troops in the area.

Nagy Went Too Far

Being a leader that listened to his people, Nagy promised to hold free elections in the future, and via negotiations held on October 30, Moscow promised to support the nationalist government that Nagy was planning, as well as to remove Soviet troops from Hungary. Just as the Soviet troops were leaving Hungary, Nagy announced that Hungary was going to leave the Warsaw Pact. This, the Soviets did not like. This could be used a precedent that would destroy the Soviet bloc.

On November 4, 5,000 Soviet tanks and 250,000 soldiers entered Budapest. Hungary was in trouble, so they appealed to the United States for assistance; their appeal went unanswered for two reasons: first, the United States was holding its presidential elections; and second, if the United States openly confronted the Soviet Union, inside the Soviet sphere, it could lead to war, only eleven years after the Second World War and with nuclear weapons? Not a risk the US wished to take.

The fighting lasted for five days in Budapest, and ten days in the countryside, with the Soviet Union coming out on top. 20,000 people died, 20,000 were captured, and over 200,000 fled to Canada, the United States, and elsewhere.

The End Result

Imre Nagy was swiftly removed from power by the Soviet Union, and replaced by János Kádár. Nagy was taken to Romania, where he was sentenced to death, and executed in 1958.

Krushchev's idea of "peaceful coexistance" had some flaws, it seemed, and although other countries would try revolting against Soviet control, Hungary would not try again until 1989.

This event increased the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.

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