The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a nationwide revolt against the government of the Hungarian People’s Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from October 23 until November 10.
The revolution began as a student demonstration, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Parliament building. A student group entered the radio building to attempt to broadcast their list of demands but they were quickly detained. When the student group’s release was demanded by the demonstrators the State Security Police (AVH) starting shooting at the protestors from within the building. One student was killed. The protestors wrapped him in a flag and lifted him above their heads.
The revolt spread across Hungary and the government collapsed. Thousands organized into militias, battling the AVH and the Soviet Troops. Pro-Soviet communists and AVH members were executed or imprisoned and anti-communist political prisoners were released and armed.
A new government was formed which disbanded the AVH, declared its intentions to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-established free elections. By the end of October, the fighting had paused.
After first stating their willingness to negotiate a withdrawal of Soviet forces withdraw, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union changed its mind. On November 4, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest. The Hungarian resistance continued until November 10.
Over 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict. 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees.
The list of student demands:
- We demand the immediate evacuation of all Soviet troops, in conformity with the provisions of the Peace Treaty.
- We demand the election by secret ballot of all Party members from top to bottom, and of new officers for the lower, middle and upper echelons of the Hungarian Workers Party. These officers shall convene a Party Congress as early as possible in order to elect a Central Committee.
- A new Government must be constituted under the direction of Imre Nagy: all criminal leaders of the Stalin-Rákosi era must be immediately dismissed.
- We demand a public inquiry into the criminal activities of Mihály Farkas and his accomplices. Mátyás Rákosi, who is the person most responsible for crimes of the recent past as well as for our country’s ruin, must be returned to Hungary for trial before a people’s tribunal.
- We demand general elections by universal, secret ballot are held throughout the country to elect a new National Assembly, with all political parties participating. We demand that the right of workers to strike be recognized.
- We demand revision and re-adjustment of Hungarian-Soviet and Hungarian-Yugoslav relations in the fields of politics, economics, and cultural affairs, on a basis of complete political and economic equality, and of non-interference in the internal affairs of one by the other.
- We demand the complete reorganization of Hungary’s economic life under the direction of specialists. The entire economic system, based on a system of planning, must be re-examined in the light of conditions in Hungary and in the vital interest of the Hungarian people.
- Our foreign trade agreements and the exact total of reparations that can never be paid must be made public. We demand to be precisely informed of the uranium deposits in our country, on their exploitation, and on the concessions to the Russians in this area. We demand that Hungary have the right to sell her uranium freely at world market prices to obtain hard currency.
- We demand a complete revision of the norms operating in industry and an immediate and radical adjustment of salaries in accordance with the just requirements of workers and intellectuals. We demand a minimum living wage for workers.
- We demand that the system of distribution is organized on a new basis and that agricultural products be utilized in a rational manner. We demand equality of treatment for individual farms.
- We demand reviews by independent tribunals of all political and economic trials as well as the release and rehabilitation of the innocent. We demand the immediate repatriation of prisoners of war (World War II) and of civilian deportees to the Soviet Union, including prisoners sentenced outside Hungary.
- We demand complete recognition of freedom of opinion and of expression, of freedom of the press and of radio, as well as the creation of a daily newspaper for the MEFESZ Organisation (Hungarian Federation of University and College Students’ Associations).
- We demand that the statue of Stalin, a symbol of Stalinist tyranny and political oppression, be removed as quickly as possible and be replaced by a monument in memory of the martyred freedom fighters of 1848-49.
- We demand the replacement of emblems foreign to the Hungarian people by the old Hungarian arms of Kossuth. We demand new uniforms for the Army which conform to our national traditions. We demand that March 15 be declared a national holiday and that October 6th be a day of national mourning on which schools will be closed.
- The students of the Technological University of Budapest declare unanimously their solidarity with the workers and students of Warsaw and Poland in their movement towards national independence.
- The students of the Technological University of Budapest will organize as rapidly as possible local branches of MEFESZ, and they have decided to convene at Budapest, on Saturday, October 27, a Youth Parliament at which all the nation’s youth shall be represented by their delegates.