Ms. Johnson West
I pledge my word and honor that I have neither given nor received any unauthorized aid on this work.
At the time of the Hungarian Rebellion, there was mass unrest in the Communist bloc. There were protests and growing anti-Soviet sentiments in not only Hungary, but in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. The rebels in Hungary inspired other citizens to protest and rebel against their oppressors, which temporarily greatly destabilized the Warsaw Pact, the military alliance among the USSR and 7 other Eastern European nations formed in 1955 in response to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While the leader of the USSR Nikita Khrushchev’s program of de-Stalinization was meant to remove Stalinist policies that oppressed Soviet citizens and make the Soviet Union a better place to live, it ended up installing communist stalwarts who would create a similar if not even more oppressive environment than under Stalin. Internment camps were commonplace, hundreds of thousands were imprisoned and hundreds were executed for merely dissenting. At this time the appointed leader of Hungary was Matyas Rakosi, a stalwart who aligned with Stalin. He oversaw the imprisonment of 150,000 Hungarians and the execution of 480 public figures. Rakosi’s rule was brutal, so when the progressive Imre Nagy emerged as a contender, the citizens of Hungary supported him greatly. However, his centrist ideals did not align with those of the Stalinists who were in power. Nagy was constantly condemned and was taken out of office, but he persevered and remained in power in one form or another. He and other progressives formed the “Nagy Coalition,” which advocated for the removal of internment camps, freedom of speech and other Western ideals. Student groups began to pop up in support of policies similar to those of Nagy. The period of 1954-1955 saw increasing protests against the Soviet regime and support for Nagy’s ideals. Seeing the growing problem, Khrushchev put Erno Gero, another Stalin hardliner, in as leader of Hungary to suppress the protests. On October 23, 1956, protests in Budapest were breaking out across the city. To deal with this, Gero sent in Soviet troops, who then fired on the student activists. The following morning, Imre Nagy was put into power and began enacting the 16-point manifesto the protesters had created. Nagy declared martial law and the revolution began. The revolt was crushed within a few days, but not without doing serious damage to the stability of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR. Although the USSR was able to quickly crush the Hungarian Uprising and prevent dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the 1956 revolt threatened to destabilize the Eastern bloc because it inspired people in the Soviet satellite states to rebel and lead to global criticism of Soviet motives and actions.
Topic Sentence: The Hungarian Revolution threatened to destabilize the Warsaw pact because its success inspired people in other Soviet satellites to rebel against the communist regime.
1. CDE. Suslov spoke about the rapidly decaying situation in Budapest and how it is spreading throughout Hungary. He stated that people were leaving their businesses and homes to form councils and create a new government-one completely separate from the USSR. One key point made in his speech is that the general sentiment in Hungary now is Anti-Soviet. He also mentions how quickly said sentiments are spreading. Khrushchev, Nikita, Malin, V. N. “Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 28 October 1956.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. October 28, 1956. (accessed March 7, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111882.
2. Suslov and Mikoyan went to Budapest to observe the riots and the fighting the streets of Pest. The two oversaw the change of power from the stalwart politician Erno Gero to the populist Imre Nagy. The report revealed that the power change and most of the situation in Budapest was kept under wraps. Suslov, Mikhail and Mikoyan, Anastas. “Mikoyan-Suslov Report.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. October 24, 1956. (accessed March 7, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110981
3. This report detailed the use of pro-US radio propaganda in the satellites of the USSR. Johnson emphasized not just the unrest in Hungary, but the rapidly deteriorating situations in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. Johnson, A. Ross. “Comprehensive Guidance for Radio Free Europe Broadcasts.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. November 03, 1956. (accessed March 7, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114737.
4. This report details the Romanian Politburo’s policies for containing the revolts in Hungary and keeping Romanians from following their example of rebellion. This source helps my argument by showing that there was indeed a threat of rebellion breaking out all across the USSR and not just in parts of Hungary.”Bulgarian Military Intelligence Information on the Situation in Hungary and Poland,” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crisis. Cold War International History Project. November 01, 1956, (accessed May 23, 2018) http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112703
1. These proceedings show how easily and rapidly anti-Soviet sentiments spread in Hungary. This frightened the heads of state with good reason. If rebellion were such an easy thing in Hungary, it could happen in any other state.
2. The fact that the Soviets were trying to appease the rioters in the streets by ousting Gero and replacing him with the well-liked Nagy shows that the Soviets are willing to capitulate to some demands. If word got out to other downtrodden satellites, similar rebellions could occur, which would subsequently cause the alliances the USSR had with its satellites to crumble and destroy the Warsaw pact.
3. Johnson’s report shows that Hungary’s situation was not unique; unrest was present in many satellites. The whole region was ripe for revolt, which was why Johnson encouraged further use of RFE to sow the seeds of rebellion in the hearts of the citizens of Soviet satellites. The Soviet government was well aware of this situation. They knew that if any rebellion was successful in their territory, it would inspire many others to join in anti-Soviet activities. Realizing this, they knew they had to crush the Hungarian problem by any means necessary.
4. Theses proceedings show how seriously neighbouring satellites took the events in Hungary. There was a serious threat of other oppressed Soviet citizens rebelling against their governments and creating a debacle similar to that of Hungary. If the rebellion were to spread outside of Hungary, the Warsaw pact would likely completely destabilize as the countries who are supposed to come to each other’s aid would one by one break out into civil war.
Topic Sentence: The Hungarian Revolution threatened to destabilize the Warsaw Pact because the Soviet Union’s brutal treatment of the rebelling Hungarians caused global criticism and scrutiny of the USSR.
5. This source is a report in the form of telegram that was delivered from the Chinese embassy in Hungary to Chinese government. It describes fighting in the streets and the increasing severity of the counterrevolution in Budapest. This source is helpful to my argument because it shows how the events in Budapest were perceived outside of the Soviet Union. “Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, ‘The Situation in the Hungarian capital following the Outbreak of the Counterrevolutionary Rebellion.'” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. October 26, 1956. (accessed May 12, 2018) http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119973
6. This source is a telegram from the Chinese embassy to ask Hungarian officials how to spin the events that took place in Budapest. The telegram is an urgent message and asks specifically for instruction from the Soviet government. This helps my argument because it shows how general perception of the Soviet’s treatment of the Hungarians was poor, as evidenced by China’s want for a way to spin the events positively. “Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, ‘Please Inform Us of the Appropriate Attitude towards the Hungarian Events.'” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. October 28, 1956. (accessed May __, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119974
7. This source details the trips news organizations are making in and out of Hungary. The reporters had a surprisingly large amount of access to Budapest and Soviet officials. This source works in tandem with the source below to prove that the Soviets had a reason to be paranoid about the rest of the world’s perception of their actions. “Radio Free Europe Encrypted Telex MUN 70, Richard Condon to W. J. Conerey Egan.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. November 05, 1956. (accessed May 12, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/134609
8 . Report details troop movements in Hungary, its use is in the fact that the amount of troops sent was staggering. A total of 128 rifle divisions and 39 mechanized divisions were sent in to quell the budding rebellion. This source will be used with the source above to show that the Soviets had legitimate concerns about how their handling of the Hungarian Revolution looked to the world. Perevertkin, S. “Report from Soviet Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Perevertkin.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War Interational History Project. October 24, 1956. (accessed March 7, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111967.
5. As an ally of the USSR, China wanted to spin the Hungarian revolution in a way that made the Soviets seem stable and thus communism seem stable. In the first telegram, Chinese officials are given a report on the status of the fighting in Budapest. The city has been torn to shreds and many of its citizens with it. The reports were dire, and the Chinese were unsure how to spin Khrushchev’s actions in a positive way. The Chinese embassy in Hungary was so unsure of how to respond that they sent a telegram to their central government for instructions on how to report on the crisis. Even China, the USSR’s foremost ally, could not find a way to justify Khrushchev’s excessive use of force.
6. The situation in Budapest was dire. The rebels were not going down easily, and if the revolt were to grow beyond Hungary, it could destabilize the entire Soviet Union. Seeing this, Khrushchev responded without mercy by sending in more than 150 divisions of Soviet troops to utterly crush their revolution. Budapest was leveled in the process, killing thousands and causing 200,000 to flee from Hungary for safety in the West. Khrushchev’s treatment of the Hungarian people was nothing short of brutal and his attack plan was complete overkill. Pairing that with the surprising amount of access reporters were given to observe the events in Budapest, Khrushchev had a public perception nightmare on his hands. Journalists wrote of the the plight of the Hungarians, which caused massive global scrutiny to be focused on Khrushchev. The Soviets were already destabilized with the Hungarian Revolution alone, but that in addition to the international criticism dealt a permanent blow to the strength and global presence of the Soviet Union.
Topic Sentence: Although the Hungarian revolution threatened to destabilize the Warsaw Pact, it never caused the pact to actually collapse.
9 . This source is a report by the Bulgarian military that details the withdrawal of troops from Poland and the growing rebellion in Hungary. This source also details unrest in other satellite nations caused by the Hungarian revolution. This source helps my argument because it shows that the Hungarian revolution had repercussions throughout the communist bloc and caused mass de-stabilization.”Bulgarian Military Intelligence Information on the Situation in Hungary and Poland.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War Interational History Project. November 01, 1956. (accessed May 16, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112703
10. Report details troop movements in Hungary, its use is in the fact that the amount of troops sent was staggering. A total of 128 rifle divisions and 39 mechanized divisions were sent in to quell the budding rebellion. This source shows the severity with which the Soviet Union treated the events in Hungary. Perevertkin, S. “Report from Soviet Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Perevertkin.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. October 24, 1956. (accessed March 7, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111967.
11. This source was a telegram from the CPSU CC to the leader of the Communist party of Italy Palmiro Togliatti about the growing issues in Hungary. The telegram addressed the developing revolution and its threat to the communist bloc. This source is useful considering it shows that the Hungarian revolution had repercussions in all communist groups, not just those in the USSR. “Draft telegram to Italian Communist Leader Palmiro Togliatti.” Collection: 1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises. Cold War International History Project. October 31, 1956. (accessed May 17, 2018). http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/111974
7. There was massive unrest all over the communist bloc while Hungary was revolting. Protests broke out all across bordering satellite nations, threatening the iron grip Khrushchev had over the members of the Warsaw Pact. The fact that Hungarians could even stage a revolt without it being crushed within minutes under Soviet control was enough to stir up dissenters all across Eastern Europe. The figurehead leaders of several satellite nations had very little control over their people, thus forcing Khrushchev was to send troops to multiple satellites to keep maintain the stability of the Warsaw Pact. This action was a success, and brought an end to the crisis in Hungary and across the Communist Bloc.
8. The amount of Soviet troops sent to Hungary was staggering, especially considering how small the rebellion was at that time. The only fighting happening was in the streets of Buda, and a cautious general would send maybe 10 garrisons to quell such a small revolution. The force that was sent into Hungary shows how seriously Khrushchev took this small fight. The Soviet government was well aware of the growing anti-communist sentiment in satellite nations, and if such a rebellion in Hungary were to succeed, then other satellites could attempt similar revolts and one of the only things keeping the USSR safe, the Warsaw pact, would destabilize and likely collapse. However, Khrushchev’s troop deployment did end up quashing the rebellion.
9. Communism had a strong grasp on Europe during the Cold War. In the countries where it wasn’t the official governmental system, the communist groups held a good deal of power. Italy’s communist party was one of the strongest communist group outside of the USSR, and as the above telegram reveals, it was shaken by the events in Hungary. Palmiro Togliatti, its leader, expressed concern over the stability of the Communist party overall. The USSR, noticing that the incident in Hungary made them look weak, took that opportunity to deny all claims of instability. The Hungarian revolt made waves internationally and dealt a major blow to the solidity of the Warsaw pact.
1. Despite the fact that the USSr destroyed the Hungarian revolution within days of its genesis, it did lasting damage to the stability of the Warsaw pact in the forms of inspiration to other anti-Soviet groups and the way that it was dealt with caused international scrutiny and criticism of the Soviet Union.
2. The persistence of activists in Hungary was the driving force of their Revolution. Their actions showed that with enough effort and tenacity, revolution could be achieved and governments could be toppled. This gave other dissenters in other parts of the USSR hope that they could improve their own lives through activism. Additionally, the excessive force Khrushchev used in crushing the Hungarian Revolution brought on intense scrutiny from all parts of the World. This scrutiny ultimately weakened the Soviet Union’s standing in the world arena.
3. The Hungarian Revolution was stepping stone. It showed that it was possible for rebellion to occur within the Soviet Union. This showed dissatisfied soviets that if it could happen once, it could happen again, meaning that there was a way to tear down the Soviet Union successfully. Without the Hungarian Revolution, the protesters and activists who eventually helped cause the dissolution of the Soviet Union may have never had the hope that their efforts would succeed. Without the Hungarian Revolution, the Soviet Union may have collapsed at all.