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The Hungarian Revolution

In the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, lasting from October 23 to November 4, students and workers revolted against Hungary’s Communist government, which was controlled by the Soviet Union. The Hungarian Revolution began when a group of university students gathered peacefully in front of a Budapest radio station on October 23rd. The students had created a list of demands that they wanted read on the air. The demands included free elections, the formation of a multi-party government system, the dissolution of the Hungarian secret police, and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary. The gathering grew to approximately 200,000 people, and the mood changed quickly from demonstration to protest.

A traumatic turning point came when the Hungarian secret police opened fire on the crowd. Shocked and angry by the brutal use of force against civilians, the protesters set fire to police cars. Arms-factory workers distributed guns among the masses. In the days that followed, similar demonstrations unfolded in other cities, such as Mosonmagyaróvár, author Bobbie Kalman’s home town. These revolts were put down by the Hungarian secret police in an equally severe way. When called upon to help the Hungarian government fight the protests, many soldiers chose to defect and fight alongside their fellow Hungarians.

During this time, Imre Nagy was made prime minister. He abolished the secret police and declared Hungary to be an independent nation. Hungarians freed political prisoners and celebrated their freedom. But on November 4, 1956, the Soviet government sent more than 6,000 tanks and infantry into Budapest, crushing the Revolution once and for all. Although the Hungarian Revolution was brief, tens of thousands of Hungarians and Soviets were killed, and thousands more were wounded. In the months after the Revolution, nearly a quarter of a million people fled the country and became refugees. Bobbie Kalman was one of them.

The Hungarian Revolution is an important event in history that should not be forgotten. Although Hungary remained a Communist country for many years after the Revolution, the bravery of the Hungarians inspired people in many other Communist nations to begin fighting for their freedom. This goal was achieved in Hungary in 1989, with the fall of the Communist government. Hungary was officially declared a republic on the 33rd anniversary of the Revolution. October 23rd is now a national holiday in Hungary.

Refugee Child pages 210-211

Refugee Child pages 216-217
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Copyright Crabtree Publishing 2006