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Made with ♡ in Warsaw

1956

 

Hungarian Revolution a nationwide revolt against Soviet-imposed policies is crushed after days of bitter fighting

The problems in Hungary began in October 1956, when thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding a more democratic political system and freedom from Soviet oppression. In response, Communist Party officials appointed Imre Nagy, a former premier who had been dismissed from the party for his criticisms of Stalinist policies, as the new premier. Nagy tried to restore peace and asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops. The Soviets did so, but Nagy then tried to push the Hungarian revolt forward by abolishing one-party rule. He also announced that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet bloc’s equivalent of NATO).

On November 4, 1956, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to crush, once and for all, the national uprising. Vicious street fighting broke out, but the Soviets’ great power ensured victory. At 5:20 a.m., Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced the invasion to the nation in a grim, 35-second broadcast, declaring: “Our troops are fighting. The Government is in place.” Within hours, though, Nagy sought asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. He was captured shortly thereafter and executed two years later. Nagy’s former colleague and imminent replacement, János Kádár, who had been flown secretly from Moscow to the city of Szolnok, 60 miles southeast of the capital, prepared to take power with Moscow’s backing.

The Soviet action stunned many people in the West. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had pledged a retreat from the Stalinist policies and repression of the past, but the violent actions in Budapest suggested otherwise. An estimated 2,500 Hungarians died and 200,000 more fled as refugees. Sporadic armed resistance, strikes and mass arrests continued for months thereafter, causing substantial economic disruption. Inaction on the part of the United States angered and frustrated many Hungarians. Voice of America radio broadcasts and speeches by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had recently suggested that the United States supported the “liberation” of “captive peoples” in communist nations. Yet, as Soviet tanks bore down on the protesters, the United States did nothing beyond issuing public statements of sympathy for their plight.

SOURCE: History.com

Further Reading

Wikipedia

Budapest Beacon - The Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Eyewitness To History - The Hungarian Revolution

Magnum Photos - The Hungarian Revolution

Time - A Rip in the Iron Curtain: Photos From the Hungarian Revolution

Warfare History NetworkFreedom or Death: The Hungarian Uprising of 1956

 

Suez Crisis - Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser nationalizes the strategic Suez Canal, prompting an invasion by British, French and Israeli forces, but ultimately ending with a humiliating withdrawal

The catalyst for the joint Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt was the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in July 1956. The situation had been brewing for some time. Two years earlier, the Egyptian military had begun pressuring the British to end their military presence (which had been granted in the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty) in the canal zone. Nasser’s armed forces also engaged in sporadic battles with Israeli soldiers along the border between the two countries, and the Egyptian leader did nothing to conceal his antipathy toward the Zionist nation.

Supported by Soviet arms and money, and furious with the United States for reneging on a promise to provide funds for construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River, Nasser ordered the Suez Canal seized and nationalized. The British were angry with the move and sought the support of France (which believed that Nasser was supporting rebels in the French colony of Algeria) and Israel (which needed little provocation to strike at the enemy on its border) in an armed assault to retake the canal.

The Israelis struck first, on October 26, 1956. Two days later, British and French military forces joined them. Originally, forces from the three countries were set to strike at once, but the British and French troops were delayed.

Behind schedule, but ultimately successful, the British and French troops took control of the area around the Suez Canal. However, their hesitation had given the Soviet Union–also confronted with a growing crisis in Hungary–time to respond. The Soviets, eager to exploit Arab nationalism and gain a foothold in the Middle East, supplied arms from Czechoslovakia to the Egyptian government beginning in 1955, and eventually helped Egypt construct the Aswan Dam on the Nile River after the United States refused to support the project. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev railed against the invasion and threatened to rain down nuclear missiles on Western Europe if the Israeli-French-British force did not withdraw.

The response of President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration was measured. It warned the Soviets that reckless talk of nuclear conflict would only make matters worse, and cautioned Khrushchev to refrain from direct intervention in the conflict. However, Eisenhower (1890-1969) also issued stern warnings to the French, British and Israelis to give up their campaign and withdraw from Egyptian soil. Eisenhower was upset with the British, in particular, for not keeping the United States informed about their intentions. The United States threatened all three nations with economic sanctions if they persisted in their attack. The threats did their work. The British and French forces withdrew by December; Israel finally bowed to U.S. pressure in March 1957.

Nasser emerged from the crisis a hero in the Arab world, while the UK and France were left red-faced by their most senior ally. By checking old Britain's and France's ambitions, the US had reinforced its dominance on the world stage, serving a painful reminder to  that the days of old imperial glory were coming to an end.

SOURCE: History.com

Further Reading

Wikipedia

Al Jazeera - The 1956 Suez War

National Army Museum - The Suez Crisis

The Guardian - 1956: Suez and the End of Empire