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Oct 21 2015

Hungarian National Day at the HQ of NRDC-ITA marks the revolution of 1956

On 21st October 2015, Hungarian National Day celebrations took place in the function room of the Non-Commissioned Officers’ Club of Ugo Mara barracks in Solbiate Olona. Brigadier General Zoltan Gulyas, the Hungarian Senior National Representative, welcomed the guests of honour: General Consul Judit Vilma Timaffy, Commander of NATO Rapid Deployable Corps - Italy (NRDC-ITA) Lt. General Riccardo Marchiò, and NRDC-ITA Chief of Staff Major General Maurizio Boni, as well as all the guests from the 12 NATO Nations that contribute to NRDC-ITA. October 23rd marks the first day of the Hungarian Revolution and the Freedom Fighting of 1956. Peaceful demonstrations were held on this day throughout Budapest, many organized by students, demanding free elections, freedom of the press, and a withdrawal of the Soviet troops stationed in Hungary. Demonstrators were also demanding that the former Prime Minister Imre Nagy, dismissed for his liberal policies, be returned to power. International events, such as “Polish October”, Poland’s successful uprising when the Soviets gave in and acknowledged a liberal leader, gave much hope to Hungarians. As more and more people joined the rally, it turned into a mass demonstration. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets and at 8 pm the Hungarian Communist Party made an unscheduled radio announcement denouncing the demonstrators’ demands. They were driven back by state security police with brutal force claiming fatalities. The incident marked the start of an escalation of violence creating a nationwide uprising Despite the police brutality and presence of Soviet tanks in the streets the uprising continued for days. Clashes between demonstrators and armed police broke out, killing hundreds. Following the ceasefire agreed on October 28, Soviet troops began pulling out of Budapest on the 30th October. Imre Nagy was named Prime Minister and formed a new government. By November 4, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent in the tanks with reinforcements and brought about a bloody end to the revolution. Thousands of people died and over 200,000 fled the country. In the immediate aftermath thousands of Hungarians were arrested. Several hundred were executed and hundreds more were deported to the Soviet Union. As well as reinstating a Soviet controlled government, the Soviet Union increased its permanent troop levels in Hungary. Imre Nagy was executed in 1958 after a secret trial in Budapest. Under communist rule, October 23rd was considered a counter-revolution - and all commemorations were banned. Oct 23rd 1956 is a day that all Hungarians today are free to commemorate, and to remember after public discussion about this revolution was suppressed in Hungary for more than 30 years. In 1989, after the fall of communism, Hungary was declared a republic and 23 October was declared a national holiday.

Story by NRDC Public Affairs Office


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