Hungarian Revolution 1956 Timeline

Hungarian Revolution 1956

 This timeline details the main events of the Hungarian Revolution, also known as the Hungarian Uprising of 1956

See Also:
International Relations: The Cold War 1945 – 1991

Long Term Causes
1940 (20th November)
Tripartite Pact
Hungary signed this Pact and joined the Axis Powers in World War Two.
1944 (early)
Hungarian Prime Minister, Miklos Kallay sent secret messages to the Western Allies offering to negotiate a peace.
1944 (15th March)
Operation Margarethe
On Hitler’s orders, the Nazi army invaded and took control of Hungary.
1944 (29th October)
Budapest Offensive
The Soviet army launched an offensive on Hungary but were unable to take Budapest.
1945 (18th January)
Budapest Offensive
Budapest fell to the Soviets.
1945 (13th February)
Budapest Offensive
German troops in Hungary surrendered to the Soviet army.
1945 (4th November)
The Independent Smallholder’s Party won the Parliamentary election with 57% of the vote. However, the Soviets forced a coalition government with many positions being given to Communists.
1946 (5th March)
Left Bloc
This political alliance of left wing political parties was founded in Budapest.
1947 (31st August)
The Communist Party, led by Matyas Rakosi, won the election and formed a coalition with its Left Bloc allies.
1948 (during)
Political opponents of the Communist Party were imprisoned or exiled to Siberia.
1948 (26th December)
Head of the Catholic Church in Hungary, Cardinal Mindszenty, was arrested and charged with treason. He was tortured, forced to confess and sentenced to life imprisonment.
1949 (February)
The Left Bloc parties merged to become the Hungarian Independent People’s Front led by Matyas Rakosi.
1949 (15th May)
Matyas Rakosi became Prime Minister of Hungary after the Hungarian Independent People’s Front won the election with 97% of the vote.
Short Term Causes
1949 (20th August)
Matyas Rakosi announced Hungary was now The Hungarian People’s Republic, a one party state, governed by the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party which was loyal to the Soviet Union.
1949 (after 20th August)
Rakosi demanded absolute loyalty and used purges to eradicate opponents to the new regime. The secret police were used to detect anyone criticising Communism creating a culture of fear and suspicion. Industry was nationalised and collectivisation was introduced. With much of Hungary’s produce being shipped to the Soviet Union standards of living fell. Russian language was taught in schools and religious beliefs discouraged.
1953 (5th March)
Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union, died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 73 years. Georgy Malenkov took over as leader.
1953 (8th September)
Nikita Khrushchev forced Malenkov to resign and took over as leader of the Soviet Union.
1955 (14th May)
Warsaw Pact
This Pact, which was a response to the formation of NATO in the West, was formed. It bound Hungary to the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. Clauses in the alliance stating that there should be “respect for the independence and sovereignty of states” and “non-interference in their internal affairs” offered hope for greater autonomy or neutrality.
1956 (14th February)
Krushchev opened the 20th Communist Party Congress by asking delegates to honour those leaders that had died since the last Congress. Stalin’s death was included in the list and given no special mention.
1956 (25th February)
The Secret Speech
Khrushchev made this speech to a limited number of delegates behind closed doors. He spoke against Stalin denouncing his policy of repression and the imprisonment of enemies in the gulags.
1956 (5th March)
Details of Khrushchev’s Secret Speech quickly spread and people in Eastern Bloc countries hoped that greater freedom would follow.
1956 (18th July)
Matyas Rakosi was forced to resign by the Soviet Politburo due to his loyalty to Stalin. He was replaced by his deputy, Erno Gero. However, Gero was not a popular leader, and amid food and fuel shortages discontent was growing.
1956 (late July)
Petofi Circles
These were intellectual forums aimed at discussing the problems facing Hungary and seeking possible solutions.
1956 (6th October)
Laszlo Rajk, who had been executed by Rakosi, was reburied. This strengthened nationalism and opposition to Communism.
1956 (19th October)
Polish October
News reached Hungary that the Poles had won concessions from the Soviet Union for greater autonomy.
1956 (22nd October)
Sixteen Points
Students at the Technical University of Budapest drew up a list of sixteen points for reform. The points included withdrawal of Soviet troops, free elections, a living wage, readjustment of production quotas and freedom of speech.
Events of the Uprising
1956 (23rd October, afternoon)
Around 20,000 people rallied next to the statue of Josef Bern, a Polish General who had helped lead the Hungarians in 1848. Peter Veres read out the Sixteen Point manifesto. Afterwards, demonstrators moved to the Parliament building.
1956 (23rd October, 6 pm)
More people had come out onto the streets and around 200,000 people were now outside the Parliament building.
1956 (23rd October, 8 pm)
Party Leader Erno Gero made a broadcast condemning the Sixteen Points. This angered demonstrators and a 30 foot statue of Stalin was brought down.
1956 (23rd October, 9.30 pm)
Crowds gathered outside Radio Budapest which was guarded by the Secret Police. A group attempted to gain access and broadcast the Sixteen Points but was detained. The crowd became volatile and shots were fired by the Secret Police killing some protesters.
1956 (23rd October, late night)
After the firing of shots, demonstrators set fire to police cars and armed themselves from military depots. Hungarian soldiers were ordered to back the Secret Police but instead they tore the red stars from their caps and joined the protest. Party leader Erno Gero requested Soviet military action.
1956 (24th October, 2 am)
Soviet tanks entered Budapest.
1956 (24th October, 12 pm)
Soviet tanks and forces were stationed throughout Budapest. Armed demonstrators had set up barricades.
1956 (24th October)
Imre Nagy was appointed Prime Minister of Hungary. He made a broadcast calling for the violence to stop and promising to initiate reforms.
1956 (24th October, afternoon)
Armed protesters took control of Budapest Radio building. Other protesters attempted to take control of the Communist newspaper but were fired upon.
1956 (24th October, during)
In the Soviet Union, Khrushchev decided against military intervention in Hungary believing that the Communist Party still had the support of the majority of the population.
1956 (25th October)
Thousands of protesters continued to mass outside the Parliament building. The Secret Police fired shots into the crowd. Armed protesters fired back.
1956 (26th October)
The new Prime Minister, Imre Nagy, held talks with the Soviets and it was agreed that Soviet tanks would leave Budapest. Nagy believed he had the support of the United States.
1956 (28th October, 1.20pm)
Prime Minister Imre Nagy broadcast an immediate cease fire and declared that the government would establish democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
1956 (29th October, during)
Demonstrators took control of the Csepel Iron and Steel Works.
1956 (30th October, during)
Imre Nagy released a number of political prisoners including Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty. He also legalised other political parties. Furthermore, Nagy called for the support of those local revolutionary councils that had formed throughout the country during the uprising.
1956 (30th October, during)
Bela Kiraly, commander of the Hungarian National Guard, led a force that attacked the headquarters of the Communist Party in Republic Square and brutally executed or detained known or suspected Communists.
1956 (30th October, during)
Soviet leaders decided against removing Nagy’s new government and issued a statement that they were prepared to negotiate for a peaceful solution.
1956 (31st October, during)
Imre Nagy announced a number of reforms he proposed to introduce to a new democratic Hungary. He also announced that Hungary would withdraw from the Warsaw Pact. He asked for support from the United Nations.
1956 (31st October, during)
Soviet leaders changed their mind and decided to intervene in Hungary. The exact reason for this reversal is not known but may have been made after viewing video footage of the violence in Republic Square and witnessing the loss of Communist control or due to concern about Hungary withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact. Khruschev did not want to appear weak and he was also concerned that if Hungary abandoned Communism other Eastern Bloc countries would follow.
1956 (1st November, during)
Prime Minister, Imre Nagy formally declared that Hungary had withdrawn from the Warsaw Pact and was a neutral country. He asked for the support of the United Nations in preserving Hungarian neutrality.
1956 (1st November, during)
Nagy learned that Russian tanks and troops had crossed the Hungarian border and were advancing on Budapest.
1956 (3rd November, during)
Nagy announced the names of the members of the new government.
1956 (3rd November, during)
The new Minister of Defence, Pal Maleter and a Hungarian delegation were invited to Tokol to discuss a Soviet withdrawal.
1956 (3rd November, 9.30 pm)
Soviet tanks had encircled Budapest.
1956 (3rd November, midnight)
The Hungarian delegation in Tokol were arrested.
1956 (4th November, 3 am)
Soviet tanks were stationed at strategic points thoughout the city of Budapest.
1956 (4th November, 4.30 am)
Soviet forces launched their attack on Budapest. The Hungarian army tried to resist the assault.
1956 (4th November, 5.20 am)
Imre Nagy made a World broadcast that Hungary was under attack from the Soviet Union and called for Western aid. While western nations were sympathetic, intervention was problematic:
Sending military forces into Hungary was likely to lead to war with Russia and the possibility of nuclear strikes.
The Suez Crisis – On 30th October, the British and French had invaded Egypt to regain control of the Suez Canal and their forces were deployed there.
1956 (4th November, 6 am)
Janos Kadar declared Nagy’s government illegal and proclaimed the Hungarian Revolutionary Worker-Peasant Government. His new government was entirely Communist and supported by the Soviet Union.
1956 (4th November, 8 am)
the Parliamentary Guard laid down their weapons.
1956 (4th November, 8.07 am)
The Hungarian free radio station stopped broadcasting.
1956 (4th November, morning)
Imre Nagy sought refuge in the Yugoslav embassy.
1956 (10th November)
Fighting against the Soviets had continued in some regions. However, no aid had arrived from the West and the Hungarians did not have the resources to fight off the Soviets.
1956 (after 10th November)
Thousands of people were arrested, imprisoned and/or deported to the Soviet Union for their part in the Uprising.
1956 (22nd November)
Janos Kadar promised Nagy safe conduct out of Hungary. However, when Nagy left the embassy he was immediately captured and taken to Romania.
1958 (16th June)
Imre Nagy was returned to Budapest where he was tried in secret and executed by hanging.


Published Oct 20, 2019 @ 4:30 pm – Updated –¬†[last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2019). Hungarian Revolution 1956. Last accessed [date]

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