The very first attempt by Hungary to get out of the dictate of the Kremlin threatened not just a repetition of 1919. As an independent power in some way, Hungary found itself on the brink of self-destruction. But it was the timely and even a little belated intervention in the Hungarian affairs of the Soviet Union that prevented all this, no matter how much the anti-Soviets disputed it. However, as it turns out now, for Khrushchev and his henchmen, this turned out to be nothing more than the first European "run-in" of public anti-Stalinism.
At the end of February 1957, some of the last surviving leaders of the anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary were shot - Katalin Sticker, Jozsef Sjöres and Jozsef Toth. Moreover, the first two fled to Austria in December 1956, but soon returned to Hungary under the amnesty announced by Budapest. Despite this, they were arrested and shot. According to a number of data, Khrushchev personally insisted on their execution, although the new leader of the Hungarian communists, Janos Kadar, believed that such an insidious deception discredited both Hungary itself and its leaders, who, as they said then, came to power on the armor of Soviet tanks.
However, Nikita Sergeevich also showed himself in the Hungarian crisis as a completely consistent anti-Stalinist. It is clear that this only contributed to discrediting the communist idea itself, the socialist system, which was too far from being built in Hungary. Whether Khrushchev was aware of this or consciously ignored it is a topic for a separate study.
Yes, the introduction of Soviet troops into Hungary is still officially considered there as direct aggression by the USSR. And today it is difficult to find a province in this country where the numerous victims of those events would not be honored. But it is characteristic that many Hungarian historians, already of the post-socialist period, now believe that there would have been much more casualties and chaos if the Soviet army had not entered the country at the end of October 1956.
The losses of the Soviet army during that operation, or rather, even two, according to official data, amounted to 669 people killed, 51 missing and 1251 wounded. At the same time, from mid-October to the end of November 1956, at least 3,000 Hungarian insurgents died and went missing. The number of those killed and missing on the other side of the front - the Hungarian communists and their family members - during these days was also very large, exceeding 3200 people. At the same time, more than 500 civilians were killed, but the number of wounded was established absolutely precisely - 19,226 people.
Former Hungarian ambassador to the USSR, Gyula Rapai, who held this post in the 1970s and early 1980s, noted that “demonstrations and other non-military actions against communists during the spring and summer of 1956 were too quickly replaced by unbridled anti-communist terror. The rebels clearly felt support behind them. Terror and repression on the part of the "right" met with resistance, and the situation took on all the signs of a civil war, much more bloody, albeit without a definite front line. Some of his contemporaries said: "the front line ran through every house, through every courtyard."
Hungary by November 1956 plunged into bloody chaos, which was promptly stopped with the entry of Soviet troops into the country. Why Soviet propaganda preferred to keep silent about this is a separate question, but after all, all this could have been prevented altogether. On one condition - if the top Soviet leadership did not lose control over the situation and contribute to a competent, moreover, timely correction of the mistakes of the Stalin and Rakosi period.
However, none of this happened, and the corresponding vacuum in power began to quickly replenish forces, which at first gradually, and soon quite openly, led the line towards the erosion of socialism in all spheres. Moreover, the emphasis was placed on open anti-Sovietism and Russophobia, when the "elder brother" was immediately reminded of everything, up to the suppression of the Hungarian uprising of 1848-49.
Gyula Rapai, and he is not alone, emphasizes that the leadership of the USSR, which came to power after Stalin's death, almost immediately lost control over the situation not only in Hungary, but also in Czechoslovakia and Poland. The diplomat in his memoirs makes an unequivocal conclusion that if "this was done, nevertheless, not intentionally, then this is the unique incompetence of the Soviet leaders and the analysts who worked for them."
But is it possible to forget that the initial blows of the opposition, still ideological, in the literal sense, were directed at Stalin and Stalin's targets in Hungary? Therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume that the Hungarian oppositionists were actually "released from the brakes" because it was beneficial to Khrushchev and his comrades. They were eager to accelerate de-Stalinization in the USSR and free the mausoleum on Red Square from Stalin. Not otherwise than for Nikita Sergeevich.
The indiscriminate vilification of Stalin and the Stalinist period both in the USSR and Eastern Europe in those days was only gaining momentum, but the flywheel was already running. Is it any wonder that eight years later, in July 1964, Khrushchev chose Janos Kadar as a listener when, at a reception in Moscow in his honor, he decided to actually confess to the violent elimination of the "leader of the peoples."
During the summer and autumn of 1956, a campaign of outright mockery of the monuments to Stalin was launched in Hungary, and at the same time over a number of memorials to the memory of Soviet soldiers. There was practically no reaction from Moscow. It was from Hungary that the campaign of renaming streets and squares began, which spread to other countries and the USSR only in the early 60s.
Meanwhile, Molotov, Kaganovich, Bulganin and Shepilov, already in 1955, when the process had not yet entered a hot stage, more than once called on Khrushchev to carry out operational changes in the Hungarian leadership. Future members of the anti-party group, of which only Georgy Malenkov remained silent, tried to forestall anti-Soviet protests.
However, in response, everything was done exactly the opposite: in July 1956, at the suggestion of Khrushchev personally, the head of the Hungarian Workers' Party Matthias Rakosi, a convinced Marxist and sincere, no matter how official it sounds now, a friend of the Soviet Union, was removed from his post. He was the leader of the Hungarian communists since 1947, having managed to effectively keep the country in the sphere of Soviet influence. But being in Moscow in the spring of 1956 at the notorious XX Congress of the CPSU, Rakosi was one of the first to sharply condemn Khrushchev's anti-Stalinist report.
And this is what the Kremlin seems to have not forgiven him for. After all, Matthias Rakosi, in fact, not without reason believed that “Khrushchev's lies about Stalin were modernly planted in Moscow from the West. And this was done in order, among other things, to facilitate the infiltration of Western agents into the leading structures of the countries of the socialist camp. And from top to bottom. And everything should have ended with the collapse of the socialist community and the Soviet Union."
Khrushchev and his associates could not help but be irritated by the fact that Rakoshi, together with Mao Zedong, shortly after the 20th Congress of the CPSU, called for the creation of a bloc of Communist Parties "In Defense of Socialism." This soon, already in the same 1956, was approved by the communists of Albania, Romania and North Korea, as well as twenty communist parties of post-colonial and capitalist countries. It is no surprise that for such assessments and actions, Rakosi in September 1956, in a completely Stalinist way, was exiled first to the Kyrgyz town of Tokmak, and then to Gorky, where he died in 1971.
At the same time, soon after the death of Stalin, the notorious Imre Nagy became the head of the Hungarian Council of Ministers instead of Rakosi. Now he is unequivocally recognized in Hungary as a hero, to whom an actually quite nice monument was erected in Budapest not far from the parliament building.
Imre Nagy then very timely headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, having an excellent opportunity to freely consult with colleagues from the West. He was released from a long arrest in Budapest, he was considered the "man" of Josip Broz Tito in the Hungarian leadership, and later became the de facto head of the Hungarian anti-Soviet uprising.
However, the "accession" of Nagy happened already at the final stage of the uprising. Before that, there were student speeches, mass demonstrations and the introduction of Soviet troops - in fact, a second one, carried out after several requests from the official leadership of Hungary. But even earlier, in mid-April 1955, Nadya was dismissed, but it was he who was returned to the post of prime minister in the most terrible days when the uprising reached its climax: from October 24 to November 4, 1956. Hardly anyone will doubt it was a coincidence …
Until Soviet tanks entered Budapest, soon supported by several regiments of the Hungarian army, the small number of Hungarian state security officers could not oppose the uprising. Many even tried to hide, many were arrested right on the streets of Budapest.
And it was during these days that the Hungarian communists and their families, who tried to hide from terror, with rare exceptions, could not obtain asylum even in the Soviet embassy. At the same time, it was provided by the embassies of the PRC, DPRK, Albania, Romania and North Korea. These facts were subsequently made public by Beijing and Tirana, and were mentioned in the media of Yugoslavia, Romania, North Korea. But after that, when the uprising was suppressed, many of its activists "went" to the West through Yugoslavia, and Marshal Tito did not react in any way to Khrushchev's regular protests on this matter.
As for the "transformations" with Imre Nagy, they clearly could not have been carried out without the knowledge of Moscow. The appointment of Yuri Andropov as the Ambassador of Hungary in mid-1954 can also be called indicative. The future all-powerful head of the KGB and Soviet leader remained in office in Budapest until the spring of 1957. Andropov was not just in constant close contact with the Hungarian prime minister. It was he who, according to data released in recent years, made sure that Nagy was given a "recommendation" to forestall the uprising.
How? Simple enough - to involve its potential participants in the destruction of the 10-meter Stalin monument, installed in the center of Budapest. This was done at the beginning of October 1956: the monument was solemnly overthrown, and the bacchanalia was accompanied by mass spitting and physical needs on all parts of the defeated monument. Imre Nagy himself probably did everything he could to avoid a lot of blood, but it did not help him.
PRC Premier Zhou Enlai, the heads of Albania, Romania and the DPRK - Enver Hoxha, Georgi Georgiu-Dej and Kim Il Sung immediately suggested that Khrushchev remove Nagy and return Rakosi to the Hungarian leadership. And also to prevent the anti-Stalinist excesses in Hungary. But in vain.
But it was Imre Nagy who managed to officially announce Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and within a few days regular Soviet troops entered Hungary. The second time, since the first entry of troops was unsuccessful, which even Marshal G. K. Zhukov admitted.
After a false report that the rebels would surrender their weapons, the Hungarian army refused to storm the center of the capital, and Soviet troops left Budapest in two days, on October 29-30. The uprising seemed to have won. A real hunt for communists and their supporters began almost immediately in the city. Dozens of people fell victim to lynching by angry mobs, into which criminals and war criminals released by the Nagy government from prisons joined. These "revolutionaries" seized the capital's committee of the UPT, and hanged more than 20 communists. Their photographs with traces of torture and faces disfigured by acid went around the world.
The Kremlin, despite Andropov's blatant telegrams, was in no hurry to intervene. However, the Suez crisis that flared up in the last days of October and the Franco-British invasion of Egypt were perceived by official Moscow as a kind of carte blanche for actions in Hungary. It is very indicative that the leaders of all the allied states of Hungary, including Poland, Yugoslavia, China, who at first welcomed the uprising, agreed that the socialist system in the country can be saved only through military intervention.
Soviet tanks entered Budapest again. And if during the first invasion they tried to act as in a peaceful city, now nothing could stop the tankers. The suppression of the uprising, Operation Whirlwind, took less than a week. Prime Minister Imre Nagy was arrested and taken to Romania, and in June 1958 he was shot, as quickly as was done under Stalin. It is clear that an open trial of Nagy and his "colleagues" would have been a public verdict on the double-dealing of the Khrushchevites. Therefore, the closed court, sentencing Imre Nagy and a number of his associates to death, was short-lived and ruthless.
Let us allow ourselves something like a version, on the basis of which the Hungarian "Maidan" could be skillfully provoked not only and not so much by the West, which is interested in splitting the communist bloc. The possible split did not in the least embarrass the Kremlin leadership, which openly missed the "Hungarian victim", but decided to take advantage of the situation in order to further discredit Stalin. And this inevitably led to the erosion of socialism and the discrediting of the communist parties themselves, and not only in Eastern Europe.