4 November

1956: The Soviet air force bombs parts of Budapest, while hundreds of Soviet tanks lead a full-scale ground invasion of Hungary in response to a national uprising against Soviet control.

November 4, 2009 · 2 min read

The invasion leads to a deep crisis in the international communist movement, with hundreds of thousands quitting communist parties worldwide (see 23 October). The British Communist Party member and Daily Worker correspondent Peter Fryer is disciplined for publishing reports critical of the Soviet Union. In his book Hungarian Tragedy, first published in December 1956, he writes:

‘Look at the hell that Rákosi made of Hungary and you will see an indictment, not of Marxism, not of Communism, but of Stalinism.

‘Hypocrisy without limit; medieval cruelty; dogmas and slogans devoid of life or meaning; national pride outraged; poverty for all but a tiny handful of leaders who lived in luxury, with mansions on Rózsadomb, Budapest’s pleasant Hill of Roses (nicknamed by people “Hill of Cadres”), special schools for their children, special well-stocked shops for their wives – even special bathing beaches at Lake Balaton, shut off from the common people by barbed wire.

‘And to protect the power and privileges of this Communist aristocracy, the AVH – and behind them the ultimate sanction, the tanks of the Soviet Army. Against this disgusting caricature of Socialism our British Stalinists would not, could not, dared not protest; nor do they now spare a word of comfort or solidarity or pity for the gallant people who rose at last to wipe out the infamy, who stretched out their yearning hands for freedom, and who paid such a heavy price.’


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