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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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1956 Polish and Hungarian Crises

The uprising began in Hungary as a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the People's Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, while in Poland similar political uprisings began in October 1956. The documents, most of which are working notes, are from 1956 and come from Russian and Bulgarian archives. See also, the Nikita Khrushchev Collection, and the Warsaw Pact. (Image, head of a toppled Stalin statue in Budapest, 1956)

  • November 08, 1956

    Letter of the CC UCY to the CC CPSU with an exposition of the views of the leadership of the UCY on the events in Hungary

    In this letter, the Central Committee of Yugoslavia responds to the CC CPSU over questions concerning Yugoslavia’s decision to provide shelter to Nagy and his group at their embassy. The letter begins by expressing agreement on the weakness of Nagy’s government, the need to form a new government under Kadar, and the existence of “honest communists” in Nagy’s government that could assist Kadar. The letter relates that Yugoslavia cannot hand Nagy and his group over to authorities because of the domestic consequences of such an action. The correspondence ends with both the suggestion of amnesty for Nagy and Yugoslavia’s disavowal of any connection to Nagy or the uprising.

  • November 09, 1956

    Radio Free Europe Encrypted Telex MUN 157, Richard Condon to W. J. Conerey Egan

    Richard Condon, Radio Free Europe (RFE) European Director reports on the border situation in late October and RFE staff who entered Hungary to report on the developing revolt there.

  • November 09, 1956

    Department of State, Incoming Telegram No. 1129

    US Ambassador to Moscow Charles Bohlen reports that he is sending a personal note to Foreign Affairs Minister Gromyko.

  • November 09, 1956

    Department of State, Incoming Telegram No. 1130

    Text of a personal note sent by Ambassador Bohlen to Foreign Affairs Minister Gromyko regarding an American citizen being detained in Hungary.

  • November 11, 1956

    Department of State, Incoming Telegram No. 1270

    The Embassy in Vienna reports that Radio Free Europe (RFE) staff recently detained in Hungary arrived safely in Austria.

  • November 12, 1956

    Radio Free Europe Encrypted Telex MUN 135, Richard Condon to W. J. Conerey Egan

    Richard Condon, Radio Free Europe (RFE) European Director reports the release of RFE staff from detention in Gyor, Hungary.

  • November 19, 1956

    Letter, Young Kee Kim to Chung Whan Cho

    Young Kee Kim reports Minister Cho on the Korean high school basketball team's trip in Philippines, foreign trade statistics produced by the Netherlands legation, and the direct procurement by the Philippines mission in Tokyo.

  • November 24, 1956

    Radiogram, Korpital to Manila

    A message urging President Magsaysay to sign the message sent to President Eisenhower, about responding to the events in Hungary.

  • November 26, 1956

    Memorandum from the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Adam Rapacki] to Minister of National Defense Marian Spychalski

    The Minister of Foreign Affairs requests the Ministry of National Defense's consideration of the Treaty on the Status of Soviet Forces Stationed in Poland prior to negotiations in Moscow.

  • November 27, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 27 November 1956 (Re: Protocol No. 60)

    These notes (part of the Malin Collection) describe Romanian leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej’s decision to negotiate with Yugoslavia regarding the fate of Imre Nagy after his arrest and transfer to Romania. The notes state that negotiations are inadvisable and remain the responsibility of Hungary. A second section of the document refers to instructions to the KGB for discrediting Nagy.

  • November 30, 1956

    Report No. 102 from Young Kee Kim to Syngman Rhee

    Young Kee Kim briefs President Rhee on the cable message to President Eisenhower from Korea, China, Vietnam, etc, about taking concrete action on the Hungarian Revolution, which the Philippines declines to sign.

  • December 03, 1956

    Cable from Zhou Enlai to Mao Zedong and the Central Committee, 'Discussion with Nehru on the Hungary Issue'

    Zhou Enlai reports on his discussion with Nehru concerning the events in Hungary.

  • December 28, 1956

    Third World Reaction to Hungary and Suez, 1956: A Soviet Foreign Ministry Analysis

    Tugarinov wrote this overview of reactions to the events in Hungary and Suez by third world nations. Tugarinov reports that the events in Hungary and the Near East increased the prestige of the United States.

  • January 10, 1957

    Memorandum on the Warsaw Treaty and the Development of the Armed Forces of the People's Republic of Poland

    The Polish general staff analyzes the military obligations mandated by the Warsaw Treaty and how stated obligations are not compatible with Polish policy. Proposals for revision of the military articles of the Warsaw Treaty are outlined.

  • January 11, 1957

    Notes from the Completed Discussions of 11 and 12 January 1957 between the Delegates of the Chinese People’s Republic and Poland (Excerpts)

    Gomulka describes the 1956 Polish protests and his confrontation with Soviet authorities.

  • January 28, 1957

    Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, ‘Chinese Embassy to Hungary’s 1956 Annual Summary and the Submission of the 1957 Work Plan’ (Excerpt)

    The Chinese Embassy in Budapest describes some of the problems which occurred as the Embassy attempted to follow and react to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

  • June 24, 1957

    Minutes of the Meeting of the CPSU CC Plenum on the State of Soviet Foreign Policy

    The Soviet leadership discusses the state of Soviet foreign policy after the Hungarian crisis and Khrushchev’s visit to the US. Molotov criticizes Khrushchev for recklessness in foreign policy direction. Soviet inroads in the Middle East and the Third World are analyzed. The effects of the crises in Eastern Europe are placed in the context of the struggle against US imperialism.

  • November 20, 1960

    Record of Conversation between Polish Delegation (Gomułka et al.) and Chinese Communist Politburo Member Liu Shaoqi, Moscow

    Liu Shaoqi, Peng Zhen, and Gomułka discuss problems within the communist bloc since 1956.

  • January 31, 1989

    Minutes of the Meeting of the HSWP CC Political Committee

    Minutes of the meeting of the HSWP CC Political Committee on the Historical Subcommittee of the Central Committee’s description of the events of 1956 as a people’s uprising rather than a counterrevolution. Editor's note: On 23 June 1988, the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party Central Committee established a committee to analyze Hungary’s political, economic and social development during the preceding thirty years. The panel, headed by Imre Pozsgay, 5 a politburo member and minister of state, included party officials and social scientists. After several months of examining pertinent archival documents, the Historical Subcommittee (one of four working groups) completed and discussed its final report at its meeting on 27 January 1989. Most sensationally, the report described what occurred in 1956 in Hungary as not a “counterrevolution” (as Moscow and the regime it installed in Budapest headed by János Kádár had long insisted) but a people’s uprising. This very point was announced by Imre Pozsgay in an interview on both the morning news program and the next day, on the most popular political journal of Hungarian Radio, “168 hours,” without any prior consultation with the political leadership. The issue triggered a serious crisis in the Party and eventually served as a very important catalyst in the transition process. The following excerpt reflects the first reaction of the Politburo members. (EXCERPT)

  • June 16, 1989

    KGB Chief Kryuchkov’s Report, 16 June 1989

    KGB Chief Kryuchkov reports that research into Soviet repression in the 1930’s through 1950’s reveals that Imre Nagy willingly worked for the NKVD as an informant. Using the pseudonym “Volodya,” Nagy information is said to have led to sentences for Hungarian émigrés. Kryuchkov states that the documents should be shown to the Secretary General of the HSWP and possibly used in response to calls for Nagy’s rehabilitation.