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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 01, 1956

    Bulgarian Military Intelligence Information on the Situation in Hungary and Poland

    This intelligence report discusses the domestic political developments in Poland after the ascent of Wladyslaw Gomulka to the top of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR).The events surrounding the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 are also mentioned.

  • November 01, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 1 November 1956

    At this session of the Presidium, Mikoyan argues that in the face of a universal demand for troop withdrawal the best option is to support the Hungarian government. Mikoyan promotes negotiations over force. The other members support the application of force to put down the uprising. Supporters of force refer to the necessity of keeping Hungary within the Soviet sphere and preventing the uprising from spreading to other Eastern European nations.

  • November 02, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 2 November 1956

    A plan outlining military measures against Hungary was presented at this session of the Presidium. The notes reflect that fear of fascist influence in Hungary motivated adoption.

  • November 02, 1956

    Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, ‘The Hungarian Paper Justice Incorrectly Interpreted Our Statement’

    The Chinese Embassy in Budapest reports that the "counterrevolutionaries intentionally misinterpreted" China's stance on the events in Hungary

  • November 02, 1956

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, ‘On Our Attitude towards Hungary’

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry says that "'much listening, little speaking' is necessary” with regards to the Hungarian Revolution.

  • November 02, 1956

    Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, ‘On the Meeting between Imre Nagy and Ambassador Hao Deqing’

    The Chinese Embassy in Hungary provides a lengthy report on the talks between Imre Nagy and Hao Deqing.

  • November 02, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 2 November 1956

    The CPSU CC Presidium is confronted with reports from Hungary of mass demonstrations, armed counterrevolutionary groups, and the support for Nagy by the opposition. The CC is told about the Hungarian decision to declare neutrality and the likely confrontation between Soviet and Hungarian troops should the former continue to advance toward Budapest. Also discussed is the split within the HWP and possible Soviet responses.

  • November 02, 1956

    Record of Conversation from Premier Zhou’s receiving of the Hungarian Ambassador to China Ágoston Szkladán on his Farewell Visit

    Zhou Enlai and Hungarian Ambassador to China Ágoston Szkladán discuss the ongoing Hungarian Revolution, and Szkladán asks for economic assistance from the other Communist countries for this issue.

  • November 03, 1956

    Notes of a Secure Phone Call from the Soviet Ambassador in Romania, A. A. Epishev

    Imre Nagy reports that Soviet troops plan to enter Romania, and contacts Gheorghiu-Dej for advice on how to proceed.

  • November 03, 1956

    Imre Horvath’s Notes of Khrushchev’s Speech at the 3 November Session

    In this speech, Khrushchev admits that the lack of Hungarian leaders is his own fault. He criticizes Rakosi and Gero for poor leadership and for excluding Imre Nagy from the party. Regret is expressed for not removing Rakosi earlier. Khrushchev states that the Soviet Union can not be on the sidelines, and remarks that unless forced into retirement Nagy will work with the enemy.

  • November 03, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 3 November 1956, with Participation by J. Kadar, F. Munnich, and I. Horvath

    Kadar argues that the source of mistakes in the past resulted from the monopoly that a handful of Hungarians had on relations with the Soviet Union. Rakosi is singled out as a source for previous difficulties. Kadar believes that forming a new revolutionary government is the only way to undermine the violence of the counterrevolution and prevent Nagy from acting as cover for such activities. To garner support amongst workers, Kadar argues that the new government must not be a Soviet puppet.

  • November 04, 1956

    Cable, N. Firiubin to Soviet Foreign Ministry

    In this coded telegram, the Soviet Ministry is informed of Imre Nagy’s location at the Yugolsav embassy in Budapest. Firiubin reports that the Yugoslavs are attempting to obtain a statement from Nagy in support of Kadar’s new government. Tito is noted as requesting that the Soviet government not repress communists who ‘did not immediately take the correct line’ during the uprising and that the Soviet government protect the Yugoslav embassy from potential attack.

  • November 04, 1956

    Zhukov report on the situation in Hungary as of 12 noon

    Zhukov reports on the progress made by Soviet troops entering Hungary. He writes that troops have recaptured key institutions and buildings in Budapest and the provinces. Zhukov notes that the government of Imre Nagy has gone into hiding and that to prevent the escape of insurgents and leaders the Soviet army has occupied the airports and closed off roads along the border with Austria. The report describes remaining areas of resistance such as the Corwin Theater in Budapest.

  • November 04, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 4 November 1956

    At this session of the CPSU CC, Molotov raises concerns over the new Hungarian government’s decision to condemn the “Rakosi-Gero clique” and call for the condemnation of Stalinism. Molotov argues that the CC must exert influence on Kadar to prevent Hungary from going the way of Yugoslavia. The session also discusses recommendations for purging higher educational institutions and Kadar’s withdrawal of appeals to the UN for assistance.

  • November 04, 1956

    Stenographic record of a 4 November 1956 meeting of Party activists

    Khrushchev describes the events of the counterrevolution in Hungary and the crisis in Poland. He recounts the CPSU's consultations with other communist parties in the socialist camp to determine their attitude toward Soviet intervention, particularly in Hungary. Leaders from China, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia agreed with the Soviet position, but Polish leaders opposed the presence of Soviet troops in Hungary. Khrushchev reports that following these meetings, the CPSU CC Presidium decided to prepare for an attack on the counterrevolutionary forces in Hungary. He then reads aloud an open letter which declares the Hungarian Revolutionary Workers and Peasants Government. He gives details about the suppression of the counterrevolution by Soviet armed forces and the positive reaction of the socialist countries. He states that the lessons of the counterrevolution are to improve relations with the fraternal parties and the socialist countries and to treat them with respect; to improve political work among students and the masses so that they are not mislead by counterrevolutionaries; and to strengthen the Soviet Army.

  • November 05, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 5 November 1956

    Members of the CPSU CC Presidium consider changing the name of the Hungarian Worker’s Party (HWP).

  • November 05, 1956

    Radio Free Europe Encrypted Telex MUN 70, Richard Condon to W. J. Conerey Egan

    Richard Condon, the European Director of Radio Free Europe in Munich, messages with information about RFE personnel still inside Hungary.

  • November 06, 1956

    Working Notes from the Session of the CPSU CC Presidium on 6 November 1956

    Debate occurs at this CC session between Molotov, who opposes approving the appeal written by the Provisional CC of the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party, and the other members of the CC who desire approving the document. Molotov is concerned about the unknown composition of the CC of the HSWP, the condemnations of former Hungarian Worker’s Party (HWP) politicians, the issue of renaming the HWP, and the risk that Hungary will become the next Yugoslavia. Khrushchev states that Molotov is “clung to the cult of Stalin” and that Molotov is considering bringing back Rakosi and Hegedus.

  • November 07, 1956

    From the diary of D.T. Shepilov

    In his diary, Shepilov pledges to investigate the circumstances surrounding tank fire near the Yugoslav embassy in Budapest. Promises are made to investigate the story and report back to Yugoslavian officials. Shepilov notes that Yugoslavian Ambassador Micunovic agrees with judgments made about Nagy. Shepilov expresses consternation at how Yugoslavia can provide refuge for Nagy and condemn him. References to a meeting in Brioni between Khrushchev, Malenkov and Tito detail the opinions of Yugoslav and Soviet officials concerning Nagy.

  • November 08, 1956

    Department of State, Outgoing Telegram to Moscow Embassy

    The State Department requests that the embassy find out the status of an American citizen who works for Radio Free Europe who was detained in Hungary by Soviet military authorities.