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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • 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)

  • February, 1989

    Memorandum to Alexander Yakovlev from the Bogomolov Commission (Marina Sylvanskaya)

    Memorandum to Alexander Yakovlev from the Bogomolov Commission (Marina Sylvanskaya) describing the changes in individual Eastern European countries and their impact on the Soviet Union

  • February 13, 1989

    Ciphered Telegram No. 41, Embassy of Hungary in Pakistan to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    Short report on a recent Pakistani missile test based on information from an Indian official. India does not believe Benazir Bhutto's statement that Pakistan's nuclear program is peaceful. Includes speculation on China's involvement in the program. Pakistan has also approached contacts in Hungary about obtaining nuclear technology.

  • March 03, 1989

    Record of Conversation Between M.S. Gorbachev and Member of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, Chairman of Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary Miklos Nemeth

    Conversation between Gorbachev and Nemeth regarding the priorities of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party.

  • March 03, 1989

    Record of Conversation Between M.S. Gorbachev and Member of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Part, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary M. Nemeth

    Conversation between Gorbachev and Miklos Nemeth about protecting Hungarian borders, Hungary's decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, and the Soviet Union's potential normalization of relations with Israel.

  • March 03, 1989

    Record of Conversation between President M. S. Gorbachev and Miklós Németh 12 , Member of the HSWP CC Politburo, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary

    Record of Conversation between President M. S. Gorbachev and Miklós Németh 12 , Member of the HSWP CC Politburo, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People’s Republic of Hungary regarding the establishment of a multiparty system in Hungary

  • March 24, 1989

    Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and Karoly Grosz, General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, March 23-24, 1989

    These conversations reveal Gorbachev’s contradictions, as the Soviet leader proclaims again that the Brezhnev doctrine is dead and military interventions should be "precluded in the future, yet at the same time, tries to set "boundaries" for the changes in Eastern Europe as "the safekeeping of socialism and assurance of stability."

  • March 29, 1989

    Memorandum of Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and HSWP General Secretary Károly Grósz,14, Moscow

    Memorandum of Conversation between M.S. Gorbachev and HSWP General Secretary Károly Grósz, discussing how to define the events of 1956 and the extent of political transition in Hungary

  • May, 1989

    Hungarian Secret Police Memorandum, 'Ensuring the Security of Preparations for the Burial of Imre Nagy and his Asssociates [on 16 June 1989]'

    Hungarian Secret Police memorandum, “Ensuring the security of preparations for the burial of Imre Nagy and his associates [on 16 June 1989]”, regarding plans to maintain security using the dissemination of information concerning possible retaliation for extremist action, and the use of operatives

  • June 08, 1989

    Assessment Paper by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, '[Excerpt] Eastern Europe; Current Assessment'

    The paper addresses the change in economics, politics, and social structures in the Soviet bloc (Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and the GDR) as a result of the USSR loosening up regulations.

  • June 10, 1989

    Agreement about the Commencement of Substantial Political Negotiations between the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, the Members of the Opposition Roundtable and the Organizations of the Third Side

    The agreement was signed at the first plenary meeting of the National Roundtable talks. The document put on record the legal framework and the conditions of the subsequent tripartite negotiations which lasted until 18 September. At the next meeting, on 21 June, two intermediate-level committees were established for political and social-economic issues, each having six working subcommittees in which the bulk of the legal work leading to the establishment of parliamentary democracy in Hungary was carried out. Between March and June the crucial question of the transition was whether the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party [HSWP] was willing to eventually accept the fact that it would have to negotiate with a unified opposition represented by the Opposition Roundtable [ORT]. Although the HSWP leadership tried to do everything it could to prevent this, by the beginning of June it gave up its previous position. However, the opposition parties had to make a serious concession too, since it was a precondition of the HSWP in agreeing to start official negotiations on the political transition with the ORT that the talks should be tripartite. The “third side” included mass organizations and civil associations, all of which were supporters of the HSWP and/or represented left-wing political ideas.

  • June 12, 1989

    Record of Conversation between M. S. Gorbachev and Chancellor of FRG H. Kohl

    Gorbachev and Kohl share their impressions of the newly elected George Bush and discuss events in Eastern Europe.

  • June 13, 1989

    Excerpts from the Opening Full Session of the Hungarian National Roundtable Negotiations

    Transcribed from previously unpublished video recordings, these discussions point to the unwritten "rules" of mutual civility that arose in the nonviolent dissident movements and found an echo among the Communist reformers during the negotiated revolutions of 1989. For example, Dr. Istvan Kukorelli from the Patriotic People’s Front proposes to "refrain from questioning the legitimacy of each other, since the legitimacy of all of us is debatable. It is a question which belongs to the future - who will be given credit by history and who will be forgotten."

  • June 14, 1989

    Conversation between M. S. Gorbachev and FRG Chancellor Helmut Kohl

    Gorbachev and Kohl discuss relations with the United States, Kohl's upcoming visit to Poland, and the status of reforms in various socialist countries.

  • 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.

  • June 26, 1989

    Memorandum of Conversation Foreign Ministers Alois Mock (Austria) and Gyula Horn (Hungary)

    Transcript of official visit between Foreign Minister Horn (Hungary) with Foreign Minister Mock (Austria). In it they discuss Western European integration including Hungary's participation, the Europe Free Trade Agreement, and Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. They continue with the development of Eastern Europe elaborating the developments with the Warsaw Pact, Hungarian/USSR relations, reforming Hungarian policy, and Austria's place in these changing times.

  • July 24, 1989

    Minutes of the Meeting of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party [HSWP] CC Political Executive Committee

    Minutes of the meeting of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party [HSWP] CC Political Executive Committee discussing whether to hold elections in September or wait until November

  • July 24, 1989

    Memorandum of Conversation between President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Rezsö Nyers, and General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP), Károly Grósz, Moscow

    Memorandum of conversation between President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Rezsö Nyers, and General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (HSWP), Károly Grósz, Moscow regarding the publicized withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary and the commemoration of Hungarians who died on the Soviet Front or in POW camps in WWII

  • July 25, 1989

    Report of the President of Hungary Rezso Nyers and General Secretary Karoly Grosz on Talks with Gorbachev in Moscow (excerpts)

    President of People’s Republic of Hungary, Rezso Nyers, and General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, Karoly Grosz, report on their talks with Gorbachev in Moscow, 24-25 July, 1989. The excerpts contains economic reformer Nyers’ assessment of the political situation in Hungary, and first among the factors that "can defeat the party," he lists "the past, if we let ourselves [be] smeared with it." The memory of the revolution of 1956 and its bloody repression by the Soviets was Banquo’s ghost, destroying the legitimacy of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, just as 1968 in Prague and 1981’s martial law in Poland and all the other Communist "blank spots" of history came back in 1989 to crumble Communist ideology. For their part, the Communist reformers (including Gorbachev) did not quite know how to respond as events accelerated in 1989, except not to repeat 1956.

  • August 18, 1989

    Record of Conversation between Representatives of the Opposition Roundtable and Boris Stukalin, Soviet Ambassador in Budapest

    Record of conversation between representatives of the Opposition Roundtable and Boris Stukalin, Soviet Ambassador in Budapest involving a speech made by Viktor Orbán regarding pessimism towards the negotiations