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The Hungarian Revolution: Fifty years later
A commemorative event at the UW

This article was provided by the Center for West European Studies, University of Washington
Posted October 11, 2006

October 23, 2006, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian uprising against Soviet occupiers. The revolt lasted until November 4 and resulted in numerous casualties on both sides and the reestablishment of Soviet domination over Hungary. After World War II, the European continent was divided between the “West” and the “East.” Western Europe, assisted by the Marshall Plan, was allied with the United States; the Eastern Bloc comprised the Soviet Union and its Central and East European satellite states and allies. Hungary fell under the Soviet sphere of influence, adopted a communist government, and in 1955 signed the Warsaw Pact, the Eastern Bloc’s response to NATO. In October 1956, a small student demonstration in Budapest grew into a mass protest as millions of soldiers, workers, and other Hungarians rose up against the pro-Soviet government. The revolt led to the installation of Imre Nagy as Prime Minister, who, after an initial ceasefire, attempted to break free from Soviet domination by withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact. In response, Soviet troops invaded Hungary to crush the uprising. For nearly two weeks, Hungarian resistance fighters fought against the Soviet invaders with Molotov cocktails, strikes, and the destruction of the symbols of communist rule. On November 4, the USSR supported the installation of a pro-Warsaw Pact government, reimposing Soviet domination over the country.  

Soviet control of Hungary ended in 1989 with the Autumn of Nations, that epochal moment in European history when communist regimes in Eastern and Central European countries were overthrown and the Cold War came to an abrupt and peaceful end. The Autumn of Nations began in Poland and sparked similar, mostly peaceful revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria. In 2004, ten countries, including eight from Central and Eastern Europe, joined the European Union. More former communist countries are slated to join the EU in the near future. 

On October 23, 2006, the University of Washington will host a special commemorative event “The Hungarian Revolution: Fifty Years Later” from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Walker-Ames Room of Kane Hall. Keynote speaker Péter Dobay, Professor at the University of Pećs, one of Europe’s oldest universities and located in a sister city of Seattle, will provide a historical background of Hungary up to 1956.  A panel of eyewitness accounts by people who experienced the revolution of 1956 will include author of The Fall of the Red Star, Helen M. Szablya. Former Foreign Service Officer David Hughes will discuss the events of 1989 and Hungary today, and conclude the evening with comments by Mark Palmer, former US Ambassador to Hungary. 

This event is sponsored by the Center for West European Studies, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies, and the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, in cooperation with the Hungarian-American Association of Washington, the Honorary Consulate of Hungary, Seattle-Pećs Sister City Association, the Hungarian-American Chamber of Commerce, and the World Affairs Council.

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