WWII ended with the total devastation of Hungary. Over a Million people were dead, 80% of the buildings destroyed.
During the last 9 months of the War the German SS installed an extreme hard line Nazi puppet government. Nazi Arrow Cross militias greatly accelerated the pace of deportation of Jews, Gypsies, “divergents” and dissidents to the Death Camps. Altogether, they were responsible for the deaths of over half a million people.
The Yalta Conference put Hungary in the Eastern “Sphere of Interest,”
Stalin wasted little time to install the Communist puppet government of Matyas Rakosi, who built up an all-encompassing cult of personality of his own.
effectively handing her to Stalin
Hungarian strongman, Matyas Rakosi, admiring his own bustRakosi, called “Stalin’s Best Hungarian Pupil,” came to power through a blatant election fraud by disqualifying the winner of the vote, then falsifying the results of the rerun election. He immediately declared not only aristocrats and industrialists, but also small landowners, shopkeepers and intellectuals “class enemies,” depriving them of their livelihood, with the clear intention of eliminating them altogether.
“Harvest” in Ukraine: in the “Breadbasket of Europe”
The forced collectivization destroyed the country’s thriving agricultural base and resulted in years of famine, exacerbated by the heavy toll of war reparations paid to the Soviet Union and unfavorable economic “agreements.”
Millions starved to death during forced collectivization.
Black cars showed up in the middle of the night to take away dissidents, “class enemies” or “suspicious elements” often denounced by their own neighbors, friends and family. Many disappeared forever. Children in schools were encouraged to report on their parents.
Laszlo Rajk, Foreign Minister’s trial. He was executed in 1953 – rehabilitated in 1956.Showtrials were held, where leaders of dissident factions were condemned publicly, and forced to confess to often ridiculous, trumped-up charges, then jailed, tortured or executed.
Archbishop Jozsef Mindszenty was condemned to death. He was released during the 1956 uprising. After the uprising was suppressed, he refused to escape and lived out his years at the American Consulate in Budapest.
At the same time, earsplitting propaganda declared the victories of the new system and its beloved great leaders.
Popular discontent culminated in the 1956 popular uprising that involved all strata of the people. It swept the government from power, eliminated the dreaded Secret Police and started quick reforms.
However, at the advice of Yuri Andropov, then Soviet Ambassador in Budapest - the Soviet Union responded with an overwhelming military invasion, squashing armed resistance and sending over 200,000 refugees to the West.
Soviet tanks in the Hungarian capital, Budapest.The squashing of the 1956 uprising backfired in the long run, as it dispelled any illusions about the “people’s state,” stunted the growth of the Communist movements in the West, and began the ideological erosion of the Eastern block.
Our story takes place three months before the uprising and
it is considered one of the events leading up to it.