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50th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, today I honor the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. In 1956, the people of Hungary stood in the face of adversity and expressed their passion for democracy and independence. They had a vision of what a free and democratic Hungary would look like--a vision that finally came to fruition after nearly 35 years. Only 10 years prior the revolution, Hungarians participated in free elections. Through those elections, the people felt the hope and promise of democracy. The perseverance of these strong people can be seen in their remarkable journey toward freedom.

On October 23, 1956, tens of thousands of Hungarians stood in the streets, demanding independence from the Soviets. The revolt began as a peaceful gathering of student protesters that spread to the general population, and the first day ended with clashes between the police and the demonstrators. Those on the streets were advocating for basic principles of liberty--free elections, freedom of the press, withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary, and the return of their Prime Minister Imre Nagy, who had been forced out of office because of his democratic policies.

In an attempt to calm the uprising, on October 26, 1956, the Central Committee of the Communist Party reinstated Nagy as Prime Minister. He promised the people of Hungary political freedom and vowed to revive the democratic process. He began by vowing to withdraw Hungary from the Warsaw Pact and declaring neutrality on November 1, 1956. As Nagy was working to satisfy those revolting, the Soviets were working on a plan to counter the revolution. Even though some members of the Hungarian Army defected and worked against the Soviets, ultimately it was not enough to fight off the ever-powerful Soviet regime.

Only 12 days after the revolution began, the Soviet Air Force started a counterrevolution, bombing parts of Budapest on November 4, 1956. The hope of the Hungarian people for freedom quickly slipped away. In the days and weeks following the revolution, many of those involved fled to other countries. Prime Minister Nagy tragically, however, was tried in secret and executed in June 1958, paying the ultimate price for his involvement in the revolution.

Today, we reflect with Hungarians around the world, including many proud Hungarian Americans, 50 years after this significant time period and celebrate the promise it held for the future of Eastern Europe.

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