5.20am, Budapest

This is Imre Nagy speaking, the President of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People’s Republic. Today at daybreak Soviet troops attacked our capital with the obvious intention of overthrowing the legal Hungarian democratic Government. Our troops are in combat. The Government is at its post. I notify the people of our country and the entire world of this fact…

This fight is the fight for freedom by the Hungarian people against the Russian intervention,and it is possible that I shall only be able to stay at my post for one or two hours. The whole world will see how the Russian armed forces, contrary to all treaties and conventions, are crushing the resistance of the Hungarian people. They will also see how they are kidnapping the Prime Minister of a country which is a Member of the United Nations, taking him from the capital, and therefore it cannot be doubted at all that this is the most brutal form of intervention. I should like in these last moments to ask the leaders of the revolution, if they can, to leave the country. I ask that all that I have said in my broadcast, and what we have agreed on with the revolutionary leaders during meetings in Parliament, should be put in a memorandum, and the leaders should turn to all the peoples of the world for help and explain that today it is Hungary and tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, it will be the turn of other countries because the imperialism of Moscow does not know borders, and is only trying to play for time. Source (big PDF).

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Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

Interesting to note the coincidental launch of Quadrant in the same year as the Hungarian debacle! Nice timing?

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

James, I was in Budapest a couple of weeks ago and attended one of the vigils for the victims of the uprising. Very moving.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
15 years ago

Rob

I’m glad to hear that some solemn commemoration of this tragedy was possible, given that the official celebrations were disrupted by the equally selfish antics of the cynical government and the ghastly opposition party. I guess you weren’t there on the 23rd, or you would have commented on the violence. In any case, if you’re interested there’s a good account of the day’s events in this photo essay.

Did you make it to the opera and/or to a concert at the Palace of the Arts?

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Btw James, I was going to say this last night – but thought it added nothing. Anyway, that is a marvellous speech by Nagy. A brave, self sacrificing leader with the oratorical skills to represent his own greatness of spirit. Churchill and Lincoln were two such (which is not to say they were without their faults – particularly Churchill!)

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

James, yes, we caught Erkel’s Bank Ban at the State Opera, having failed to get seats to Don Giovanni the night before. A new opera to us, but we really enjoyed it. An utter jewel of an opera house, too.

Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans(@joshua-gans)
15 years ago

A shame you missed Don Giovanni: it’s a fabulous production, with a refreshingly youthful cast. On the other hand, if you’ve seen operas all around the world, what better choice then Bank Ban when you’re in Budapest? I’ve been slack about investigating the Erkel oeuvre myself, but I’m sure it’s worth it. Agree about the opera house – beautiful, but intimate at the same time.

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

Happily we did catch Don Giovanni in Zagreb. Didn’t know what to expect from the Croatian Opera, but it really was wonderful, with almost none of the Slavonic wobble known to us from Melodiya recordings. The set looked like an art deco railway station waiting room, and the characters came and went through the windows. Very effective. The opera house was great too – scaled down from Budapest, as you’d expect, but the same neo-Baroque style.

Graham Bell
Graham Bell
15 years ago

I was a teenager in Australia when all this happened.

It was my introduction to how readily and how completely the loud-mouthed. gutless, so-called “Anti-Communist” politicians, churchmen, academics, journalists, businessmen and other assorted bludgers in The West would abandon those who risked their lives fighting bare-handed against the tanks of one of the mightiest military organization the world had ever seen.

And, as recent events have shown, not much has changed in the past fifty years.

A salute to those brave Hungarians!!!!

Geoff R
15 years ago

Nagy was a Communist from 1917 does he show that despite everything Communism possesed a dynamic that could redeem some part of itself? Who were the Nagys or Dubcheks of fascism?

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

Malcolm Fraser?

James Farrell
James Farrell
15 years ago

Geoff

There’s a pretty strong consensus that socialism with a human face could not have lasted long anywhere within the constraint of a one-party state. Had the Hungarian Revolution or the Prague Spring not been suppressed by the Soviets, the idealists would probably have soon been pushed aside by ruthless pragmatists in the Tito mould. Alternatively an unravellinging of political control might have opened the way for a military strongman like Franco or Pinochet. A distant third possibility would have been a voluntary transition to multi-party democracy, with the reform communists restyling themselves as social democrats.