This October marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian revolution. It was the second uprising in Eastern Europe against the Communist regimes imposed by the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War.
On October 23, 1956, students rallied in Budapest to demand an end to the Communist dictatorship and Soviet domination. The Hungarian students were also marching in support of striking workers in Poznan, Poland, who were demanding reform and better working conditions from the Communist government. The student demonstration in Budapest grew into a popular uprising.
In response, the Soviet army launched a military offensive that left an estimated tens of thousands Hungarians dead. In some cases, Hungarians armed with glass bottles filled with gasoline tried to attack Soviet tanks in a futile effort to stop the invasion. When the uprising was brutally suppressed, Imre Nagy, Hungary's reformist prime minister and other officials were arrested and executed. Thousands of other Hungarian freedom fighters were sent to prison. Some two-hundred-thousand fled their country to seek political asylum in the West.
On his recent visit to Hungary, President George W. Bush said, "Fifty years later, the sacrifice of the Hungarian people inspires all who love liberty":
"In 1989, a new generation of Hungarians returned to the streets to demand their liberty, and boldly helped others secure their freedom as well. By giving shelter to those fleeing tyranny and opening your borders to the west, you helped bring down the Iron Curtain, and gave the hope of freedom to millions in central and eastern Europe." (END ACT) Mr. Bush said, "Hungary became the first Communist nation in Europe to make the transition to democracy":
"Hungary has continued to move forward. You regained your independence, held free elections, and established a free economy. Hungary is now a valued member of NATO and the European Union."
"The lesson of the Hungarian experience is clear," said Mr. Bush. "Liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.