The second biggest Hungarian city, Debrecen, played a very important role in the outbreak and the victory of the October 23 revolution of 1956. After the Soviet troops arrived, however, the reprisal was brutal in the city.
Levente Püski, a teacher of the History Department of the University of Debrecen, said on a conference that Debrecen played an important role in the antecedents and the outbreak of the 1956 revolution. For example, just after the Petőfi Circle consisting of university students was formed in Budapest, in Debrecen, students in higher education formed a similar association, haon.hu reported.
Püski added that in Debrecen,
the same events happened on October 23 as in Budapest, only earlier.
For example, in the capital, mass demonstrations started only in the afternoon while in Debrecen, they did in the morning. In front of the university, more than a thousand university students and teachers demonstrated against the brutal Communist regime. Furthermore, they wrote down and printed out their demands almost immediately.
Because of that, at 3 pm, almost 35 thousand people gathered together in the main street of the city, also including thousands of local workers, and their
demands were similar to the ones written down in Budapest.
These were: the immediate retreat of the Soviet troops from the country, re-establishing the independence of Hungary, disbanding the hated State Protection Authority, and using only national symbols instead of Communist ones. Since Transylvania is closer to Debrecen than to Budapest, they demanded the improvement of the living conditions of Hungarians under Romanian Communist rule that doubled their suffering, too.
Levente Püski said that the
first shots were also fired earlier than in Budapest.
Since local leaders of the Communist party wanted to stop the marches demanding change, they mobilised local agents of the State Protection Authority. They started to fire with dummy bullets first, but finally, they used live ammunition, because of which two protesters died and many suffered injuries.
After the victory of the revolution, local Communists wanted to become a part of the new democratic leadership, but they were rejected. So, they simply disappeared from the public life of Debrecen. Thus, while in Budapest, there were many fights even after October 23,
in Debrecen, the transition happened peacefully.
New parties were founded, and most people thought in the first days that they should create a kind of democratic socialism. However, later, they started to abandon the Socialist attribute from the name of every newly-created institution, and what remained was only “democracy” and “democratic.” The same happened in the neighbouring towns and villages, too, after October 23. People living there demanded lower taxes and the redistribution of the land.
When the Soviet troops arrived
on November 4, there was no resistance in Debrecen
because everybody believed that nobody has a chance against the biggest and strongest army in the world.
The reprisal was brutal in the city and the neighbouring towns and villages; there were three big lawsuits.
If you want to read about how Hungarians celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the revolution today, click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. HERE you can read about the commemoration of the Hungarian community of Washington. And finally, HERE is an article about the melodies of the 1956 revolution.