The 4th of November is here, a day of mourning for Hungarians, as we remember all the brave men and women who fought in the 1956 Hungarian uprising. This was the day Soviet tanks invaded the capital and started the retaliation.

On November 1, Imre Nagy declared Hungary’s neutrality and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. No one expected that, just a few days later, Soviet troops would invade and crush the revolution.

Minutes of the day

4:15 am

In 1956, November 4 fell on a Sunday. Soviet troops started a general attack on Budapest and other major cities at 4:15. The troops consisted mostly of Soviet soldiers originating from the Asian parts of the Soviet Union. Most of them had no idea where they were or who they were fighting against. Hungarians stood their ground for a while, despite the early hour of the day.

5:20 am

Imre Nagy makes a speech on the radio that is repeated several times in the next hours.

“This is Imre Nagy speaking, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People’s Republic. In the early hours of this morning, Soviet troops started an attack on our capital with the obvious aim of overthrowing the legal and democratic Hungarian government.

Our troops are fighting. The government is in place. I am making this fact known to our people and the whole world.”

(based on The Guardian and APNews)

The speech was broadcasted in several foreign languages, too.

7:14 am

In the name of Imre Nagy’s government, the Soviet troops are asked not to shoot. The request is made in Russian, too.

“Let us avoid a bloodbath. Soviets are our friends and shall remain so.”

7:57 am

Éva, the wife of writer Gyula Háy, asked for help from writers and intellectuals all over the world in the name of the Hungarian Writers’ Union. Her message was repeated in German, Russian and English, too.

“Help Hungary! … Help us! Help! Help!”

This was the last message heard on the Independent Kossuth Radio. At 8:07, the radio’s broadcast stopped in the middle of a music number.

6-8 am

Imre Nagy receives political asylum in the embassy in the old Yugoslavia, along with about 40 other people. Meanwhile, István Bibó, the only member of the government who stayed in the Parliament, wrote a proclamation. In it, he declared that Hungary has no intention of following anti-Soviet policies, and refuted the accusation that the uprising was fascist or in anti-communist sentiments. He also urged Hungarians not to recognise the occupying Soviet forces or a puppet government. He ended the proclamation thus:

“I ask the great powers and the wise and brave decision of the United Nations in the name of the freedom of oppressed nations … God save Hungary!”

Seeing how the Soviet troops outnumbered the Hungarians, there was no attempt at an official armed resistance. It was the growing numbers of freedom fighters who tried to stop Soviet powers.


By noon, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior and the Budapest Police Headquarters are all under Soviet regulation.

Around 1 pm, the Moscow radio announced that “The Hungarian counter-revolution has been crushed.”

Later that day, Kádár’s government contacted the UN and asks for the Hungarian question to be removed from the agenda.

President Eisenhower protested against the Soviet intervention, however, international affairs like the Suez Crisis proved to be more important for the Western world.

Consequences of the day

Freedom fighters were determined to fight the Soviets. Concentrated groups kept up the fight in various points in the capital as well as in the countryside on the 5th and 6th of November, too. The freedom fighters of Csepel fought the longest. Their resistance was crushed on November 11. After this, János Kádár gave his first radio speech as the new prime minister, in which he declared the revolution to have been crushed.

On the 4th of November, 135 Hungarians lost their lives in Budapest. Between October 23 and January 16, 2652 people died while 19 226 people got injured. According to UN data, the retaliation of the uprising took 453 lives, while some Hungarian sources say it was around 230.

You can check out a video about November 4 here:

For more news, check out this article about the strongest international reactions to the Hungarian revolution.

Featured image:

Source: Daily News Hungary

  1. My history teacher in the US was a Hungarian whose last name was Nemes. He had escaped Hungary following the rebellion. (I had heard he was in the Hungarian equivalent of West Point and was part of their Olympic fencing team. Regardless, he harbored a hatred for all things Soviet that 30 years later when he was my teacher we could discern it.

    The sad lesson of the Hungarian revolution is that Westerners who love liberty and freedom will never standup for those oppressed people that want the same thing. Whether it is Budapest, Tianeman, or Hong Kong… if people want their freedom, it will have to come from them because the free peoples of the world are also lazy.

  2. James A. Michener’s book, “The Bridge at Andau” tells the stories of numerous Hungarians who fled their country after the Soviet invasion. The bridge was a footbridge across the Einser-Kanal, and there is still an historical site there. You can find it on Google Maps. The book is still worth reading to remind yourself what socialism was like at its pinnacle. Seriously. Socialism never got better than that anywhere else in the world.

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