Coming to Terms with The Past: Hungary 1956

Michael Simmons has been back to Budapest as it prepares to commemorate the anniversary of the 1956 Uprising, and finds many questions still unanswered.

The philosophical feasibility of Communism, as practised in Europe, came to its de facto end in the battered streets of Budapest in the first days of November 1956. In the wider world, its feasibility was irrevocably damaged thirty-three years later when the Chinese People’s Army opened fire on Chinese people in the centre of Beijing. Six months later the Iron Curtain was torn down. But it was events in Budapest, though obscured by a parallel international crisis in the Middle East, which led thousands of Communists worldwide to leave the cause. In the words of Milovan Djilas, a trenchant Yugoslav observer of the Communist world, ‘the wound which the Hungarian revolution inflicted on Communism can never be healed’.

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