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Historical Introduction

Hungary Budapest dead under the arcades of the Ministry of Agriculture, opposite Parliament Building 30th Ocotber 1956. Scanpix

Hungary, one of the oldest states in Central and Eastern Europe, had its first Communist experience in 1919 when attempts to impose a Communist regime spread chaos and took the country to the verge of disaster. The following two decades of peaceful development ended when the Soviet Union occupied Hungary in World War II and used military threat to set up a Communist government. Any resistance to Communist authorities was met with violence. In 1945–46, some 35.000 people were arrested on political grounds and 1000 of them executed or tortured to death. Another 55.000 were detained in concentration camps. Communist command economy was established, hindering the country’s development. The Church suffered heavily. During the 1956 revolution, Hungary tried to break from the Soviet sphere of influence and restore democracy, but the uprising was crushed by Soviet tanks. At least 2500 Hungarians died in clashes and 200.000 fled the country. Communist authorities arrested some 26.000 people and 350 were executed. Hungary’s Communist regime fell simultaneously with the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, setting the country on a path of recovery.


  • At least 2500 Hungarians died in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and 200,000 fled the country
  • Hungary was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1944