SUBMERGED WITH ATLANTIS – A DIARY 1956-57 – EXCERPTS

The missing 1956–57 part of the Diary of Gyula Illyés (1902–1983) was found in the attic of the family house in Buda, in April 2014, in an envelope, hidden among miscellaneous papers in a wooden box. It covers the days of the Revolution and the early days of the Soviet retaliation, from 25 October to 31 January. The loose bundle of papers seems to have been hidden by Illyés himself in early 1957, who feared that if the police found if the record could be used as evidence in political trials against his friends and other actors of the Revolution. Illyés, a major writer and a leading public figure since the 1930s, was very active during the Revolution and its immediate aftermath, in the newly formed Petőfi Party (the earlier National Peasant Party), as an influential adviser of the defiantly rebellious National Theatre, and in the Writers’ Union leadership. The latter gradually became, after the Soviet invasion, the only remaining voice and negotiator for the Revolution’s goals until its banning by the Kádár government in early January 1957.

Apparently Illyés wrote the Diary notes for eventual publication one day, since the handwritten pages were accompanied by unique typewritten documents and selected press clippings. The text was deciphered, arranged, introduced and edited for publication by the poet’s daughter, Mária Illyés, while historian István Horváth added a body of 507 well-researched notes to provide additional information on the actors and events. The book, published in June, beame the surprise success of the 60th anniversary year.

The Diary also includes lively little sketches, records of the mood and talk of the street, and dialogues and debates among the prominent protagonists of the day. However, here we are re- printing excerpts that were meant as parts of articles, ultimately unpublished to our day, which give a definitive framework of ideas and interpretations to the events of the Revolution.

Gyula Kodolányi

Wednesday, 31 October 1956

I used to be among those Hungarians who thought that we as a people were doomed to unravel and perish, as the reader of Új Magyarország will know full well.1 And what made me think so were not the the calumnies poured on Hungarians with such zeal and such injustice about ten years back. Like many others, I used to believe that the backbone of this nation had been crushed a long time ago, during the age marked by the Battle of Mohács, György Dózsa, and King Matthias Corvinus.2 Yet now, under these clear October skies, I am prone to see things in a different light. Like so many other Hungarians, somehow I feel as if some new blood is pulsing through my veins. I no longer feel like I am the son of a stunted nation. If I happened to be travelling abroad at this moment, it would be with a measure of pride that I would scribble “Hungarian” in the nationality box of the entry form. And I couldn’t care less that this sudden sense of pride owes nothing to my personal accomplishment. The deed that makes my Hungarian blood trickle so pleasurably in me was not my doing. Yet I do not think I am a sort of intellectual usurper who pretends to the merit of others. Why is that so? Because those who carried out these deeds are like brothers or sons to me. We belong together in the same family. I feel they acted in my name and on my behalf.

But I don’t want to pass over the tragedy of it all in silence. I saw these freedom fighters with their rifles in hand, smoke still lingering around the barrels. I heard their submachine guns rattle. And as I ran across the street for cover, my heart was pounding not just because of the danger.

It was also the amazement.

For those I saw fighting were young workers, each and every one of them. “Watch out, you guys!” they shouted. “Let’s move it, guys!”

The uprising was started, and partially led, by students.

And we all know who gained admission to the universities in those days: those who could certify they came from a family of workers or farmers. And the background checks were almost as rigorous as those under the former Aryan laws.

Moreover, all of them were brilliant, because the enrolment numbers were very limited.

Not to mention the cadets in the people’s army. Here you had to do more than prove your working-class or peasant origins. You also had to have parents with a track record of active involvement in the “labour movement” or the (Bolshevik) revolution.

No regime has ever been disappointed more deeply by its darlings and main supporters.

Yesterday (it was a Tuesday if memory serves; at times like this, days are wont to lose their moorings in the calendar) the Party called on all Communists to take up arms to defend “law and order” – by which they meant the regime.

The young workers from the Józsefváros district I saw jump off the trucks at the National Theatre and lunge forward, shoulders hunched up, to charge the Party Centre in the neighbourhood shouting “Let’s go, guys” – they were all proletarians.

What? The proletariat against the Party headquarters?

On the corner of Baross Street and the Boulevard, there was a supine body on the sidewalk covered with sheets of paper and a tag with his name (“László Tímár, car mechanic”) and other data. A proletarian killed in a street fight?

[…]

It was the workers who turned the revolution of the students into an armed uprising; in official usage it was also a “labour leader” who issued the order to shoot into their ranks.

What was this revolution then?

Was it the proletariat rising up against the proletarian state?

Apparently so. At least as long we don’t clarify what the words “proletarian” and “the proletarian state” meant in Hungary during these months.

Saturday, 3 November, 1956

To all the writers and literary organisations in the world:3

This is a Hungarian writer calling out to you from a Budapest beset from all sides. I don’t know if this message will ever get out and reach you in writing. If you are hearing this, please remember my words, translate them, and relay them to the literary organisations, papers and writers in your country. I am speaking to you in the voice – perhaps the last breath – of a singing bird fallen prey to a mighty tiger, with the hope of bringing justice to a tormented, lethally imperilled small nation. But because truth and justice are indivisible and universal, it is also your own cause. As we speak, ten million Hungarians are staring death in the face – their own and perhaps that of the nation – in calm determination. They will only be saved if they prevail in the fight for freedom they have begun.

We would like to believe that the beast gripping us in its claws, which everybody knows could tear us into pieces any minute at will, is not really a foreign country, not even a government, but an all but invisible monster, a phantom, born of misunderstandings and misrepresentations. This kind of monstrosity is frequently engendered by history. It is what my words are directed against.

This kind of misinformation, which I am still disinclined to call malevolence, will insist that our uprising was directed against the workers and peasants. As a writer, I am the born enemy of lies and a born advocate of the truth. It is in this capacity that I make my deposition. The Revolution I saw with my own eyes broke out without any premeditation. It was sparked by students from families of workers and peasants, decided by soldiers from peasant families, and secured by industrial workers.

This Revolution was humane. This is attested by captured enemy troops who had tears in their eyes as they thanked their captors for that hot cup of tea and their care, and then for being released by the freedom fighters instead of being brought before the dreaded firing squad.

As I was roaming those gunfire-riddled streets, I had never felt more vividly the very real power of that other spiritual body which we call Europe. Up to that point, Europe had been supporting our cause, and it was in no small part owing to her that we could fight with success for the truth and justice of mankind, belying our diminutive size as a nation.

Yet I cannot pass in silence over the rumours that some of the western powers now regard our truth and our fight as mere political stakes, the subject of diplomatic negotiations, measuring the worth of spilled Hungarian blood by the barrel price of Near-Eastern oil, refusing to rush to our aid as speedily as demanded by the circumstances, and by honour and justice.

Time is of the essence.

I call on all writers, poets, readers and creative minds with a sense of justice: Do not forsake us! Don’t let Hungary and your own ideals perish! Admit this cry for help into your hearts, and save a country that has gotten to its feet!

Sunday, 11 November 1956

How many fascists participated in this Revolution is something that could be determined with the accuracy of a census: All you need to do is ascertain the identity of the casualties.

How far this Revolution would have shifted to the right from the point where it was and where it was still embraced and labelled leftist by the pacifiers, the “order-makers”, greatly depends on how much force and what means those “order-makers” will employ to distance themselves from the movement.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 started out on the classic keynote of revolutions anywhere, anytime. There were a few demands of a constitutional nature that could have been satisfied, or at least negotiated, by constitutional means. And there was a pigheaded politician who failed to grasp the moment when he should have resigned. Needless to say, [Ernő] Gerő4 never had the stature of a Metternich or a Guizot;5 he only surpassed them in the matter of myopia. The Commander of Pest, on 15 March 1848, did not order troops to fire at the youths who demanded to print their Twelve Points uncensored. Unlike them, the youths of 1956 brought a volley of fire upon them when they wanted to disseminate their own uncensored Twelve Points through the radio waves, the medium of their era. More often than not, revolutions begin by what they should end with: public rejoicing and spirited demonstration.

The Hungarian Revolution of ’56 began in medias res, with bloodshed and combat.

Here, all the fervour did not manifest itself in cries of joy but in fearlessness of death, in the courage to take to arms, and to fight. This is how the revolution could pick up such extraordinary momentum, and it is at least in part what explains its peerless moral strength. A nation willing to assume the role cut out for it wasted no time in answering its historic call of duty.

It is not true that firing into a crowd amounts to pointless bloodshed. A mass of people generally has the same cast of mind as a flock of birds: they will scatter at the first crack of a whip. The powers that be have long known and exploited this law of nature, to no small advantage. Nor is it true that a revolution cannot be stopped by arms. To say that is a platitude as frivolous as the hackneyed dictum that spirit will always prevail over matter. Or as the saying – which no doubt owes its unlikely existence to its strikingly graphic nature – that a tyrant can build a throne of bayonets, but cannot sit on it too long. It is not true, for if those bayonet points are fitted together close enough, they could make a mighty comfortable throne… On 23 October, the ÁVH, obeying orders, opened fire on the crowd of unarmed students and young workers protesting in front of Radio Palace. According to the blueprint of revolutions, the psychology of masses, and the not unfounded expectations of the repositories of power – that is to say, by any reckoning – this crowd should have scattered instantly. But precisely the opposite happened.

We Hungarians know – better yet, we feel the reason behind this “miracle”, as the foreign papers called it. Just as everybody is familiar with the roots of the “legendary resolve” which fuelled the fighters, even when the hopelessness of fighting on had become obvious.

The uprising presented a classical example of its genre by virtue of being entirely spontaneous and instinctive. So much so that it lacked a leader or a proper focus, even days after it broke out. In fact, it had even less premeditation and organisation behind it than the revolution of Petőfi’s fame a long time ago…

Thursday, 15 November 1956

Tears repudiated6

Window panes were still shuddering here and there from the last mortar shells when, through a small radio, came a calm, agreeable male voice live from London, assuring us that “we feel deeply ashamed of being unable to assist Hungary in its predicament.”

We looked at one another one by one. It took everyone quite a while to make eye contact with all the others cramped in that small room. We were in insurgent territory. The now intermittent mortar fire nearby was here and there still answered by a round from the submachine gun of a shivering student or young worker on the rooftop. All of this intensified our apprehensions and hope. They welled up from deeper within than the silence with which we greeted that impressively candid radio message. The freedom fighters would drop in periodically to learn the latest news.

There is nothing I value higher than the rare ability to speak the truth, regardless of the circumstances. Yet there was something inevitably disturbing about the frankness of that radio message. It made me feel that whoever expressed the true state of affairs without mincing his words, namely the fact that the West won’t do anything for the Hungarian fighters, must be someone who has respect for speaking the truth himself, yet abuses that ability – intentionally or unwittingly. I mean he uses this manly admission as a sort of immunity from the consequences of knowing the truth. He is the victim of the misconception that truthsayers are champions of truth by definition. He succumbs to the naïve fallacy that truthsayers of all description belong in the same camp. Finally, I could not shake off the suspicion that this brand of sincerity may conceal a measure of inadvertent cynicism.

Then the engaging, pleasantly articulated voice spoke lengthily about the deep sorrow of millions “watching the Hungarian tragedy with eyes full of hot tears”. My bad feeling grew worse. I was thinking that these tears are in a way those of self-absolution. They are shed for the victims, while they do good to the mourners, soothing them – just like the voluntary flows of tears which sometimes seem to exhilarate the old women at rural burials.

What fighters need, particularly in the heat of battle, is not tears but help. What are the sons of a bleeding Hungary supposed to do with the public weeping of millions? While they are still in the line of fire?

Next on the radio was a press review, by way of comforting us Hungarians. The announcer read excerpts from editorials published by the so-called global papers. The consolation being offered, in a dithyrambic vein, boiled down to the observation that the heroic Hungarian people may be doomed to lose the struggle, but their sacrifice will not have been in vain, for this tiny nation of Davidian courage managed to rip the mask off the terrible face of the Bolshevik Goliath even as it fell on the field. More than one leading article suggested that Communism would not survive this unmasking, meaning to say that this mere handful of a people essentially fulfilled a mission of consequence for universal history by shaking the Soviet regime to its very foundations. In fact, that it virtually accomplished what the “civilised West had been gearing up to do for thirty years”: it vanquished the Soviet Union! But those hunkered down in that small room on the Buda side were hardly inspired by this panegyric. They did not have half a mind to vanquish anyone on behalf of the capitalists of the United States, England, France, and Germany. No Hungarian entertained such notions. The Hungarians only wanted to win back their own freedom, and they took it for granted that all freedom-loving nations would aid them in this effort. Yet they did not receive any meaningful support. I am convinced that any unbiased spectator will understand those who seem to detect an undertow of cynicism beneath all that flood of tears and praise.

Sunday, 25 November 1956

The Hungarian problem is a tough one.7 Let us then tackle it with a tough hand. All the more so because what we are dealing with here is not one problem, but two: that of the Hungarian nation and that of Communism. Yet sometimes it is easier to solve two problems at once, as Freud says. Use one to crack the other, like two walnuts.

Of all conceivable liberties, none can take precedence over national independence, the people’s right to self-determination. For centuries, independence has been an issue of burning urgency for Hungary, as well as for Poland, and it has never burnt hotter than in the past few decades. Since, to be more precise, the idea of Communism first cropped up and presented the achievement of class freedom as the ideal solution for winning and keeping the freedom of the nation, among a string of other liberties. The theoreticians of Communism held that the equality of women, the freedom of and access to education, the right to work, the right of disposal over one’s body, and all the other criteria associated with them, can never really come about until the walls separating the social classes have been toppled. Marx and Engels, Lenin, and even Stalin would only allow one thing to precede class struggle, both in time and importance. This was a nation’s fight for its freedom. To help bring about and preserve that freedom, the Party would call on otherwise opposed groups to unite, in what was almost the pause of an armistice in the class struggle, from the proletariat and capitalists of the Popular Front in France to the pariahs and maharajahs of India. And it all stands to reason. It is an ancient wisdom that where national freedom is lacking, any seed of freedom will first sprout as the freedom of the nation.

[…]

“No horse should answer for its rider.” It was this quote from Babits that we fledgling writers would use to get across the idea that a people cannot be held accountable for its government, which saddles and breaks in the people as thoroughbreds are wrestled into obedience from birth. Just as horses can no longer dream of freedom and self-determination – if for nothing else, then for the scarcity of vast open lands – and would perish without the fodder and stable provided by man, so must the masses remain captive to their own self-interests.

Therefore, the people as such is not complicit in the guilt of its rulers and governments. Ultimately, the people is always innocent. At least this is how we construed that sentence from Babits.

This notion was characteristic of early 20th-century thought, at least in Eastern Europe. Hardly any period in history had weighed the merit of so many maxims as did the first half of our century. And the results of this weighing are still awaiting deliberation and publication. I think no other era has ever offered us so many embarrassing but useful lessons learned the hard way. The refutation of the above dictum by the events of history is one of those hard-earned but inevitable lessons we must learn. For it is not true that the horse is not responsible for what its rider inflicts on it and perpetrates in its name. There is no violence, no smokescreen, no “re-education”, no legacy of coercion that can absolve a man of a sin committed by the so-called repositories of power, if it is beknown to, let alone aided and abetted, by him. If I had the skill, this is what I would write on the gate that opens onto the second half of this century: Everyone is responsible for everything. What I mean by this is that we must not resign ourselves to evil. Which is to say there can be no justification for cowardice. If nothing else, cowardice makes bad business.

What was the inception of all this cowardice? “You can’t build barricades, fight in the streets, or make a popular revolution in the age of tanks and airplanes”, our Communist elders would lecture us, conjuring up with a telltale sigh the era of Frédéric Moreau,8 when the disgruntled citizen could make on the kitchen table a firearm exactly like the ones the state issued to its law enforcers, and as a consequence the playing field was perfectly level for a skirmish in the streets. In an age when one side is stocked to the hilt with machine guns and grenade launchers, while even single-shot pistols – whose possession alone qualifies as a punishable offense – are scarce on the other side, no revolution will stand a chance except, perhaps, if precipitated by a mutinous military. At least this is the word from the classic theoreticians of revolutions. Here we have another thesis refuted by the uprisings in Poznań and then in Budapest.

The masses are certainly capable of triggering a hopeful revolution unarmed. The victory or defeat of a revolution is not primarily a question of the quality or quantity of weapons on either side of the fence. Above all, the outcome depends on the respective sentiments of the opponents. On the moral factor, that is. The reason why Western Europe has not had any victorious revolutions since 1848 is not because weapons were lacking, but because this very moral condition, that of the appropriate spiritual saturation of the revolutionary masses, was missing.

Tuesday, 25 December 1956

Reply to the statement by Sholokhov: a letter that I ended up not sending.9

I was among the first in Hungary to acknowledge and acclaim your literary prowess, emphasising the qualities that lend weight to your work: truthfulness, honesty, and courage. This is why my fellow writers have conferred upon me the honour of responding to your Christmas address on their behalf.

The Hungarian nation’s struggle for freedom which broke out on 23 October 1956 [crossed out in the manuscript: and which has been suppressed but never defeated to this day], has been labelled a fascist counter-revolution by (many including) yourself. You reproach the writers of Hungary for, to quote your own words, “overshadowing their extraordinary courage in taking action to remedy the egregious mistakes of the former leaders by failing, swept up in the tide of the critical days, to raise their voices against the inroads made by the reactionary forces”.

This struggle for freedom, as you correctly (although not consistently) mention yourself, broke out against the misguided implementation of Communism that goes by the name of Stalinism today. It was the representatives of this misguided trend who, finding themselves in a pickle, requested the Soviet troops to enter the country. How on earth were the people not supposed to think that the troops were called into war to help restore Stalinism? And the people could not have thought otherwise when the former leaders had been replaced in the service of Soviet–Hungarian cooperation.

The country had all the reason in the world to think so because it felt confident and strong enough to attain its objective by implementing genuine Communism and to fend off any serious counter-revolutionary effort on its own resources.

This was also the opinion and intention of the writers themselves. Swept up as they were by the events, they repeatedly declared their loyalty to the social revolution, firm in their renunciation of any attempt at restoration, be it of a feudal or capitalist nature.

And they did so not least in the interest of maintaining good relations between the Soviet and Hungarian peoples.

All of which means that you have been misinformed. The claim you are backing with all of your weight and authority as a writer is false.

Indeed, the situation is more than tragic. Soviet–Hungarian friendship is being mortally imperilled, if only because of a dreadful analogy: the Hungarian war of independence of 1848, the most hopeful and most glorious freedom fight ever mounted by the nation, had been crushed by Russian troops at the behest of an alien Habsburg power whose representatives did not even understand Hungarian. The country saddled by fear and martial law, the only tokens of law and order, even in the third month of restoration, are the Soviet tanks at the ready on the street corners. So far, in a sort of staggering referendum, some 1.5% of the population have risked their lives to flee across the border through barbed wire and mine fields. It is not a rhetorical overstatement to say that Hungary is lying on the ground bleeding from innumerable wounds. And you have trampled on her face with your full weight as a writer.

Without a paper or periodical of our own, we have no means of public protest or indeed of any free communication. Unauthorised dissemination of opinion, for instance the sheer copying of this letter, carries the death penalty.

Which is why it is being written in a single original copy, intended for you alone, as an expression of private opinion.

Thursday, 3 January, 1957

How could the Russians find a way out of this embarrassing and costly predicament? The solution is quite simple, moreover apt to win Hungarian sympathy.

They should unravel the yarn of this botched woollen sweater and start knitting it again properly, as they so eloquently pledged twelve years ago, for the benefit of Hungary and mankind, and have been repeating week by week ever since in their utterances and public statements.

And what was the first promise they made to us? It was to liberate the Hungarian people.

The thesis that no freedom can take precedence over the freedom of the nation is a cornerstone of their own philosophy as well.

When they entered the country in the summer of 1944, Hungary’s regained borders roughly encompassed the area within Europe where Hungarian was spoken.

These borders were not a gift from Hitler but a necessity he was unable to avoid. Then came Stalin who drove Hungarians further back from these historic borders by reinstating them as they had been drawn in the peace treaties of 1919, declaring them to be, as it were, everlasting, and their masterminds – Beneš, Clemenceau, Wilson, Karl Hohenzollern, and Peter Karadordević – to have been the anointed priests and guardian angels privy to eternal geopolitical truth.

To add injury to woe, these architects of peace gave the Czechs the bonus of three Hungarian villages south of the Danube as a sort of outpost.

Was it really not possible to oppose the nationalist thirst of surrounding states for those who had themselves annexed pure Hungarian-populated territories such as those north of the Tisza river, with the town of Beregszász at its centre?

This goes to show that not only was the people of Hungary not liberated but it was humiliated and mutilated even further.

What if the Soviets finally redeemed their original promise?

They would risk nothing, since the governments of all countries surrounding Hungary have the Soviet Union to thank for their past and their future, their sheer existence, and any power they may have. They must be brought around to the truth of the fundamental tenets of Marxism, including that of self- determination.

Such as the self-determination of the peoples themselves, whose public sentiment would no doubt be cited by their governments.

Let the Soviets allow them to hold a referendum on the borders. Nobody could object to that.

Is that such a wild dream to have? Yes, as reality generally is. […]

Not a word of truth anywhere. […]

Saturday, 12 January 1957

Sartre’s article finally in front of me on the table, after a delay of more than two months.10

Despair bordering on total collapse. Like any French moralist valuing reason and a cold gaze, he is all ablaze with fire in his heart and mind. (This naturally serves him as a beacon of light to find the root causes; not that there is any other way.) That fire in his heart and in his mind is burning for us and against our enemies. Instinctively, he has been on our side.

Despite… himself mistaking certain slanders for the truth… that there was a real threat of a counter-revolution… that mob rule was rampant… that all Hungarians are touchy nationalists, and so and so forth. So even he has not remained immune to tweaks and lies.

What can we then expect from observers with a less independent mind or a less favourable disposition? From someone arrogant or inherently hostile to us? Someone like Sholokhov? Or from someone who is simply a coward?

It does seem that telling lies pays off, even if the truth is blatantly clear.

Thursday, 17 January 1957

Here is an “authentic” account of what happened in Csepel last week. The man who told me about it, at the bus stop, said he was losing sleep over the events. Some people would get 250 forints, others 75 only. Comrade Hegyi had promised to make it all neat and tidy, and he knew very well how to get to a prole.11

Grumbling men began drifting in one by one at first. Before long, a crowd of five thousand gathered in front of the board building.

Four of the policemen handed over their weapons without resistance. The workers crushed them and hung them on the wall with a sign saying “A message from Kádár to the workers”.

But two guards escaped through the back door wielding their guns and alerted the central security forces stationed at the plant.

Three personnel trucks rolled in, and the troops deployed quickly. – That was a sight to behold: A phalanx of silent workers facing a squad with loaded submachine guns.

Then the crowd began to boo and shout. Iron bars and pieces of scrap metal for throwing were grabbed.

The troops began to retreat while opening fire at the workers who followed them from cover to cover. There were casualties.

Allegedly, the only ones aiming directly at men were all officers, former party staff. The Russians were of course alerted, and soon enough the entire facility was surrounded by tanks. The workers blocked the gates.

Meanwhile the shift was over, the men could go home.

But all the gates except one were sealed by law enforcement.

At the one left open, the infuriated troops formed two lines some three hundred metres long. It was only through this human tube of sorts that you could make it outside to catch your tram.

“They asked for their papers?” “They thrashed them!”

Translation by Péter Balikó Lengyel

Notes:

1 From a text Gyula Illyés intended for the new daily Új Magyarország, but the article was never published there.

2 References to the late 15th–early 16th centuries, the age before Ottoman invasion.

3 This appeal, written by Illyés, was to be read in Hungarian Radio in Hungarian and French on 3 November, on the eve of the impending Soviet invasion. However, State Minister former President, Zoltán Tildy of the Smallholders’ Party prohibited Illyés in broadcasting it from the studio in the Parliament building, lest it adversely influence the Hungarian–Soviet negatiations on Soviet Troop withdrawal.

4 Ernő Gerő (1898–1980) the second strongest man in the Hungarian Stalinist group, was Prime Minister of Hungary in October 1956.

5 Klemens Wenzel Lothar von Metternich (1773–1859), Austrian statesman and François Guizot (1787–1874), French statesman and Prime Minister.

6 This fragment of an essay was triggered by a comment broadcast by the BBC.

7 What follows is a two-paragraph sketch that Illyés presumably drafted for André Stil, journalist, but in the end Illyés refused to give him an interview.

8 The protagonist of Sentimental Education, the novel by Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880).

9 The Christmas address by Mikhail Sholokhov was ultimately answered by Kálmán Szentiványi in a 27-page letter. In: Az írók és a hatalom [“Writers and Power”].

10 The piece in question is a long interview with Jean-Paul Sartre in the 9 November 1956 issue of Express. In response to the views published in the French press – in particular the judgment that what took place in Budapest was a “Fascist coup spearheaded by the scum of now defunct classes” – an indignant Sartre unconditionally condemned the Soviet intervention in Hungary. In what follows, Illyés sums up the negative aspects of the interview.

11 Workers demonstrating at the Csepel Steel Works starting 11 January 1957, were further aggravated when they found out from their payroll tabs that their pay for 11 and 12 December when they were on strike had been withheld (as announced by a government decree posted in the 14 December issues of Népszabadság and Népakarat). Nor were they paid for days when production was down due to energy shortage. Ferenc Hegyi was one of the deputy executive officers of the Works during the period in question.

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