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Szabó's fellow arrested-turned-informant gave his three days in prison in great detail. A recurring theme was that his cellmates, mostly working-class and arrested for real action during the 1956 Revolution, reassured him that "students are dealt with with kid gloves", "you'll be out in a few days". Which leads me to a little history lesson to emphasize something about the big revolutions during 'communism' and the following clampdown.

In 1956, Stalinism was over, with Dear Leader gone (both the original in the Soviet Union and the copy in Hungary), but its apparatus not quite. A lot of people were released - including, ironically, both Imre Nagy, the symbol of the revolution, and Imre Kádár, who would betray Nagy, call in the Soviet military, and then rule until 1988 -, but the feared secret service still existed, as did the second-line state-terror-ists, and dictature. So there was a sense of reforms and want for more.

The catalyst was (as often in Hungarian history) news from Poland, news of a crushed protest. Rebellion spread like bushfire from two sources: students - and the so-called Workers' Councils. The latter were self-established (not Party-controlled) councils at workplaces, demanding a Socialist state but with multi-party system and independent unions. These countinued to form all across the country after the breakout of revolution, and that was the reason the Party lost enough power to accept reforms (i.e. for those in the leadership who called the events "legitimate revolution" - then including Kádár - won over those who called it "counter-revolution").

And from this comes the second Socialist line in the Revolution: from the first day (23 October), one of the demand of protesters was not for everyone to go, but for Imre Nagy, himself a leading communist but popular, to form a national unity government. Which he did, and his government dismantled the old secret service, legalised other parties, called on the Russian military to leave, and disbanded and re-established the communist party under a new name (from Hungarian Workers' Party to Hungarian Socialist Labour Party).

After the revolution was crushed under Soviet tanks, the regime went especially after the two mentioned Socialist strands of the Revolution - the leaders of Workers' Councils and the members and administration of Imre Nagy got the worst torture and most executions. Never again did the Muscovites want the official legitimisation of their power challenged.

Which they achieved to such an extent that today, most remaining prominent 1956 veterans still appearing in public are from the Revolution's right-wing fringe, or people who fought in the final hopeless battles with Kalashnikovs against tanks (shades of Iraq here) as teenagers and became far-right in their old age.

There are strong parallels to this course of events in both the 1968 Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, and the 1980 events in Poland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 17th, 2006 at 02:58:38 PM EST

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