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Russian and East European Politics

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2 days of violence at least 73 killed. Archives show communist leaders ... Moscow and Warsaw: not a colony but dominion of the Soviet Empire (Pearson, p.53) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Russian and East European Politics


1
Russian and East European Politics
  • 12.1956 HUNGARY AND POLAND
  • Katya McDonagh
  • Department of Political Science, TCD
  • fedoreae_at_tcd.ie

2
How did the system produce reformers?
  • How could system produce a Khrushchev let alone a
    Gorbachev?
  • In theory should have been impossible for people
    as radically different as Khrushchev and
    Gorbachev to get near the top leadership
  • Theory does not necessarily apply to Eastern
    Europe where other variables timing of
    establishment of Peoples Democracies and
    historical legacies and orientation altered
    political landscape

3
Eastern Europes Reaction to Khrushchevs speech
  • If Stalin had made mistakes in SU might not the
    imposition of communist regimes in Eastern Europe
    also have been a mistake?
  • If wrongs were to be righted would Eastern
    Europeans be allowed choose their own road to
    socialism?
  • In some countries in the bloc - changes
    hardliners removed, secret police downgraded and
    journalists questioning bureaucratism

4
Poland
  • Party distributed Khrushchevs speech widely
  • New Polish Party leader seizes opportunity for
    anti-Stalinist move
  • Publication of speech produced massive reaction
    circulation of speech restricted
  • Calls for democratization and the rehabilitation
    of Gomulka who had been jailed for deviation and
    sympathy with Tito
  • Questioning was legitimised in Poland

5
Polish reaction
  • Poznan anti-communist demonstration
  • Social and economic demands turn into political
    revolt
  • 2 days of violence at least 73 killed
  • Archives show communist leaders afraid it would
    spread
  • Serious challenge to communist authority

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9
Polish crisis continues
  • October 1956 more demonstrations
  • Khrushchev leads delegation to Warsaw to meet
    Polish party in October
  • Gomulka brought back as First Secretary of the
    Party
  • Threat of Soviet military intervention lifted
  • Changes nature of relationship between Moscow and
    Warsaw not a colony but dominion of the Soviet
    Empire (Pearson, p.53)

10
Hungarian crisis
  • Hungarian Revolution?
  • Unlike Poland rebellion in Hungary not accepted
    by the Soviet Union
  • 1955 Intellectual circle Petofi critical
    discussion of Stalinism
  • Hungarian party leader - Matyas Rakosi
    hardliner and friend of Stalin
  • Former Minister of Interior Laszlo Rajk purged
    and put to deat as a Titoist in 1949
  • Imre Nagy purged by Rakosi

11
Revolt
  • Rakosi ousted replacement Gero - also a
    hardliner
  • Crisis in order to appease public Imre Nagy
    brought back into leadership and plays a crucial
    role in October November
  • Light sentences for Polish strikers encouraged
    Hungarian resistance

12
Demands
  • Independent and socialist Hungary
  • New Leadership
  • Withdrawal of Soviet troops
  • Examination of the mistakes of the past
  • 50,000 attend October 23 demonstration
  • Unrest and violence follows

13
Confusion
  • Imre Nagy reinstated as PM but timing of events
    lead to confusion as to his involvement with
    State of Emergency and a call for Soviet troops
    to restore order
  • Nagy calls for withdrawal of Soviet troops
  • Announces abolition of the one-party system and
    coalition government
  • Hungary will be neutral
  • How reasonable were these expectations?

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17
More confusion
  • 3RD Nov - Announcement that Soviet troops would
    be withdrawn followed by
  • Same night Soviet troops return supported by
    fighter planes
  • Resistance many killed
  • Nagy deserted by 4 government ministers who were
    put into power and led by Janos Kadar
  • Nagy duped and executed body not found until
    1989
  • Kadars clampdown Stalinist order re-imposed

18
2 different Soviet responses
  • Soviets acquiesced in Poland
  • Soviets crushed popular uprising in Hungary
  • Official line If we let things take their
    course the West would say we are either stupid or
    weak, and thats one and the same thing. We
    cannot possibly permit it, either as Communists
    and internationalists or as the Soviet Union
    (Khrushchev)
  • BUT archives show that Soviet leadership divided
    over what to do about Hungary

19
2 different Soviet responses
  • International dimension affected situation
  • Suez Crisis preoccupies West
  • West did nothing but western propaganda may have
    encouraged Hungarians to rise
  • No evidence that international distraction
    directly encouraged Soviets to intervene
  • Another reason for Western non-intervention
    policy of peaceful coexistence between East and
    West

20
Lessons
  • West could not be relied on to back up its
    rhetoric people of Eastern Europe on their own
  • Soviets did not see Hungary in the same context
    as Austria
  • Hungary an integral part of the system
  • Member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization,
    Comecon
  • Border with SU
  • Military neutrality not an option
  • Abdication of leading role of the party not an
    option
  • Withdrawal from the bloc would risk the economy
    of the bloc as a whole
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