What began as student marches the morning of October 23, 1956 in Budapest had by the evening grown into a nationwide movement. The Hungarians, long deprived of their freedom, stood up against their communist oppressors in a revolution that captivated the world and which is considered one of the first dominos to fall in the eventual collapse of communism in Europe.
In addition to visiting the crucial sites of the revolution and its memorials, this walk also seeks to spark a dialogue on the significant issues that unfolded during the revolution. What did the participants wish to achieve (what did they wish NOT to achieve?)? What was the impact that Hungary’s revolution had on the world and how it was received in the West? How can we decipher the fractured way in which contemporary Hungary recalls, symbolized and memorialize the revolution, ultimately put down.
To begin exploring the sites of the 1956 revolution, your walk will start at the Technical University, where students first organized and drew up their sixteen points on October 22nd. From there, we will follow in the path of the students who marched in mass to Bem Square, where the demonstrators from Buda and Pest met. Here, we discuss how the revolution’s symbol was born (the tricolor flag with a hole in the center where the Soviet red star once featured). It was also from this square that the protestors – now numbering in the tens of thousands – marched onwards to the Hungarian Parliament demanding to hear former Prime Minister Imre Nagy. We shall also walk by the military court where Imre Nagy was convicted of “treason” for his role in the revolution.
From the Parliament, we move to the Hungarian Radio Station building, where protestors demanded that their sixteen points be broadcast to the nation. We stand on the spot where the secret police fired upon the unarmed crowds and thus initiated the series of events that turned this peaceful protest into the widespread armed conflict that it became. Next, we visit the Corvin Movie Theater, site of some of the heaviest fighting, now standing as a memorial site to the revolution. The last two stops are the city park, where the memorial to the revolution stands on the site formerly occupied by the massive statue of Joseph Stalin, which was pulled down the evening of October 23rdNagy was reburied and where Hungary’s communist leadership finally conceded (over 30 years after the 1956 Revolution) that their time was up.