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Timeline (Spirit of '56)

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1956

  • 25 October: Prime Minister Nagy, after returning to power the previous day by popular demand, tells a secret meeting of the Hungarian government's top pro-reform leaders of his intentions to leave the Warsaw Pact. He is met with wild applause. He also presents his plan to ensure that the Soviets do not interfere. The plan is approved.
  • Night, 25 October: The Hungarian government secretly sends an emergency accession request to NATO. The request states that "Hungary wishes to leave the Soviet Bloc and join NATO. We request a meeting with NATO leaders as soon as possible." NATO narrowly agrees to meet with Hungarian diplomats.
  • 27 October: Under the cover of darkness, a group of top Hungarian diplomats disguised as ÁVH officers allegedly en route to the Hungarian embassy in Vienna cross the border. Upon reaching the airport at Vienna, they immediately fly to Paris and meet with NATO leaders. They explain what Imre Nagy plans to do, and NATO approves their request. At 12:39 Local Time, Hungary becomes a full member of NATO. Two hours later, Imre Nagy states on national television that Hungary has joined NATO and is leaving the Warsaw Pact, effective immediately. Mass celebrations erupt in the streets in reaction to the news. Khrushchev is incensed, but is powerless to do anything, since any action against Hungary will trigger a full NATO military response.
  • 28 October: Pro-Soviet elements within the government, led by János Kádár, attempt to execute a coup against  Nagy. However, their small forces are quickly overwhelmed by the Hungarian Army. Kádár is arrested and charged with treason. The Warsaw Pact initiates a trade embargo against Hungary, and Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union close their borders with Hungary.
  • 29 October: Nagy announced to a wildly cheering crowd that the People's Republic of Hungary will cease to exist in seven days, after which a new constitution will be written. He promises that it will include democratic reforms, free elections, and a much freer economy. Nagy also announces that he will be stepping down in thirty days, following the consolidation of the new government. The West applauds Nagy. 
  • 5 November: At midnight, the People's Republic of Hungary is dissolved. Despite the late hour, almost 90% of the country flocks into the streets to celebrate. The Provisional State of Hungary is formed.
  • 6 November: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower wins reelection over Adlai Stevenson by a landslide.
  • 12 November: With the passing of the new constitution, the Provisional State of Hungary becomes the Republic of Hungary.
    Flag of the Hungarian Revolution (1956)

    The flag of the Republic of Hungary. The blank white spot in the middle is an homage to the fact that, during the Revolution, rebels cut out the People's Republic of Hungary coat of arms.

  • 29 November: In Hungary's first post-Soviet election, Imre Nagy wins reelection by a landslide. He immediately announces his intent to further integrate Hungary into NATO.
  • 1 December: Time magazine declares Imre Nagy "Man of the Year."
  • 5 December: President Eisenhower flies to Budapest for the first American state visit to an ex-Eastern-Bloc country. He is greeted by wildly cheering crowds and affirms his commitment to safeguard Hungarian security.
  • 6-7 December: Tension rises in other Eastern Bloc countries, who, wanting to mimic Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, become angry at their leadership.
  • 8 December: The tension in the Eastern Bloc boils over dramatically as capitals all across the Soviet sphere explode with riots, mass strikes, and bombings. In East Berlin, Soviet troops swing into action to quell riots that threated a government building. In the Soviet Union itself, many are angry at Khrushchev's intention to maintain control of the Warsaw Pact at all costs. Just outside of the Romanian city of Oradea, a massive riot ensues as thousands try to head to Hungary. Western journalists are on hand and film the entire event. Finally, a disaffected Romanian Army tank crew hears of the situation, drives their tank to the border, and drives straight through the wall. The Romanian security guards open fire, wounding many; however, at least a thousand are able to get through. After the Romanian security troops began firing on a wounded teenager who had his hands up, Hungarian forces exchange fire with the Romanian troops, wounding two at no cost to their own. Hungarian Army medics are able to save most of the wounded, but, 59 innocent people are killed in full view of Western TV cameras, and the incident is seen live by millions. The Kremlin officially disowns the commanders responsible, and Romanian dictator Gheorghe Gheorgiu-Dej issues an official apology. However, the West is still outraged, and protests break out in major cities across the free world. 
  • 9 December: Khrushchev is wounded when a bomb explodes in the Kremlin. Mass demonstrations and riots ensue across Romania and the Eastern Bloc as the people learn of the massacre at Oradea. Government tanks are dispatched to Bucharest to stop the demonstrations with force. However, three tanks go rogue, destroying the others and turning on the Romanian Army. Gheorgiu-Dej is killed when one of the tanks fires on his residence. Romania collapses into chaos as much of the military defects to the newly-formed Army of National Liberation (ANL), which quickly takes Bucharest.
  • 10 December: Khrushchev orders Soviet troops into Romania, beginning the Romanian-Soviet War. While NATO is unable to assist the ANL directly, they roundly condemn the Soviet invasion and commence a trade embargo against the Eastern Bloc.
  • 11 December: Soviet troops come within thirty miles of Bucharest.
  • 12 December: Events begins to turn against the Soviets as resistance around the Romanian capital intensifies, with civilians taking up arms against the Soviet invaders. The ANL finally deploys their "secret weapon"- Romania's twenty-odd Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle" jet bombers, which commence a gallant, but near-suicidal raid on Soviet positions in Bucharest's suburbs. Less than half of the bombers return; however, the carnage that they inflict upon the Soviet troops causes the U.N. to call a special meeting in order to defuse the crisis and stop the fighting.

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