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“We will no longer remain slaves”

Posted by Richard on October 23, 2006

On this day fifty years ago, the people of Hungary, chanting the banned song lyric, "We vow, we vow, we will no longer remain slaves," toppled Stalin’s statue and overthrew the Soviet puppet government. It lasted about two glorious weeks, during which the West did nothing. Eventually, the Soviets sent 17 divisions of the Red Army into Hungary. The United Nations, in sharp contrast to its response in Korea, merely expressed concern. The forces of freedom and democracy were slaughtered, and those captured imprisoned or executed.

Hathor remembered with two excellent YouTube videos and a personal recollection:

I was crestfallen as a child, my vision of America changed after this event. Heard much talk of Radio Free Europe and the encouragement we were giving the new Soviet satellites to seek freedom. Communist were the scourge of the earth, and yet we let the Hungarians fight alone. My most vivid memory, watching the news and seeing the Russian tanks roll through the streets. I could not understand why America was not helping.

Later we fought this fight in some distant rainforest.

I don’t remember the 1956 uprising (I was only 7), but I remember reading about it just a few years later and having the same reaction — how could we stand idly by? I suppose that’s the naive reaction of someone who doesn’t have to pay the cost (in lives and dollars) or consider the consequences. Nonetheless, the events of October and November 1956 brought honor to many Hungarians — but none to the U.S., the U.N., or the NATO countries.

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4 Responses to ““We will no longer remain slaves””

  1. David Bryant said

    ”…how could we stand idly by?”

    Maybe it had something to do with the crisis in the Suez? You can read a little bit about those two fateful weeks in October over here. There’s even a pretty good audio clip of Walter Cronkite talking about it.

    Eisenhower faced some tough choices. It’s hard to say what the U.S.A. might usefully have done, under the circumstances.

  2. Anonymous said

    The sense I got, that it was the ”’Bomb”’. I think the threat of nuclear war permeated foreign policy until the mid sixties.

    I read this article today that shows a moment where the revolt might have succeeded during the Suez crisis.

  3. Anonymous said

    Good links — thank you both. I realize it was a complicated situation, and I don’t intend to be too critical of the West (well, maybe of the U.N. ), but…

    I don’t know what I’d have done in Ike’s shoes, with all the alternatives and their possible consequences starkly laid out. I realize that the threat of a nuclear confrontation was a real and frightening thing.

    But I look at the images of men and women facing Red Army tanks with Molotov cocktails, some captured rifles, and an unquenchable yearning for freedom — and I like to think I’d have said, “Screw the consequences, those people ”’deserve”’ our support!”

  4. Anonymous said

    Oh, yeah — one more thing. Remember about a month ago when I mentioned riots in Budapest against the socialist government for lying to them? The tensions haven’t abated, and the people of Budapest are still willing to take to the streets in opposition to socialism. Go, Magyars!

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