04
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-4-2008: Hungary

November 4, 1956

Soviets crush Hungarian revolt

Following nearly two weeks of protest and political instability in Hungary, Soviet tanks and troops viciously crush the protests. Thousands were killed and wounded, and nearly a quarter-million Hungarians fled the country.

The problems in Hungary had begun in October, when thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding a more democratic political system and freedom from Soviet oppression. In response, Communist Party officials appointed Imre Nagy, (a former premier who had been dismissed from the party for his criticisms of Stalinist policies), as the new premier. Nagy tried to restore peace and asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops. The Soviets did so, but Nagy then tried to push the Hungarian revolt forward by abolishing one-party rule. He also announced that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet bloc’s equivalent of NATO).

On November 4, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to stop Hungary’s movement away from the communist bloc. Vicious street fighting broke out, but the Soviets’ greater power insured the doom of the rebels. After the deaths and injuries of thousands of Hungarians, the protests were finally put down. Nagy was captured shortly thereafter and was executed two years later.

The Soviet action stunned many people in the West. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had pledged a retreat from the Stalinist policies and repression of the past, but the violent actions in Budapest suggested otherwise. Inaction on the part of the United States angered and frustrated many Hungarians. Voice of America radio broadcasts and speeches by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had recently suggested that the United States supported the “liberation” of “captive peoples” in communist nations. Yet, as Soviet tanks bore down on the protesters, the United States did nothing beyond issuing public statements of sympathy for their plight.

“Soviets crush Hungarian revolt.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Nov 2008, 01:03 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2474.

On This Day

1842 – Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd in Springfield, IL.

1922 – In Egypt, Howard Carter discovered the entry of the lost tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

1924 – Nellie T. Ross of Wyoming was elected America’s first woman governor so she could serve out the remaining term of her late husband, William B. Ross.

1939 – During World War II, the U.S. modified its neutrality stance with the Neutrality Act of 1939. The new policy allowed cash-and-carry purchases of arms by belligerents.

1965 – Lee Ann Roberts Breedlove became the first woman to exceed 300 mph when she went 308.5 mph.

1985 – Soviet defector Vitaly Yurchenko announced he was returning to the Soviet Union. He had charged that he had been kidnapped by the CIA.

1995 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 73 years old, was assassinated by right-wing Israeli Yigal Amir after attending a peace rally.

2001 – Hurrican Michelle hit Cuba destroying crops and thousands of homes. The United States made the gesture of sending humanitarian aid. On December 16, 2001, Cuba received the first commercial food shipment from the U.S. in nearly 40 years.

November 4, 1979

Iranians storm U.S. embassy

Student followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini send shock waves across America when they storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The radical Islamic fundamentalists took 90 hostages. The students were enraged that the deposed Shah had been allowed to enter the United States for medical treatment and they threatened to murder hostages if any rescue was attempted. Days later, Iran’s provincial leader resigned, and the Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s fundamentalist revolutionaries, took full control of the country–and the fate of the hostages.

Two weeks after the storming of the embassy, the Ayatollah began to release all non-U.S. captives, and all female and minority Americans, citing these groups as among the people oppressed by the United States government. The remaining 52 captives were left at the mercy of the Ayatollah for the next 14 months.

President Jimmy Carter was unable to diplomatically resolve the crisis, and on April 24, 1980, he ordered a disastrous rescue mission in which eight U.S. military personnel were killed and no hostages rescued. Three months later, the former shah died of cancer in Egypt, but the crisis continued. In November 1980, Carter lost the presidential election to Republican Ronald Reagan. Soon after, with the assistance of Algerian intermediaries, successful negotiations finally began between the United States and Iran.

On January 20, 1981–the day of Reagan’s inauguration–the United States freed almost $3 billion in frozen Iranian assets and promised $5 billion more in financial aid. Minutes after Reagan was sworn in, the hostages flew out of Iran on an Algerian airliner, ending their 444-day ordeal. The next day, Jimmy Carter flew to West Germany to greet them on their way home.

“Iranians storm U.S. embassy.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Nov 2008, 01:07 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=7071.

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