Well presented, well attended, well received!

Zsolt Máté, our speaker on February 11th, presented riveting details about the 1956 Hungarian revolution using various source materials from several presidential libraries, US Department of State archives, and oral histories.   His talk illuminated three divergent perspectives on the revolution:  Hungary’s expectations, the American governmental point of view, and the American Hungarian perspectives.  He situated the revolution into the context of the Cold War, which governed relations between the US and the Soviet Union at that time.  He explained that the State Department was observing and thinking strategically about the discontent existing in the satellite countries.  Of the options laid out, the one adopted by the Eisenhower government was not to intervene should the revolution occur either in Poland or in Hungary. Throughout the bloody and painful days of the revolution, the Hungarian people hoped for and pleaded for support and intervention.  Hungary had not yet realized the US’s position, made even before the revolution began, that though the US might applaud their aspirations for freedom and independence, it would not actively support them. The revolution was brutally squelched. Over 200,000 refugees, 2% of the nation’s population sought refuge outside their country.  Zsolt explained the subsequent efforts globally to garner support and aid the refugees. The year, 1956, planted Hungary firmly in the world’s consciousness:  Zsolt explained how surprised he was when traveling abroad to learn that Hungary was most well-known for its fight for independence. This was the most frequently cited fact known about Hungary.


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