BLUFFING SOVIET TANKS
______After the Allied victory in Europe in 1945 the Soviets allowed their former neighbors (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria) to choose for themselves the kind of government that would rule them. Of course, the choice the eastern Europeans were REALLY given was between a communist government and getting a bullet in the brain.
______Predictably, not everyone behind the new "Iron Curtain" was keen to be a slave to the state, especially when the rule of home-grown communists was enforced by Soviet troops. Stalin's death and the disillusionment of many Trouble started up in East Germany in 1953 and then things REALLY got out of control in Hungary in 1956 following Stalin's death and the disclosure of his crimes amongst members of the Communist Parties.
______A student protest on October 23rd in Budapest was met with police bullets and clubs. In response the students attacked the offices of the Hungarian Workers Party, looting and destroying records and newspapers. When the Hungarian Army was called out to deal with the insurrection some of them joined the rioters or gave weapons to them. By October 25th the Central Committee of the HWP named Imry Nagy, a popular figure in Hungary, the new prime minister.
______When Nagy called for the formation of a new multiparty state and Hungary's withdrawel from the Warsaw Pact the Soviets responded by agreeing to pull all their troops out of the country. They then promptly did an about-face and poured several Red divisions into the country, sealing its borders and surrounding Budapest.
______The Soviets were equipped with T34 tanks, the formidable machine that had defeated almost everything the Germans could throw at it during World War II. The Wehrmacht had to design tanks to carry 88mm guns, the only cannon proven to have the punch to get through the thick armor of the T34. The Hungarians, on the other hand, were equipped with small arms, molotov cocktails and their own ingenuity.
______As the lumbering T34s crept through Budapest the freedom fighters would lay down pie plates in alleys and on narrow roads. The Soviet tankers, having little or no culinary skills but provided with extensive military training mistook them for antitank mines.
______While the Soviets were pondering their next move the freedom fighters would torch the more-vulnerable rear of the T34 with molotov cocktails. When the crew panicked and tried to escape riflemen would pick them off.
______But Hungary was crushed by the Soviets in 18 days, mainly because the Western Powers chose not to intervene on their behalf. 200,000 Hungarians took the opportunity to escape to the West, 25,000 were imprisoned, and at least 2,000 were executed. One of them was Imry Nagy, who was promised safe conduct by the new Communist government but was instead arrested on November 23rd, given a secret trial and executed. Not necessarily in that order.
WHAT WAS THE LONG MARCH?