A story from 1956


My great-grandfather was born in 1925. His left leg was disabled as a result of childhood polio and he had a wheelchair for several years, but later he was able to walk again. He did not have to join the army because of his disability in the World War II, therefore he fortunately stayed alive but experienced all the terrible things including the Soviet horror in 1956.
On several occasions I spent a couple of hours in his room, playing chess and card games with him. Meanwhile we were talking all the time and he told me many stories. I remember that moment when I was 12 years old. We are sitting in his room, he is speaking and I am trying to write down every single word.
He was 31 years old when the revolution started in Budapest, on 23rd October 1956. He was working in Fehervari Street, when the megaphone announced that the government had banned the university students’ demonstration. The workers’ council decided to join the demonstration despite the ban. They went to the Bem Statue, at around 4 PM.

The area and the Danube bank was already filled with workers. They read out the revolutionary demands, then the crowd marched through Margaret-Bridge, to the Parliament Building. From its window, former prime minister Imre Nagy held a speech. He called the people “comrades”. He couldn’t finish his sentence because of loud protest. Then they went to Felvonulas Square (now Dozsa Gyorgy Road) through Andrassy Avenue. My great-grandfather saw how the people tried to demolish the Stalin statue with a saw. (an 8-meter-high statue made of bronze and limestone) Later, somebody brought a truck and attached a windlass to the statute’s neck. At first, the windlass broke. The second time they succeeded and towed away the fallen Stalin to Rakoczi Road with the truck and left it there to dismember it the following day.
The intact Stalin Statue 

It was around midnight, and the crowd slowly dispersed. My great-grandfather and his family heard shootouts all night. The tram service stopped the next day. When my great-grandfather was walking to work he saw demolished buildings and a tank at the corner of Tompa Street, with dead bodies around it. Needless to say, he did not have to work on that day.
In the morning one day later, he saw the black cars of the government delegation from the balcony. They were going to the Csepel Island to negotiate with the Russians. They did not come back anymore, because they were captured. The streets were full of wounded and dead people and destroyed Soviet tanks, the air was filled with the noise of machine guns. My great-grandfather and his family did not dare to leave their home till the 4th of November so they spent the day mostly in the cellar, listening to the radio. It was impossible to stay in the flat because of incoming grenades and the continuous shooting. The following year was full of fear and insecurity, like  every day of communism.


Background: I found my original writing in June. I wanted to rewrite and translate it when I came across this question on Quora. I thought it's a perfect time to get this done so I typed the whole story translated. I showed the article to my grandmother who found it very touching and she was very happy. If you know nothing about the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, check out this Wikipedia page first.

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