Early lab for experiments
with a market economy
In 1993 Hungary adopted a law — which is still in effect
— banning the use of the Red Star in public. For the
country’s lawmakers, the old symbol of socialism was
simply too reminiscent of the dictatorship installed by
the Soviet Union and what the population had suffered
under it for close to 50 years. In no other of their satellite
countries had the Soviets left such bloody traces behind.
The Hungarian popular uprising of 1956 claimed a
death toll of 2600.
In 1953 the regime in Budapest had embarked on a
reform course, hoping that after Stalin’s death the Soviet
leadership would permit a greater measure of national
liberty. The Hungarian government proclaimed the
country’s independence and withdrew from the Warsaw
Pact, the communist military alliance. However, out of
fear of a wildfire of declarations of independence in its
own sphere of influence, the new politburo in Moscow,
ordered 16 armoured divisions into Hungary to “restore
order”. In the wake of the violent suppression of the
popular uprising, 22,000 persons were arrested and
over 200 executed, including Imre Nagy, the Communist
Party leader and driving force behind the reform movement.
Some 225,000 Hungarians fled the country.
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