The year was 1956, three years after the death of the Russian dictator Stalin, and Hungarians took to the streets. Living standards were low after years of forced industrial growth at the expense of consumption, an economic policy operated by a harsh regime.
Hungarians, sensing the slipping of Moscow’s grip on their country, had had enough. Over 200,000 marched in the streets, calling for change. Prime Minister Imre Nagy, who was later executed, was to become a symbol of Hungary’s strive for democracy. The movement gathered momentum, becoming more organised. But Moscow was displeased. Although the first Soviet tanks arrived on October 24, it was the massive offensive in November that led to the uprising being crushed by the end of the year. At least 2,500 Hungarians and 600 Soviet troops died in the fighting, with more than 20,OOO injured, according to contemporary official statistics. But some estimates put the numbers much higher. And more than 180,000 people fled the country, many of them ending up in the United States of America.