How his changing political ideas and personal developments before and during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution did affect Imre Nagy’s role of becoming from a convinced Communist the leader of the Revolution and a martyr of freedom?
A Plan of the investigation
Subject of the investigation
How the political thoughts of Imre Nagy did change so fast leading up to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution?
Method of investigation
Study the history of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. I selected authors who had direct memories of the events and of Imre Nagy. ii.
Study various sources on Imre Nagy’s life and political beliefs before and during the Revolution in order to understand his transformation from a dye-hard communist into a national leader and martyr of freedom. iii.
Selection of two detailed books on the personal and political factors of his transformation. One is Karl Benzinger’s Imre Nagy, Martyr of the Nation, and the other is Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution by Victor Sebestyen. iv.
Analyze and compare the pre-1956 and the revolutionary leader Imre Nagy.
B. Summary of evidence
Imre Nagy has been one of the most emblematic personalities in Hungarian history, even in overall retrospect. Accordingly, there are abundant historical studies and interpretations on his political and personal background. These sources uniformly agree that he represented a dramatic transformation of becoming from an ardent communist a revolutionary leader of the 1956 Revolution, and consequently a national hero and martyr of the cause of freedom. But there is no agreement among the many authors, former friends, political acquaintances and fellow revolutionaries regarding the precise impact of historical and political events in his life and in the era of the1950s on his political conviction. Imre Nagy was born to an ordinary peasant family in 1896, in the peak year of poverty when millions of Hungarians emigrated in the hope of a better future. His early life amidst World War I, and the following political oppression and economic crisis predestined him to become a harsh critic of the still existing feudal system. By the age of 22, he became a follower of Communism. After conscripted in WWI, he was sent to the Soviet front, where he was taken prisoner and sent to a prisoner camp in Siberia, where he volunteered to the Red Army in 1918 and fought in Russian Civil War on the Bolshevik side. In 1921, he was sent back by the Soviets to Hungary to work underground and to recruit for the Communist Party. When as a consequence he spent two years in jail, he started to study agriculture to which he later owed his popularity as a Communist leader. In 1930, he moved with his family to Moscow. Some sources suggested that he survived the political purges because of his KGB connections. Sebestyen concludes that as a disciplined Communist he put the Party’s interests above everything else, but such compromising documents only surfaced after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and suspicion has been that these were falsified . His pro-Soviet liberation message on the clandestine Hungarian radio during the war was important for Moscow . He asserted that the Russian liberators would give land to the Hungarian peasants for the first time. In 1944 he returned to Hungary, and became the co-founder of the Stalinist one-party state . As Minister of Agriculture in the new government, he kept his earlier promises. His political career included various positions, like Minister of the Interior (1947), Speaker of the Parliament (until 1949), Prime Minister (1953-55), and also held other key Party positions. In 1953, as result of disappointment in the Soviet Union by the policies of Hungarian Communist hardliners like Rakosi and others, Moscow appointed him as Prime Minister. But by the spring of 1955, he fell out of favor with the Soviets, and was sacked from all government and Party positions. He became Prime Minister again on popular...
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