Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Being American and Loving It

As you may know, the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution against the Communists is this year. None of us knows more about it than our own Peter Schramm. And, in part, he has written about it here. But what he has written is (like him) much more expansive than any simple discussion of the history of the Hungarian Revolution. It is the story of tyranny vs. freedom, the harrowing journey rejecting the former and embracing the latter and, above all, his continuing love affair with America--for all the right reasons. When you read it (as you must) you will be hard pressed not to love her as he does. And you, as he, will be richer for your love. (A perfect read, by the way, to supplement your understanding of the immigration debate.)

Discussions - 7 Comments

Peter’s story made me laugh and cry. I wish that our native born Americans had as much "Americanization" as Peter.

Forgive my lack of knowledge on the topic, but could someone please explain what the Hungarians were fighting for? Were they fighting for freedom from Communism, or merely a change in the Hungarian Communist leadership? Anyone who could provide even the most brief information would be much appreciated.

Yes, clearly Peter immigrated to this country illegally in order to do work that Americans will not do.

I spent a couple months in Hungary during the Kosovo campaign and was able to meet up with a former college classmate and Hungarian citizen. She was an excellent guide and provided great insight. Overall, Hungarians were warm and helpful. In an odd sense, they admired the American refusal to accept the metric system because it reminded them of the cultural uniqueness of their language.

I’ll also say that there are few things more enjoyable than sitting in an open air cafe, drinking beer in the sun, and watching some of the most beautiful women in the world walk by. Hungarian women were stunning and in abundant supply.

Not much content to contribute, I admit. Just reminded of a good summer.

God Bless Hungary and keep them safe.

Intersted, I will try to keep this brief. After Stalin died in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev came to power in the Soviet Union, as he beagan to consolidate his power he gave a speech in 1956 that shocked the Soviet people because he denounced Stalin’s dictatorial rule and the cult of personality that existed under Stalin.

As a result of this speech Khruschev’s power soared and all of Khruschev’s Stalinist rivals lost influence. Khrushchev then eased restrictions, freed millions of political prisoners and initiated economic policies that allowed living standards to rise dramatically and that led to high levels of economic growth within the Soviet Union.

This loosening of controls in the Soviet Union had a major impact in Soviet controlled Eastern Europe, especially in Poland and Hungary. Riots broke out in Poland in the summer of 1956. The Soviet’s contemplated invasion after Polish Communists elected a Prime Minister without consulting the Kremlin in advance. Khrushchev eventually decided against invasion because that Prime Minister was so popular among the Polish people and because they were assured that Poland would still remain a member of the Warsaw Pact. This led many in Soviet controlled Eastern Europe to believe that the Soviet Union would intervene less frequently in their domestic and external affairs.

Seeing what had just occured in Poland, the Hungarians made their move for freedom. The 1956 Hungarian Revolution or the Hungarian Uprising was an anti-Soviet revolt in Hungary lasting from 23 October to 4 November 1956. On 23 October 1956 Hungarians rose up against their Soviet-appointed government. Within days, millions of Hungarians were participating in or supporting the revolt. The revolt gained control over a large number of social institutions and a large amount of territory. They then began to implement their own policies and began to execute pro-Soviet communists. The Hungarian Communist Party made Imre Nagy Prime Minister. After negotiating a ceasefire with Soviet forces in Hungary, Nagy declared his intention to withdraw Hungary from the Warsaw Pact and he began to dismantle the one-party state.

Encouraged by an apparent promise of help, Nagy appealed to the UN and Western governments for protection. But with the Suez crisis in full swing and no real appetite for fighting the USSR over a crisis in Eastern Europe, the West did not respond. The Soviet military’s response was swift and devastating. Some 30,000 people were killed in Budapest alone and about 200,000 Hungarians sought political asylum in the West. Over the next five years, thousands of Hungarians were executed or imprisoned. Nagy and others involved in the revolution were secretly tried and executed in June 1958.

If you want more information here is a good one at the Covinus Library - Hungarian History

My son David went to grammar school and high school in Massachusetts with Imre Nagy’s grandson. (By then, the pronunciation seems to have become NAG-ee.) I am happy to say that David learned a great deal about Hungary and was able to celebrate with the Nagys when freedom came. I shall send Peter’s lovely piece to David in memory of David’s childhood friend Tibor, who died young in an auto accident.

When I was very young, I lived next door to a woman and her twin girls. They were Hungarian refugees who had gotten out in 1956. I remember only one thing of their story: They, like you, Professor, walked out. There’s one other thing I remember about them: they, like your father, had a fascination with cars. But they type of car they liked? Edsels. This I could never understand.

By the time you were beginning your studies at Claremont Graduate School, in October of 1970, the twins and their mother had moved away. I was playing freshman football for the Claremont High School Wolfpack (go pack!), less than 1/2 mile from the Claremont Graduate School.

Small world.

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