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At the end of the 1980's, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the retreat of Communism, Hungary had its first free elections

Budapest History

1956 Revolution of independence

1956 Janos Kádár in power

1978 US returns Crown of Saint Stephen to Hungary

1988 Kádár gives up his position

1989 People’s Socialist Republic of Hungary abandons Communism to become the Hungarian Republic ("the change")

1990 Árpád Göncz is elected President, first free elections

 

In 1956, Hungarians rebelled against Russian occupation. In Budapest, peaceful protests turned into a city-wide uprising, literally overnight (on October 23rd). Men, women and children defied Soviet tanks on the streets. Thousands of women and children were slaughtered "at sight", day and night, if found on the streets, or at whim. Starvation and oppression was used as a standard tool by the communist power-hungry Hungarians, who changed sides for their own gain.  Jealous or greedy neighbors, serving as informants, made people disappear into trucks, never to be heard from again, often sparked random arrests. During the revolution, Imre Nagy briefly lead a new, independent national government, but the revolt was quashed two weeks later by Russian troops.

 

After Soviet power had been forcefully restored, the elected leader by the Soviets was János Kádár, who gradually normalized conditions (thanks to the death of Stalin, the mass murderer Soviet leader), embarking on cautious reforms to create a "goulash-socialism" that made Hungary the envy of its similar fated neighbors. Due to the efforts of Kadar, and huge loans taken from the West, to offset the failing economy, Hungary became the West's favorite Communist state during the late 1970s.

 

The era of Communism was a terror to some, easy life (still sought after, with some sentiment) for others. Land and all industrial enterprise were absorbed by the state. Russian soldiers, who "freed" Budapest, forgot to leave the country for almost a half a century. Persecution and resulting migration was common, especially among the best of minds. On the other hand, mass rebuilding took place, this time in a different style, and life began to ease up for ordinary people (who did not have a problem with the system on moral grounds or otherwise). For those who did have a problem, suffering was severe, in work camps both within and way outside the country. But from the 70's, and into the 80's, it eased up for the majority. Large-scale building of blocks of flats took place in the 1960’s and 70's. Further underground lines were built, along with fast suburb trains.

 

At the end of the 1980's, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the retreat of Communism, Hungary had its first free elections, and changed into a Republic. The process was perhaps the most peaceful of all the former communist countries; Hungarians simply refer it as "the change". Since then, the Lágymányosi Bridge, a new National Theatre, and the National Concert Hall was built, and there are many further developments planned, including a fourth Underground line.
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