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1956 1.10: I Did Nagy See That Coming

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

13-02-2024 • 31 minutos

1956 Episode 1.10 continues where we left off last time, and looks a bit more at the person of Matyas Rakosi.


Rakosi was the Stalinist dictator of Hungary from the late 1940s, and he set about establishing a Hungarian Stalinist regime, complete with all the trappings Stalin enjoyed. For every purge, every policy and ever character assassination that the man of steel engaged in, Rakosi felt compelled to demonstrate his loyalty by going still further. He would terrorise the people of Hungary into a burning, resentful, petrified silence, but his hold on power was only as strong as the secret police.


Imre Nagy, a passionate communist and eager reformer of all things Stalinism, was guaranteed to butt heads with a man like Rakosi, and in this episode we examine why this was the case. What were Nagy’s guiding principles, why was he such a committed communist, and what did he bring to the table that a man like Rakosi did not? Nagy was as complex as Rakosi was cruel, but this doesn’t mean we can’t give our best shot at analysing this fascinating individual who became, almost in spite of himself, a hero and then a martyr of the Hungarian people.


This episode is a pivotal instalment as we examine the background to what was to come in Hungary, and how a quiescent vassal became the centre of anti-Soviet sentiment within only a few stormy months. All of this began, of course, in the eventful year of 1956.

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