Monday, October 23, 2006

"Just the image of a Hungarian student demonstrator, armed...with rocks...symbolized...heroism..."

It's the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian uprising against Communist oppression. Like the 1968 uprising in Czechoslovakia, it was deemed a failure at the time. Not according to those who lived through it. This from the Columbus Dispatch:
To those gathered for the anniversary service at the Hungarian Reformed Church on the city’s South Side — and to much of the world — military defeat in 1956 did not signify failure.

It was more beginning than end.

"Just the image of a Hungarian student demonstrator, armed only with rocks, trying to build a barricade to Soviet tanks, symbolized the heroism of these people," said David Hoffmann, a history professor at Ohio State University.

"It deeply tarnished the Soviet image, not only in Europe, but around the world. You could call it a public-relations disaster."

Thousands of Hungarians died, and nearly a quartermillion soon fled. "But it had been proved that Russian imperialism was not impenetrable," Barlay said.

The next year, in 1957, Time magazine named the "Hungarian freedom fighter" Man of the Year for 1956.
It would take nearly thirty years before the empty suit in the Kremlin crumbled from the weight of its own blood and dominions. But Hungary in '56 was an early warning sign. Empire, especially an empire built on oppression, cannot stand. Read the whole thing.

[Read here and here for two discussions of an often-overlooked element in the dissolution of the Soviet empire.]

1 comment:

L.L. Barkat said...

Unfortunately, it can stand for quite some time.

And, the converse is also true... good empires can crumble rather quickly... a short view of history attests to that.