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Soviet Archival Documents on Hungary, October-November 1956. Translated by Johanna Granville

Soviet Archival Documents on Hungary, October-November 1956. Translated by Johanna Granville



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Published by Johanna Granville
Ten Russian archival documents are translated here in English. They are from the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Noveishei Istorii, or RGANI) and the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii, or AVP RF).
Ten Russian archival documents are translated here in English. They are from the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Noveishei Istorii, or RGANI) and the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii, or AVP RF).

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Johanna Granville on Apr 11, 2009
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Copyright: Johanna Granville, trans., "Soviet Documents on the Hungarian Revolution, 24October - 4 November 1956,"
Cold War International History Project Bulletin
[CWIHP], no.5 (Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC), Spring, 1995, pp.22-23, 29-34 respectively.
Also onhttp://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1409&fuseaction=topics.publications&group_id=15142- p. 22 -
(1) Report from Soviet Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Perevertkin, October 24, 1956
 SPECIAL FOLDER Top secretThe Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR reports on the situation on the border with theHungarian Peoples' Republic as of 8:00 a.m. October 26 [
! October 24]. In accordancewith the decision reached by the Minister of Defense of the USSR, Marshal of the SovietUnion, comrade G. K. Zhukov, the troops of the Soviet Army consisting of 128 rifle[
] divisions [
and 39 mechanized divisions began at 2:15 a.m. to cross the stateborder into the Hungarian Peoples' Republic via the points Chop, Beregovo, and Vylok.At the indicated points a tight connection was established between the officers of theborder troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the headquarters [
] of the units and formations of the Soviet Army following across the border.The border units and subdivisions rendered necessary assistance to the units of theSoviet Army.The whole sector of the border with the Hungarian Peoples' Republic from 5:00 a.m. onOctober 26 [
October 24] of this year is guarded intensively by the border units, with thegoal of not permitting unpunished violations of the state border.The crossing of the border by the units of the Soviet Army continues.No incidents on the Soviet-Hungarian border were noted.Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union Perevertkin
Note: This copy incorporates spelling corrections and footnotes from Tofik M. Islamov, etal.
 Sovetskii Soiuz i Vengerskii Krizis 1956 goda
(Moscow: Rosspen, 1998) and Csaba Békéset al.,
The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents
(Budapest and New York:Central European University Press, 2002).
The Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) receivedthis report the same day it was written, October 24, 1956.
The word "divisions" [
] in an error, since 128 rifle divisions and 39 mechanizeddivisions would have meant the entire Soviet army. Probably the word Perevertkin meant touse was "companies." There were around 31,500 Soviet soldiers in Hungary on October 24,drawn from five divisions in and near Hungary. See comments by Raymond Garthoff in
CWIHP Bulletin
, no. 6/7 (winter 1995), p. 284 and Mark Kramer in the same Bulletin, p. 51.For additional statistics of Soviet troops numbers and origins, see essay by A. A. Kyrov,"Sovetskaia karatel'naia aktsiia v Vengrii," in Iu. S. Novopashin, ed.
 Konflikty v poslevoennom razvitii vostochnoevropeiskikh stran
(Moscow: Institut slavianovedeniia ibalkanistiki RAN, 1997), pp. 127-128.
 [Source: Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Noveishei Istorii (RGANI), fond 89, perechen'45, dok. 7, Moscow. Also pp. 368-9 in T. M. Islamov, et al.
 Sovetskii Soiuz i Vengerskii Krizis1956 goda
(Moscow: Rosspen, 1998). Translated by Johanna Granville].
* * * *- p 23 -(2) Mikoyan-Suslov Report, October 24, 1956
We arrived at the scene after some delay; due to weather conditions, we were unable to landat the airport near Budapest. We landed 90 kilometers to the north. We stopped by thecorps headquarters for orientation, and from there, in an armed personnel carrier withcomrades [KGB chief Ivan] Serov and [General Mikhail S.] Malinin, we set off for the city.
 We were accompanied by tanks, because there was shooting in Budapest at this time andthere were casualties on both sides, including Soviet soldiers and officers.In Buda small groups of people watched the movement of our column calmly; somelooked anxious, others greeted it with a smile. The roads approaching the city and in the citywere full of Soviet tanks and other materiel.On the streets together with the Soviet troops were Hungarian patrols. In contrast toBuda, where it was calm, there was continuous shooting in Pest between isolated groups of provocateurs
and individuals and our machine-gunners, beginning at the bridge andextending to the Ministry of Defense building, as well as toward the Central Committeebuilding. Our men did most of the shooting; to solitary shots we replied with salvos.In the Ministry of Defense we met the ministers of defense and state security
, as well asa group of Central Committee members--[István Kovács, Zoltán Vas, and others, who wereauthorized to
- p. 29 -lead the operation for liquidating the riots in the city. There is a field headquarters there,which works in contact with the Hungarians. It should be noted that during a telephoneconversation with [Ern
] Ger
from the corps headquarters, in reply to our question about
The Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs received this report on October 25 at 7:25 a.m. Itwas decoded and printed out at 9:40 a.m. It was distributed to the members and candidatemembers of the CC CPSU Presidium, CC secretaries, to the director of the CC departmentof ties with foreign communist parties, and to responsible functionaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The headquarters of the "Special Corps" [
Osobyi Korpus
] was located in the city of Székesfehérvár, 60 kilometers southwest of Budapest. Apparently, the plane carried thedelegation landed at the military airport near Vesprém, located about fifteen kilometersnorth of Lake Balaton.
The Hungarian Minister of Defense was István Bata, and the Hungarian Minister of Internal Affairs was László Piros.
the situation, he said that there is both an improvement and deterioration in the situation,and that the arrival of Soviet troops in the city has a negative effect on the disposition of theinhabitants, including the workers.After a conversation with military personnel, during which we heard the preliminaryreports of the Soviet military command and the command of the Hungarian armed forces,which -- after closer familiarization -- turned out to be rather exaggerated in a pessimisticway, we stopped by the Central Committee of the Hungarian Workers' Party, where weconversed with Ger
, Imre Nagy, Kádár, Zoltán Szántó, and [András] Hegedüs
, who
informed us about the situation in the city and the measures they had taken to liquidate theriots.We had the impression that Ger
especially, but the other comrades as well, areexaggerating the strength of the opponent and underestimating their own strength. At fiveo'clock Moscow time the situation in the city was as follows:All the hotbeds of the insurgents have been crushed; liquidation of the main hotbed, atthe radio station, where about 4,000 people are concentrated, is still going on. They raised awhite flag, but when the representatives of the Hungarian authorities appeared, theypresented as a condition of surrender the removal of Ger
from his post, which of coursewas rejected. Our command is setting for itself the task of liquidating this hotbed tonight.
 It is significant that the Hungarian workers here, above all the state security personnel, putup a violent resistance to the insurgents and tolerated defeat here only due to the exhaustionof ammunition and the attack on them by a fresh battalion of Hungarian troops whomutinied.The comrades express the opinion that the Hungarian army conducted itself poorly,although the Debrecen division performed well.
The Hungarian seamen, who patrolled thebanks of the Danube River, also performed well, and so did troops and personnel of thestate security organs, especially, as already noted.Arrests of the instigators and organizers of the disturbances, more than 450 people, arebeing carried out. The exposure and arrest of the instigators continues.The task has been set to complete the liquidation of the remaining individual groupshiding in buildings. Due to the fact that a turning point in the events has occurred, it hasbeen decided to use more boldly the Hungarian units for patrolling, for detaining suspiciouselements and people violating the introduction of a state of emergency, and for guardingimportant installations (railroad stations, roads, etc.).The Hungarian comrades, especially Imre Nagy, approved of the use of more Hungarianmilitary units, militia, and state security units for the purpose of lightening the burden of the Soviet troops and to emphasize the role of the Hungarians themselves in the liquidationof the riots. The majority of the workers did not participate in the riots, and it is even saidthat the workers in Csepel, who had no weapons, drove off the provocateurs, who wanted toincite them to riot. However, some of the workers, especially young ones, did take part inthe disturbances.One of the most serious mistakes of the Hungarian comrades was the fact that, before12:00 midnight, they did not permit anyone to shoot at the participants in the riots.The Hungarians themselves are taking measures, and we gave them additional advicewith respect to the organization of workers' fighting squads at the factories and in theregional committees of the party and about the arming of such squads.
The radio building was occupied by the insurgents around 10:00 a.m. on October 24. TheSoviet and Hungarian units took it over at dawn on October 25, but by that time severalother centers of resistance appeared throughout Budapest.
In fact, no "Debrecen division" existed. It's possible they were referring to the actions of the Hungarian security forces in Debrecen on October 23 when they dispersed a massdemonstration.

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