February 24th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Weatherill demand places Murray-Darling in jeopardy

EDITORIAL China completes island building in South China Sea

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens: wouldn't know a cowardly act if they did one

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE Government forms say it is fluid gender marriage

FREEDOM AND LAW Gender and anti-discrimination: wedges between you and freedom

HISTORY A look back at B.A. Santamaria gives us a forward impulse

GENDER POLITICS Transgenderism: A state-sponsored religion

LAW AND SOCIETY Protecting freedom of religion in Australia

HISTORY Hungary, 62 years on from the anti-Soviet uprising

MUSIC Reel to real: Johann Johannsson, RIP

CINEMA Sweet Country: Sour taste of bush justice


BOOK REVIEW Lessons from the UK front of the GFC

BOOK REVIEW The dragon has woken and rumbled

BOOK REVIEW Recovery manual for morals and culture


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Hungary, 62 years on from the anti-Soviet uprising

by Hal G.P. Colebatch

News Weekly, February 24, 2018

Sixty-two years ago the Soviet Empire and Soviet Communism began to die. In one of its most ruthless victories were planted the seeds of its eventual defeat.

In late October 1956, after serious riots in Poland, the people of Hungary expelled Soviet occupation troops from the capital and set up a free regime under Imre Nagy. They overthrew a puppet regime wicked even by Communist standards.

Imre Nagy

It lasted 12 days, until the Soviet forces returned with thousands of tanks – more than Hitler had used in Operation Barbarossa in invading the USSR. Despite heroic resistance by the Hungarians with rifles and homemade petrol bombs, the uprising was crushed. Estimates of how many died in the fighting vary greatly. One is 20,000 Hungarians and 3,500 Russians.

About 13,000 Hungarians were imprisoned in the aftermath.

CIA documents in the 1960s reported about 1,200 executions among those prisoners. Among those executed were Nagy (in 1958) and General Pal Maleter, who had commanded those elements of the Hungarian Army that fought against the Russians. Details of the Soviet and communist brutality in the aftermath of the rebellion make terrible reading. Reports from Hungary by Peter Fryer, correspondent for the British Communist Party paper Daily Worker, were suppressed by that paper but remain an important eyewitness account.

Pal Maleter

About 200,000 Hungarians fled the country through Austria. Many reached Australia, where the official policy of the Menzies government was to interpret the migration regulations and requirements for refugee status as generously as possible for them.

The headline in the Australian Communist Party newspaper Tribune for 31 October, 1956, was: “Counter-revolutionary bid to overthrow socialism in Hungary”. The November 7 edition claimed: “The Hungarian people are not fighting the troops, but are in fact welcoming them”.

For the West it seemed not only tragedy but total defeat and a demonstration of impotence. Great English writer Michael Wharton (the Daily Mail’s Peter Simple) recalled in his memoirs:

“Now came a great tragedy. It began with a sense of glory, as the Hungarians rose against their communist rulers, hanged their secret policemen from lampposts and burned their torture headquarters, toppled (most glorious of all, in symbol) the giant statue of Stalin so that only the stumps of the monster’s boot-tops remained. Then came the return of the Russian communist forces, the treachery by which walrus-moustached Nagy and heroic Maleter fell into the hands of their enemies and died. In cosy Hampstead we listened to those last pleas for help from the battlements of Europe: ‘This is where we live, and this is where we die.’ There was no help coming to those heroic people, as knew well. We wept.”

Poet e.e. cummings wrote:

A monstering horror swallows
this unworld me by you
as the god of our fathers’ fathers bows
to a which that walks like a who

Only the most Quixotic optimist would have seen in it the beginning of the end for communism.

And yet it was. What moral force communism had left was shattered. In realpolitik, moral force is a great deal less important than military force, but in what was also a great clash of ideologies and value systems, it was significant. All over the world people defected from communist parties.

Pro-Soviet fronts like the World Peace Council and the so-called Christian Peace Conference exposed their true natures by refusing to condemn the Soviet action, and the peace fronts could never regain the credibility they lost (their bosses had to re-invent them for Vietnam).

From then on there could be no doubt the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe was upheld only by tanks and secret police. It would take a plaguy long time dying, but it would die at last.

Of course, a few Australian writers and intellectuals such as Judah Waten and Manning Clark went frolicking off to the Soviet Union within a few months. But that was to be expected (Clark’s unflinching loyalty to the Soviet Union won him, among other things, a special Lenin Jubilee Medal, awarded at a secret ceremony in Moscow a few years later, but that is another story).

It was the sheer naked heroism of the Hungarian fighters that did it. Cummings likened the valour of the Hungarians to that of the Greeks at Thermopylae: making a stand that was also a plea for civilisation and freedom against hopeless odds.

William Golding has written of visiting the site of Thermopylae in words that could not be bettered if carved on a monument in Budapest:

“Something real happened here. It is not just that the human spirit reacts directly and beyond all argument to a story of courage and sacrifice, as a wineglass must vibrate to the sound of a violin. It is also because … that company stood in the right line of history.”

Hungarian historian Andras Fejerdy called Hungary “the moral Stalingrad of World Bolshevism”.

The Hungarian uprising was basically nationalist and anti-Soviet. It was also, as the Hungarians made clear in their last radio broadcasts, an uprising against the ideology of communism and for Western and Christian civilisation.

The great and heroic figure of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty symbolised the Catholic part of the story. He had been arrested in 1944 for his opposition to the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross regime, charged with treason and tortured.

Released at the end of World War II and appointed Primate of Hungary and a Cardinal, Mindszenty was again arrested and charged with treason by the communists and again tortured, probably much more severely than before. He was given a show trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. On October 30, 1956, the rebels freed him. He would have four days of liberty.

Joszef Cardinal Mindszenty

On November 4, Cardinal Mindszenty was granted asylum in the U.S. Embassy, where he remained for 15 years until the Hungarian Government allowed him to leave the country (He wished to stay but was directed by the Vatican to leave). Other Hungarian leaders who had been granted asylum in different embassies had been lured out by false promises of amnesty by the regime and then murdered.

Cardinal Mindszenty became a great living symbol of Catholic resistance to both Nazism and communism. I wish I had now the moving article by the great Polish/Australian Jewish philosopher Frank Knopfelmacher in which he wrote of the glory Mindszenty had given to the title “Prince of the Church”. He visited Australia at one point and many of my Catholic friends spoke of the great spiritual experience of receiving communion from his hands.

Cardinal Mindszenty died on May 6, 1975. Hanoi’s tanks had reached Saigon on April 30, and communism was just completing its conquest of Indo-China. It is already hard to remember how much this seemed then a harbinger of the eventual world triumph of communism.

On the 33rd anniversary of the uprising, October 23, 1989, the new Republic of Hungary was declared. The day is now the country’s national holiday. In 1991 Russian President Boris Yeltsin officially apologised to Hungary, as did the commander of the Russian troops. Today Hungary, with its fellow communist-victim Poland, stand as moral bastions of free and Christian Europe.

In 1991, also, Cardinal Mindszenty’s remains were repatriated to Hungary. There were vast crowds and ringing of church bells all along the route of the funeral procession across the country. His body was laid to rest in Esztergom Cathedral. The underground crypt is now a popular destination of pilgrimages.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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