Stephen D. Kertesz
Since publication of the symposium, The Fate of East Central Europe: Hopes and Failures of American Foreign Policy, the most revealing events in East Central Europe have been in Poland and Hungary. On the very day of publication of the above-mentioned volume, October 30, 1956, the Soviet government expressed readiness to enter negotiations with the Hungarian government and other participants in the Warsaw Treaty "on the question of the presence of Soviet troops on the territory of Hungary." But instead of negotiations the Soviet Union chose military means for settling the Hungarian question.
Suppression of the revolt by Russian troops brought an hour of reckoning. It proved, even to communists themselves, that communism could achieve no lasting hold on men's minds but depended on the support of Soviet arms. It constituted a warning to the uncommitted nations. Most important, it revealed to the captive nations the seriousness of their predicament: the West had failed to challenge Russia's domination of the area in a critical hour and could offer little more than moral support to a nation trying to liberate itself.
Although Hungary's short-lived independence was destroyed, the lesson and world repercussion of Hungary's fight for liberty has proved far from negligible. The workers and students massacred by the Soviet Army in the streets of Budapest exposed the Soviet big lie, just as the later Chinese invasion of Tibet demonstrated in Asia the practical meaning of peaceful coexistence as advocated at the Bandung Conference by Chou En-lai. The Russian soldiers who fought in Hungary knew very well that they had to kill workers and students --the very people who were supposed to be ardent supporters of the communist regime. Several hundred Western correspondents witnessed the revolutionary days in Budapest and reported and even televised these events to the world. Soviet leaders denied the facts.