Communists came to power in Hungary immediately following the end of World War II with the help of the Soviet Union. Once in power, they quickly established a Soviet-style dictatorship and came under direct Soviet influence. On instructions from the Kremlin, Hungarian communist leaders purged society of political opponents, introduced a highly centralized economic system, and adopted Moscow's anti-Western foreign policy.
After Stalin's death March 1953, Hungarians of all social groups--workers, farmers, the intelligentsia--sought a relaxation of the dictatorship. A Communist Party reformer, Imre Nagy, become prime minister in 1953. He tried to liberalize the Hungarian system and separate it from Moscow.
Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchelv, who had no intention of loosening Soviet ties with the East European communist governments, was convinced that Nagy's reform would erode communist and Soviet power Hungary. In the fall of 1956, Hungary appeared to be on the treshold of open revolt, with newspapers and popular demonstrations calling for a major liberalization of the Stalinist political and economic system.
Khrushchev responded with force. In October 1956, he sent tanks into Budapest in one of the most dramatic moments of the cold war. People met the tranks with