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Why Did Both Hungary In 1956 And

Czechoslovakia In 1968 Rebel Against Soviet Domination? Essay, Research Paper The causes for such a massive and all-captivating rebellion, which occurred both in Hungary (1956) and in Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia In 1968 Rebel Against Soviet Domination? Essay, Research Paper

The causes for such a massive and all-captivating

rebellion, which occurred both in Hungary (1956) and in Czechoslovakia

(1968), originated most from deep-rooted antagonism towards Soviet domination

in the Eastern Europe in the post-war era. A continuous political and cultural

suppression by Soviet dictatorial policies, obviously linked with economic

constraints, coalesced to provoke robust insurrections. Short-term reasons

are of no less importance in the analysis of these events. In the case

of Hungary, Khrushchev?s speech on the 20th Part Congress – which discredited

Stalinist rule and encouraged a policy of diversion – played a significant

role in the development of Hungarian resistance. While observing events

in Czechoslovakia, the role of Dubcek?s government should be emphasized,

since it was their new program, which raised a significant enthusiasm in

Czechs, to aim for a neutral course.

One of the main reasons for the initiation

of a certain alienation process in Hungary was the brink of an economic

catastrophe, to which Hungary was brought by its ex-premier Matyas Rakosi

in the mid-1950?s. Since Hungarian economic developments mirrored those

of the Soviet Union, Rakosi also made a strong emphasis on the build-up

of Hungarian heavy industry at the expense of the rest of the economy.

Likewise, Rakosi?s successor, Imre Nagy, was to pursue Malenkov?s ?new

course?, which aimed to divert the country?s resources to light industry

and seize the imposed collectivization of agriculture.

The economic relaxation led to a corresponding

intellectual relaxation. Intellectuals began to discuss not only the nature

of the changes in Hungarian communism, but also the value of a Communist

system; society commenced debating on the possibility of achieving democracy

in a Communist state.

Nagy?s plans were cut short by the fall

of his Soviet Protector, Malenkov, in February 1955. Rakosi seized the

opportunity to regain leadership over both the state and the party, re-instituting

a Stalinist hard line. Nagy gave in without a fight, perhaps because he

expected Rakosi would fail in his attempt to re-impose ideological conformity.

His intuition has not deceived him; hatred of Rakosi?s brutal and repressive

regime which executed at least 2000 people and put 200,000 other in prisons

and concentration camps was enormous. Masses were enraged by the falling

living standards, while hated party leaders were comfortably off. However,

Nagy could hardly have expected the shake-up in the Soviet block that was

to result from Khrushchev?s denunciation of Stalin at the 20th Party Congress

in February 1956. While Rakosi tried to re-establish his authority, Khrushchev

was exonerating Bela Kun, a discredited former Rakosi rival and a National

Communist. Buoyed up by Khrushchev?s action, Hungarian intellectuals

demanded an investigation of Rakosi?s past, and three months later, inspired

by Gomulka?s successful stand in Poland, openly opposed Rakosi in the columns

of the party newspaper Szabad Nep. The Soviet Union opposed Rakosi?s plan

to silence his opposition by arresting Nagy and other intellectuals, both

because the plan might fail and because it certainly would not endear the

Communist party to the Hungarian population.

The Soviet leaders decided time was ripe

for a change in the leadership in the Hungarian Communist Party (CPH).

Nevertheless, they denunciated Nagy as a potential premier and instead

appointed Erno Gero, whose governing methods, according to Tito, were in

no particular way different from Rakosi?s. Had the Soviet leaders supported

Nagy at this point, when he still had a chance to put himself at the head

of the reforming forces, they might have prevented the more radical revolution

that was to follow.

Although the Hungarian uprising had failed

due to the military predominance of the Soviet Union, the longing for liberalization

and independence refused to be suppressed. In Czechoslovakia in the 1960?s

the internal reforms went furthest from any other satellite state in the

Eastern block, which posed the most direct challenge to the Soviets. The

Czechoslovakian opposition escalated gradually for several reasons. First

of all, the Czechs were industrially and culturally the most advanced of

the Eastern bloc peoples, who strongly objected to the over-centralized

Soviet control of their economy. It seemed senseless, for example, that

they should have to put up with poor quality iron-ore from Siberia when

they could have been using high-grade from Sweden.

From 1918 until 1938, Czechoslovakia had

been a liberal, west-orientated state, valuing democratic principles, such

as freedom of speech, freedom of movement and so forth. Soviet acquisition

of Czech territory has not only brought Russian domination in the country?s

political affairs, but also the ideological uncertainty. Social-political

repression – media/press censorship, restrictions on personal liberty,

economic imposition of Soviet delegated economic measures – were resented

by Czech intellectuals and masses in general. Violent and brutal methods

of the police, which were often used to disperse various protest marches

and demonstrations, only mounted tenacious opposition in the Czech population.

Henceforth, matters came to a head in January

1968 when the Czech leader, Antonin Novotny, a pro-Moscow communist, was

forced to resign and Alexander Dubcek became the First Secretary of the

communist party. Dubcek and his supporters had a completely new program,

primarily the communist power would no longer dictate policy or dominate

the political and social life of the state. Industry would be de-centralized,

which meant that factories would be run by works councils instead of being

controlled from the capital by party officials. Independent cooperatives

were to be set up to govern farm work, rather than them being collectivized.

There were to be wider powers for trade unions, expansion of trade with

the West and freedom to travel abroad. A significant accent was made on

the encouragement of freedom of speech and freedom for the press. The government

longed for criticism; Dubcek believed that although the country would remain

communist, the government should earn the right to be in power by responding

to people?s wishes. He called it ?socialism with a human face?.

Despite the fact that Dubcek?s government

was most careful to assure the Russians that Czechoslovakia would stay

in the Warsaw Pact and remain a reliable ally, Russians became immensely

disturbed as the new program was carried into operation. They were well

conscious that such a immense liberalization in Czechoslovakia would lead

to an all-round cooperation with the Western block, and thus with the United

States. Russians could not give card blance to Czechoslovakia, and therefore

in August 1968 a massive invasion of Czechoslovakia took place by Russian,

Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and East German troops. The hapless Czechs,

stunned and infuriated, were forced to restore Communist party control,

remove Dubcek, re-impose censorship, and curb democratization. Reprisals

followed and the new leadership imposed severe dictatorial controls.

From the afore-analyzed events we can make

a conclusion that rebellions which occurred in Hungary and in Czechoslovakia

were bound to take place sooner or later. Masses were tormented through

the extensive control of the Soviet Union. They longed for better

standards of living, for freedom of various life aspects, such as speech,

movement, choice. People were suppressed from communication with the rest

of the world, suppressed form cultural and industrial progress. This degradation

could not be endured for a long period of time, which was justified later

on in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

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