Light a candle today in commemoration of the martyrs of the 1956 Revolution
Sixty years ago today at 4 a.m., the Soviet Union launched Operation Whirlwind to break the Hungarian Revolution. Today is the day we remember our martyrs.
Revolutionaries had surprised the Soviet troops that were stationed in Hungary. Hungary’s freedom fighters had put up a resistance strong enough to bring about a new government and a declaration of Hungary’s independence – meaning leaving the Warsaw Pact. Soviet leadership had hesitated at first and even started negotiations with the new leadership. But eventually they decided to impose Moscow’s will with overwhelming force, sending reinforcements to their troops and reoccupying the country.
“How long would it take to restore the status quo in Hungary?” Khrushchev asked Marshal Ivan Konev. “Three days. No more is needed,” replied the marshal in charge of Operation Whirlwind.
Once again, the revolutionaries, the so-called “lads of Pest” surprised the Empire. It took seven days for 17 Soviet divisions to re-occupy Hungary with a combination of artillery, air strikes and tank-infantry actions. Against the Soviet military might stood our youth, with AK 47s, Molotov cocktails and a determination, a willingness even to make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
On the Soviet side, records show 85 soldiers dead, 12 lost, 265 injured. On the Hungarian side thousands died and tens of thousands were injured. In the months that followed, hundreds were sentenced to death by the puppet government put in charge and approximately ten thousand were imprisoned. Soldiers and military officers sympathizing with the revolution were deported to labor camps in the Soviet Union. Some two hundred thousand fled the country.
Sixty years later we know that their selfless sacrifices were not in vain. Although they were outnumbered and crushed and their memory was buried in Hungary for 33 more years, their spirit inspired many in the world. The true nature of the communist regime was exposed and thus, although it was not yet apparent, the 1956 Revolution set in motion the defeat of the Soviet Union.
Those brave Hungarians drove the first nail in the coffin of Soviet bolshevism in Europe. Tonight, all over the country, Hungarians are lighting candles in remembrance of our heroes of 1956, to whom we owe our freedom today. Join us and light a candle for the Hungarian freedom fighters.