Budapest: 60 Years After The Uprising

For a few heady days in the autumn of 1956, Hungarians rose up and retook the streets from their Soviet hegemon. Soviet troops eventually reentered Budapest and crushed the uprising. But despite their eventual defeat, the Hungarian rebels of 1956 inflicted what would come to be known as "the first tear" in the Iron Curtain. Today, the exact locations of many of the most iconic photographs of the uprising can be determined, revealing that while politics have changed, the historic streets of Budapest remain remarkably similar.

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Kossuth Lajos tér

Protesters on a tank in front of the Hungarian parliament building. What started as a student demonstration in the capital quickly swelled into a mass uprising against Hungary’s communist regime. The Hungarian communists and their network of secret police were particularly brutal, even by Soviet standards.

Photo 1956: TASS

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Kossuth Lajos tér

The bodies of civilians near the parliament building on October 25, after state security troops opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators.

Photo 1956: TASS

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Rakoczi Ut

A Soviet armored vehicle ablaze. When Soviet army troops moved in to crush the uprising, they faced a population brandishing Molotov cocktails, small arms, and bitter determination. After lightning attacks, the rebels would disappear into narrow lanes where Soviet armor couldn't follow.

Photo 1956: Fortepan

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Berzsenyi Daniel Utca

Many of the insurgents' weapons were provided by the Hungarian army, which largely sided with the rebels.

Photo 1956: Getty

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József körút

Knocked-out Soviet armor near the Corvin cinema, a rebel stronghold.

Photo 1956: Fortepan

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János Pál pápa tér

A secret policeman (left) moments before he was shot dead outside the Budapest Communist Party headquarters. After the building (out of shot on right) was stormed, 23 of the hated secret police were shot or beaten to death by the crowd.

Photo 1956: CTK/AP

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János Pál pápa tér

A bust of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin lies on the body of a secret policeman in front of Communist Party headquarters in Budapest. One man who was on the square recalls "all of the pent-up hatred, the rage...finally got released.... Like an earthworm, we felt so helpless before,... and finally being [in a position] where you can do something about it." But images of the brutal justice meted out in front of the world’s press marred perceptions of the uprising.

Photo 1956: Shutterstock

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Ulloi Ut

Damaged buildings near the Corvin cinema, scene of a bloody showdown. The uprising was finally crushed when an overwhelming Soviet force entered Budapest on November 3. Despite pleas for international assistance, the Hungarian rebels were left to themselves. More than 2,500 Hungarians were killed during what the Soviets called Operation Whirlwind.

Photo 1956: Shutterstock

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József körút

A Hungarian communist workers' militia marching through central Budapest. Such militias were introduced by the reinstalled Communist government to prevent another uprising. With the “iron fist” of Soviet rule poised over Hungary once more, Hungarians would wait another 33 years for their independence.

Photo 1957: AFP