June 16

This Day in History

General Interest

Jun 16, 1958:

Leader of Hungarian uprising executed

Imre Nagy, a former Hungarian premier and symbol of the nation's 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, is hanged for treason by his country's communist authorities.

After becoming premier of communist Hungary in 1953, Nagy enacted a series of liberal reforms and opposed Soviet interference in his country's affairs. He was removed from office in 1955 and expelled from the Hungarian Communist Party in 1956. On October 23, 1956, in response to the communist backlash against Nagy and his reforms, Hungarian students and workers took to the streets of Budapest in anti-Soviet demonstrations. Within days, the uprising escalated into a full-scale national revolt, and the Hungarian government fell into chaos. Nagy joined the revolution and was reinstated as Hungarian premier, but his minister Janos Kadar formed a counter-regime and asked the USSR to intervene.

On November 4, a massive Soviet force of 200,000 troops and 2,500 tanks entered Hungary. Nagy took refuge in the Yugoslav embassy but was later arrested by Soviet agents after leaving the embassy under a safe-conduct pledge. Nearly 200,000 Hungarians fled the country, and thousands of people were arrested, killed, or executed before the Hungarian uprising was finally suppressed. Nagy was later handed over to the regime of Janos Kadar, who convicted and executed him for treason. On June 16, 1989, as communism crumbled in Hungary, Nagy's body was officially reburied with full honors. Some 300,000 Hungarians attended the service.

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