November 3, 1956

With the storm on the horizon consisting of Soviet troops rapidly approaching, the third Nagy Government was formed. This government differed from the earlier governments because it included all of the postwar democratic coalition parties. As a result of this, the communists now only comprised a minority of the positions. It can be said that the objective of a coalition government featuring democratic parties had been realized. It would not last for long, however, as its demise was already being planned in Moscow.

János Kádár, who had secretly flown to Moscow on November 1st, was selected to replace Nagy in the Soviet-backed post-revolution government. Although previous dictators Mátyás Rákosi and Ernő Gerő were eager to return to power, the Yugoslavs favored Kádár, who was a reform communist and not a Stalinist, and argued in favor of him. After securing a promise from the Soviets that Rákosi would not return to Hungary, Kádár agreed to lead the new government.

Back in Budapest that evening, Cardinal József Mindszenty delivered a speech over the radio praising the revolution. Noticeably and no doubt intentionally, Mindszenty used the term szabadságharc (fight for freedom) in a nod to the 1848-1849 Revolution and Failed War of Independence.

Still later that evening General Pál Maléter, an army officer who had sided with the revolution and was promoted to Minister of Defense by the final Nagy government, was arrested by the Soviets during negotiations on Soviet troop withdrawals. With this action, the Hungarian military was figuratively decapitated, and the stage was set for the Soviet invasion to commence.

Zoltán Csipke