1956 was an incredible year for the Eastern European bloc. In this year Khrushchev delivered his famous – or notorious – Secret Speech and Poland and Hungary responded with revolutionary actions with possibly disastrous consequences.
When examining the events in Hungary it is important to look at Poland and compare the actions in those two countries. How did Gomulka’s program compare with Nagy’s? Where did their programs differ? Why did Khrushchev send troops into Budapest but turned around those heading to Warsaw?
Nagy and Gomulka both represented reformist communism – why was one accepted and the other not? Both countries had popular risings against Soviet hegemony – why did Poland succeed?
As early as 1956 the power of the people in Eastern Europe could be seen. While both states remained under Soviet domination, the seeds of autonomy were sown by Khrushchev’s own ideas. Although the ‘Sinatra Doctrine’ was 30 years away, socialist states began to realize that one size did not always fit all and that there were different routes to achieving communism. Stalinism was definitely gone – but what was in its place?