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1989: Hungary reburies fallen hero Imre Nagy
Former Communist prime minister Imre Nagy, the man who symbolises the 1956 Hungarian uprising, has been given a formal public funeral 31 years after he was executed.

The capital, Budapest, came to a standstill as thousands came to pay their respects to Nagy who in 1956 formed a government dedicated to freeing itself from Soviet communism.

Buildings were draped in black, church bells peeled and there was a one-minute silence across the country.

His coffin was placed on the steps of the Exhibition Hall in Heroes Square, alongside four of his comrades and one empty coffin symbolising the Unknown Revolutionary.

Among the mourners who placed wreaths and flowers were a handful of the 200,000 exiles who had fled the country after Soviet tanks crushed the revolution in November 1956.

General Bela Kiraly a commander of the 1956 uprising paid tribute to Hungary's fallen hero and said the reburial opened "a new epoch".

The ceremony comes at time of political moves away from Soviet influence.

Multiparty elections due to take place next year will see the end of the Communist Party's leading role in Hungary.

Failed uprising

Imre Nagy was prime minister of Hungary from 1953 till 1955 when the Communist Party expelled him for, among other things, wanting to release political prisoners and liberalise the economy.

In October 1956 students revolted against the state and demanded the reinstatement of Mr Nagy and he returned to power.

Encouraged by an apparent promise of outside help, Nagy appealed to the UN and Western governments for protection from Soviet troops.

But with the Suez crisis in full swing and no real appetite for fighting the USSR over a crisis in Eastern Europe, the West did not respond.

The Soviet military's response was swift and devastating. Some 30,000 people were killed in Budapest alone and thousands more sought political asylum in the West.

Mr Nagy took refuge in the Yugoslav embassy. He had been assured safe passage by the newly appointed Hungarian leader Janos Kadar but was abducted by Soviet agents while on a bus home.

He was executed exactly 31 years ago on 16 June 1958 after a secret trial in Budapest in which he was accused of high treason.

His body was dumped face down in an unmarked grave in the Kozma Street Cemetery and his relatives were harassed by police whenever they went to lay flowers.

Now he has been reburied there with full honours and Kadar, who remained in power until last year, has been forced into retirement.

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Mourners rebury Imre Nagy
Mourners reburied the man who came to symbolise the 1956 Hungarian uprising



In Context
On 6 July 1989 the Hungarian Supreme Court acquitted Imre Nagy of the charges of high treason for which he had been executed.

Janos Kadar, the man who took over from Nagy and ruled the country for the following 30 years died in hospital on the same day.

Although many Hungarians never forgave him for his role in the crushing the 1956 uprising and his support for the Soviet repression of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Kadar's policy of "consumer socialism" turned Hungary into the most economically liberal and modern states of the Eastern Bloc.

In August 1989, two months after Nagy was reburied, Hungary played an important part in accelerating the collapse of Communism when it opened its border with Austria, allowing thousands of East Germans to escape to the West.

In June 1990 the country withdrew from any participation in Warsaw Pact military exercises and the following year the pact itself was dissolved.

In 1994 former communists and liberals formed a coalition following elections. Gyula Horn, the leader of the reform communists, pledged to continue free-market policies.

Stories From 16 Jun


 
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