Vukašin Neimarević, MA
Central European University
Budapest, Republic of Hungary



Vol. XLI, 1/2023, pp. 139–158



Relations between Hungary, the USSR, and Yugoslavia had many ups and downs in 1956. It was a time of liberalization of the East, de-Stalinization, detente in International Relations, and a period of reducing tensions between two global superpowers. Consequently, Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy tried to reform the country, and to find Hungarian unique road to socialism. Nagy’s reforms endangered the communist regimes and raised a question of system stability throughout the Soviet Bloc. The USSR realized that the consequences of that would be catastrophic for Soviet influence in Europe, particularly after Nagy declared neutrality and a multi-polar political system. The Soviets decided to intervene, backed by their allies and Yugoslavia. Nagy unwillingly became a symbol of one of the biggest resistance against the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. Instead of becoming a new “Tito”, he turned into an example of how the Soviets would deal with any such attempts. The Yugoslavs, on the other hand, supported the Soviet intervention, while simultaneously providing political asylum to Nagy and his group. Yugoslavia was at risk to undermine good relations with the Soviet Union after reconciliation, by refusing to deliver Nagy to new Hungarian authorities. Hence, the Soviet leadership decided to kidnap Nagy after he leaves the Yugoslav embassy. Prior to his capture, three sides concluded the agreement that guaranteed Nagy and his group a free return to their homes. Many documents, letters, and memoirs confirm the Yugoslav surprise in Nagy’s capture. Yugoslavs were not informed of that plan, which caused many negative reactions in Belgrade that damaged relations between the three countries until Nagy was executed in 1958.


KEYWORDS: Imre Nagy, Soviet Intervention 1956, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc, Socialism



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