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History's Happenings for November 4

Hungarian Revolt Crushed

Nikita Khrushchev

When Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Josef Stalin as Soviet Premier in 1953, the Communist Party was shaken internally by the loss of the iron hand of the dictator, and viewed with growing distaste in the world at large because of his wanton brutality.

In order restore the reputation of the party and distance his regime from the bad memories of the past, Khrushchev began to purge the Soviet government not only of the worst of Stalin's henchmen and practices, but also of the cult of Stalinism itself.

While this played well for the most part in the Soviet Union, in the satellite countries, which had a thinner foundation of Communism since the Second World War, de-Stalinization tended to destabilize, to open a chink in the armor of totalitarianism by dividing the hard-liners and reformers in the Socialist governments.

Nowhere more so, as it turned out, than in Hungary, where the perceived division in national government prompted a popular revolt that began on October 23, 1956, when university students demanded the return of ousted reformer Prime Minister Imre Nagy.

Unable to quash the growing uprising -- the troops more often sided with the rebels -- the communist government gave in and reappointed Nagy to his post. He was similarly unable to suppress the revolt, which had moved from demands for reform to insistence upon the complete withdrawal of the country from the Soviet orbit. Riding the tide, on November 2 the Nagy government announced that Hungary would withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and remain neutral, as well as instituting other democratic reforms.

Unfortunately for Hungary, this was too much for Khrushchev. On November 4, 1956 4000 Warsaw Pact tanks rumbled into Hungary, capturing Budapest and other cities in several days of intense fighting. As many as 50,000 rebels were killed -- an incredible number for such a short period, rivaling America's total losses in the ten-year Vietnam conflict. The invaders lost about 7,000 troops.

Nagy appealed to the U.N., which placed the issue on its agenda but did nothing. U.S. President Eisenhower, despite his staunch anti-communism, also declined to intervene.

After crushing the revolt, the Soviets installed a pro-Moscow government under János Kádár which, to avoid further problems, loosened the communist yoke just a bit.

Two years later, Nagy was executed. Hungary waited thirty-three more years for her freedom.

Birth of Will Rogers

Humorist Will Rogers

Cowboy philosopher and humorist Will Rogers was born on November 4, 1879, in Oogolah, OK (then Indian Territory).

He drifted into vaudeville in 1905 doing rope tricks on stage, and later accompanying them with a humorous monologue. He is best remembered for poking fun at the greats and near-greats of the day, burying a message of homespun philosophy in his humor.

Rogers played the Ziegfield Follies, starred in movies, and wrote a syndicated political humor column. His books include The Cowboy Philosopher on Prohibition (1919), Illiterate Digest (1924), and Will Rogers' Political Follies (1929).

The humor ended when Rogers was killed in a plane crash in Alaska, along with pilot Wiley Post, in 1935.

Cash Register Patented

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King Tut's Tomb Found

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Monty Victorious at El Alamein

British general (later field marshal) Bernard Montgomery

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Iranian Militants Take 444 American Hostages

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Reagan Wins White House

President Ronald Reagan

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