– Army strength: 1,025,778 people
– Navy strength: 669,925 people
– Marine Corps strength: 200,780 people
– Air Force strength: 909,958 people
– Total strength: 2,806,441 people
– Percent of population enlisted: 1.66%
The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began with an organized group of student protesters marching through the streets of Budapest on Oct. 23 with loudspeakers, chanting, “This we swear, this we swear, that we will no longer be slaves.” After reading an anti-communist proclamation demanding an independent Hungary, students stormed the radio building near the Hungarian Parliament, prompting police to open fire. The violence killed one student and marked the first bloodshed in the revolution that ultimately toppled the Soviet government.
The violent outbreak turned the protest into an all-out nationwide revolt against Soviet policies that were being forced on the public by the Hungarian People’s Republic. The uprising exploded with militias fighting the military, arming prisoners, and a death toll that included 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops. Another 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. Meanwhile in the United States, officials and military leaders stood by watching events unfold, too afraid of another world war (or disrupting recently improved diplomacy with Moscow) to step in and assist the protestors. The revolution was squashed Nov. 4 when the Soviet Union sent soldiers into Hungary, causing an uproar by U.S. citizens and Hungarian demonstrators over the controversial lack of action by the U.S., which had gone so far as to utilize the CIA-run Radio Free Europe (RFE) to broadcast encouragement to the rebels, imply the U.S. would be arriving with help, and offer tactical insights for fighting the Soviets.
Ultimately, the Soviet Union would not regain governmental control over Hungary again.
[Pictured: Street corner in Budapest during the revolution]