The reception of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in the Netherlands
Commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight
Part III: The impact of the “Hungarian Revolution” on the contemporary population of the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam
The young crowd gathered on the Dam Square, 5 November 1956
Het Parool - 6 November 1956
“Protest demonstration in Amsterdam
Last night, all over the country, the Dutch expressed their outrage at the events in Hungary. In Amsterdam, the heart of the country, a large gathering was held on Dam Square; at the foot of the national monument, six speakers representing the democratic political parties, the word and whatever may separate them, in their protest against the Russian betrayal, they were one. With great emotion and in deep silence the thousands listened to the speakers, Mr. H. van Riel, J. Middelhuis, H. Oosterhuis, J. H. Scherps, Mr. H. W. van Doorn and M. Ruppert. The hubbub, which came into existence at the half time of the crowd discussion did not come from people who disagreed with the demonstration, but was caused by a group of young people who were more interested in a riot. They greatly disturbed the atmosphere of this dignified protest demonstration and did not seemingly understand which serious matters were discussed, also showed by their attitude later in the evening. See also our report elsewhere in this magazine.”
A group of young protestors in Amsterdam
Het Parool - 6 November 1956
The 6th November issue of Het Parool was full of Cold War impacted events. The phenomena of the October-November global crisis have returned to all levels of content: the titles, the images and the writings themselves reflect hysterical states. The events in Hungary caused wave of horror news in the contemporary daily newspapers in early November due to the final military intervention of the Soviet Union. There was controversy within the press, between the Dutch communist party daily – the local Pravda – and De Waarheid clashing with a significant portion of the Dutch press. The Dutch society has reached a level of general outrage that had not only been felt in the press releases or during diplomatic discussions.
The Netherlands provided open social assistance to Hungary: central fundraising, blood plasma transportation and the naming of the event also took a turn. Instead of the initial titles of the event like “uprising” and “insurgents”, other words such as “revolutionary” or “resistance fighter”, “freedom fighter” were used. The attack of the Soviet troops and the State Defence Authority (ÁVH) on the unarmed masses and the impact of the gunfire, armed clashes and Molotov cocktails that erupted in Hungary were disturbing for the Netherlands.
A total of nine of the articles published in the columns of Het Parool dealt in part or in fully with Hungary or the impact of Hungarian events. Recalling the article below, let us remember this turbulent historical period of the Cold War which also left a deep imprint on the wonderful Amsterdam.
An equestrian policeman fights an Amsterdammer
Het Parool, 6 November 1956
While it remained restless in front of Felix Meritis, all of a sudden a fierce fight broke at the rear. A group of youngsters had broken through the cordon and started ramming the gates of the building. Helmeted CPN-ers threw stones at the attackers from above and began spraying with a water hose. That only fuelled the anger.
Police in cars drove into the fighters with full lights and sirens blaring. With the help of the military police, the police cleared the Prinsengracht, but then probably the heaviest fighting of the evening broke out in front of Felix Meritis. With the aid of the rubber stick, it was possible to reverse this attack. With that, the youngsters’ last display of strength had come to an end.
On the Museumplein, in front of the trade representation of the Soviet Union, there was a fairly violent clash between the police, the military police and the citizenry around nine o’clock. People stood there for hours, occasionally throwing stones at the door and at one point pushed the police into the corner. Thereon, the officers carried out a charge with rubber sticks and sabres. A few of them were hit by stones flying in the air, one carried himself into the Boerhaave clinic. There were also casualties among the crowd, but no one was seriously injured. When the fight was over, the chief of police, Mr. H. J. van der Molen, arrived in front of the commercial representation building. More officers also came, but they didn’t need to act anymore. Until late into the night, however, it remained noisy on the Museumplein.
Leading figures from the communist movement, L. H. Koning and F. Baruch, both associated with the daily newspaper, De Waarheid, saw their homes ravaged on Monday by heated groups of people. The windows of Mr. Koning who lives in Weesperzijde 2 in late afternoon were smashed when several broke into his third-floor residence.
Towards midnight others tried to enter Mr. Baruch’s house at 45 Jekerstraat. They had almost succeeded when they were chased away by the police. Stones thrown in the direction of the windows, only hit the windows of local residents. In charges against youngsters who pelted the police with stones in the evening on the Westermarkt, the equestrian police started the pursuit. Hard blows fell here with the rubber stick and the sabre.
The police, all over the Netherlands, has very difficult days and nights. They have the task to keep the peace, but also to put an end to disorder. Here and there mounted police was sometimes forced to act a bit harshly.”
Sources of the articles: The issue of Het Parool on 6 November 1956