The Stalin Monument Toppled
Built as the birthday present to Stalin on his 70th birthday (December 21st 1949), the Stalin Monument in Budapest has became the iconic scene of the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.
The 25-meter, Socialist realism statue was torn down in October 1956 at the onset of the uprising. On October 23rd, Hungarians broadcasted sixteen demands over the radio, one of them being the dismantling of Stalin’s statue. A hundred thousand Hungarian revolutionaries demolished the Stalin statue, leaving only his boots, in which they planted a Hungarian flag. The bronze inscription, saying Stalin was the Hungarians’ leader, teacher and “best friend”, was ripped off from the pedestal. Before the toppling of the statue–an hour public spectacle involving steel ropes, oxygen cylinders and metal cutting blowpipes–someone had placed a sign over Stalin’s mouth that read “RUSSIANS, WHEN YOU RUN AWAY DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND!” The revolutionaries chanted “Russia go home!” while pulling down the statue. Insulting remarks were scrawled over the fragmented parts of the statue.
Although the Uprising was quickly crushed by the Soviet authorities, the images of the toppled statues became a haunting precursor to what would happen all over the Eastern Bloc thirty years later.
Images of a smaller Stalin destruction in Budapest: