TELEGRAM FROM MR FRY, BUDAPEST TO FOREIGN OFFICE
“Events at the Radio Building, Budapest”. Confidential.
31 October 1956 | PRO.FO.371.122379.NH.10110/203
The opening phase of the revolution down to 6.00 p.m. on October 23 was fully described in my telegram No. 404.
2. At that time the crowds had moved from Bem Square to the Parliament buildings where they remained shouting slogans and demanding the appearance of Nagy. Typical slogans were “down with Gerő”, “down with Rákosi”, “down with the Stalin statue”, “out with the Russians”. This crowd remained in Parliament Square until well after 8 p.m. At eight p.m. Mr Gerő made his broadcast speech, as described in my telegram No. 408, and subsequently Mr Nagy addressed the crowd requesting them to have confidence in him and to disperse in an orderly manner. His appeal had no effect and the crowd then moved off in the direction of Stalin Square.
3. The crowd had already been gathering in that Square since about 7 p.m. and also at radio building. The task of pulling down the Stalin statue took almost two and a half hours and was completed only at about 9.25 p.m. This crowd, in high good humour, then moved off to join crowd already at Radio building.
4. Meanwhile, at radio station the following event had taken place. By 6 p.m. a squad of A.V.H. police had taken up positions inside the radio building. Soon after 7.30, when people began to gather there, a deputation from the crowd attempted to enter the building to demand that students’ 14 Point Resolution (please see my telegram No. 405) should be broadcast. In fact, the deputation were unable to gain entry until after Gerő had made his speech at 8 p.m. When finally they got in, the radio Authorities agreed that some of the points in the manifesto should be broadcast. This was announced to the crowd by the deputation who appeared on the balcony of the building. The demonstrators, who had already been informed of the gist of Gerő’s uncompromising speech, were already getting angry and demanded that all points should be broadcast. About 9 p.m. a further delegation of about eighty people succeeded in gaining entry to the building and at the same time some A.V.H. reinforcements arrived.
5. Precisely what happened next will probably never be known, but it is clear that A.V.H. guard inside the hall shot one member of the deputation, who were compelled to withdraw in confusion.
6. The news of the murder spread through the crowd at once and tempers broke. Students climbed the scaffolding in order to try to enter the building. The A.V.H. at first attempted to scatter the crowd with tear gas. When this failed they fired a volley killing three people.
7. The crowd withdrew temporarily, but returned to the attack and attempted to batter down the door. At this point a lorry drove up and was attacked by the crowd in the belief that the men inside were A.V.H. reinforcements, an approaching ambulance was also stopped and found to contain ammunition. Next an approaching lorry belonging to normal city police appeared, was stopped by the crowd demonstrating, emptied of the men inside it and burnt.
8. It is not clear at exactly what time considerable A.V.H. reinforcement (about three hundred) arrived, but it must have been nearly 10 p.m. when six or seven large lorries appeared at radio building each carrying between twenty and thirty men armed with tommy guns. Firing from A.V.H. opened almost at once and it is reported that eight more people were killed at this stage. Shooting continued and at this time some of the demonstrators must have obtained arms.