Fifty years later, Radio Free Europe still living down its advice to Hungarians (updated).

Posted: 26 Oct 2006

"'The U.S. had a double-faced policy, a non-violent policy. They wanted to keep alive the desire for freedom in the communist bloc until the system failed, which it was bound to do. The message got sent by Radio Free Europe, but there was no promise of help. People didn't know it was just rhetoric. False hopes were created.' Radio Free Europe, staffed by right-wing émigré Hungarians, had slandered Nagy throughout the revolt, portraying him as just another communist -- which was how Washington saw him, unable to grasp that the communist world was not monolithic. ... After 1956, Radio Free Europe moderated its tone. 'Instead of liberation, they promoted liberalization.'" Toronto Star, 15 October 2006. "During the week following the Russian invasion everyone seemed to be glued to their radio listening to Radio Free Europe, waiting to hear if the West would come to our rescue." Frank Furedi, Spiked, 17 October 2006. "While Radio Free Europe urged the Hungarians to rise up, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles decided that it was not possible for the NATO forces based in West Germany to intervene." Michael Danby, Eureka Street, 17 October 2006. "The given wisdom whenever the issue is raised inside or outside Hungary today is that America and its NATO partners had abandoned Hungary to its fate in its hour of need, preoccupied with a pointless conflict over the Suez Canal and with the Eisenhower re-election campaign. Although the Republican campaign and Radio Free Europe broadcasts referred to intentions 'to liberate captive nations' and 'to roll back Communism,' from the perspective of the satellite nations of Eastern Europe, this was all rhetoric and no action because no concrete steps were ever taken." Peter Keresztes, New York Sun, 20 October 2006. "The U.S. government might have made it clear to the Hungarian revolutionaries that it would not intervene. Instead, Radio Free Europe was given a free hand to broadcast encouragement for the most radical demands of the Budapest fighters and to intimate that Western support of their demands meant likely U.S. intervention." Norman M. Naimark, The Moscow Times, 20 October 2006. "CIA-funded Radio Free Europe, which had a wide audience in Hungary, gave its listeners technical advice on guerrilla tactics and how to disable a T-34 tank." Chicago Tribune, 22 October 2006. "Radio Free Europe kept encouraging us to fight, as if they planned to help. It was a great disappointment." Home News Tribune (Neptune NJ), 22 October 2006. Update: Author Michael Korda "voices a partial grievance toward the United States, charging that Radio Free Europe (RFE) encouraged the Hungarians to rise up against the Soviets by strongly implying that the West would support them militarily. Though he does recognize that the Eisenhower administration had no interest in militarily engaging the Soviets, Korda also presents the commonly held Hungarian belief that the RFE enticement to rebellion was part of the opportunism of British and French power politics." Philadelphia Inquirer, 26 October 2006. "US-financed Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty never fully recovered from the charge that they had led the Hungarian people to believe that American military assistance was on the way." David I. Steinberg, The Irrawaddy, 25 October 2006. See previous post about international radio and the Hungarian uprising.

Copyright 2006–2019 Kim Andrew Elliott.