Only now is the Hungarian Revolt coming into focus

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It lasted less than two weeks, from the first euphoric student demonstrations in Budapest on Oct. 23 till its final bloody end on Nov. 4, when it was crushed by Soviet tanks, but the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 left an indelible mark on Cold War politics and continues to resonate today. Thanks to the work of historians rooting through newly released materials, the world's first televised revolution is now seen as a classic case of how the Cold War deformed international relations in ways that are still felt in Iran, Afghanistan and Latin America.

In fact, only now, 17 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is the truth about what happened and why coming into clear focus.

"Since 1990, scholars have found a lot of new material on the revolution," says Géza Jeszenszky, a history professor at Corvinus University in Budapest and Hungary's former ambassador to the U.S., who was recently in Toronto.

"Apart from the opening of the Hungarian archives (particularly the secret files of the Communist Party and the Ministry of the Interior), part of the Soviet records pertaining to the intervention have become available, and much of the American documents, including the activities of the CIA and Radio Free Europe."

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