And the answer is: Hungary.
Leaving the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet bloc’s equivalent of NATO) was the first step of many in Hungary’s desire to westernize itself. Hungary had the hope of instilling democracy, free and fair elections, and neutrality during the Cold War. Hungary’s revolution is remembered every year on October 23rd.
Yesterday, October 23rd, was Hungary Republic Day! This public holiday annually marks the celebration of not one, but two key events in Hungary’s history. On October 23rd, 1956, together the citizens of Hungary rose above the oppressive Iron Curtain, freeing themselves from the social, cultural, and economic blockade separating the west and the east in the latter half of the 20th century. Following the end of the second World War, Hungary had fallen increasingly under the control of the Soviet Union. Hungarian citizens were denied freedom of speech, and existed within a climate of fear enforced by the Soviet secret police. Finally, on October 23, 1956, a demonstration held by Hungarian students led the necessary charge toward freedom.
The demonstration drew immense support, and as the crowds grew, similar protests broke out across Hungary. This led to the Soviets deploying tanks on the streets of Budapest in an attempt to take back control. Violent rebellion then erupted in all parts of Hungary, with uprisings forcibly ousting the local government. Finally, a new democratic government ousted the ruling communist party.
Also celebrated on October 23rd is the establishment of the Third Republic of Hungary, which was proclaimed on this day in 1989 after a series of democratic changes. An amended constitution allowed for free elections and the separation of powers in Hungary, which remains in place today.
Learn more about the Hungarian uprising and the history of Hungary’s revolutions here.