I know that Khrushchev made a secret speech but I don't really understand what the speech was about and why it made the Hungarians so angry to protest.

I know that the protest was about the lack of political freedom and food shortages but I really just don't understand what this has to do with Khrushchev's secret speech. What did he say to make them protest about these things.

I have searched and looked up lots of different answers but I still can not understand.

  • 1
    Is this the secret speech you mean? Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 20:01
  • Yes the secret speech history.stackexchange.com/users/24858/sempaiscuba
    – Jessica
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 20:13
  • 3
    Your premise is incorrect. It was Rákosi's resignation in July 1956 that triggered the events. The speech itself and its diffusion was one item among many others in the prelude to the events. Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 20:21
  • 2
    You should do some preliminary research before asking such question. It will take too much space to explain you here "what was Khrushchev's speech about".
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


Khrushchev gave his speech to a closed session of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on 25 February 1956. The contents of the speech was subsequently disseminated to a select group by being read to groups of party activists and “closed” local party meetings.

Even though knowledge of the speech was limited to a select group, that was enough to cause a sense of shock and disillusionment throughout the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc. It damaged Stalin’s reputation and, more importantly, it damaged the perception of the political system as a whole.

In June 1956, Mátyás Rákosi, was forced to "resign" as General Secretary of the Party under pressure from the Soviet Politburo. Rákosi had previously described himself as "Stalin's best Hungarian disciple" and "Stalin's best pupil". With the denunciation of Stalin, Rákosi's days were clearly numbered. He was replaced by his former second-in-command, Ernő Gerő.

After Rákosi's resignation, students, writers, and journalists became more active (and more critical!) in politics. Students and journalists started a series of intellectual forums discussing and debating the problems that Hungary then faced. The forums became incredibly popular with thousands of participants. The debates generated protests, and those protests grew. They came to a head in October 1956.

The Hungarian Revolution began on 23 October 1956. It was driven by the students who had participated in the forums.

  • is it really "a closed session", not "a closing session"? As far as I know, it was the closing one. There was nothing closed in it, except, that after the speech the meeting was immediately ended without any discussion of the speech between the delegates.
    – d.k
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 8:37
  • @user907860 Yes, it was a closed session - i.e. one from which the public and the media were excluded. Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 10:02

What was written above is all correct; may be just some psychological addendum to it: a basic dogma of communism was from the beginning on (that means before 1917), that the Communist Party, and especially Lenin and later also Stalin are always right. Always. It was especially hard to keep that up in the 30s and 40s of the 20th century, when people who were previously highly regarded were suddenly told to be Western spies and agents. For example Leo Trotsky or Kamenev or Zinovjev or ... And people, who were regarded previously very low were suddenly not that bad. For example Adolf Hitler, with whom the Soviet Union has signed an agreement, and practically the Soviet Union has delivered goods to Nazi Germany just until the day of Germany's attack in World War II. The Krushchev speech was from the point very important that it was the very first time in history when a leading communist official has spoken out that

  • Stalin was not always right
  • it was bad that Stalin has made cleanings among Communist Party members, and has jailed or let kill party members based upon fake accusations

So the speech was attacking a basic ideological point upon which the Communist doctrine was built up: it said that the Communist Party has acted in some cases not right and unjust.

One "interesting" detail of Krushchev's speech: it has attacked Stalin's fake handling of members of the Communist Party, but it has not spoken about the millions and millions of non party members in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe who were also handled in a similar way.

  • I really don't understand, how people can repeat that squish about the Soviet Union being sending supplies to Germany and so on. The USSR was supplying Germany with raw materials, while at the same time took a loan from Germany for several hundred millions of marks, industrial equipment and so on. So why should have Stalin refused such a deal? It was definitely extremely beneficial for the USSR. And the agreement was in no way different from those Germany had already signed with Poland, for instance, unless one believes the Sec. Protocol was real and not a Cold war propaganda stunt
    – d.k
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 8:53
  • by the way, I'm not 100% sure, but the established term in the Anglo-phone historiography for the word "chistki" is "purges", not "cleanings".
    – d.k
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 8:57

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