Khrushchev – presided over a period of the Cold War in which the USA and the USSR tested each others resolve by a tit for tat foreign policy of “brinkmanship.” Each side pushed each other to the edge of war to see who would blink first. It calumniated in the Cuban Missile Crises in which both sides almost failed to blink at all. It was also a period when the USSR was arming and encouraging North Vietnam to launch its War of National Liberation against South Vietnam which resulted in the shooting war we call the Vietnam War.
Matyas Ragosi – Approximately 350,000 officials and intellectuals were purged under his rule, from 1948 to 1956. Rákosi imposed totalitarian rule on Hungary — arresting, jailing and killing both real and imagined foes in various waves of Stalin-inspired political purges – as the country went into decline. In August 1952 he also became Chairman of the Council of Ministers. However, on 13 June 1953, to appease the Soviet Politburo, he accepted the Soviet model of collective headership.
Imre Nagy – During Imre Nagy’s leadership in 1953, he tried to implement his “New course”. this new course included the abolishment of collectivization and allowing more individual rights. This gave Hungarians a sense of freedom, one they have imagined for so long. However, he was undermined and soon quickly replaced by hardliner Stalinist Rakosi once again.
As the Hungarian revolution occurred, the crowd demanded Nagy to be their leader, remembering the reformations that he implemented earlier. Throughout the revolution, Nagy once again made reformations such as creating a multi-party political system in Hungary and abolished the secret police force known as the AVH. In these fourteen days, Nagy brought hope and a sense of unity.
However, such “radical” reforms would not be allowed within the soviet bloc. As a result, soviet troops entered Hungary and quickly toppled Nagy’s pro visionary government. He seeked refuge in the Yugoslavian embassy until he was tricked to come out by his former friend Kadar, who governed Hungary after Nagy.
Imre Nagy brought a sense of freedom from the soviets, something the Hungarians all desired.
Dubcek – Dubcek led Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring of 1968. Though Alexander DubÄek was a communist, he erred on the side of reform, which went against what his masters in Moscow would have wanted for Czechoslovakia as they feared the break-up of the Warsaw Pact.
Brezhnev – In September 1968, during a speech at the Fifth Congress of the Polish United Workers’ Party one month after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Brezhnev outlined the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which he claimed the right to violate the sovereignty of any country attempting to replace Marxism-Leninism with capitalism. During the speech, Brezhnev stated:
When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.
Jan Palach – Jan Palach, staged a one-man protest on Prague’s Wenceslas Square by dousing himself in petrol then setting himself on fire. Three days later, on 19 January, he died of his injuries. Palach’s protest was against Czechoslovakia’s authoritarian rule, re-imposed after the brief but significant period of liberalization, the Prague Spring, of the previous year.