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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

'Conjoined Crisis' by Guest Historian Jackie Speel
Guest Historian Guest Historian Jackie Speel says, what if the Hungarian Uprising crossed over into the Suez Crises? If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit Jackie Speel site.

October 18

In 1956, on this day British Prime Minister Anthony Eden was informed that Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy had secretly request refuge at Harmincad utca 6, the address of the British Embassy in Budapest.

Conjoined Crisis Part 1
Imre Nagy requests refuge
As the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary, he was locked in a power struggle with the Kremlin, and it appeared that his determined opposition to Soviet-imposed policies had ended in failure. He might have expected a sympathetic hearing from the British Government, but there was a major problem that he knew absolutely nothing about. That was that the British Government had secretly signed an agreement with France and Israeli to imminently seize the Suez Canal, and if necessary, eject the troublesome Egyptian President Abdul Gamel Nasser from power.

Therefore, Eden was suddently presented with both a threat, and also an opportunity. Should he assist Nagy, then of course he would be openly accused of the basest of hypocrisy, because his own regime-changing imperial belligerence would appeare so similiar to the Soviets. Because a non-response was itself inconceivable, members of the secret service were pressing him to make the most of this situation by opening negotiations with the Soviets, essentially to betray Nagy in exchange for non-interference in Egpyt. This deal was sweetened as a spheres of influence paradigm, Middle East vs Central Europe and initially, Eden seemed quite opened to such a suggestion.
An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

November 6

In 1956, with cynical timing French-Israeli forces launch an invasion of the Suez Canal just one hour after the polls close for the US Presidential election.

Conjoined Crisis Part 2
Suez Canal Invasion Launched
Unbeknown to the International Community, the British Government had co-authored the Protocol of Sévres, a secret tripartite agreement that Israel would invade the Sinai. Britain and France would then intervene, purportedly to separate the warring Israeli and Egyptian forces, instructing both to withdraw to a distance of sixteen kilometres from either side of the canal. The reasons to desire to topple Nasser were various; for British Prime Minister Eden, ghosts of Munich, France, meddling in their colony of Algeria, and for Israel, collaborative opportunity to diminsh a local rival.

The rational voices in London and Paris argued that the Canal could not be held by force, and noted also that the modern oil tankers were becoming too big to travel through it. However, the debate was then transformed by a secret request for refuge at the British Embassy from Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy. The secret service urged Eden to betray Nagy and trade his liberty with a pledge of non-interference from the Soviet Union. But in the event, the British Government decided to grant refuge and withdraw from the Suez Canal, venture privately telling France and Israel that its position within the Commonwealth would become diplomatically untenable if London was seen to overtly support one head of state whilst seeking to oust another. However, as a sign of tacit support, London did allow the French to use Cyprus as a staging area and the operation proceeded without Britain.
An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

December 4

In 1956, under the diplomatic leadership of the British Government and other European neutral countries a truce was brokered between the Egyptian, French and Israeli Governments.

Conjoined Crisis Part 3
Suez Truce Brokered
The result was the creation of a demilitarized zone under Egyptian civil administration but secured by British led troops/police in the Canal Zone and in the Delta around the French bridgehead at Alexandria. But unfortunatately, the subsequent peace conference was a acriminious failure and the UN/Commonwealth force remained in place as a buffer between the three warring states and their infrastructure assets.

Nevertheless, the truce itself was a boost to British prestige throughout the Middle East, greeted by wild crowds cheering in front of the British embassies in Baghdad, Amman and other regional capitals. Of course Mr Eden's role in the dispute was shaped by the events of the Hungarian Uprising, a desperate situation that was consuming diplomatic energies whilst the Suez Canal Crisis was being quietly defused. And of course the United Kingdom was deeply involved, after offered refuge to Premier Imre Nagy at the British Embassy in Budapest. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread..

November 3

In 1956, on this day the commander of the revolutionary armed forced of Hungary Colonel Pál Maléter (pictured) escapes from Tököl, near Budapest after Soviet officers attempt to illegally detain him during negotiations.

Conjoined Crisis Part 4
Pál Maléter escapes
He returns to Budapest where the leaders of the Hungarian Uprising are locked in a time-wasting argument about whether to fight or flee. He exhorts them to fight, but his fatalism is all too apparent and his impassioned speech only serves to dissuade the undecided leaders.

Imre Nagy requests refuge at Harmincad utca 6, the address of the British Embassy in Budapest. Meanwhile his colleagues, led by Maléter hatch an audacious escape plot into mines which date back to the old Empire and extend across the border into Czechoslovakia. From their, they form a Hungarian Resistance Movement based upon the military doctrines of the Cursed Polish Soldiers who continued to fight Soviet rule well into the 1950s. Via Nagy in the British Embassy, they broadcast appeals to the International Community for assistance. On the eve of the Presidential election, Adlai Stevenson pledges his support and General Eisenhower is left with a moral dilemma. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

October 26

In 1956, on the eve of the Presidential election, the conjoined international crisis in Hungary and Egypt was deepened by the Soviet arrest of the maverick aristocrat Otto von Habsburg.

Conjoined Crisis Part 5
Habsburg Arrested
Formally the Archduke Otto of Austria, he was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918. He remained the Crown Prince of Hungary until the deposition of the Habsburgs in Hungary in 1921. He subsequently became the pretender to the former thrones, Head of the Imperial House of Habsburg (pictured), and Sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1922.

In 1949, he ennobled several people, granting them Austrian noble titles, although not recognized by the Austrian republic. As he did not possess a passport and was effectively stateless, he was given a passport of the Principality of Monaco, thanks to the intervention of Charles de Gaulle in 1946.

Since the crisis started, he had been on the border making himself available to negotiate a compromise between the Soviet Union and Hungarian Government of Imre Nagy. He then entered the country with the intention of meeting Cardinal Mindszenty, the Primate of Hungary but this move had only triggered his arrest by Soviet authorities who were keen to end Habsburg's meddling. However this only precipitated a larger crisis due to his connections with the European Community. When the Western Media misreported that he was an "honest broker" seeking to defuse the crisis through arbitration, the matter entered the US political agenda and led to an unpleasant "October Surprise" for President Eisenhower. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

October 19

In 1956, on this fateful day in the Polish Politburo, Władysław Gomułka was designated First Secretary of the Party.

Conjoined Crisis Part 6
Gomulka's thaw
Six months earlier, a period of de-Stalinization had begun after the death of Stalinist Prime Minister Bolesław Bierut. Then in June an insurrection began in Poznan where workers rioted to protest shortages of food and consumer goods, bad housing, decline in genuine income, shipments of commodities to the Soviet Union and poor management of the economy. The Polish government initially responded by branding the rioters "provocateurs, counterrevolutionaries and imperialist agents". Security forces killed and wounded scores of protesters. Soon, however, the party hierarchy recognized the riots had awakened nationalist sentiment and reversed their opinion. The rioters became "honest workers with legitimate grievances". Wages were raised by 50% and economic and political change was promised.

As a precondition to accepting the leadership, Gomułka insisted that the Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, who had ordered troops against the Poznan workers, be removed from the Polish Politburo and Defense Ministry. Of course the Soviet leadership viewed events in Poland with alarm. Simultaneously with troop "maneuvers" on the Soviet-Polish border, a high-level delegation of the Soviet Central Committee flew to Poland. It was led by Nikita Khrushchev and included Mikoyan, Bulganin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Marshal Konev and others. Gomułka made it clear that Polish troops would resist if Soviet troops advanced, but reassured the Soviets that the reforms were internal matters and that Poland had no intention of abandoning Communism or its treaties with the Soviet Union. The Soviets yielded. Gomułka was confirmed in his new position.

A period known as Gomułka's Thaw now began. Of course this era might have been brief-lived however the quickly developing events in the Hungarian Uprising soon gave the Soviet Leadership reason to deeply regret that they had yielded in Poland [1]. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

November 10

In 1956, to the further embarrassment of the Soviet Union, the Russian adventurer Boris Skossyreff (pictured, with monocle) managed to join the revolutionary armed forces fighting for the Hungarian Uprising.

Conjoined Crisis Part 7
Colonel Pal Maleter welcomes King of Andorra
Colonel Pál Maléter and his troops were holed up in mines which dated back to the old Empire and extended across the border into Czechoslovakia. Their plight was being broadcast to the world by Imre Nagy who had been given refuge in the British Embassy. Despite their bold attempts to emulate the Cursed Soldiers of Poland, their resistance to Soviet forces was mostly symbolic. However, the intervention of Boris Skossyreff was a psychological blow to the Soviets.

A Lithuanian Baron who fled Russia after the Revolution he later proclaimed himself King of Andorra before being sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. He had been released from a labor camp in Siberia earlier in the year.

Superficially, the bold personal interventions of maverick nobles such as von Habsburg, Skossyreff and later Michael King of Romania was a rival "throwback" challenge to Soviet Authority. Regardless of the misreports in the Western Media that the old Royal Families were tearing down the Iron Curtain, there was of course absolutely no prospect of a return to power for the Imperial Houses of Eastern Europe. Which was not to say their token resistance was completely without significance, because the real issue was the series of blundering mistakes that had been made in the Politburo, not just the release of Skossyreff but also yielding to Władysław Gomułka the newly appointed First Secretary of the Party in Poland.

The impression was that Stalin's successors - Nikita Khrushchev, Mikoyan, Bulganin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Marshal Konev and others - had lost their grip, and it was becoming increasingly likely that the crises in Eastern Europe would force a regime change in Moscow. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

October 31

In 1956, at an emergency meeting of the Praesidium, Soviet leaders from the anti-party group forced Nikita Khrushchev (pictured) to resign as First Secretary of the Communist Party. [1] Because it had become increasingly clear that the de-Stalinization policies he launched in his "Secret Speech" at the 20th Party Congress were now beginning to break-up the Warsaw Pact.

Conjoined Crisis Part 8
Khrushchev Forced out of the Politburo
But of course his downfall had been hastened by a recent series of blunders which had caused the escalation of the current crisis, namely the release of Russian Adventurer Boris Skossyreff, yielding to Władysław Gomułka the newly appointed First Secretary of the Party in Poland and then the highly publicized arrest of the maverick aristocrat Otto von Habsburg. The Western Media had then misreported a co-ordinated attempt to recover their thrones by the Imperial Houses of Eastern Europe.

Nevertheless, prior to the Hungarian Uprising, these events might even have been dismissed as minor adjustments in the arrangements of Eastern Europe. But in Hungary, Soviet forces had been withdrawn to their barracks, and then Imre Nagy announced the withdrawal of the country from the Warsaw Pact. This declaration was of course an unmistakable challenge to Soviet Authority. Almost certainly a military confrontation would be required to make the necessary correction. However Khrushchev had given mixed messages and therefore the Praesidium feared the Western reaction to direct intervention. During the turmoil, matters were made even worse when Michael King of the Rumanians announced his intention to re-occupy the throne that the Soviets had forced him to abdicate in 1948 when he was the last surviving monarch behind the Iron Curtain. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

November 1

In 1956, hours after Khrushchev's resignation the Praesidium re-assembled to discuss the developing crisis in Eastern Europe.

Conjoined Crisis Part 9
Suez Canal runs through the Praesidium [1]
Of course the preferred approach of the anti-party group was to find a resolution prior to appointing a new First Secretary. Because options varied from military crackdown through to a formula under which the members of the Warsaw Pact could find their own path to socialism.

As the Great Powers had always intended, the United Nations had been very quiet on the crisis, recognizing that the events were occurring in the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. But of course the same was not true of the situation in the Suez Canal. And at this critical junction, Egyptian President Abdul Gamal Nasser appealed to the Soviet Union in advance of the expected assault from Israel and France. In non-aligned parts of the globe, the Conjoined Crisis represented a fresh opportunity for a new world order, but it remained to be seen whether the Egyptians would be afforded the same degree of sovereignty as their comrades behind the Iron Curtain. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.