INT: Imre Nagy, what are your feeling about his position? Because his position appears to be rather ambivalent, looking back on it, is that true?
BK: Well, ambivalent, in one sense that that is this very few person in history who could decently remain ideologically and in some respect regarding loyalty a Communist, but he was also a true Hungarian patriot. Now how could these two poles of opposite poles amalgam into a man's soul, difficult to, to explain but that is where the controversy originate. He remained until his execution, a Communist. He remained until his execution a true Hungarian patriot. He tried to fulfil both of these, he definitely did not think that Communism means the Soviet ... ... Communism mean the Stalinist regime which ruled over Hungary. He believed, I would say that his concept of Communism would have been something like a social democratic party of today, because he was already, during his first premiership, which started in June nineteen fifty three, although he did not, did not declare multi-party system, but he very fervently tried to build up a so-called peoples' front. A second party, really, a second party. In other ... which is not in name, in structure, he and the president of this was his, his son-in law, ... General... who was the head of this peoples'front which Imre Nagy definitely wanted to build up as a contra-balance to the party, in other words, an embryonic multi-party system, a and b. When he became convinced during the Revolution that the original demands of the reformist, a multi-party system with the free and universal election in the country was absolutely unanimous wish of the nation, he adopted it. Not only created a, a coalition government out of the true representatives of the old democratic parties of the pre-nineteen forty seven era in Hungary, smallholders, Christian Democrats, national peasants, social democrats came into his government, but he gave complete freedom to these parties to ... .... In other words that is the controversy. How come a man, who under the gallows still confesses Communism, but true patriotism, who grew up in the idealogy and practice of a one party system, starts to create a semi-party, multi-party system and then opens the gate for multi-party system. The fact is, controversy or not, Imre Nagy always did what he said. It was not a fishy politician's, you know game there. Imre Nagy once said, I now open the gate, he did. A decent man, a truly decent man. If you want one character of Imre Nagy, the decency predominates over everything.
INT: On around October the twenty eighth, the Soviets agreed to withdraw their troops from Budapest ...
BK: Not before, not before ...
INT: ... Not before, around there. What was the feeling, once they had decided to withdraw their troops, was there a feeling that you had won?
BK: Who, the Soviet, or the freedom fighter?
INT: ... The freedom fighters.
BK: No, no. It was, again Imre Nagy, it is Imre .. one of the most crucial action. What happened for October the twenty eighth, the Stalinist generals in the army, still although the army was in the barracks, but they were under their command, and the Soviet troops in Hungary jointly designed a massive attack against major freedom fighter points like the Kilian Barracks, and neighbourhood where there were very seriously organised freedom fighter groups, a massive attack which would have been like World War Two, hundreds of guns and tanks, and here, that would have been the real test of the Hungarian army, because they were already concentrated in the army to, in the area to carry out the attack. And then when Imre Nagy was informed, they go... , then he told that, you stop it, instantly, or I resign. I am not covering politically this whole massacre in which uncountable civilians will be killed, a beautiful area of Budapest will be ruined, etcetera, stop it, or I resign. Now, neither the Soviet Union, nor the Stalinist dared to let Imre Nagy openly declare his resignation because they knew that it would have been really an honour in Hungary ... disproportionate violence, so that they agreed not to ... ... out, and they agreed for an armistice. Now in that armistice there are two schools of thought. There are scholars who believe that the Soviet for not for a moment thought about everything but complete subjugation of the Hungarians. But documentary, it could not be proved, it was a tremendous cause in the Kremlin itself, and there were plans according to which Hungary really should be, and that was exactly ... ... October the twenty ninth, in the Pravda, there was a big article, still called us contra-revolution etcetera, but the Politburo's decision was announced to Pravda that Hungary would be let to settle its own affairs, and that ... in the Pravda now. Ahem - here the Soviet troops which rolled through Hungary was not yet agreed upon, only ... ... from the city of Budapest. That was agreed upon. Very slowly they really started. ... But there was a hint that further steps for the withdrawal of Soviet troops will come. Now, the twenty eighth, Imre Nagy became, he was only appointed Prime Minister during the night of twenty three, twenty four, but he could not do anything. That was the time when Imre Nagy's activity began. He transferred his seat from the Party headquarters to the Parliament building, and then came the avalanche of delegations etcetera, and here started my role as, I had then two hats, one was the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council for National Defence, which was recognised by Imre Nagy and the supreme organisation to control all the armed forces, and that itself out of its staff created the Supreme Commander of National Guard, and I was also elected Commander in Chief of the National Guard. Now that was the point when my activities started, not the fighting, because to tell the truth, after the twenty eighth there was no central command of the freedom fighters, it was spontaneous fighters, here, there, among, ... but there was not central command. I used to say that in this first phase, the Commander in Chief of the freedom fighter forces was, an idea! Freedom, liberty, was the idea, all fought for that, and independence, but from twenty eight, twenty ninth, thirtieth, this new central command began to be more and more effective and it was after all, freedom fighter delegations elected these organisations, it was, without a hitch accepted as the central military organisation of the new militia called National Guard. Our primary goal was helping the consolidation, that not to organise an anti-Soviet war, but to organise peace, that was to consolidate troops, to make them out of spontaneously formed amorphous groups into military, well organised, disciplined commanders ... ... groups, that was our job.
INT: You obviously must have had some difficulty in getting that coordination, because there was a famous episode in which the Party Headquarters was attacked on the thirtieth of October ...
BK: Ah, ah, ja, ja, ja.
INT: Do you recall what happened then?
BK: Yes, it was absolutely out of hand, look, that was still the phase of organisation of the central command, because we went to Imre Nagy and those men during the night of the thirtieth. The whole unfortunate incidents was already learned. It was during the day of thirtieth. At, and we went to Imre Nagy almost midnight of night of thirtieth to have an endorsement from the Government itself. It did not want to do anything which did not fit into Imre Nagy's system, so to say. Then it was already over. Now what happened there is, that while it was very unfortunately, there were there, lynching, so to say of I don't know, eight, five, nine ... ... secret police soldiers, I thought that one death was too many, when you are a reformer, and we were, we are not revolutionaries, we are reformers, but on the other hand, in that building was a military counter-revolution headquarters set up. Those Stalinist generals who believed that they lost, gathered there in that Communist Party Headquarters, which is the headquarters of the Socialist Party today, a military counter-revolution was brewing there, but it was suppressed in the bud. You know ... ... politically and ... ... ... ... justified the death I deplore. But again in the revolution, you know, the Hungarian revolution was not characterised by brutality. It was characterised by moderation, because if you think of these thousands who perished under the Rkosi regime, tens of thousands who were interned, again I know hundred thousand imprisoned like myself, after that, there was so little violence against the suppressors, that is the characteristics of the Hungary Revolution, that it was extremely moderate compared to the regime which it was supposed to topple.