"From Thaw to Restoration: A Chronology" by Jan Skorzynski.
9 February - Polish communist authorities issue a decree subordinating the Church to the state.
5 March - Joseph Stalin dies. In the Kremlin, struggle for power begins between Nikita Khrushchev, Lavrenti Beria and Georgi Malenkov.
7 March - Polish communist authorities decide to rename the city of Katowice Stalinogrod.
8 May - Polish bishops, in their "Non possumus" letter to the authorities, reject the February decree and the attempt by the communist state to subjugate the Church.
June - Revolts of inmates in Soviet forced-labour camps in Norilsk and Vorkuta are crushed by the military.
1 June - In Plsen, the announcement of currency revaluation and price increases spark demonstrations, attacks on public buildings and clashes with the security forces. There are at least 6 fatalities, and 256 people are taken to court. Protests and strikes break out in other Czechoslovak cities as well.
4 June - The conflict between the Polish state and the Church escalates. The Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski states in a sermon: "One should render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are His. Yet when Caesar sits on the altar, we say: 'It's not allowed!'"
16 - 17 June - Violent demonstrations and strikes erupt in Berlin and other East German cities. Three days of fights with the East German police and Soviet troops claim 267 fatalities.
26 June - Beria is arrested in Moscow.
4 July - After criticism of Prime Minister Matyas Rakosi's Stalinist government and his resignation, Imre Nagy becomes the Prime Minister and announces a "new policy course".
25 July - Partial amnesty for political prisoners is granted in Hungary.
27 July - A truce agreement signed at Panmunjom ends the Korean War.
12 August - The USSR successfully tests a hydrogen bomb.
7 September - Nikita Khrushchev becomes First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
22 September - In Warsaw, Bishop Czeslaw Kaczmarek is sentenced to 12 years in prison after a show trial before military court.
25 September - The Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, is arrested in Warsaw.
September - The Czechoslovak Ministry for State Security is abolished.
October - Another amnesty for political prisoners is granted in Hungary.
5 December - Colonel Jozef Swiatlo, a high-ranking officer of the Polish secret service, defects to the West.
17 December - In the absence of the imprisoned Primate, the Polish Episcopate is forced to swear an oath of loyalty to the Polish People's Republic; all the priests have to give a similar oath.
26 December, 1953 - Beria is executed by a firing squad; Khrushchev is rid of the most dangerous competitor in the struggle for power.
1 March - The U.S. explodes the first hydrogen bomb in the Eniwetok atoll on the Pacific Ocean.
13 March - Gabor Peter, former head of the communist State Protection Authority, or the secret police (AVH) is sentenced to life imprisonment for "violation of the socialist law and order".
April - In the trial of so-called Slovak nationalists, Gustav Husak receives a life sentence; he will not be released till 1960.
May - Ilya Ehrenburg's novel The Thaw, considered as a condemnation of the Stalinist era, is published in the USSR.
6 May - 16 June - Revolt of inmates in the Kengir (Kazakhstan) forced-labour camp, brutally suppressed by Soviet armed forces.
7 May - The French army is defeated by Viet Minh forces at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam.
20 July - Signature of the Geneva Accords, which end the First Indochina War and partition Vietnam into northern and southern zones. France acknowledges the independence of Cambodia and Laos.
28 September - Radio Free Europe Polish Section broadcasts the first in a series of widely popular programmes by Jozef Swiatlo entitled "Behind the scenes of the secret service and the party", in which he describes criminal activities of the communist party and security apparatus.
9 October - In Budapest, rehabilitation of Janos Kadar, former Minister of Interior, arrested in 1951 and given a life sentence.
1 November - Anti-French rebellion starts in Algeria.
8 November - Col. Jacek Rozanski, head of the Investigations Department of the Ministry of Public Security (MBP) is arrested in Warsaw.
17 November - Gamal Abdel Naser comes to power in Egypt.
29 November - In Warsaw, participants in the Central Committee meeting voice sharp criticism of the leadership of the party and of the security apparatus.
7 December - In Poland, the Ministry of Public Security (MBP) is abolished.
13 December - Wladyslaw Gomulka, former secretary-general of the Polish Workers' Party (PPR), imprisoned since 1951, is released from jail.
January - During the 3rd plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), voices are heard demanding changes in the party's policies.
January - Andrzej Wajda's
film debut. His film Pokolenie ("A Generation") is the seed of the so-called "Polish Film School".
March - The "Krzywe Kolo" (name of a street in the Warsaw Old Town) discussion club comes into being in Warsaw. Soon, similar clubs are created all over Poland.
April - Ehrenburg's The Thaw is published in Poland.
14 April - In Hungary, Imre Nagy is removed from all the positions in the party and in the government. The Rakosi group regains power, and Andras Hegedus becomes the new Prime Minister.
18-24 April - The Bandung (Indonesia) Conference of 29 Asian and African countries will ultimately lead to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961.
5 May - West Germany is admitted into NATO.
14 May - Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, DDR, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union sign the Warsaw Treaty (officially: the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance), establishing the Warsaw Pact.
15 May - France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States sign in Vienna the Austrian State Treaty (Treaty for the re-establishment of an independent and democratic Austria). In October, the Soviet occupying forces will withdraw, and the Parliament will vote through Austria's permanent neutrality ("The Declaration of Neutrality")
26 May - Khrushchev visits Belgrade, where he acknowledges the right of individual communist parties to follow "their own path toward socialism".
June - The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia decides to resume collectivisation. By 1958, all agricultural land in Czechoslovakia will be collectivised, and the private sector in agriculture will cease to exist.
July - At the Exhibition of Young Visual Arts "Against War, Against Fascism", held at Warsaw's Arsenal as a side event of the World Festival of Youth and Students, paintings and sculptures breaking away from Socialist Realism are exhibited for the first time. Paintings-symbols of the exhibition include Marek Oberlander's
Napietnowani ("Branded"), Przemyslaw Brykalski's Akt ("Nude"), Waldemar Cwenarski's Pozoga ("Ravages of War"), Hilary Krzysztofiak's Szczeka ("Jaw"), and Andrzej Wroblewski's
6 July - In one of the last Stalinist trials in Poland, Wlodzimierz Lechowicz, former Minister of Supply, is sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment based on bogus espionage charges.
18-23 July - Prime Ministers of France, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, and the President of the United States meet at a summit in Geneva. It was the first meeting of the "Big Three" leaders since Potsdam in 1945.
21 July - The Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw is officially handed over as a "gift from the Soviet people to the brotherly Polish nation".
31 July - 14 August - The World Youth Festival takes place in Warsaw, with some 30 000 foreign guests participating.
21 August - In Poland, Adam Wazyk publishes his Poemat dla doroslych ("Poem for Adults"), breaking off with socialist realism and telling the truth about social conditions.
22 August - Soviet authorities agree on repatriation of Poles detained in the USSR since WW II.
4 September - In Warsaw, the "Po Prostu" weekly, the organ of the communist youth organisation, declares: "We are a group of the dissatisfied" and becomes the mouthpiece for party reformers.
8-13 September - German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer visits the USSR and secures the release of German prisoners of war.
18 October - Hungarian writers' Memorandum in defence of artistic freedom and the "new course" policy.
3 December - Imre Nagy is expelled from the Hungarian Workers' Party (MDP).
In Warsaw, "Wspolczesnosc", a biweekly journal for literature and arts, comes into being, publishing writers and poets whose debuts occur around 1956, and who form the so-called "W Generation" (inter alia, Ernest Bryll, Stanislaw Grochowiak, Marek Hlasko
, Marek Nowakowski
, Wlodzimierz Odojewski
, Wladyslaw Terlecki). "Wspolczesnosc" continues to appear until 1971.
14 - 25 February - The CPSU 20th Congress deliberates in Moscow.
19 February - The Communist International declares "rehabilitation" of the Communist Party of Poland (KPP), previously abolished by Stalin.
25 February - Nikita Khrushchev delivers his "Secret Speech" on Stalin's crimes to the Closed Session of the Twentieth Party Congress.
March - In Budapest, the Petofi Circle - a meeting place for the intelligentsia and a forum for unhindered discussions - opens its doors.
12 March - Boleslaw Bierut, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP; PZPR), dies in Moscow.
21 March - In Warsaw, the leadership of the PUWP together with the new First Secretary Edward Ochab decide to copy and widely distribute Khrushchev's speech.
12 April - In Warsaw, a group of intellectuals sends a letter to the Chairman of the Council of State, condemning abuses committed by communist courts and security services. "The Polish nation - they write - demands justice in Poland, demands respect for the law, morality and honest government, and it cannot put up with the lawlessness legalised by valid court rulings."
17 April - In Moscow, the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties (Cominform) is dissolved.
23 April - In Warsaw, arrests of gen. Romkowski and col. Fejgin, high-ranking secret service officers, on charges of breaking law and order.
22 - 29 April - The Congress of the Union of Czechoslovak Writers criticises policies of the communists.
27 April - In Poland, amnesty is granted for political prisoners.
May - In China, Mao Zedong declares: "Let a hundred flowers bloom", encouraging intellectuals to freely exchange ideas and critical opinions.
2 May - In Prague, the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announces the end to the discussions on the 20th Congress of the CPSU.
4 May - In Warsaw, Jakub Berman, in Stalinist times responsible for the security apparatus, foreign policy, ideology and propaganda, leaves the leadership of the party and the government.
June - Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" is broadcast by the Voice of America and by the Radio Free Europe.
20 June - Tito visits Moscow; a joint Soviet-Yugoslav declaration confirms a possibility of choosing "different roads to socialism".
27 June - In Budapest, during a stormy meeting of the Petofi Circle devoted to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, participants sharply criticize the leadership of the Hungarian party.
28-29 June - In Poznan (Poland), a strike of the workers at the Cegielski factory turns into a thousands-strong demonstration, and later into an armed rebellion against the communist authorities. The protesters attacked the party headquarters, the prison and the District Office of Security (Wojewodzki Urzad Bezpieczenstwa), demanding "bread and freedom". The demonstrations are quelled by the military. Over 70 people are killed.
29 June - Prime Minister Jozef Cyrankiewicz warns in a radio broadcast: "He who dares raise their hand against the people's state, let him be sure to have that hand chopped off".
19 July - In Hungary, Matyas Rakosi is forced to resign from the position of First Secretary of the party, and is replaced by Erno Gero; Janos Kadar returns to the party leadership.
26 July - In Egypt, President Nasser accepts Soviet economic assistance and declares nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company.
August - In Sopot (Poland), the first jazz festival takes place, with crowds of audience attending. In addition to a few foreign musicians, the Krzysztof Komeda Quintet performs, among others. Two years later, upon learning that the authorities no longer permit the Festival to take place in Sopot, a jazz festival is organised in Warsaw for the first time. It will later be named "Jazz Jamboree"
(Leopold Tyrmand is the author of the name).
4 August - In Warsaw, a decision is announced on rehabilitation of Wladyslaw Gomulka and his re-admittance into the party.
26 August - In Czestochowa, hundreds of thousands take part in the celebration of Our Lady of Czestochowa the Queen of Poland, organised under the aegis of Cardinal Wyszynski who is still imprisoned.
27 September - First sentences are passed in the trials of participants in the June Poznan rebellion.
6 October - In Budapest, Laszlo Rajk, victim of 1949 Stalinist purges, is rehabilitated and his remains are reburied in the presence of a huge demonstration. Writer Bela Szasz says at the reburial: "Hundreds of thousands of people who walked by this casket want not only to honour the death of a man, but they also have a fervent hope and unbreakable will to bury the whole era. Lawlessness, arbitrariness, and moral decay of those horrible years must be buried forever, and the threat posed by Hungarian supporters of governing by force and of personality cult must be removed for all times."
14 October - Imre Nagy is readmitted into the party.
16 October - In Szeged, Hungarian students form an independent academic organisation.
18/19 October - Soviet troops stationed in Poland begin advancing towards Warsaw, where power struggle is under way between the reformers and the conservatives in the party.
19 October - In the morning, Khrushchev, other Politburo members and Marshal Konev, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact, arrive in Warsaw unannounced. After a full day and a night of dramatic talks with the participation of Gomulka, freshly co-opted to the party's leadership, the Soviet delegation accepts that the Polish authorities guarantee maintaining the communist system, and leaves Warsaw early the next morning. Soviet troops advancing towards Warsaw are stopped.
20-21 October - In his speech at the VII Plenum of the Central Committee of the PUWP, Gomulka criticises Stalinist policies and collectivisation, announces reforms, and proclaims a "Polish road to socialism". He is elected First Secretary of the party. At rallies all over Poland, support for Gomulka and demands for liberalisation of the system are voiced. In Budapest, the "Szabad Nep" daily, the organ of the party, publishes the full text of Gomulka's speech.
22 October - During a big student rally at the Budapest Building Industry Technological University, demands are voiced for free elections and withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary. The "Sixteen Political, Economic, and Ideological Points", elaborated at the rally, become the programme of the democratic revolution.
23 October - In Budapest, students organise a thousands-strong demonstration to express solidarity with Poland and to demand similar reforms (some banners read: "Poland has given us an example! Choose a Hungarian way!"). In the evening, a gigantic monument to Stalin is torn down. The demonstrators demand that the "Sixteen Points" be published in mass media. When, in front of the broadcasting station, shots are fired by the police forces, the crowd responds with fire. An armed uprising begins.
23 October - In Warsaw, a group of Catholic intellectuals (including Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Stanislaw Stomma) establishes the Club of Progressive Catholic Intelligentsia (KPIK), independent from the authorities.
24 October - At night, Imre Nagy returns to the party leadership, taking again the post of Prime Minister. The authorities declare a state of emergency and ask the USSR for help to re-establish law and order. In the morning, Soviet troops enter Budapest, meeting with armed resistance of more than a dozen thousand people. Most factories in town are on strike.
24 October - In Warsaw, at a 500 000-strong rally broadcast over the radio, Gomulka announces further reforms and de-Stalinisation, but also calls for restraint and calming down the public mood.
25 October - In Budapest, fighting with Soviet troops continues. Over one hundred participants of a peaceful demonstration are killed in front of the Parliament. Janos Kadar becomes First Secretary of the party.
26 October - Sporadic fighting erupts in Hungarian provinces as well; power is seized by revolutionary committees and workers' councils formed at the striking factories.
28 October - Prime Minister Nagy announces cease-fire, abolition of the secret service and withdrawal of Soviet troops. The government acknowledges the uprising as the national democratic revolution. The Revolutionary Committee of the Hungarian Intelligentsia is formed at the University, grouping representatives of student organisations, the Petofi Circle, the Writers' Union, and other independent associations.
28 October - Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski is released from jail, and returns to Warsaw.
29 October - Israeli troops attack Egypt.
30 October - USSR government declares in a special announcement that each communist country has a right to its own reform path, provided that it does not lead out of the communist block. Nagy announces formation of the new government based on a broad coalition, with the participation of democratic parties which were outlawed by the communists after the war. The government forms the Revolutionary Committee of the Armed Forces, with representatives from the army, the police, and the Freedom Fighters. The Primate of Hungary, Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, imprisoned since 1948, is released. The communist party (the Hungarian Workers Party) dissolves itself to reappear as the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party, with new leadership and Janos Kadar at its helm.
31 October - The withdrawal of Soviet troops is halted. Nagy announces the opening of talks on Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. Soviet troops stationed in Romania and the Ukraine advance towards Hungary.
1 November - Nagy appeals to the United Nations to acknowledge Hungary's neutrality, and informs the Soviet ambassador that in view of the Soviet troops' movements Hungary is withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact. Kadar escapes to Moscow.
2 November - Nagy appeals to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to condemn the Soviet aggression against neutral Hungary. Khrushchev convinces Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania that a military intervention is necessary. Moscow is also supported by Yugoslavia (after a night-time meeting between Khrushchev and Tito on the Brioni island) and by Poland.
3 November - Nagy forms the new government which includes all the parties which were part of a coalition in 1945. Cardinal Mindszenty broadcasts a radio message in which he appeals for building a multi-party system and a society based on "justly limited private ownership". At night, the Soviets arrest general Pal Maleter, Minister of Defence of the democratic government of Hungary.
4 November - At dawn, Soviet troops attack Budapest, and encounter fierce resistance of the revolt forces. Kadar returns to Hungary from Moscow and announces the formation of the "Revolutionary Worker-Peasant Government" which, with the Soviet help, will "fight counterrevolution". Nagy finds refuge at the Yugoslav Embassy. A general strike breaks out in the country. Cardinal Mindszenty finds asylum at the American Embassy, where he will remain until 1971.
5 November - In the Middle East, victorious Israeli assault reaches the Suez Canal. British and French paratroopers land in the Canal zone to take control over it.
7 November - Pressured by the United States and the United Nations, France and the UK halt their military operations and commit to withdraw their troops by 22 December. The Israelis withdraw from the Canal zone as well.
7 November - Kadar and his government enter Budapest together with Soviet troops, and seize power under the Soviet tutelage.
10 November - The fall of the last point of armed resistance in Csepel, Budapest's working class neighbourhood. Overall, around twenty thousand Hungarians died in the uprising; nearly two hundred thousand emigrated.
13 November - Konstantin Rokossovski, a Russian Marshal in Polish uniform, is recalled from his post of the Minister of Defence of the Polish People's Republic. 32 Soviet generals and colonels serving in the Polish army leave Poland with him.
14 November - In Budapest, the Central Workers' Council is founded. The Council is to lead and co-ordinate the social opposition to Kadar's government.
15-18 November - During a visit to Moscow, Gomulka signs an agreement normalising the Polish-Soviet relations in the spirit of "mutual respect, non-intervention and sovereignty", and obtains compensation for Polish losses on coal exports to the USSR, as well as increased repatriation of Poles remaining in the USSR.
18 November - In Bydgoszcz (Poland), demonstrators demolish equipment that jams Western radio broadcasts, the military intervenes.
22 November - In Budapest, after leaving their refuge at the Yugoslav Embassy, Nagy and other leaders of the revolt, together with their families, are arrested despite previous guarantees of security and safe passage. The following day they are transported to a prison in Romania.
5 December - In Warsaw, the first Workers' Council is set up at Zeran Car Plant. During the following year, Workers' Councils are created at five thousand factories.
8 December - The Polish government rescinds the 1953 anti-Church decree, thereby giving back to the Primate freedom of appointment to Church positions and reinstating religion at schools.
10 December - An anti-Soviet demonstration takes place in Szczecin.
10 December - Hungarian authorities outlaw the Central Workers' Council and arrest its leaders. Martial law is declared.
11-12 December - General strike in Hungary. In some cities, security forces open fire at peaceful demonstrations, several dozen people are killed.
17 December - A new "Agreement on the legal status of Soviet troops temporarily stationed in Poland" states that they cannot interfere in Poland's internal affairs.
28 December - In Poland, the Supreme Court revokes the sentence passed on Bishop Kaczmarek.
7 January - After a decree is issued which foresees the death sentence for anyone calling a strike ("refusal to work"), the Csepel Central Workers' Council resigns. It is the end of the social opposition to Kadar's rule. Demonstrations which take place in the days to follow are quashed by Soviet tanks - numerous people are killed and wounded.
19 January - Jozsef Dudas and Janos Szabo, leaders of the revolt, are executed.
20 January - In the Polish parliamentary elections, seats are won by representatives of Catholic circles critical of the authorities. The "Sign" (Znak) parliamentary group, connected with Clubs of Catholic Intelligentsia (KIK), is formed.
25 March - In Rome, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany establish the European Economic Community.
25 March - The governments of Poland and the USSR sign an agreement which broadens repatriation of Poles still remaining in the Soviet Union.
April - In Hungary, a phase of mass terror begins, directed against the revolt participants. In 1957 alone, twenty thousand political trials are launched.
22 May - Nikita Khrushchev formulates a programme for the USSR: "To catch up and overtake America!"
June - The Chinese authorities, concerned with the amount of criticism made public by the Hundred Flowers Movement, end the "thaw" and launch a "rectification campaign" against "right-wing deviationists". As a result, close to one million people become subject to repressions.
August - The Soviet Union successfully tests the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
2 October - The Polish authorities order the closure of the Warsaw student newspaper, "Po prostu", the leading organ of the Polish reform movement of October '56. Street protests ensue in Warsaw and in other cities, and are brutally rebuffed by the internal security forces.
4 October - The USSR launches "Sputnik", the world's first artificial satellite.
25 October - In Washington, D.C., President Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harald Macmillan, in a joint Declaration of Common Purpose condemn the "continued suppression of freedom in Eastern Europe".
November - In Poland, Jerzy Andrzejewski
and a few other rebellious writers leave the party in protest against the reforms being thwarted.
11 November - In Warsaw, in the trials of high-ranking security officers (Romkowski, Rozanski, Fejgin), 13- to 15-years' sentences are handed out.
13 November - In Hungary, sentencing in the trial of writers who sided with the revolt; Tibor Dery is sentenced to nine years' imprisonment.
30 December - Execution of Laszlo Ivan Kovacs, one of the leaders of the Hungarian revolution.
27 March - Sandor Racz, the President of the Greater Budapest Workers' Council, is sentenced to life imprisonment.
May - After his visit to Hungary, Gomulka states that "the Hungarian nation has crushed the counterrevolution with the help of the Soviet Union and support from socialist countries".
29 May - In France, General Charles de Gaulle is asked to head the "government of national salvation".
16 June - In Budapest, death sentences by hanging are carried out on the leaders of the Hungarian revolution: Imre Nagy, Pal Maleter and Miklos Gimes.
21 July - In Poland, a police raid on the Czestochowa monastery denotes the end of the thaw in the Church-state relations.
2 August - Istvan Bibo and Arpad Goncz (future President of Hungary between 1990 and 2000) are sentenced to life imprisonment for their participation in the revolt.
28 September - In a referendum, the French support the new Constitution and the creation of the 5th Republic.
23 October - Soviet writer Boris Pasternak is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but declines it under pressure of Soviet authorities.
7 December - Hungarian authorities decide on the total collectivisation of agriculture.
20 December - In Poland, Workers' Councils - the last existing institutional achievement of October '56 - are subjugated to the party.