Moscow thought it had the answer to Hungary: Ivan Serov.
In the days when the Ukraine had been Khrushchev's satrapy, Serov had liquidated hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian peasants. After the 1939 partition of Poland, he had supervised the deportation of 1,500,000 Poles and issued the infamous Order No. 001223, which outlined the proper procedures for executions and deportations from the Baltic states. General Serov, now the Cabinet-ranking boss of Soviet secret police, flew into Budapest last week.
Train to the Ukraine. A short, stocky man with dynamic energy and ice-cold grey-blue eyes, Serov stayed behind the scenes, but his techniques were soon noticed. Soviet security police and a new Hungarian force, called the "R troops," began picking up more young Hungarians. Anyone over 14 years of age was a potential victim. They were taken to the large Vermezoe subway station, where an army detail of 120 men drove off frantic parents. Below ground the youths, boys and girls, were herded into boxcars which were moved out in the dead of night. A train drawing 24 sealed wagons was seen heading east one morning.
Where were they taken? A 17-year-old girl deportee, sent back because she was ill, reported that she had been held with 1,500 other young Hungarians in a Soviet army barracks at Uzhgorod in the Ukraine. Two young boys who escaped from a camp in the woods in the same area turned up in Budapest with hollow cheeks, and heads shaved like Russian bezprizornye (waifs).
But wholesale deportation was not Russia's only technique for reducing a people. The Hungarian peasants who had been bringing food into Budapest and giving it freely to the workers were cut off, and all food was channeled through government distribution centers. Puppet Premier Janos Kadar tried desperately to get support behind his regime. He got nowhere with Imre Nagy (see above). And he was making little progress with ex-Secretary-General Bela Kovacs of the Smallholders' Party, or with the Peasant Party's Istvan Bibo. During one of Radar's bumbling appeals over Radio Budapest, studio onlookers saw Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Ferenc Munnich snatch the script from the Premier's hand and denounce him as "an idiot" who was "misleading the nation."
Resistance. Puppet and policemen alike found it hard to control a desperate and brave people. At Csepel the workers decided to return to work, but only to produce 3,000 bicycles to replace those looted from workers by police and soldiers. At many factories, when a few workers reported, no work was done for lack of power. The coal miners, most defiant of the strikers, cut only enough coal for essential services, and threatened to flood the mines if further coerced. Many miners in the Tatabanya and Pecs areas had taken to the hills and were operating as armed guerrillas. Radio Free Europe monitors in Munich were still taping signals from a rebel radio transmitter, evidently moving with a band of Freedom Fighters: "Attention, workers, hold out! The hours of the Kadar regime are numbered . . ."