On this date in 1956, student protesters in Budapest began cutting the hammer and sickle from Hungarian flags and toppled a statue of Stalin. Ministry of security troops panicked and opened fire on demonstrators outside the Radio Budapest building, and the uprising was on. Troops sent to relieve beleaguered secret police joined the protesters instead, and the government, by now fearing for their lives, called the Soviets.
The West stood by and watched when the Russian tanks rolled in and crushed the uprising after days of bloody street fighting. It was not Freedom's finest hour.