Research & Studies

The Daring Diplomat Who Proved One Person Can Challenge an Empire

The United Nations launched an investigation into Soviet troop intervention during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. A special committee interviewed 111 witnesses including diplomats, government officials, soldiers, journalists, lawyers, and everyday people in Geneva, Rome, London and Vienna. Fearing retaliation against friends and family back in Hungary, where the Soviet-backed government was carrying out executions, 81 of the witnesses only testified under the condition of anonymity.

Bang Jensen


The only man who knew their names was the Danish diplomat, Povl Bang-Jensen, who working at the UN, guaranteed their anonymity and was trusted by the witnesses. Because of his actions, he became embroiled in a bewildering Cold War mystery, that has not been solved up until this day, and he paid the ultimate price for keeping his promise to the witnesses of 1956.

“Sometimes relatively insignificant players could make a big difference in a real way in peculiar moments in history. … Bang-Jensen saved the reputation of the United Nations.” (Ferenc Miszlivetz, Director of iASK)

The volume, A Cry for Freedom: Reflections on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution at the UN and Beyond (2017), was published by the Institute of Advanced Studies Kőszeg (iASK) in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the UN and H.E. Katalin Bogyay.

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