Hungarian Refugees of 1956: From the Border to Austria, Camp Kilmer, and Elsewhere


  • James P. Niessen



Camp Kilmer, 1956, refugees, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, Tracy Voorhees


Camp Kilmer dominates the story of flight from Hungary in 1956-1957 for many Hungarian Americans who experienced the Revolution, and with good reason: roughly four-fifths of them came through the camp, and their subsequent integration into American life was largely successful.  But it is less well known that many fifty-sixers did not share this experience: as many may have returned to Hungary as came to the US, and by far most of the refugees ended up in other countries.  US restrictions on entry steered many refugees to other countries, but the US provided most of the funding for the international relief effort.  This article seeks to relativize the myth of Camp Kilmer by examining the refugees’ motives for leaving Hungary, their experience in Austria, and why so many ended up in the US, in other countries, or back in their homeland.






Special Cluster: The 1956 Revolution and Its Aftermath, Seen from Sixty Years On