The American Reception and Settlement of Hungarian Refugees in 1956–1957


  • Peter Pastor Montclair State University



Hungarian Revolution of 1956, United States response to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Hungarian refugees, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Soviet Union, Austria


In the wake of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, close to two hundred thousand Hungarians crossed into Austria.  About thirty thousand of these refugees were allowed to enter the United States. Their common experience of living under totalitarian communism and participating or being a witness to the exhilarating thirteen days of the revolution and their sudden, previously unplanned, departure from the homeland gave them a collective identity that was different from the one shared by the people of previous waves of Hungarian influx to the United States. The high educational level of the refugees attained before and after their arrival made their absorption into the mainstream relatively easy. The integration process was facilitated by the shaping of a positive image of the 1956 refugees by the US government and the media.  The reestablishment of the communist system in post-1956 Hungary contributed to the perception that, for the refugees in the United States, there was no hope for return to the homeland.  This assumption strengthened the attitudes of those who wished to embrace the American melting pot model.  Many of the 1956-ers in the United Sates, however, were also comfortable with the notion of ethnic pride and believed in the shaping of a dual national identity.






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