Exiled Hungarians in Argentina 1948-1968: The Formation of a Community


  • Judith Kesserű Némethy New York University




Hungarian exiles, Hungarian diaspora, Cultural history, Twentieth century migrations, Argentine immigration, Cultural identity, Ethnic identity, Dual identity


This paper presents the cultural activism of a group of Hungarian émigrés who fled their homeland following Soviet occupation at the end of World War II and arrived in Argentina around 1948. It deals with the intellectual activity of these exiles, especially through their cultural and educational institutions. Within five years of their arrival as dispossessed “D.P.’s,” they founded a Hungarian Center (“Centro Húngaro”) that housed, among others, a theater group, a free university, a cultural and scientific academy, a weekend school, and scout troops. At the same time, new periodicals appeared, and a substantive number of books banned in Hungary were published. I argue that it is due to the work of these institutions that the community flourished and is vital to date, in spite of its isolation and lack of reinforcement through new emigrant waves, and in spite of its hostile relationship with the government of the People’s Republic of Hungary and of a series of Argentine economic crises that forced many of its members to re-emigrate. I also discuss the impact the exiles had on their descendants, contending that as a result of the strong cultural foundations laid by them during their first twenty years of emigration, third- and fourth-generation Hungarian-Argentines have maintained to this day a strong cultural and ethnic identity, while fully integrating into Argentine society at large.

Author Biography

Judith Kesserű Némethy, New York University

Judith Kesserű Némethy is Clinical Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese of New York University. She holds a Ph.D. in History (Hispanic Studies) from the University of Szeged. At NYU, she has taught courses in Spanish language, Latin American literature, and Spanish dialectology. Related to Hungarian studies, she has designed and taught Hungarian language courses at Cornell University, as well as History of the Hungarian emigration to Latin America at the University of Szeged. Her research interests are in Hungarian diaspora studies, Hungarian language, bilingualism, education, teaching methodology. She has published “Szabadságom lett a börtönöm” – Az argentínai magyar emigráció története1948-1968 [“My Freedom Became My Prison”: A History of Argentinian-Hungarian Emigration, 1948-1968] (2003), and several articles on the above mentioned areas. She is past president of AHEA and administrator of scholarship applications to the Balassi Institute's Hungarian Language and Cultural Studies program for students of Hungarian descent. She is member of the Executive Committee of the Hungarian Scout Association in Exteris.






Cluster Articles: Hungarian Borders, Immigration, Diasporas