Hungarian Martyrs, Refugees, and the Politics of Anticommunism in Salazar’s Portugal, 1956–1957

Steven Jobbitt


This article summarizes the findings of Jobbitt’s early research into the experiences of Hungarian migrants in Portugal after World War II, and the way in which the Hungarian Revolution and its suppression in 1956 was politicized by Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar’s Estado Novo [‘New State’]. Recognizing the propagandistic value of the 1956 Revolution and the refugee crisis that it created, the Salazar government celebrated Hungary’s freedom fighters as martyrs while simultaneously painting an idealized and simplistic picture of an honorable Christian nation locked in a fundamentally moral struggle against the civilizational threat posed by Soviet barbarism and communist terror. However, in attempting to align its own political and ideological message with the actions of Hungary’s revolutionaries and the suffering of its refugees, the Salazar regime ran the very real risk of highlighting the numerous contradictions, shortcomings, and injustices that defined the Estado Novo. Ultimately the Salazar regime’s propagandistic support of the Revolution betrayed the hypocrisy of an authoritarian, clerico-fascist state, one that was not only unwilling to accept Hungarian refugees on a long-term basis, but also guilty of suppressing its own people and its non-European colonial subjects.


1956 Hungarian Revolution, Hungarian refugees, martyrdom, Estado Novo, Portugal under Salazar

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Copyright (c) 2016 Steven Jobbitt

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