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Fri, 07 Sep 2012 11:51:53 EDT by admin, 113196 views
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
History paper by Várdy, Steven Béla (all papers)
Displaced Persons among Hungarian Immigrants
Although the dipis [DP = Displaced Persons] constituted the elites of interwar Hungary’s “neo-Baroque” world, and although as immigrants to the United States they significantly altered the structure of Hungarian-American society, as compared to the other waves of immigrants, they are hardly known. The primary reasons for this is the fact that they represented a social and political system that was not really welcome in America. They were also in the category of “ex-enemies,” which did not endear them to Americans and their Western allies. Equally important is the fact that – for whatever reason -- they left relatively few historical sources – memoirs and archival material – behind them.
In the course of the past 160 years several waves of Hungarian immigrants left their homeland and settled in the United States. Beginning with the so-called “Kossuth Immigration” after the defeated Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849, followed by the massive turn-of-the-century “economic immigration” from Austria-Hungary (1890-1914), then by several waves of political immigrants before and after World War II (1919, 1933-41, 1944-45, 1947-48). This immigration process climaxed in wake of the violent anti-Soviet Revolution of 1956, which resulted in the exodus of nearly 200,000 Hungarians, of whom over 40,000 ended up in the United States. The last major Hungarian immigration took place after the fall of the communism in 1989-90, which brought additional thousands of Hungarians to the USA. They were not really immigrants, but people who hoped to improve their economic wellbeing by working in America. Their position is best described by the German term “Wohlstandsflüchtlinge,” which is best translated into Hungarian as “Jólétmenekültek,” and into English as “Guestworkers in search of a better life”.
Discounting the “Wohlstandsflüchtlinge” still in the process of migrating to the United States, the post-World War II immigrants came in two waves. These were the 45-ers, many of whom represented the elites of the interwar Horthy-regime; and the 47-ers who were of more modest origins and wanted to change the nature of the regime. They hoped to achieve this goal by cooperating with the occupying Soviet forces and the Communist Party. This hope, however, was crushed by the communist take-over of Hungary in the course of 1947-1948.
While all of immigrant waves possess a great deal of scholarly literature, this does not hold true for the 45-ers and 47-ers (the DPs). My goal is to remedy the situation by writing a synthetic work about these “forgotten immigrants.”
Brief Professional Bio:
Steven Béla Várdy, Ph.D. (Indiana) is Distinguished McAnulty Professor of European History at Duquesne University and an elected Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of two-dozen books and over 200 scholarly articles and book chapters. – some written jointly with his wife, Dr. Agnes Huszár Várdy. Professor Várdy is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Miskolc, and the Honoree of two Festschrifts written and published by his former students, colleagues, and friends. The recent volume, Hungary Through the Centuries (2012), was dedicated both to him and his wife. In Hungarian Professor Várdy writes under the name “Várdy Béla.”