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Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:44:53 EDT by admin, 84333 views
History paper by Niessen, James P. (all papers)
Why Did They Leap? Crossing Borders after the 1956 Revolution
Nearly 200,000 people crossed the borders of Hungary during and after the Revolution of 1956. What were their motives: escape from punishment for their role in the revolution, taking advantage of loosened borders to infiltrate the West as spies, an opportunity to see the world, or in many cases a complex combination of motives? Crossing into Austria, the immigrants faced a further decision about their second leap, whether to move on to a third country, settle in Austria itself, or return to Hungary. The screening interviews of immigration authorities and intelligence services, the impressions of journalists, the contemporary interview project at Columbia University that is now available online through the Open Society Archive, later oral histories, and life stories all offer sources for an analysis of motivation. Between the first leap and the second, the further course of “the Hungarian crisis” and the policies of the host countries would influence the options and the ultimate decision of the immigrant.
Brief Professional Bio:
My doctoral dissertation focused on 19th century Transylvania: Battling Bishops: Religion and Politics in Transylvania on the Eve of the Ausgleich (Indiana, 1989). I’ve written many articles on aspects of Transylanian history, but after becoming a librarian in 1994 turned to the history of libraries and archives. My current book project concerns the Hungarian 56ers’ processing at Camp Kilmer.