Politically Motivated Hungarian Migration to the Netherlands in (the Second Half of) the 20th Century: Data, Concepts, and Consequences

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Abstract

This paper draws on an empirical research on the acculturation of Hungarian refugees in the Netherlands. After the bloody repression of the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet rule in 1956, approximately 200,000 people escaped Hungary. Out of them, 5,000 people started a new life in the Netherlands. Despite extensive documentation and memoirs, no systematic research exists on the fate of these Hungarians. With this research, we attempt to fill this knowledge gap by gaining insight into their integration path. By applying a qualitative–interpretative research method, we gathered personal narratives from Hungarian (‘ex-’) refugees in the Netherlands. We analyse their incorporation into the Dutch society according to various acculturation theories and discuss the (contextual) circumstances influencing these dynamics. The findings show that these Hungarians have successfully acculturated into the host society. They got entirely embedded in the institutional, sociocultural, and economic fabric of their new home country (assimilation) while also maintaining their original culture and identity (integration). Determining factors are the reception and opportunity structure in the host country, the refugees’ young age and willing attitudes to integrate, their grown hybrid identities as well as cultural compatibility.

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