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

Open access


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.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1956-os Intézet [The Institute for the History of the 1956 Revolution]. Az 1956-os forradalom [The Revolution of 1956]. Accessed on 30 April 2009. Available at: <http://www.rev.hu/portal/page/portal/rev/aktualitasok>.

  • A NYUGATI létforma és a magyarok [The Western Lifestyle and the Hungarians]. 1957. Magyarország. 25 September.

  • ABSOLUTE Astronomy. 2009. 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Accessed on: 22 May 2009. Available at: <http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/1956_Hungarian_Revolution>.

  • ALBA Richard. 1999. Immigration and the American Realities of Assimilation and Multiculturalism. Sociological Forum 14(1): 3–25.

  • ANDERSON Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities. London–New York: V. Verso.

  • BARLAY Stephen. 2006. Menekülés és megérkezés. [Refugees and their Refuge]. Budapest: K.u.K. Kiadó.

  • BERRY John W. 1980. Acculturation as Varieties of Adaptation. In: Padilla A. M. (ed.) Acculturation: Theory Models and Findings. Westview CO: Boulder. 9–25.

  • 1992. Acculturation and Adaptation in a New Society. International Migration 30(1): 69–85.

  • BHABHA Homi K. (ed.). 1994. Nation and Narration. London: Routledge.

  • BLACK Richard. 2001. Fifty Years of Refugee Studies: from Theory to Policy. The International Migration Review 35(1 Special Issue – spring): 57–78.

  • BLEDIN Kenneth. 2003. Migration Identity and Group Analysis. Group Analysis 36(1): 97–110.

  • BLONDEAU Achille. 1957. Milyen a magyar menekültek helyzete Franciaországban? [How Are the Hungarian Emigrants Doing in France?]. Népakarat 14 February.

  • BLUNT Alison. 2007. Cultural Geographies of Migration: Mobility Transnationality and Diaspora. Progress in Human Geography 31(5): 684–694.

  • BOLZMAN Claudio. 1994. Stages and Modes of Incorporation of Exiles in Switzerland: the Example of Chilean Refugees. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research 7(3): 321–333.

  • BORBÁNDI Gyula. 1985. A magyar emigráció életrajza — 1945–1985 [Portray of the Hungarian Emigration – 1945–1985]. Bern: Európai Protestáns Magyar Szabadegyetem [European Protestant Hungarian Free University].

  • BOSSWICK Wolfgang–HECKMANN Friedrich. 2007. Integration of Migrants: Contribution of Local and Regional Authorities. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. Dublin: Eurofund. https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef0622en.pdf.

  • BOZIC Sasa. 1999. The Ethno-National Mobilisation of Croat Immigrants in Vienna: Some Problems with an Undifferentiated Notion of the Politics of Belonging. In: Geddes A.–Favell A. (eds) The Politics of Belonging: Migrants and Minorities in Contemporary Europe. Aldershot Hants England–Brookfield Vt.: Ashgate. 139–155.

  • CARR Winifred. 1957. New Life for Hungarians. Daily Telegraph 5 January.

  • COLLIER Mary Jane–THOMAS Milt. 1988. Cultural Identity: an Interpretive Perspective. In: Kim Young Yun–Gudykunst William B. (eds) Theorizing Intercultural Communication. Newbury Park CA: Sage. 94–120.

  • CÔTÉ James E. 2006. Acculturation and Identity: the Role of Individualization Theory. Human Development 49: 31–35.

  • CRANG Mike. 1998. Nations Homelands and Belonging in Hybrid Worlds. In: Crang Mike: Cultural Geography. London: Routledge. 161–176.

  • DOUWES Maria. 2006. Hongaren in Nederland – Nederlanders in Hongarije. Vijftig jaar na 1956 [Hungarian in the Netherlands Dutch in Hungary. Fifty Years after 1956]. Zaltbommel: Uitgeverij Aprilis.

  • DOOMERNIK Jeroen. 2002. Review on Measuring Immigrant Integration: Diversity in a European City by P. Reinsch. Policies Institutions and Markets winter: 1231–1232.

  • DREISZIGER Nándor et al. 1989. Struggle and Hope: The Hungarian-Canadian Experience. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.

  • ESSER Hartmut. 2004. Welche Alternativen zur „Assimilation gibt es eigentlich?” In: Bade Klaus J.–Bommes Michael (eds) Migration – Integration – Bildung. Osnabrück: IMIS. 41–60.

  • FELDMAN Paul. 2009. Hungary’s October Revolution. www.aworldtowin.net/reviews/Hungary.html. Accessed on: 22 May 2009.

  • FOULKES Sigmund Henry–ANTHONY Elwyn James. 1965. Group Psychotherapy. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • GATI Charles. 2006. Vesztett illúziók. Moszkva Washington Budapest és az 1956-os forradalom [Lost Illusions. Moscow Washington Budapest and the 1956 Revolution]. Budapest: Osiris.

  • GILAD Lisa. 1990. The Northern Route: an Ethnography of Refugee Experiences. St. John’s Institute of Social and Economic Research. Memorial University of Newfoundland.

  • GOLD Steven J. 1993. Refugees in the Cold War: towards a New International Refugee regime in the Early Postwar Era. Review by Kim Salomon. International Migration Review 27(1): 202.

  • HATOSS Anikó. 2003. Identity Formation Cross-Cultural Attitudes and Language Maintenance in the Hungarian Diaspora of Queensland. In: Cultural Citizenship: Challenges of Globalisation: an Interdisciplinary Conference 5–7 December 2002 Melbourne Australia.

  • HELLEMA Duco. 1990. 1956. De Nederlandse houding ten aanzien van de Hongaarse Revolutie en de Suezcrisis. Amsterdam: Mets.

  • 1995. The Relevance and Irrelevance of Dutch Anti-Communism: the Netherlands and the Hungarian Revolution 1956–57. Journal of Contemporary History 30(1 January): 169–186.

  • 2006. De handen smekend ten hemel. Nederland en de Hongaarse Revolutie [Hands out Begging from Heaven. The Netherlands and the Hungarian Revolution]. Transparant 17(4 October): Hongarije 1956: 4–9.

  • HELLENBART Gyula. 2009. Háborúm a nacionalizmussal [My War against Nationalism]. Élet és Irodalom 53(15).

  • HERCZEGH Géza. 2002. 1956-ról fél évszázad távlatából [On 1956 after Half of a Century]. Mikes International II(4 October–December).

  • HOFFMANN-NOWOTNY Hans-Joachim. 1986. Assimilation and Integration of Minorities and Cultural Pluralism: Sociocultural Mechanisms and Political Dilemmas. In: Rothermund Dietmar–Simon John (eds) Education and the Integration of the Ethnic Minorities. London: Francis Pinter.

  • HUNGARIAN Exodus. 1957. The Economist. 4 May: 379–380.

  • HUNGARIAN Federation in the Netherlands. 2009. The History of the Hungarians in the Netherlands. Accessed on: 1 May 2009. Available at: <http://www.federatio.org/index.html>.

  • INTERNATIONAL Institute of Social History. 2009. Hungarian Refugees. Accessed on: 1 June 2009. Available at: <http://www.iisg.nl/index.php>.

  • INTERNATIONAL Rescue Committee. 1957. An Appeal to Americans in Europe. Hungarian Martyrs. 12 November 1956 Paris.

  • ISAJIW Wsevolod W. 1993. Definition and Dimensions of Ethnicity: a Theoretical Framework. In: Challenges of Measuring an Ethnic World: Science Politics and Reality: Proceedings of the Joint Canada–United States Conference on the Measurement of Ethnicity April 1–3 1992. Statistics Canada and U.S. Bureau of the Census. Washington D.C.: U.S Government Printing Office. 407–427.

  • JANSEN Janneke. 2006. Bepaalde huisvesting. Een geschiedenis van opvang en huisvesting van immigranten in Nederland 1945–1995 [A Certain Accommodation. A History of Reception and Accommodation of Immigrants in the Netherlands 1945–1995]. Leiden: University of Leiden.

  • JOLY Danièle. 2002. Odyssean and Rubicon Refugees: toward a Typology of Refugees in the Land of Exile. International Migration 40(6): 3–23.

  • KERKHOVEN Marvin. 2006. De opvang van Hongaarse vluchtelingen in Utrecht 1956–1958 [The Reception of Hungarian Refugees in Utrecht 1956–1985]. Thesis. Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.

  • KÓSA John. 1957. A Century of Hungarian Emigration 1850–1950. American Slavic and East European Review 16(4): 501–514.

  • KSH Központi Statisztikai Hivatal [Central Statistical Office]. 1957. Statisztikai Havi Közlemények 4 [Monthly Statistical Communications].

  • KUNZ Egon F. 1969. Blood and Gold; Hungarians in Australia. Melbourne: Cheshire.

  • 1973. The Refugee in Flight: Kinetic Models and Forms of Displacement. International Migration Review 7(2 summer): 125–146.

  • 1981. Exile and Resettlement: Refugee Theory. International Migration Review 15(1/2) Refugees Today (spring–summer): 42–51.

  • KÖNIG Jutta. 2009. Moving Experience: Dialogues between Personal Cultural Positions. Culture & Psychology 15(1): 97–119.

  • KÖVI Attila. 1987. Hongaarse immigratie na 1956 [Hungarian Immigration after 1956]. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis [Journal for History] 100: 446–459.

  • KRITZWISER Kay. 1957. Hungarians in Canada. Sudden Freedom Mental Hazard. Toronto Globe 4 March.

  • KUYER Henricus Johannes Mathilde. 1963. Twee jaar na de vlucht. Een onderzoek naar aanpassing en persoonlijkheid van Hongaarse vluchtelingen [Two Years after the Flight. A Study on the Adaptation and Personality of the Hungarian Refugees]. Nijmegen: University of Nijmegen.

  • LAVIE Smadar–SWEDENBURG Ted. 1996. Introduction: Displacement Diaspora and Geographies of Identity. In: Lavie S.–Swedenburg T. (eds) Displacement Diaspora and Geographies of Identity. Durham: Duke University Press. 1–26.

  • LEE Everett S. 1969. A Theory of Migration. In: Jackson J. A. (ed.) Migration. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • LÉNÁRT András. 2006. Az 1956-os diákok meneküléstörténetei [The Flight Stories of the Students of 1956]. The Institute for the History of the 1956 Revolution. Accessed on: 30 April 2009. Available at: http://server2001.rev.hu/msite/index.asp?id=5.

  • LOCKWOOD David. 1964. Social Integration and System Integration. In: Zollschan K.–Hirsch W. (eds) Explorations in Social Change. London: Routledge and Kegan.

  • LUCASSEN Leo–FELDMAN David–OLTMER Jochen. 2005. Conclusion. Drawing up the Balance Sheet. In: Lucassen L.–Feldman D.–Oltmer J. (eds) Paths of Integration. Migrants in Western Europe (1880–2004). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 283–296.

  • MARTIN Jean. 1972. Community and Identity. Refugee Groups in Adelaide. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

  • NAVAS Marisol et al. 2007. Acculturation Strategies and Attitudes according to the Relative Acculturation Extended Model (RAEM): the Perspectives of Natives versus Immigrants. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 31(1): 67–86.

  • NEMES Paul. 1999. The Welcome Refugees. Why the West Opened Its Arms to Fleeing Hungarians in 1956. Central Europe Review 1(19 1 November). Accessed on: 30 April 2009. Available at: <http://www.ce-review.org/99/19/nemes19.html>.

  • ORAVECZ Róbert–LAJTAI László. 2005. Inter-Ethnic Communication Solidarity Refugee Identity Transformation. Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies 1–17.

  • ORIOL Michel. 1984. Les Variations de l’Identité. Rapport final de l’ATP CNRS 054 IDERIC université de Nice vol. I–II.

  • PAPP László. 1997. A magyar–magyar sorsközösség jövője [The Future of the Hungarian–Hungarian Fate Community]. Korunk August.

  • PEDRAZA-BAILEY Silvia. 1985. Cuba’s Exiles: Portrait of a Refugee Migration. International Migration Review 19(1 spring): 4–34.

  • PETERSEN William. 1958. A General Typology of Migration. American Sociological Review 23(3): 256–266.

  • PHENNINX Rinus–MARTINIELLO Marco. 2004. Integration Processes and Policies: State of the Art and Lessons. In: Penninx et al. (eds) Citizenship in European Cities: Immigrants Local Politics and Integration Policies. Aldershot: Ashgate.

  • POMOGÁTS Béla. 2000. Emigráció előtt és után [Before and after Emigration]. Európai Utas [European Traveller] 11(1). Accessed on: 30 April 2009. Available at: <http://www.europaiutas.hu/20002/index.htm>.

  • POTTER Robert B.–CONWAY Dennis–BERNARD Godfrey St. 2008. Transnationalism Personified: Young Returning Trinidadians ‘in Their Own Words’. Journal of Economic and Social Geography (TESG) 100(1 February): 101–113.

  • PUSKÁS Julianna. 1985. Elvándorlások Magyarországról 1945 óta és a magyar diaszpóra néhány jellegzetessége az 1970-es években [Out-Migration from Hungary since 1945 and Some Features of the Hungarian Diaspora]. In: Tanulmányok a magyar népi demokrácia negyven évéről [Studies on Fourty Years of Hungarian People’s Democracy]. Budapest: Akadémia Kiadó. 336–359.

  • RAINER M. János. 1998. A magyarországi fordulatok és a szovjet politika 1944–48 [The Hungarian Revulsions and the Soviet Politics 1944–48). Rubicon 4–5: 50–57.

  • RAPPORT Nigel J.–DAWSON Andrew. 1998. Home and Movement: a Polemic. In: Rapport N. J.–Dawson A. (eds) Migrants of Identity. Perceptions of Home in a World of Movement. Oxford: Berg. 19–38.

  • REINSCH Peter. 2001. Measuring Immigrant Integration: Diversity in a European City. Aldershot: Ashgate.

  • RUSHDIE Salman. 1991. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991. London: Viking.

  • SALOMON Kim. 1991. Refugees in the Cold War. Towards a New International Refugee Regime in the Early Postwar Era. Lund: Lund University Press.

  • SARGENT Carolyn F.–LARCHANCHE-KIM Stéphanie. 2006. Liminal Lives: Immigration Status Gender and the Construction of Identities among Malian Migrants in Paris. American Behavorial Scientist 50(1): 9–26.

  • SEGERS Mathieu–VERBEEK Bertjan. 2006. Internationale Betrekkingen en buitenlands beleid in de Spiegel van het internationale crisisjaar 1956. Inleiding [International Relations and Foreign Policy of the International Crisis Year 1956. Introduction]. Vrede en Veiligheid [Peace and Security] 35(3): 202–213.

  • SENGUN Seda. 2001. Migration as a Transnational Space and Group Analysis. Group Analysis 34(1): 65–78.

  • SÍK Endre. 2000. Kezdetleges gondolatok a diaszpóra fogalmáról és hevenyészett megfigyelések a diaszpórakoncepció magyar nézőpontból való alkalmazhatóságráról [Rudimentary Thoughts on the Notion of Diaspora and Rough Observations of the Applicability of the Concept of Diaspora from a Hungarian Perspective]. In: Diskurzusok a vándorlásról [Discourses on Migration]. Budapest: International Research Centre on Migration and Refugee issues 157–184.

  • SISSON Robert F. 1957. Freedom Flight from Hungary. The National Geographic Magazine 111(3 March): 424–436.

  • SZARKA László. 2002. Kisebbségi léthelyzetek térben és időben. Tér és identitás [Minority Existences in Space and Time. Space and Identity]. Kisebbségkutatás 2 [Minority Studies and Reviews]. Accessed on: 30 September 2017. Available at: http://epa.oszk.hu/00400/00462/00014/pdf/233_szarka.pdf.

  • SZÉKÁSY Miklós. 2001. Magyarországi TV-felvétel az argentínai magyar kolóniáról [Hungarian TV-Recording on the Hungarian Colony in Argentina]. A dél-amerikai magyar hírlap [South-American Hungarian Journal]. Accessed on: 30 April 2009. Available at: <http://www.hhrf.org/dmh/>.

  • TAKÁCS József. 1995. A bölcs alázat hiánya [The Lack of the Wise Humbleness]. Nyugati Magyarság [Western Hungarians] 13(6).

  • TEN DOESSCHATE Jan Willem. 1985. Het Nederlandse toelatingsbeleid ten aanzien van Hongaarse vluchtelingen (1956–1957) [The Dutch Admission Policy Related to the Hungarian Refugees 1956–1957]. Nijmegen: University of Nijmegen.

  • THE HOMECOMING. 1992. The Economist 325(7791): 73–76.

  • TÓTH Miklós. 2006. Hungarian Refugees in the Netherlands. Facts and Contemplations. Personal Notes. Paper held in the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael The Hague at the seminar ‘The Hungarian Uprising of ’56 and its Aftermath’ on 11 October 2006.

  • 2009. Interview on 2 April 2009. The Hague.

  • ÚJRA magyar földön [Again on Hungarian Soil]. 1957. Magyar Ifjúság 14 December.

  • VÁRDY Béla. 2001. Image and Self-Image among Hungarian-Americans since the Mid-Nineteenth Century. East European Quarterly XXXV(3 September): 309–342.

  • VÁRDY Béla–VÁRDY HUSZÁR Ágnes. 1996. A hazai és a nyugati magyarság viszonyának alakulása a rendszerváltás után nyugati szemszögből nézve [The Development of the Relationship of the Domestic and Western Hungarians from the Perspective of the West]. Korunk 11: 84–105.

  • WARD Colleen. 2008. Thinking outside the Berry Boxes: New Perspectives on Identity Acculturation and Intercultural Relations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 32: 105–114.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 266 147 12
PDF Downloads 125 86 6