A Decade of Bedlam: Hungarian-American Emigres versus the Muscovites, 1945-1955

By Fai-Podlipnik, Judith | East European Quarterly, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

A Decade of Bedlam: Hungarian-American Emigres versus the Muscovites, 1945-1955


Fai-Podlipnik, Judith, East European Quarterly


Roman historian Livy claimed that "Envy has no other quality than that of detracting from virtue." More than one thousand years later this statement can be used to illuminate the virulent relationship between the Muscovites and the Magyar expatriates in America as well as the impetuous consanguinity within the Hungarian-American community itself, following World War II. The jealousy and rivalries that the political emigres exhibited not only precipitated the political deficiencies of the individuals involved, but also the organizations that they created or led. Ironically, the factionalism following the Second World War epitomized the political divisions that existed in Hungary before, during and immediately after the war. Fundamentally, the various emigres retained the same personal and political animosities that they held in Hungary, while residing in the United States. This factionalism impeded the expatriates in several ways: 1) of successfully unifying Magyars in Hungary against the Muscovites; 2) of combating the evils of the Muscovites directly; and 3) of gaining the support of the United States government. So, even though all of the Magyar politicians in America sought the similar goal of eliminating the evils of Communism in their homeland, their personal jealousies and factionalism were the major factors that contributed to their ineptness and overall failures.

On April 4, 1945, the Red Army drove the last Axis Troops out of Hungary. Immediately thereafter the Hungarian National Front, which unified in 1944 to topple the fascist regime of World War II, took control of the Magyar nation. All of its members--comprising five political parties including the Communists--agreed initially both to institute a democratic form of government and mend the physical and economic conditions of the war-torn country, agreeing that once they had restored order and repaired the damages, the Red Army would then exit Hungary. However, in the ensuing years, rather than withdrawing from the nation, the Soviets imposed a Communist regime on the country which lasted until 1989. This defeat incited major discord among scores of Hungarians at home and abroad, especially since they had such a tumultuous history concerning the Russians. Emperor Franz Josef extinguished the nationalistic fire of the Revolution of 1848 only with the help of Tsar Nicholas I. Thereafter, in the unpopular and short-lived Communist government under Soviet sponsored Bela Kun--from March until August 1919--inflamed even greater animosity against the Russians. Accordingly, the surreptitious Communist take over following World War II incited a tremendous amount of nationalist fervor and anti-Russian sentiments for Hungarians all over the world.

During the postwar years, particularly the decade following the war, 1945 to 1955, Hungarians around the world, including individuals and organizations in the United States, lobbied for one common goal, to free their homeland from the Muscovites: the most intense efforts transpired immediately after the war and with the onset of the 1956 Revolution. Unfortunately for the expatriates, their efforts proved futile. For the most part, this failure was due to the factionalism inherent and pervasive between the various immigrant organizations and more so the personal animosities between their leading expatriates. The factionalism impeded any unified movement which might have proved successful in aiding their homeland; created animosities between the new emigres and those already established Magyars in America; and caused United States officials to question their sincerity and validity, particularly since the infighting was brutal and even childish on most occasions. Thus, in spite of their common goal, to free Hungary from the Communists grasp, the Hungarian emigres were unable to work together in a peaceful manner--in spite of their common ethnicity--thereby completely frustrating any of their efforts, made from 1945 to 1955, to hinder the Communist take over, more specifically that of the Soviet trained and championed Muscovites. …

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