Refugees and the “Other Hungary”: The Historiography of the Reception of Refugees in Twentieth-Century Hungary




‎This article surveys the historiography on refugees in twentieth-century Hungary (both works written by Hungarian and foreign researchers) to provide a critical overview of “refugeedom” in the Hungarian context. It identifies a need for future works on the topic to deal with conceptual history. The country’s twentieth-century history is divided into four parts for the purposes of studying the history of refugees: World War I and its aftermath until World War II; the escape from Nazism; the period of state socialism; and the period of transition to democracy. Within the Hungarian-language historiography, research on refugees has tended to support a positive national narrative in which Hungary has repeatedly functioned as a shelter for people who had to escape from somewhere due to real or feared persecution. As far as the two World Wars and the interwar period are concerned, historians pay attention to refugees and connect their reception to the grand questions of those periods (the origin of the interwar period’s antisemitism, Hungary’s relationship with the Third Reich). When it comes to the Cold War and the post-socialist era, however, research on refugee history is dominated by sociologists. This article argues that the refugee history of the Cold War period has remained marginal in historical works due to a widespread in-sistence on a link between migration and ethnicity that prevents researchers from giving as much attention to political refugees as to refugees who suffered persecution on account of their ethnicity or nationality.

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