New York Times Coverage of the Hungarian Refugee Crisis

Red Cross Issues Plea as Hungarian Relief Lags” New York Times (1923-Current file); Dec 6, 1956; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 3.

Published less than two months after the revolution in Hungary began, this article reveals the amount of attention that the refugee crisis has already received in the U.S. The American Red Cross set a goal to raise five million dollars to support the refugees, but was very behind on this goal when the article was written. This effort by the Red Cross suggests that they were unhappy with the lack of attention that the U.S. government had given the crisis thus far.


Six Hungarians Quit Olympic Quarters” New York Times (1923-Current file); Dec 7, 1956; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 4.

During the Winter Olympics of 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, six Hungarian athletes fled from the Olympic village and went to the homes of Hungarian expatriates in Melbourne in order to petition for refugee status in Australia. There were speculations that forty other Hungarian athletes at the Olympics would also attempt to seek refuge in Australia. The act was certain to draw international attention to the seriousness of the Hungarian Refugee Crisis since it happened at such a publicly followed event. It is clear that the Hungarian athletes’ actions were effective, based on the presence of the story on page four of the New York Times.


More Hungarians Get A Haven Here” By Max Frankel, New York Times (1923-Current file); Jan 9, 1957; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 1.

At this point, the U.S. had committed to taking 28,000 Hungarian refugees. The U.S. military was assigned to help conduct the transports of almost 7,000 new refugees. This decision was kept very quiet within the U.S. media until this point in time because the decision to provide military assistance to transporting refugees came from the Executive Administration before Congress approved the new numbers of admittance to the U.S. This shows the President’s urgency, most likely due to the Cold War implications of this conflict.


More Hungarians Get A Haven Here” By Max Frankel, New York Times (1923-Current file); Jan 15, 1957; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 3.

This article reports that the city of Vienna has asked the United States to accelerate the process of accepting refugees, which had slowed because of an economic recession in the U.S. The recession also caused the U.S. to cease funding the transportation of the refugees to the U.S. The lag reportedly created unrest within refugee camps, resulting in two “incidents” —likely riots— that had “anti-Semitic overtones.” The anti-Semitism stemmed from notions that the U.S. gave Jews priority for travel to the U.S.


Permanence of Law on Refugees Urged” New York Times (1923-Current file); Mar 16, 1957; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 22.

This article demonstrates the power that the presence of 30,000 Hungarian refugees had over U.S. refugee policy. At the time, laws pertaining to refugees were in constant flux, so the refugees had no promise of permanence. There was concern that a feeling of lack of security would prevent the refugees from fully contributing to American society, which was the ultimate concern of the American people.


U.S. Will Admit More Refugees” New York Times (1923-Current file); Apr 14, 1957; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 28.

Responding to reports that the U.S. would be closing its doors to Hungarian immigrants, this article convey’s a State Department announcement that they would continue to admit a limited number of refugees. At this point, the U.S. had already 31,000 refugees. The State Department says that they will be prioritizing “hardship cases such as those involving broken families” and “special interest cases such as scientists and engineers whose skills will enable them to be integrated readily into the American economy.” This prioritization is clearly in the U.S.’s best interest as it would help the U.S. to have skilled, employable refugees, as well as to have completed families which are the American ideal.


Recession Hurts Hungarian Refugees” By Harrison E. Salisbury, New York Times (1923-Current file); Jul 14, 1958; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times pg. 1.

This article focuses on the high rates of unemployment in the Hungarian refugee communities in various cities due to a recession, which they portray as the only major obstacle in an otherwise successful resettlement program. While there was minimal repatriation at this point, a pastor reports many unemployed refugees talking about wanting to go back to Hungary, where work was “compulsory.” The article boasts that “it is agreed by most social agencies that no other immigrant group has adapted so rapidly and so constructively to the American was of life.” This comment makes clear the expectations that Americans had of refugees, which was to assimilate into an “American” lifestyle. During an era when cultural homogeneity was valued within the US, the same was expected of refugees.


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