60th anniversary of Hungarian revolution and refugees in Central Europe

It’s the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian revolution and many media outlets in Europe posted articles condemning the Hungarian stance on the refugee crisis reminding of 120 th. refugees that fled to neighboring Austria after the Soviet invasion. What isn’t mentioned, is the fact that less than 40 years before that, there was no Hungary and Austria but only … Austro-Hungary therefore I don’t really think, that Austrians had anything against accepting their (former) fellow countrymen. But.. actually this logic is being applied by the media not only in the case of Hungary but also to other Central-Eastern European countries which themselves producing large quantity of migrants now and refugees in the past, seem to be largely “xenophobic” to not to say “racist”. However, what the central European governments are saying is not that they don’t want to accept any refugees but rather that they don’t want the type of refugees that are currently making their way to Europe.

There is probably no doubt that if there was a nuclear meltdown in London and by some very strange and improbable coincidence millions of British would have to boat their way to Hungary (sic!) or Poland, the locals wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. There would be some “they are taking our jobs!” usual stuff among (this time) the middle classes but it would be probably fine in the end. What people refuse is not help but rather something that they perceive as a threat to their lifestyle and identity.

Another thing is that 60 years ago a government could just announce that it’s accepting refugees without much fuss, border guards would shoot on sight thinking that there might be a “Шпион” in that group of people who are now jumping over the fence and everything was pretty much different. The government of (Western) Germany which is so outspoken and welcoming towards refugees, barely a few years after the Hungarian revolution started the massive migration program for Turkish “Gastarbeiters” who then lived in Germany for generations and until recently had no option of becoming citizens. In former Eastern Europe however even indigenous ethnic groups could have hard time depending on the policy shifts that may have appeared quite random to many. If you just look at the former Soviet Union there was a plethora of “everybody” to be found in places so random that it makes you imagine Stalin throwing darts at the map. So you have these decades of hardship and at the same time societies that are not fully modernized and dont fully accept the “Western” way of life. On the other side you have millions of muslim migrants most of whom are looking for better jobs and more ”monies“ and who are not known to be so willing to adapt to other people’s way of thinking. There are many tragedies among the refugees for sure but that doesn’t really interest most people who are only interested in how it will impact their own lives. Human suffering seems to be something awful if put in front of ones eyes but if it happens without us noticing it much, it is like it has never happened.

Let’s go back to the Hungarian revolution for a minute. So were Hungarians more “refuge(y)” than Middle Eastern migrants nowadays? I would say no. Probably Syria is much worse off than Hungary was in 1956.  But the world has changed and the refugees are religious in a different way than Europeans, aren’t white and … aren’t white. So if in Germany there is a big shortage of street cleaners the government will loudly encourage everybody to “come to Germany“ but I wouldn’t really suspect that people in Central European countries would be so willing to accept the fact that most people doing menial jobs aren’t locals. And not because of some noble reasons. It’s just a simple no.


Jan is the main contributor. Likes writing, politics and some things that nobody else would ever find interesting.

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