Die Debatte um das Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen (German Edition)

Ausstellung "Erzwungene Wege": Auf schmalem Grat
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The process of reconciliation emanated from initiatives taken by the Christian churches and courageous individuals on both sides, but the crucial step was taken by Chancellor Willy Brandt and the Polish communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka, who in worked out a comprehensive agreement for normalizing relations between Poland and the Federal Republic.

Following the collapse of communist regimes and unification of Germany mutual relations took the form of co-operation and partnership within the structures of democratic Europe. Today, both sides are about to overcome former stereotypes.

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While some differences of interests still remain, the overall picture of the current relations between Germany and Poland is one proof that even deepest wounds of the past do not prevent nations from overcoming antagonism and from building friendly relations. Der Soziologe und ehemalige Politiker Jerzy J.

The Miracle of Reconciliation in sieben Kapiteln die Kristallisationspunkte deutsch-polnischer Beziehungen. In der Bundesrepublik war das der Bund der Vertriebenen, der im Kontext der Debatte um ein Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen alte deutsch-polnische Konflikte diskursiv wiederzubeleben suchte S. Oktober Upiorna dekada [Das furchtbare Jahrzehnt]. My z Jedwabnego [Wir aus Jedwabne].

Mai , wiedergegeben in www. Mai ist ebenfalls nicht belegt. The Destruction , S. USA Heft:Ord. Verfasser dankt Herrn StA Riedel. London und Basingstoke Macmillan , S. The Case for Auschwitz. Evidence from the Irving Trial. Paris Gallimard, collection tel no. Wooster St. Historia Polski [Gottes Spielfeld. Warszawa KAMA o. Vorabdrucke erfolgten , erste Buchausgabe November — 1. Amtlicher Wortlaut in deutscher Sprache. Februar Auschwitz und Februar Danzig. Juli Berkeley University of California Press , S. Juni Die Zeitung hat eine Tagesauflage von ca.

Die Maus im Jumbo-Jet. Neue sagenhafte Geschichten von heute. As regards the story Indeed it seems that the collective memory is subject to change by individual memory. To give individual memory space for expression is to be prepared to accept the recollections of others with empathy. The tension between communities with contradictory collective experiences can be lessened not through forgetting or denial, but rather through the pluralization and complication of memory.

Assmann, Aleida. Munich: C. Beck, Brenner, Christiane. Tschechische politische Diskurse — Munich: Oldenbourg, Brodkorb, Mathias. Banzkow: Adebor, Browning, Christopher.

New York: HarperCollins, Domnitz, Christian. Berlin: Lit Verlag, Douglas, Ray. Gerlach, Christian, ed. Glassheim, Eagle. Goschler, Constantin. Hahn, Eva and Hans Henning Hahn.

Polish-German Relations: The Miracle of Reconciliation

Hahn, Eva. Jureit, Ulrike. Ein Kommentar zu biographischen Erinnerungen in post sozialistischen Gesellschaften. Oral History und postsozialistische Gesellschaften, ed. Julia Obertreis and Anke Stephan. Essen: Klartext, Prague: Academia, Moser, Johannes and Karsten Jahnke. Dieser Schmerz bleibt. Lebenserinnerungen vertriebener Polen und Schlesier.

CD Naimark, Norman M. Cambridge, Mass. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, Frankfurt am Main: Lang, Petersen, Thomas. Prague: Prago Media News, Schieder, Theodor, ed. Czech Society and the Minorities in the Borderlands]. Prague: Antikomplex, Strobel, Thomas and Robert Maier, ed. Hannover: Hahn, Ther, Philipp and Ana Siljak, ed. Redrawing Nations. Ethnic Cleansing in East-Central Europe, — Prague: Prostor, Welzer, Harald.

Eine Theorie der Erinnerung. Hamburg: HIS Verlagsgesellschaft, Welzer , Harald. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, Wiedemann, Andreas. Essen: Klartext Verlag, Zayas, Alfred-Maurice de. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Tschechische politische Diskurse — Munich: Oldenbourg, The expellees from the former German territories were the greatest beneficiaries of the Law. Naimark, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, and the more recent book by R.

Douglas Ray. The interviews have been recorded and translated by the author of this article. She had to leave Osek with her parents in and came back after the war. The interview was held and translated by the author of this article. This essay examines the history of visits made to Hungary by a group of first generation refugees.

The members of the group attended middle school together in Austria. Some of the refugees, who were teenagers at the time, were put into schools by the Austrian authorities in Some of these students went on to seek livelihoods elsewhere, but many of them settled permanently in Austria.

In the first section of the essay the author offers a survey of the statistical features of emigration from Hungary following the suppression of the revolution. This is followed by an examination from the perspective of the social sciences of the reception of the wave of emigrants.

Then, on the basis of interviews, the essay analyzes how the identities of the emigrants changed, the social situations in which these changes were palpable, and how their images of Hungary changed in the wake of their visits to their homeland. Following the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of some , people left Hungary.

The vast majority of them settled abroad permanently, and proportionally very few returned. Given its scope, this sudden wave of emigrants could be considered one of the great traumas of twentieth century Hungarian history, at least if one were to remember it as such from the perspective of the present. The territorial losses suffered after the First World War, the material and human losses of the Second World War, and the turbulent events of the Revolution, however, have somewhat obscured the fact, significant both in the short term and in the long term, that in the space of only a few months almost two percent of the population of the country essentially vanished.

In comparison with the tragedies of the wars, of course, one cannot speak of terrible losses of human life. People found opportunities to leave the country in the wake of the events of the Revolution up until the spring of , though admittedly with increasing difficulty and risk, and the countries in which they sought refuge were accommodating, which is to say that they met the basic preconditions according to migration theories that are based solely on economic considerations.

Had the borders actually opened for the long term or had there been any prospect of protracted emigration, the countries of the West would have had to consider limiting the number of immigrants they would accept, but in this was not a serious concern. Zolberg examines the policies of the socialist states regarding travel in general and the liberalization of travel in the s.

From the political perspective, departure could be interpreted as a form of resistance, while from the economic perspective, because of the dearth of labor, in exchange for the education and social benefits it had provided the state expected young people to enter the work force as they reached the age of majority. At the same time, in some of the more strained moments of the Cold War—for instance at the time of the Cuban missile crisis or the demonstrations across much of Central Europe in or —the decision to allow people to leave the country was a means of easing internal tensions.

As a measure of lack of support for the regime, illegal flight from one of the communist countries, in other words dissidence, remained one of the delicate questions of the era. Dissidence lost some of the value it had had as a propaganda tool. The number of people who left Hungary between and is estimated at somewhere between , and , people, in comparison with roughly , people in the period between and Of this , people, approximately , left in the space of only eight months after the Revolution. The actual task of reaching and crossing the western border of the country was trying, in particular by December It nonetheless seemed possible, at least in comparison with conditions in previous years, since in the summer of , as one of the signs of international political rapprochement, the various technical apparatuses with which the borders had been sealed at the end of had been taken down.

In the Central Statistical Office issued a report that remains one of the most important sources of statistical data on emigration from Hungary, and a source that was treated as secret for some 30 years. The official migration statistics compiled by the countries that welcomed the refugees provide relevant data that was available before , even if in some cases it was examined only much later. The sources agree on the numbers of emigrants from Hungary. Some 5,—8, remained out of the country only temporarily first and foremost in Austria and returned without the knowledge of the authorities.

In May the Ministry of Interior permitted 12, people to leave the country legally, primarily to enable them to be reunited with family members. The Central Statistical Office gathered personal information on , people on whom forms for departure were prepared at the order of the Ministry of Interior. If one also considers the forms that arrived later and were not taken into consideration in this assessment, 9 the results essentially agree with the Austrian data. Referring to sources from the Austrian and Yugoslav Ministries of Interior, the report asserts that , people left the country illegally.

Of these, , fled to Austria and 19, to Yugoslavia. The report, which is divided into ten chapters, breaks the data down according to place of dwelling, date of departure, gender, age, marital status, occupation, actual whereabouts following flight, and whether or not the person returned to Hungary. It also examines the demographic effects of this emigration or flight on the remaining population and gives data concerning those who left the country legally. Two-thirds of the refugees were men, and half of them were less than twenty-five years of age.

The percentage of people who had been gainfully employed is also surprisingly high, again two-thirds of the total number of refugees. According to a study done in and commissioned by the United Nations, most of the refugees settled in the United States 44, , Canada 39, , Australia 15, , West Germany 14, , Great Britain 13, , and Switzerland 10, This explains how in comparison with its population at the time Canada welcomed the largest number of Hungarians 0.

It is also interesting to note that the historically close ties between Hungary and Italy do not seem to have played much role in the decisions of the refugees regarding the countries in which they settled. In there were only Hungarian refugees registered officially as living in Italy.

The countries that welcomed the refugees showed solidarity and humanitarian compassion, but they also kept their own economic interests in mind. It was a time of global economic growth, and the countries were eager to entice young people who could join the work force. Figure 1. Demographers have also studied the mass emigration that took place following the suppression of the Revolution.

Simply put, they sought an answer to the question of what would have happened had the refugees not left the country. The short-term consequences were already apparent at the time. The departure of , people who left the country in a period of only a few months clearly had an influence on the make-up of the population. On February 1, the population of Hungary numbered only 9,,, 1. Since two-thirds of the refugees were men, the surplus of women in the remaining population returned to the post-war, levels. Distribution of the population according to age also shifted, since most of the refugees had been young 86 percent of them had been of working age, and 45 percent of those of working age had been between fifteen and twenty-nine.

Given this, not surprisingly the distribution of the population according to marital status also shifted. The number of unmarried men and women dropped as a percentage of the total population. Concerning long term consequences, scholars using the method of projection based on past trends have arrived at five different possible but unrealized scenarios, produced by various combinations of changes in fertility and mortality and in the impact of emigration that followed the revolution. Taking the population of the country in as the starting point, they contend that as of the s Hungary would have born witness to an inevitable decline in population even had the refugees and their descendants remained.

In other words they conclude that the emigration had little effect on the fundamental tendencies of later decades two of the most hotly debated questions of public discourse today, population decline and demographic aging of society. Scholars using qualitative methods, or more precisely institutes that studied totalitarian regimes and which themselves were not free of political predispositions , were also intensely interested in the fates of the , refugees, who in the immediate aftermath of the revolution were living for the most part in refugee camps.

The intense propaganda against the communist states was based on incomplete information, primarily because after the states of Eastern Europe had been almost hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world. Only politically reliable people were allowed to travel internationally. The Western press and even intelligence networks were often compelled to base their assessments on unreliable information, and they knew little about everyday life in the communist dictatorships.

Within the framework of the Columbia University Research Project on Hungary, perhaps the best organized research program on the subject, interviews were done in European and American refugee camps. Most of the interviews were recorded over the course of two or three days, and the typewritten texts were on average between fifty and seventy pages. Henry L.

Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut

against Expulsions" (Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen) and demanded the support - "The Debate about a Centre against Expulsions: An Unexpected Crisis in German- Erinnerungspolitik am Beispiel der Debatte um ein 'Zentrum gegen. Sondernummer) (German Edition) (): Manfred Kittel: Books. geführten Debatte" (um das Zentrum gegen Vertreibungen) "einen wichtigen.

Roberts and Paul E. Zinner, two noted Kremlinologists, worked together with social scientists, including philosopher Siegfried Kracauer associated with the Frankfurt School and sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. By offering refugees a chance to speak of the events of the revolution, the incidents of everyday life, living conditions in general, conditions in the workplace, social changes, and the persistence of religious and traditional beliefs and customs, they sought to give a more nuanced picture of the influence of a totalitarian regime on the individual.

They hoped to uncover the secret mechanisms of the Stalinist system, and thereby gain some insight into the question of how to bring about its collapse. In his summary prepared for the Ford Foundation in which consisted of several hundred interviews, publications, etc. The information that had been obtained through the surveys done in the refugee camps and later did not constitute a point of departure for any long term study.

Furthermore, the materials of the extensive study, which was under the direction of leading American empirical sociologists at the time, had not been brought together in such a manner so as to further a deeper understanding of the Eastern European regimes or the lives of the people living under them.

Thus with the exception of a few case studies, the lengthy corpus was left essentially untouched, and until simply gathered dust in the manuscripts archive of Columbia University. The state sought to besmirch the emigrants, presenting them in the official propaganda as traitors or at the very least gravely misguided people. The political refugees were dissidents, who had betrayed socialism, thrown the authorities off guard, and fled to join the capitalists. In —57 many decrees were passed regarding the prohibited border crossing, and those who had left before December 1 were promised amnesty.

This date was later changed to January 31, but people were allowed to return up until March 31, For a time the dissidents were regarded as enemies of the state, indeed to such an extent that the Ministry of Interior created a separate subdivision devoted to tracking their activities. Later the refugees, who had been stripped of their Hungarian citizenship, were considered potential agents of attempts on the part of the West to incite unrest, but by the latter half of the s emigrants who returned to visit Hungary and in some cases spent longer periods of time in the country were no longer seen first and foremost as political threats, but rather as tourists who brought in revenue and even potential economic partners.

In the s the number of people to travel from and into Hungary rose significantly, and this growth continued almost without any break until the end of the socialist era. From this perspective, tourists from the other socialist countries were considerably less useful, and the tourist industry in Hungary was never nearly as enthusiastic about them. Many of the visitors to the country from the West were not simply pleasure-seeking tourists, but rather were linked to Hungary by family ties or sentimental connections.

Erika Steinbach im Bericht aus Berlin (ARD)

This lessens the profit that is to be gained from them. This share of the tourist traffic offers significantly less revenue for the national economy. This suggests that we should strive to promote more profitable proportions. They almost never had need of the luxury services intended for tourists from the West.

State officials felt that as tourists these people could cause harm to the national economy by changing money illegally and also by bringing in commodities and prohibited intellectual products from the West. In the end, however, they accepted this risk, and emigrants who were not seen as engaged in hostile or subversive political activity were allowed to travel into and from their one-time homeland freely, with the exception perhaps of some minimal harassment or inconvenience.

Emigrants who had obtained citizenship abroad and who were in possession of an entry visa did not have any grave cause for fear or concern. In my view, because it involves many and varied processes of acculturation, emigration itself cannot be interpreted as a whole within a single, unified analytical framework. One of the reasons for this is simply the diversity of social strata from which emigrants themselves come. Another is the cultural differences in the countries in which emigrants settle such as Austria or the United States.

And naturally in the course of their journeys emigrants themselves adopted various strategies, oriented sometimes around distinctive individual goals and or sometimes around the maintenance of group identities. It therefore seemed simpler for scholars to focus on questions such as the numbers of people who left or the countries in which they settled, as well as the actions they took abroad and institutions they created such as political parties, associations, cultural organizations, and publications , and the symbolic significance of these institutions. At first they often feel like strangers in their new homelands, and later they may come to feel like strangers in their countries of origin.

This duality may last a lifetime. Emigrants become inhabitants and participants in two political systems, two countries, two cultures, and at least two languages. Emigrants play a role in cultural transfer, since they have dual or even more complex identities. The refugees who settled in Austria in did not sever their ties to Hungary.

Memorians: Remembering Germans as individual victims

As of the mids they began to return to Hungary, and in circles of family members and friends they became informal intermediaries, bringing with them consumer goods and items of cultural interest. In my research I have studied the identities of several members of a specific group of refugees who were teenagers at the time they fled and settled in Austria. I used the interviews conducted with them in order to examine identity as a social construct that changes over the course of time and is bound to several different groups such as refugee identity, local identity, and Hungarian and Austrian national identity.

In the secondary literature on migration one reads of first, second, and third generation immigrants on the basis of place of birth and national origins. In my view it is a bit problematic to classify first generation youths who came of age and entered the work force in a foreign country in this terminology on the basis of place of birth. They left the country at so young an age that their integration into another culture was much less jarring for them than it was for older first generation immigrants.

In the course of the work I attempted to combine two different approaches, the methodology of the biographical narrative interview on the one hand and that of the problem-centered interview, used in social history on the other, since the central question of my research was how the refugees who had fled to Austria in as secondary school students related to Hungary, their homeland, and the socialist system.

Department of History and Cultural Studies

I endeavored to further an understanding of how, because of their decisions to emigrate, their lives developed differently from the lives of their peers who had remained in Hungary, and how their everyday lives differed from the everyday lives of people in Hungary. One of my presuppositions was that in their life-courses they would emphasize other elements of identity than those considered important by their former classmates who had not left the country. I was curious to see whether their accounts strengthened the Austrian national identity, which had successfully incorporated the memory of the assistance offered to refugees into the mythos of the modern Austrian state.

I was also interested in the question of how people who shared a similar background and lived in close proximity, but on either side of the Iron Curtain, related to one another. Was this proximity enough to allow for significant relationships that crossed the political divide, or were there no such interconnections? Did the refugees who settled in Austria and their family members who had been left behind seek opportunities to bring the family together, or did they simply attempt to make their own way in their separate communities?

Did the Hungarians who had laid new roots help or perhaps hinder friends or acquaintances back in Hungary who also hoped to emigrate, or did the question simply not come up? One of my principal goals was to raise new questions regarding an area Vienna that was relatively new in the secondary literature on the refugees, taking advantage of the life story interviews as fertile primary sources on a group of emigrants whose common experience, the foundation of their collective identity, was their years spent in secondary school.

I met with emigrants who had left the country either alone or with their families as secondary school students and who had completed their secondary school studies in the Hungarian language schools that had been created for refugee children. It was difficult to compile precise statistics on the refugees because often they were constantly moving, so—depending first and foremost on the date of the interview—there is more data available regarding distribution based on age.

According to a report by Willibald Liehr, the head of the division of the Ministry of Interior entrusted with addressing the issue of the Hungarian refugees, at the beginning of May there were 3, Hungarian refugees between the ages of fourteen and eighteen in Austria, many of whom clearly did not remain in Austria or did not continue or even begin secondary school studies.

Between and almost 1, pupils studied at the Hungarian language secondary schools, and of them completed the maturation exam at the time. I sought not to assemble a history of the events of their flight or their assimilation into Austrian culture, but rather to glean some understanding of how they look back on their lives and how they recall their experiences. For the most part I raised general questions in order to exert as little influence as possible on their accounts.

I included a short questionnaire on biographical data following the interviews. Most of the interviewees emphasized that when the isolation they had faced first as citizens of a communist country and then in the refugee domiciles and schools in Austria had come to an end they longed to travel as soon as possible.

The Austrian state and international relief organizations provided them with lodging, board, clothing, spending money, and schooling, but hardly any opportunity to travel outside the camps. They all were able to study at universities, either with state scholarships or other kinds of funding, but most of them soon lost their scholarships because of their inadequate knowledge of German, the difficulties they faced in their studies, or the lack of family support. They did not disperse immediately during their years at university. Many of them remained in the same lodgings in Vienna or Innsbruck.

For most of the interviewees the memories of the trips they organized and took together abroad were as important elements of their shared identities as the months and years they had spent in the secondary schools for refugees. At first they set off to discover Europe with only modest aims and very little money. For the most part they recounted positive experiences, and they were always able to count on the assistance of people and even the authorities in the West. According to their recollections, Hungarian refugees were held in high regard all over Europe.

A Dutch milkman first had mistaken them for Germans and refused to sell them milk, but later, having learned that they were Hungarians, immediately gave them milk for free. They had similar experiences in Italy. They were given free wine in a restaurant and in exchange were asked to sing Hungarian folk songs in order to entice more customers into the establishment. They emphasized these memories, which throw into question the claims regarding the pervasiveness of anti-immigrant sentiment. People no longer felt obliged to offer any particular support, and the emigrants endeavored to shed the admittedly convenient, but nonetheless second-class standing by obtaining citizenship.

When seasonal labor was needed in Sweden and Germany the Hungarian emigrants were seen less as refugees and more as hard-working students. The people I interviewed first traveled to satisfy their longings for adventure, but later they had to begin to consider how to earn a living. The interviewees presented themselves as hardened freedom fighters who, following the completion of their secondary studies, sought neither to rage nor to caper, but rather strove to win the goodwill of the West Europeans who had welcomed them.

The trips by motorcycle and restrained forms of merry-making, where Hungarian gallantry could be put on display without scandal, were ideal contexts in which to strengthen the Western image of the Hungarian revolutionaries. They were still poor, but with meager savings they managed nonetheless to travel extensively. In fact this mentality was common among most of the Eastern European tourists throughout the era, primarily because of their limited access to hard currency.

The people I interviewed, however, were youths who had grown hardy in Austria, had at least a moderate knowledge of German, were enterprising in spirit, and were increasingly self-confident, and who moreover also had the courage of refugees who had fled from behind the Iron Curtain. The interviewees continued to expand their geographical horizons throughout their university years, and as they entered the workforce and rapidly began to start their own families they also began to have new goals.

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The birth of children prompted many to cultivate and nurture ties with relatives in Hungary. In the mids the political atmosphere made visits to Hungary much easier for the emigrants, but they were also prompted to cast their glances eastward by their familiarity with life in the West, the need to earn income, and family circumstances. Over the course of the years they satisfied their cravings for independence, which found manifestation primarily in travel, and they earned enough money doing seasonal summer labor that they were able to complete their university studies and begin to live on their own.

Travel became natural to them. They either traveled on official business or simply vacationed over the summers. Their first-hand knowledge of Western lifestyle and culture, and the extent to which they had become part of this culture, became evident to them in the course of their travels eastward. For the refugees, Hungary lost its significance as a reference point as they integrated into Austrian society. They received news, primarily in their correspondence with family members but also with the increasing use of the telephone, of the gradual growth of the standard of living in Hungary and the more moderate exercise of power by the regime, but the individuals I interviewed were only able to begin to gather first-hand experience of conditions in Hungary as of the mids.

When they recounted their trips to Hungary, the interviewees spoke with me more readily of their political views than of the details of their travels. They may well have believed that I was more interested to know what they thought of the political situation in Hungary today and the contemporary political and social phenomena and trends that in their eyes have been regrettable. They had hoped that the change of regimes in — would usher in a moral revival, the spread of democratic thinking, and a national renewal.

Representations of German Wartime Suffering from 1945 to the Present

Some , German soldiers died in Soviet captivity. International Health Governance. That referral resulted inter alia in two open arrest warrants …. Schatz — 10 January, Abhimanyu George Jain — 25 January,

According to the interviewees, they met not with national solidarity, but rather wrangling, fuss, and cumbersome burocracy. In their view this was all the consequence of the demoralizing effects of decades of socialism. They offered little assessment of historical processes and phenomena that had begun before World War II, or rather mentioned only their positive aspects.

They spoke of the interwar period or the turn of the century in Hungary as normal eras that stood in stark contrast to the first decade of the post-war period, during which most of the families found themselves suddenly members of lower social classes facing an uncertain future.

Two motifs dominated in their narratives of their travels in Hungary. The first, they spoke of how they maintained their relationships with family members back home. Most of them met with family members in Hungary personally after having started their own families, and they then began to return regularly to Hungary. Second, they spoke of their fear of the official authorities and the frequent humiliations they had endured, indignities that had made them anxious and intensified their sense that they had become strangers in their homeland.

Many of them maintained professional relationships with people in Hungary. The one-time emigrant students became Hungarian or in some cases Eastern European rapporteurs for their workplaces, entrusted with initiating or concluding transactions and organizing partner relationships and joint projects.

Ostmitteleuropa als historischer Raum

Many of them rented apartments in Budapest or cities in the countryside, and as their circles of friends and acquaintances grew they also built official and informal business ties. The number of trips any one person took to Hungary varied, depending largely on his or her individual career and family life. Some only went once a year, or only for the more important holidays, while others spent their entire summer vacations in Hungary with their children. When possible, they took advantage of business trips to visit relatives as well.

In some cases, for security reasons or simply given a lack of time, an Austrian spouse would spend more time behind the Iron Curtain than his or her Hungarian emigrant spouse. Family life for the emigrants became more complex with the birth of grandchildren or as they began to face the breakup of their first marriages which was common. Most of the children of mixed couples in other words one parent was Hungarian did not learn Hungarian fluently, and later spoke and speak German with their spouses and children.

Everyday life in Vienna made it difficult and time-consuming to maintain family ties in Austria, not to mention with relatives in Hungary. In part because of this, over the course of the past ten or fifteen years, visits to Hungary became less frequent. Some of the emigrants return to Hungary for months at a time, but only to relax, not in order to visit relatives.

Many of them have purchased or rented lodgings not in their places of birth, but rather prefer to spend their time in a rural, village setting. When I asked him to speak about his travels in the East I was given a very thoughtful response:. The fact that I am a refugee played a strong role in my constant awareness of when I was behight, no matter where might have been, I knew very well whether I was behind the Iron Curtain or not.

I was very aware of that. I was a disciplined worker, so I never let my political views enter into conversations or debates there…. In spite of having acquired Austrian or western citizenship and born witness to the consolidation of the Eastern European systems, once they had stepped across the border back into Hungary the refugees no longer felt themselves safe. They felt as if they were always traveling incognito in the forbidden zone. People who had been born in the West might well have found Eastern Europe strange or bizarre, but they were in all likelihood less disquieted by the almost constant presence of the police and the authorities.

His use of the term disciplined, for instance, referred not so much to conscientious attention to deadlines or instructions though he may have meant this as well , but rather to his deliberate avoidance of topics of conversation related to politics. He had had difficulty finding employment in the first place he had both found a job and married later than his peers , and he did not want to risk the stable life he had made for himself.

His accounts of his travels in the socialist countries focused primarily on the various manifestations of economic and political backwardness in Eastern Europe, not to mention differences in mentality. Lajos returned to Hungary for the first time relatively late. He began to travel back to his homeland regularly at the beginning of the s. He enjoyed sports and the company of members of a younger generation at Lake Balaton, and also spent time at the home of the parents of one of his friends in the city of Sopron, near the border with Austria.

His trips to Hungary, which until then had been without unpleasant incident, suddenly changed because he and his bride were confronted with the arbitrariness of the Hungarian state and the local authorities. The chronology of events was at times a bit jumbled because of the fervor with which they recounted them. First they told of the ordeals they had faced when organizing the wedding and then they related some anecdotes of earlier times. All the preparations for the wedding had been completed when the authorities made it known that because of errors having to do with some formality they were not going to allow the marriage, more specifically because the names on the various documents were not always identical.

The civil wedding was held in Austria instead following a forced postponement of six months. Their church ceremony was held in Sopron, without any official announcement and with a bit of conspiratorial behavior on the part of the guests. After each mass a few more family members would join the congregation and remain in the church until finally at noon the priest joined the bride and groom in wedlock in a brief five-minute period between two services.

A few months later the couple took some token revenge for the bother they had faced. October 23? Yes, I said. Independently of the real course of the dialogues it became apparent that very important elements of the identities of the refugee Hungarians in comparison with Hungarians who had not fled were irony, talking back and symbolic resistance against the regime. Their knowledge that they did not face any real threat in some cases prompted them to behave more boldly with official representatives of the communist state, proving their defiance both to themselves and to their acquaintances.

Lajos had clearly compiled a sort of small repertoire of similar stories because it was important to him that others including me see him as daring and not easily ruffled. She had left Hungary in with Lajos, having neither any knowledge of German nor any network of friends or family on whom to rely. It took her considerably longer to begin to fit into Austrian society than it had taken the youths who had left in She had some misgivings about leaving Hungary, because after having endured numerous tribulations she had completed a degree in Hungarian language and literature, and she knew that it would be of little use to her in Austria.

At the same time she had to fit in, because she had burnt all her bridges behind her, as her first visit back to Hungary made evident. I could no longer have gone home. Hungary looked on me as an enemy. I had to request a visa every time. I had to register myself there every time.