Sunday, 13 September 2015

A Little Hungarian History

One of the deep ironies of the present migrant crisis is that Hungary is at the centre of the issues of debate as it attempts to deal with the problems it faces.  It is near fifty nine years ago that the Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest and Hungary to deal with the Uprising.

Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians, mostly young men active in the Rising fled and crossed the borders before they were closed.  The major outflow was into Austria where they had an unhappy winter in tented fields with basic food rations.  Austria had barely recovered then from the War.

In Britain, around 20,000, perhaps a few more, arrived.  The story is that they were welcomed and the British as a whole regarded them as refugees needing help. My memory is not quite like that.  It might have been the great majority view but there were others.

One was the Communist Party, which wanted the Hungarians repatriated to be dealt with by the Soviets.  Also there were the UK Fascists, perhaps a comedy turn in many ways, but still an embarrassing nuisance, also favouring repatriation.  Both had their premises trashed by LSE students.

There was Prime Minister Eden and the UK government, mired in the Suez Crisis, in deep trouble with rumblings from Moscow while seriously out of favour in Washington, frantically looking for ways out.  One to shut the Soviets up was to repatriate the Hungarians. LSE was tipped off.

So the group that triggered the Suez riots that caused chaos in Westminster and had gone for the Commies and the Nazi's had Conservative Central Office in their sights.

The Metropolitan Police were said to have told the Home Secretary they were vulnerable.  Many of the LSE group were ex-service some of whom had seen action.

The risk that Conservative Central Office might have to be defended by the Brigade of Guards was too much, so the Hungarians stayed.  At the time and since it has been minor history and forgotten.

Fifty-nine years is a long time and a great deal has changed.


  1. "One to shut the Soviets up was to repatriate the Hungarians."

    Interesting. That one wouldn't have turned out well.

  2. The refugees started clogging up the health system a well. Pregnancies etc.
    The UK wasn't all that recovered from WW2 either. If it ever did.