Hungarian Americans of Cleveland
History of Hungarians in America
According to the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway (Heimskringla), the crew of Leif Ericson's expedition included a man named Tyrker, who may have been Hungarian. The name Tyrker in Icelandic means Turk and in the tenth century Hungarians were referred to as Turks.
Martin Waldseemuller named the new continent "America" after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. The name Amerigo is derived from the Hungarian eleventh century saint Imre (Emeric in English and Amerigo in Italian).
Stephen Parmenius, a linguist and historian born in Buda, was employed by Sir Humphrey Gilbert as the chronicler of the expedition of 1583 to America. The expedition of three ships arrived in what is now Newfoundland on August 3rd. He wrote detailed descriptions about the climate, vegetation, animals countered, and type of soil. On the return voyage on August 29th, they encountered a violent storm off of Nova Scotia and the ship that Parmenius was on sank. His writings, however, were given to Richard Hakluyt, an English historian, who published his works in 1589.
John Ratkai, a Hungarian Jesuit, was assigned to Mexico to do missionary work. He died in an Indian assault in 1684 in the territory of what is now New Mexico.
John Kelp, who was born in Transylvania, Hungary. He studied theology, immigrated to America, and founded a religious community near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1694. This historical district is called "The Hermitage" and the street where he lived "Hermit’s Lane."
Ferdinand Konsag joined the Jesuits in 1719. After completing his training, he was assigned a teaching position in Buda. His zeal for missionary work, however, took him to Mexico in 1730. He became superior of the Mission of St. Ignatius and later was appointed visitator to all of the Jesuit missions in California. He wrote extensively about his travels and explorations and drew one of the first maps of California in 1746. He died in California in 1760.
Michael de Kovats was born in 1724 in Karczag, Hungary and by age twenty was fighting in a Hussar regiment in the Austrian Army. He was an officer in the Prussian Army when the Revolutionary War started in 1776. Kovats came to America and joined Pulaski's Legion where he was named Colonel Commandant on April 18, 1778. His task was to organize and train hussar regiments for the American Army. In 1779 the Legion was ordered to march onto Charleston, South Carolina to relieve the city which was being surrounded by the British. They arrived on May 8, 1779 and attacked the British forces who were defeated and retreated from Charleston. Colonel Kovats, however, lost his life in the war for American independence in the battle on May 11, 1779.
Lauzun's Legion of Foreign Volunteers arrived in America on July 13, 1780. The legion was part of the auxiliary forces sent by France under the treaty of alliance with the United States. The legion consisted of infantry and cavalry; the cavalry was further divided into a squadron of lancers and a squadron of hussars. At the time many of the French hussars were from Hungary so that this squadron was mostly Hungarian. Two Hungarian officers are mentioned in records regarding Lauzun's Legion: John Polereczky, a major of the lancer squadron, and Francis Benyowsky, a lieutenant of the hussar squadron.
|1790 – 1829||
Several early immigrants from Hungary chose New Orleans for their new home. The first settler in 1790 was Benjamin Spitzer, who opened a large shop and sought to establish trade relations between the United States and Hungary. Francis Muller from Pozsony, Hungary and his uncle Stephan Bock came in 1815 and set up a fur trade in New Orleans. A doctor, Charles Luzenberg from Sopron, Hungary, came to New Orleans in 1829 and joined the medical staff of Charity Hospital. Subsequently, he became the founder and the first president of the New Orleans Medical Society.
Alexander Farkas de Boloni traveled to Washington where he was received by President Jackson, along with two other Hungarians; they were the first Hungarians to be received at the White House. Upon his return to Hungary, he published a book titled "Journey in North America." He wrote both perceptively and sympathetically about the political, economic, and cultural conditions in the United States. The book was influential in the Hungarian reform movement during an era of national revival.
Charles Nagy, a well-known Hungarian mathematician and astronomer visited America and established connections between the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin.
Charles Krajtsir immigrated to America and became a teacher of modern languages at the University of Virginia.
A native of Koszeg, Samuel Ludwigh settled in Philadelphia. He was a lawyer by profession, but soon became a writer, lecturer, and editor of a German 1 language newspaper. In 1849, he wrote articles for the New York Tribune entitled "Hungary and Hungarian Sketches." A few years later, he became publisher and editor of an English language periodical called The Torch.
Augustus Haraszthy, Father of California's Viticulture, came to the United States and was received at the White House by President Taylor and became a friend of Daniel Webster. He appeared at social events dressed in the resplendent attire of a Hungarian nobleman and became the sensation of Washington. He had bought huge tracts of land in Wisconsin and settled there with his family. He founded the town of Haraszthyville, which became Sauk City. He tried his hand at different enterprises including a builder, storekeeper, steamboat and ferry owner, and leader of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
He eventually left for warmer climates, moving to San Diego, California in 1850 where he became sheriff, served in the legislature at Sacramento and was a coin melter, refiner and banker.. He is best remembered for laying the foundations for the California wine industry. He established the first great wine vineyards with grapevines imported from throughout Europe and also from Hungary's wine district of Tokay.
Attila Kelemen, a tailor by profession, came to the United States and made a fortune with his "miracle drug" called "Tinctirus Papricus," which was nothing but a mixture of paprika and whiskey. It was supposed to be extremely effective against cholera. His fame and wealth enabled him to obtain a job as a physician and to become owner of a hospital and pharmacy in New York.
On June 18th Ambrose Dudley Mann was appointed by President Taylor to be a special and confidential agent of the United States to Hungary and was authorized to recognize the revolutionary government of Hungary, but Austria prevented him from reaching his destination. After the collapse of the revolutionary war on August 13th, 1849, demonstrations against Austria and Russia were organized in New York. The Central Hungarian Society was formed in New York under the presidency of Gabor Naphegyi for the purpose of obtaining good will for Hungary in her struggle. It was the first Hungarian society in America. In December, 1949, the first large wave of Hungarian immigrants arrived in America, most of them fleeing the aftermath of the collapse of the revolution. About four thousand immigrants came to America. The leader of one of the groups that came over was Laszlo Ujhazi. Congress granted Ujhazi and his group land in Iowa where they started a Hungarian community named New Buda in Decatur County. There were several other centers where Hungarians congregated in large numbers: New Orleans, St. Louis, and Davenport, Iowa.
President Filmore was authorized by both the Senate and the House to send an American warship to Turkey to bring Louis Kossuth, the exiled governor of Hungary, and his followers to the United States. Accordingly, Secretary of State Daniel Webster instructed the American Embassy in Turkey to embark Kossuth and his retinue, who boarded the USS Mississippi. Following a stay-over in England, Kosuth landed in New York on December 4th, 1851. His itinerary was filled for the next six months. After extensive receptions in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, he arrived in Washington, D. C. On December 30th, he visited the White House at a state dinner provided by President Fillmore. He was received in the Senate on January 5th and in the House on January 7th, 1852. Afterwards, he embarked on an extensive tour of the Unites States. His goal was to raise funds for an army so that he could resume the fight against Austria and to obtain the official support of the United States for this enterprise. He arrived in Cleveland on February 2nd. He went to Columbus on the 6th, and addressed the state legislature and met with Governor Wood. Afterwards, on his way to Cincinnati, he stopped at various locations such as Xenia, Springfield, Dayton, and Hamilton. He stayed in Cincinnati for 16 days and on the 26th of February left for Indiana. He continued touring America until he sailed for England on July 14th, 1852. He left America not realizing his mission.
Kossuth's two sisters, Susanne and Emilia, arrived in New York. Both died in America, Susanne in 1854 and Emilia in 1860. A Hungarian revolutionary conspiracy was discovered by the Austrian secret police in Transylvania, Hungary. Its members were executed, but three secret agents of Kossuth – Matyas Roszafy, Jozsef Makk, and Fulop Figyelmessy – escaped and came to America.
Martin Koszta, a Hungarian immigrant and resident of the United States, was visiting Turkey, where he was kidnapped and detained on an Austrian warship in the harbor of Smyrna as an Austrian subject of Hungarian nationality. Upon instructions of the American government, Commodore D.N. Ingraham, captain of the U.S sloop of war St. Louis, delivered an ultimatum to Captain von Schwarz, commander of the Austrian brig of war Hussar, and succeeded in obtaining the release of the kidnapped Hungarian-American. In pressing for his release, Secretary of State William Marcy argued that Koszta, though not a naturalized citizen, had been granted resident status and was, therefore, entitled to the protection of the United States.
On August 23rd, 1853, Lazar Meszaros, Minister of War and Commander in Chief of the Hungarian Army from 1848-49, arrived in New York. He bought a farm of 23 acres at Scotch Plain, New Jersey, and became the first Hungarian farmer in that state.
Bernat Bettelheim, Hungarian missionary and medical doctor living on the Japanese island of Ryukyu, served as an interpreter for Commodore Perry. He left for America on one of Perry's ships.
The Hungarian scientist and explorer John Xantus, as a member of the United States Survey Expedition commissioned to explore the Kansas Territory, reached the source of the Arkansas River. They returned with a large collection of natural science materials which were given to the Smithsonian Institution. Xantus was made a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and the Atheneum in Boston.
The United States Department of Interior appointed John Xantus leader of the United States Coast Survey. He established his headquarters in Southern California and took his team into the Mojave Desert, the San Bernardino Valley and Sierra Nevada Country. The work of Xantus in this region proved to be of immeasurable importance.
Michael Heilprin, a former writer in Hungary and an active member in the New York Hungarian society, began his work for Appleton's New American Encyclopedia, editing and writing a large number of articles. Subsequently, he worked for over twenty years for the Nation in Washington, writing articles on European politics.
Of the 4,000 immigrants in America at that time, about 800 joined the Union forces. Among them there were 2 major generals, 5 brigadier generals, 15 colonels, 2 lieutenant colonels, 14 majors, 15 captains and number of other subalterns and surgeons.
The personality of Gen. John C. Fremont attracted Hungarians. There were about two dozen Hungarian officers in Fremont's Western Army. They played a prominent role in the Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Kentucky campaigns.
Geza Mihalotzy organized the Chicago Lincoln Riflemen, composed of Hungarians and Bohemians. When the company merged with the 24th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Mihalotzy became the colonel of the regiment. He died in 1864 of a war injury at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
On October 25th, Major Charles Zagonyi, organizer and commander of Fremont's Body Guard, an elite unit of cavalrymen, routed the Confederates and cleared the nearby town of Springfield, Missouri, thus securing Missouri for the Union. The former Hungarian hussar officer persuaded Fremont to allow him to attack the overwhelming Confederate forces in Springfield. Outnumbered ten to one, his daring act, sometimes called 'Zagonyi's Death Ride,' was probably the first great cavalry charge of the Civil War and is commemorated on a granite monument in Springfield. He was the hero of Jessie Benton Fremont's Story of the Guard, published in 1883.
Frederich Knefler had served as adjutant to Gen. Lew Wallace, author of the famous Biblical novel Ben Hur. Later, he was appointed colonel of the 79th Indiana Volunteer Regiment and took part in the battles of Nashville, Chattanooga and Franklin, Tennessee. He was a brigadier general by the end of the war. After the war, President Hayes appointed him chief of the Pension Office.
Julius Stahel-Szamwald helped to organize the 8th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment and became its first lieutenant colonel. His regiment protected the rear of the Union Army as it retreated after the defeat at Bull Run. Stahel-Szamwald participated bravely in many of the early battles and was promoted to brigadier in 1861 and to major general two years later. In 1863, he was appointed commander of the cavalry defending Washington, at the personal request of President Lincoln. Stahel-Szamwald received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1864 for his bravery in the battle of Piedmont. From November 1864 to January 1865, while recuperating from his war wounds, he served as president of the military court in Baltimore. Stahel-Szamwald continued to serve the country in peaceful times. He was in the foreign service of the United States for eleven years as American consul in Japan and China.
The three sons of Emilia Kossuth served the United States with distinction. Ladislaus Zsulavsky organized the 82nd U. S. Colored Infantry Regiment and became its colonel. He also fought with General Asboth in the division of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger as commander of the first brigade of the District of West Florida, which included the 25th, 82nd, and 86th Colored Infantry Regiments. His two brothers, Sigismund and Emil, were both lieutenants in the 82nd Colored Regiment. Sigismund died of typhoid fever in 1863.
Eugene Kozlay enlisted in the 54th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment and became its colonel. In view of his meritorious services, Kozlay was appointed brigadier general in 1865.
President Grant appointed Alexander Asboth United States minister to Argentina and Paraguay for his valuable services in the Civil War. Asboth was born in Keszthely, Hungary on December 18, 1811. He graduated from the academy at Selmecbanya and obtained appointment as an engineer for the government. He became the adjutant to Kossuth during the War of 1848-49, and accompanied him into exile and on his American tour. After Kossuth's departure, Asboth remained in the United States. He is credited with the planning of Central Park in New York. Immediately after the outbreak of the Civil War, Asboth enlisted and became the chief of staff of Gen. John C. Fremont in 1861. He was appointed brigadier general in the same year. He fought with exceptional valor in the battle of Pear Ridge, Arkansas. After the Missouri Campaign, he was given command of the West Florida Department.
In 1864, he was seriously injured in the Battle of Marianna, Florida where bullets inflicted wounds in his arm and face. The bullet which was lodged in the right side of his face could not be removed and caused him much discomfort and pain. In South America, despite his painful facial wound, he performed his duties as minister with distinction. Asboth died two years later on January 21, 1868 at the age of 57, and was buried in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was first buried in the British Cemetary in Victoria Park. However, in 1923 the Victoria District became a park and the cemetary was moved to the Chacarita District.
(See further Epilogue 1990 – about Asboth).
A compromise (in German "Ausgleich" meaning "equalization") was signed by Hungary and Austria. Hungary was granted autonomy and self-government within the framework of the dual monarchy. A number of Hungarian refugees returned to their native land to take advantage of the political amnesty following the compromise.
Rapid industrial expansion in the United States created such a shortage of laborers that desperate measures were taken to induce the poor people of Europe to come here. Large corporations sent representatives to Hungary at the end of the nineteenth century to recruit workers. These agents did not always abide by immigration laws, and many abuses were recorded. From 1870 onward, there was a mass emigration from Hungary to the United States. Since full-scale industrialization had not yet reached Hungary, the emigrants escaped from the poverty and the misery of the Hungarian semi-feudal system. They were for the most part unskilled agrarian laborers who left their native country for economic rather than ideological reasons. Many came to the United States with the intention of saving money and returning to Hungary to live there in better material circumstances.
It is difficult to estimate the number of Hungarian immigrants during this period. The Ninth Census of the United States in 1870 distinguishes Hungarians from Austrians, but it classifies as Hungarians the members of ethnic minorities (e.g. Czechs, Slovaks, Ruthenians, Rumanians, Serbians and Croatians) who were born within the boundaries of Hungary as a self-governing kingdom within the framework of the dual monarchy from 1867 to 1918. The American census has traditionally designated the nationality of immigrants according to whatever independent country they happened to have been born in. Between 1870 and 1920, the approximate number of immigrants from Hungary was 1,998,199. About 55 percent declared Hungarian as their native tongue. The rest belonged to other nationalities. That makes the approximate number of self professed Hungarians over one million. In 1920, Hungarians constituted about 1 percent of the total U. S. population.
Dr. Arpad Gerster arrived in America. He was elected president of the New York Medical Society in 1891 and in the same year given membership in the Budapest Medical Association in recognition for his work. Gerster became professor of surgery at Columbus University in 1910, and in the following year, he was elected president of the American Medical Association.
In February, a bimonthly journal, the American National Guard (Amerikai Nemzetor) was published in New York by Gusztav Sz. Erdelyi. It was the only Hungarian newspaper in America at that time.
The first Hungarian Folk Festival was held in New York with a parade through the Hungarian district of Houston Street and Avenue B to Sulzer's Harlem River Park.
The Hungarian Association (Magyar Tarsulat) was organized in New York under the presidency of the famous Hungarian Surgeon Dr. Arpad Gerster for the purpose of aiding the Hungarian immigrants arriving in New York.
On November 15th, Mihaly Munkacsy, the world-famous Hungarian painter, came to New York. His monumental painting "Christ before Pilate" was shown to the representatives of the press on November 17th. The exhibition was a tremendous success and the painting was bought by John Wanamaker, who kept it on display in his store in Philadelphia. His painting of the blind Milton dictating poetry to his daughters is still displayed at the New York Public Library.
A number of Hungarian American fraternal insurance companies came into existence after the tidal wave of Hungarian mass immigration had reached America. One of the largest and oldest and most important organizations, the Verhovay Fraternal Insurance Association (Verhovay Segely Egylet), was founded at Hazelton, Pennsylvania in 1866. It later became the William Penn Fraternal Association.
A health benefit and funeral association, The Count Batthyany Association, was founded in Cleveland, Ohio. It was named after the martyred Hungarian Premier of 1848.
The Hungarian language newspaper Szabadsag (Liberty) was founded in Cleveland by Tihamer Kohanyi. It started out as a weekly, but as circulation increased, it developed into the first daily Hungarian American newspaper.
The first Hungarian Catholic parish, St Elizabeth's, was started by Charles Bohm in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1894, he also founded the weekly newspaper Catholic Hungarians' Sunday (Magyar Katolikus Vasarnapja).
The Fejervari Home for the aged was opened in Davenport, Iowa. It was the gift of a successful Hungarian real-estate man of that city, Nicholas Fejervari, who also bequeathed his large garden to the public. It was named Fejervari Park in his honor.
On March 20, 1894, Louis Kossuth the Hungarian statesman, living in exile in Turin, Italy for the last forty years, died. His body was brought back to Budapest, Hungary and given burial worthy of a national hero and statesman.
Hungary celebrated her millennium as a nation. Hungarian millennium festivities were held all over America to commemorate the 1000 years of the existence of Hungary as a state. The most important ones were at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; Buda, Georgia; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Cleveland, Ohio.
The United Hungarian Societies was formed in 1902 with the mission to erect the statue of Louis Kossuth in Cleveland as an expression of the high esteem in which Hungarians in America held Kossuth. On September 27th, the bronze statue was erected in University Circle among great fanfare and parades with participation by other nationalities, especially the Italian community of Cleveland, in recognition of the support that Hungarians and Kossuth gave Garibaldi and Mazzini in the Italian drive for national unification. The governor of Ohio, Mr. Nash, spoke at the unveiling ceremonies. The United Hungarian Societies continues to function today as an umbrella organization composed of most of the Hungarian oriented churches, clubs and organizations in the Greater Cleveland area.
In Hungary, a law was enacted to regulate all agencies dealing with the transportation of emigrants. Henceforth, these agencies had to obtain licenses from the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior.
On September 16th, 1906, the statue of George Washington sent by Hungarian-Americans was unveiled in Budapest. The idea of sending the statue was that of Tihamer Kohanyi, the editor of the Szabadsag newspaper in Cleveland, who spearheaded the drive and through his efforts made it a reality.
The American Hungarian Federation in Washington, D. C., an association of societies, institutes, and churches, was established to defend the interests of Americans of Hungarian origin in the United States.
This was the peak year of Hungarian immigration; altogether 60,071 immigrants were admitted to the country in the course of twelve months.
Count Albert Apponyi, the noted Hungarian diplomat and statesman, visited the United States. He spoke on the subject of peace to both Houses of Congress, in Washington, D. C. He also visited other major cities across the U. S. with Hungarian populations, one of which was Cleveland. He is pictured with Tihamer Kohanyi, Tivadar Kundtz, and other dignitaries in front of Kossuth's statue in University Circle.
Joseph Pulitzer left a two and one-half million dollar fund for the establishment of the School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1912.
|1918 – 1957||
The Political refugees: The years following 1918 constitute one of the most tragic periods in the overall history of Hungary. The geographic boundaries, as well as the social, economic and political developments were continually changing and shifting during this period. Huge masses of native Hungarians were uprooted by the transformation into a socialist republic followed by the Bolshevist revolution of 1919; then by the restoration of an independent Hungarian monarchy; the Peace treaty of Trianon in 1920; the pressures and policies of Nazi Germany; Hungarian participation in the Second World War; the subsequent Soviet Russian occupation and the development of a socialist Communist state; and last but not least, the abortive revolution of 1956. The shifting and often contradictory ideological and political orientations induced thousands and later tens of thousands to emigrate from Hungary. These emigrants may be classified as political refugees, though many of them were also prompted to leave for concomitant economic reasons.
This large-scale emigration has had a far-ranging effect on the life of Hungarian-Americans. It revivified and rejuvenated their sense of community which had been in danger of weakening and disappearing altogether. And, of course, it also made significant contributions to American society and history.
On June 4th, 1920, the Peace Treaty of Trianon was signed in France, concluding Hungary’s participation in the First World War as a member of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. According to the provisions of the treaty, Hungary became an independent state but lost approximately two-thirds of her pre-1918 territory (232,448 out of 325,411 square kilometers) and approximately half of her pre-1918 population (10,050,575 out of 20,886,487). The lost territories and people were attached to existing, sometimes newly created, neighboring states.
The majority of people living in most of these lost territories were non-Hungarian ethnic minorities so that the territories were claimed by the adjacent states on the basis of the self-determination of their inhabitants. In any case, of the 10,050,515 people living in the lost territories, 3,219,579 claimed Hungarian to be their native tongue. And, regardless of the justice or injustice of these territorial settlements, the political, economic, and social impact of the overnight reduction of land and population was tremendous. For example, most of Hungary’s natural resources and much of her heavy industry happened to be located in the lost territories. As a result, the newly reduced country was soon in the throes of recession, inflation, and unemployment aggravated by the flight to the mother country of tens of thousands of Hungarians who did not wish to live under foreign rule in neighboring countries. Many of the Hungarians who suddenly found themselves living "abroad" emigrated to the United States.
During a period of fourteen years ending on June 30, 1921, sixty-seven percent of the Hungarian immigrants returned from the United States to Hungary.
The first history of Hungarian-Americans was published in Hungarian by the Szabadsag newspaper in Cleveland. Written by Geza Kende, it was entitled Magyarok Amerikaban, Az amerikai magyarsag tortenete 1583-1927 (Hungarians in America: The History of Hungarians in America, 1583-1927). Kende’s two-volume, 874-page book deserves much credit for his painstaking original research.
On March 15th, Hungarians in New York erected a bronze statue of Kossuth on Riverside Drive. The memorial was unveiled in the presence of a delegation from the Hungarian Parliament. Geza Berko, editor of the American-Hungarian newspaper, Amerikai Magyar Nepszava (American Hungarian People’s Voice), had spearheaded the drive for the funds and making this event happen.
July 15-16th, an airplane named "Justice for Hungary" crossed the Atlantic Ocean, piloted by two Hungarians (George Endresz and Alexander Magyar), to protest the Treaty of Trianon.
Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor became the chairman of the Paramount Pictures Corporation. He became one of the greatest film producers in Hollywood.
A delegation of Hungarian-Americans presented to the New York Historical Society a plaque of Lieutenant Colonel Kovats, the Hungarian-born hero of the War of Independence. The plaque had been executed by Alexander Finta, a Hungarian-born artist.
Edmund Vasvary, a dedicated researcher of Hungarian materials in the United States, compiled a work entitled Lincoln’s Hungarian Heroes: The Participation of Hungarians in the Civil War.
Ferenc Molnar, the well-known Hungarian playwright and novelist, arrived in America. His best-known play, Liliom, inspired both the musical and the film Carousel. Many of his witty and elegant comedies were successfully performed in America and England in English translation.
On January 7th, the American Hungarian Federation sent a declaration to the President before the United States entered the Second World War. The purpose of the announcement was to start a movement for the preservation of an independent and free Hungary. By 1949 ten of these memoranda were submitted to the President or the Secretary of State, seeking to safeguard the interests of Hungarians living in America, those living abroad or displaced from Hungary, and those in Hungary.
During the Second World War, records indicate that over 50,000 Hungarians were serving in the United States Armed Forces. Mrs. John Hegedus of Cleveland received a banner from the mayor of Cleveland honoring her seven sons serving in the military.
The American Hungarian Federation started the Hungarian Relief Program. A total of $1.5 million was sent to the needy people of Hungary in the form of money, clothing, and drugs.
Bela Bartok, the world famous composer and musician, his works rooted in Hungarian folk music, died in virtual poverty in New York City. He had left Hungary in the late 1930s because of his political and moral convictions. For nearly a half century, he was one of the most original, productive, and gripping composers of modern classical music.
At the end of the Second World War, the American government assumed custody of the Crown of St. Stephen and the associated coronation paraphernalia. They had been turned over to American authorities in Germany by the Hungarian crown guards who had left Hungary in the closing days of the war.
Cardinal Mindszenty, the Roman Catholic Primate of Hungary, visited the United States and toured some of the Hungarian communities for the first time.
As a result of the Second World War, thousands of Hungarians were living in camps throughout Italy, Germany, Austria and France after fleeing Russian troops and Communist oppression. These people had been living in these camps since 1945 and were classified as Displaced Persons (DP). Many entered the United States under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. They were mostly professionals and their adjustment to American life was comparatively rapid and their contributions to their new country were numerous.
The first Hungarian Boy Scout group in the United States was organized by Ferenc Beodray and Ede Csaszar. In the same year, the headquarters for the Hungarian Boy Scouts moved from Europe to the United States.
The Cleveland Magyar Szabadegyetem (Free Hungarian University of Cleveland) was organized by Dr. Ferenc Somogyi.
The American Hungarian Studies Foundation was established in Elhurst, Illinois, and later moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey. Its mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the Hungarian cultural and historical heritage in the United States, as well as to support and promote publications, research, and educational programs, and academic studies of Hungarian culture, history, music, art, literature, and language.
The Hungarian revolution broke out in Budapest on October 23, 1956. During the short but costly fight against the Hungarian Communist regime and the Soviet Russian army, approximately 25,000 died. Subsequently, 40,000 were deported or imprisoned while 200,000 left Hungary. The aim of the majority of revolutionaries, including the short lived government of Imre Nagy, was to establish a truly democratic socialist republic free of Soviet Russian occupation and domination. The revolutionaries wanted Hungary to be politically and economically as neutral and unaligned as it was practically feasible in the Cold War era. The revolution seemed at first to have succeeded as the Soviet troops pulled out of Hungary, but they re-invaded the country on November 4th. After heavy fighting, a pro-Russian Communist regime was restored. Cardinal Mindszenty, who had been convicted of treason and imprisoned by the Hungarian government in 1948, was freed during the revolution. When the revolution failed, he took refuge in the American Legation in Hungary.
With the support of the American Hungarian Federation, more than 35,000 refugees arrived in the United States during 1957. Many of these were professionals who were able to find employment quite easily, and quite a few settled in Cleveland, Ohio, bringing new life to many of the organizations, especially the Hungarian Scouting movement.
As part of the Champion of Liberty series, the United States Postal Service issued the Louis Kossuth stamps in denominations of four and eight cents.
In the late 1950's, four of the major symphony orchestras in America had Hungarian music directors: Eugene Ormandy (Philadelphia Orchestra), George Szell (Cleveland Symphony Orchestra), Fritz Reiner (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Antal Dorati (Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra).
The first Annual Hungarian Congress was organized by Janos Nadas. The Arpad Academy Award was established to encourage Hungarian related artistic and scientific projects. Since then, the proceedings of the Congress have been published every year. Hungarians from all over the world come to this annual event held over a three day period during the Thanksgiving weekend in Cleveland, Ohio.
Edward Teller, a Hungarian born and trained physicist, received the Fermi Award. Just to Illustrate the contributions of native Hungarians to the physical sciences, three of the nine recipients of the Atom for Peace Award were Hungarians: G. C. Hevesy, Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner; also three of the nine recipients of the Fermi Award were Hungarians; J. Neumann, E. P. Wigner, and E. Teller.
The Hungarian Freedom Fighter’s Federation, Inc., collected money from Hungarian Americans to erect a monument in Los Angeles to commemorate the Freedom Fighters of 1956. The monument was designed by Arpad Domjan.
The Hungarian communities in America celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Saint Stephen (969-1038), the first King of Hungary. Rev. Alex Demetzky, of St. Ladislaus Parish in Lorain, organized festivities in Cleveland, which included an exhibition at the Higbee Department Store, parade in Cleveland and a commemorative mass at St. John’s Cathedral.
Denis Gabor, a Hungarian born physicist, received the Nobel Prize for physics. Other Hungarian American Nobel Prize winners are George V. Bekessy, for medicine and physiology; 1961; Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, for medicine and physiology; 1937;Eugene Wigner for Physics, 1963.
Cardinal Mindszenty, after fifteen years of refuge at the American Legation in Hungary, left Hungary because of pressure from the United States government and the Vatican, both of whom were trying to reach an accommodation with the present government of Hungary.
Cardinal Mindszenty visited Canada and the United States for the second time, and especially visited the Hungarian community in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Bishop Zoltan Beky was feted for his forty-five years of devoted service to the American Hungarian Reformed Church by Hungarian communities all over the United States. The city of Trenton, New Jersey, named a street after him called "Beky Drive." On March 29th, on the 125th anniversary of the Hungarian War of Independence, Bishop Zoltan Beky opened a the session of the House of Representatives with a prayer.
From May 6 to June 29, the eighty-two year old Cardinal Mindszenty visited America for the third time. During his tour he visited all the American Hungarian communities as well as those in Canada.
The City of Cleveland, dedicated The Cardinal Mindszenty Plaza, located at East 12th and Lakeside Avenue, in Commemoration of the Cardinal's visit and his ties with Cleveland's Hungarian Community.
On January 6th, 1978, the United States government officially handed over the Holy Crown of Saint Stephen, the first king of Hungary, to the communist government of Hungary. This after many years of care-taking of the Royal Crown and Coronation Paraphernalia – including the Scepter, Robe, Sword and Orb, which were kept at the Fort Knox, Gold Depository since 1950. These items were given over to the United States Army at Mattsee, Austria, on May 7th, 1945, by Colonel Pajtas the Commander of the Royal Hungarian Crown Guards. This move by President Carter was strongly challenged by Hungarian groups in the United States, who enlisted the aid of many Congressmen to prevail upon the administration to keep the Crown where it was.
Through the efforts of family and American-Hungarian supporters of his memory the remains of General Asboth were exhumed from the Chacarita Cemetary in Buenos Aires, Argentina and brought back to Washington D.C. in 1990. On October 23, 1990, Major General Alexander Asboth was buried with full military honors at Arlington. His great-great-grandson Sandor Asboth, who was 22 at the time and was in the Virginia National Guard, attended the funeral services and received the folded U. S. flag that had draped the coffin. General Asboth was accorded a caisson drawn by horses, the playing of the Taps and a riderless horse, the symbol of a fallen military leader. The date of the burial coincided with the Hungarian uprising of October 23, 1956. He lies today in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
George Olah was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1927. He graduated from the Technical University in 1949, emigrated to Canada after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and then moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He became professor and chairman of chemistry at Case Western Reserve University. He then moved to California, were he took over the professorship at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute of the University of Southern California. In 1994, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering research on carbonation and their role in the chemistry of hydrocarbons. His accomplishments includes the pioneering of new techniques and solvent systems (of the super-acid type) allowing the study of reactive intermediates, particularly carbonations, as long-lived stable species in solutions; the application of physical methods such as nuclear magnetic resonance and Raman spectroscopy to the study of these systems and extensive structural and mechanistic studies involving a large variety of organic systems.
This brings the total to five Nobel Prizes received by Hungarian – Americans: D. Gabor in 1971, E. Wigner in 1963, G. Bekessy in 1961, and A. Szent-Gyorgyi in 1937 while living in Hungary.
The Mindszenty Plaza in Cleveland at E. 12th St. and Lakeside Ave. was re-dedicated on May 30, 1997. The Plaza was refurbished along with the bronze bust of Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty. The dedication ceremonies was conducted by the Mayor of Cleveland Michael R. White, along with other dignitaries and representatives of the Hungarian community such as Kathy Kapossy Palasics, the President of the United Hungarian Societies, Laszlo Bojtos, the Consul of Hungary.
On May 15th 2001, NASA and the Hungarian Space Agency signed the "Space Cooperative Agreement" between the United States and Hungary. The agreement provides a legal framework for further professional cooperation in outer space research for peaceful goals, exchange of scientific data and exchange of researchers. Laszlo Zala, the former Chief of the Facilities Electrical Systems Management Branch of NASA Glenn, has been a proponent and supporter for this agreement to occur. The signers of this agreement were John Schumacher, NASA Office of External Relations, and Jeno Manninger, Political State Secretary for the Ministry of Transportation.