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III. WORLD WAR II AND ITS AFTERMATH

A. THE WAR EFFORT

       During the Second World War, the Cleveland Hungarian community was involved in the war effort to a greater extent than during the First World War. There were several reasons for this. The "old-timers" were for the most part, citizens of this country and property owners; several decades had passed since they first arrived in America. Thousands of second generation Hungarian Americans reached adulthood during the 1930s and 1940s, the fact that Hungary was on the "other side" did not create for them the conflict of interest such as that experienced by their parents during World War I. The second generation was ingrained with a pride in being American and this was reflected in the large numbers who volunteered to serve in the armed forces of the United States.

       The first death in the community which occurred as a direct consequence of war relief work, happened in February, 1942. A nine year old girl, Mary Ann Kovach was fatally injured by an automobile while she was pulling her wagon in search of old newspapers for Kinsman School's war salvage program. News of the tragic death reached the White House, whereupon Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt sent condolences and a large bouquet of flowers to the family of the deceased girl.

       Within six months following Pearl Harbor, 1,300 Hungarian boys from Cleveland enlisted.56 In the predominantly Hungarian 29th Ward, which had, at that time, a population of 33,000, thirteen percent or 4,305 served in the armed forces. This percentage is higher than the national average. One Hungarian woman, Mrs. John Hegedüs was presented with a banner from the mayor of Cleveland honoring her seven sons, all of whom served in the

 


 

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PHonor Roll of one of the Hungarian parishes in Cleveland, pictured here 24 out of a total of 180.(1994)

 


 

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military. Szabadság commemorated the Hungarian American war dead by printing their name, rank, city and state of origin in a separate column on the front page of each issue. On the basis of this documentation alone, 325 Hungarian servicemen from Cleveland died overseas in 1945.

       Various committees were formed to aid the fighting men overseas. The "War Relief Committee" was formed under the auspices of the United Hungarian Societies. The Hungarian Business & Tradesmen's Club established the "Victory Boosters Club". During the war years, most organizations sponsored card parties, socials, dances and plays for the benefit of the American Red Cross. The purchase of defense bonds was tremendous: the following examples illustrate the outstanding support of the project. The West Side Hungarian Youth Sick Benefit Society invested $3,000 in Defense Bonds. At times, individual contributions were just as great: Steven Varga, a resident in the Buckeye neighborhood purchased the same amount in bonds. The Cleveland chapter of the King St. Stephen Catholic Hungarian Insurance Association purchased $71,000 worth of U.S. Defense Bonds.57

       Following the end of the war, the concerns of the community focused on the new wave of Hungarian immigrants: the Displaced Persons. Interestingly enough, despite more than thirty years of separation and relative isolation from the homeland, the community could still rally support for the needs of their fellow countrymen overseas. Visiting dignitaries from Hungary such as Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty and Zoltán Kodály related the situation in post-war Hungary. Speaking at Bethlen Hall at the First Hungarian Reformed Church, Zoltán Kodály was one of the first to refer to Hungarian Americans as part of the legendary "eighth

 


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