Eleanor Roosevelt and the refugees of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

On October 23, Hungarians commemorate the Revolution of 1956. The uprising was an unplanned nationwide upheaval against the harsh Stalinist government of the People’s Republic of Hungary. It lasted from 23 October until 10 November 1956.

Over 2,500 Hungarian citizens and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the hostilities and close to 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. About half of them ended up in North-America.

Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Salzburg, Austria in May 1957 to listen the pleas of Hungarian refugees. Her visit was a humanitarian gesture; she was the highest-profile American politician supporting the Hungarians and her visit focused media attention on the suffering of the refugees.

Eleanor Roosevelt visiting a Hungarian refugee camp in Salzburg, Austria.

Eleanor was born to a wealthy and privileged family as Anna Eleanor but she preferred her middle name. Orphaned at age 8 she was raised by her maternal grandmother. As a young girl Eleanor loved field hockey and as an adult had her pilots license.

On her wedding day, then-President Teddy Roosevelt walked her down the aisle. “I am as fond of Eleanor as if she were my daughter,” he wrote of his niece. Eleanor wrote newspaper columns, fought for the civil rights of blacks and was the driving force behind the UN Declaration of Human Rights. She even appeared in a 1959 margarine commercial to raise $35,000 to buy food packages for impoverished families.

Her husband President Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped to crush fascism in Europe. Several times he warned pro-Hitler ruler Miklós Horthy to stop atrocities and mass-killings in Hungary. In July 1944 the Americans bombed Budapest. (Read more here.)

Today the Orbán government considers President Franklin Delano Roosevelt an “enemy” and in 2011 despite the protest of many Americans, including Roosevelt’s granddaughter, the Orbán government shamefully removed his name from one of Budapest’s most attractive squares.

Roosevelt’s name was removed in Budapest in 2011.

György Lázár


  1. Just why did they change the name of Roosevelt Square?

    I should know that, nothing has changed in the mind of Hungarians.
    History changes in their mind like the climate.
    How true is the old Jack Webb’s saying;
    “Only changed the names to protect the guilty.”

    Yet , you keep repeating the “regime change”.
    That is another lie !

  2. Bombing a country is not a friendly gesture, not surprised at removing Roosevelt’s name.

  3. Avatar Váci Klebelsberg Kultúrkör says:

    “Several times he warned pro-Hitler ruler Miklós Horthy to stop atrocities and mass-killings in Hungary.”
    The author should be more educated in history, all his articles are missing the real knowledge of the history and broadcasting his personal violence and hate against the hungarian nation

  4. Marta;
    Hungary declared war on the US on December 7, 1941.
    Although, the allies only bombed to send a massage to stop the deportations to gas-chambers.

    Which action would you declare a “friendly gesture” ???

  5. As the Hungarian proverb says: God’s zoo is immense. The comments above reaffirm this proverb.

  6. Avatar Nicholas Molnar says:

    Out of the 200,000 plus refugees not the half but only about 40,000 was accepted by the US

  7. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Nicholas Molnar, …and another 40,000 by Canada. I wrote about North-America. The actual numbers are a bit higher because 56-ers from Australia, South-America etc. later also immigrated to North-America.

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