Traitors of Hungary


I have a question. Actually, it is not really my question. I have just been asked this before a few times. And I think it is a valid question but I myself would never ask it simply because I have lived most my life in Hungary.

Only a couple of months I spent in the United Kingdom away from home. Even though I usually tell people that I lived there. It was not supposed to be permanent and I didn’t move to another country because I had to live, I did it because of a job. And when this project in the United Kingdom ended, I moved back to Hungary.

So I never really thought of myself as a traitor. But some people whose parents or grandparents left the country at crucial points of history such as the famous 1956 revolution ask me if we, the people of Hungary, think of them as traitors.


My answer is always surprising, not to me actually, but to them, it is a huge relief when it turns out that the people of Hungary think of these people who left the country as the lucky ones. Because, in Hungary, there is a thought: if you immigrated to the United States or any western country, you escaped communism, which was bad and you went to live in a capitalist society, which is good.

Obviously life doesn’t care about what people think, so as they say, this is more complex than that. Capitalism itself cannot be regarded as inherently good and socialism or communism cannot be described as inherently bad. Both have their adventures and these adventures. Yet, Hungarians think of these people who left the country years ago as the rich ones.

And so when a distant uncle or aunt returns to the country, they think to have an insanely large piggy bank. This is quite the opposite of what foreign Hungarians think but this is not only opposite thing I have noticed as I grew up in Hungary. I heard again and again how bad this country is and how fantastic western countries are.

Probably, everything is made of gold, people are happy and the law is just, this is a specially true of gun laws in the United States. People in Hungary believe that it would be brilliant to have similar gun laws where you can have guns at home to protect it. Most Americans know that this is not really a good thing.


The other opposite thing I have noticed is that foreign Hungarians love Hungary, the country, way more than actual Hungarians do. While I heard how bad this country is throughout my childhood, they heard different stories, more heroic stories, about Hungary. I am not just talking about 1956 but about everyday life. Those who returned, they finally go back to the Motherland. Those who can’t return wish they could.

To me this is quite absurd. I usually ask why anyone would want to come here: salaries are low, unemployment is high, the government is stupid. And I have to think back to my childhood when I was told that things were bad in general in Hungary, however much like American gun laws and people who left Hungary are traitors or not: things are not that simple.

Most countries have stupid government, most countries have unemployment, most countries have people with low salaries. Hungary is not so different or behind, especially in modern days because we are part of the European Union so for instance retiring to Hungary is a viable option. Coming here to find work, if you have experience in e.g. IT, is not that complicated and hard.

The conclusion is that much like people who left the country should change their thoughts about being traitors, I have to change my thoughts about living in a bad country.


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About the Author: Chris Kovacs

Technical Consultant, Traveller, Filmmaker & Photographer
Much like most people, I like to be all sorts of things.

P.S.: some of articles are edited and co-written by a mysterious person called Tatjana. But I take all the credit.

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