From Refugee to Consul: An American Adventure

From Helen M. Szablya

Szablya Consultants, Inc. (October 29, 2021)
604 pages

Imagine leaving everything behind… Follow along as Helen Szablya tells the tale of life after her harrowing escape to freedom from Communist Hungary with her young family in 1956 to establish a new life as a refugee in Canada, then the US. As she builds her family and her business acumen, she eventually helps establish the Hungarian Honorary Consulate in the Northwest US and becomes the first woman Honorary Consul General of Hungary to the USA and the first on the West Coast supporting the new Hungary as it emerges from communism. A deeply personal memoir and a true American adventure with global reach, this book continues where her book My Only Choice: Hungary 1946 – 1956 leaves off and takes the reader on an epic journey to the end of 2020.

From Refugee to Consul: An American Adventure can be purchased on at this link. The Hungarian version of the book entitled ‘Szökevényből konzul – Óceánon innen, vasfüggönyön túl’ is available in Hungarian bookstores, and can be ordered here.

Helen M. Szablya, Honorary Consul General of Hungary, is an award-winning author, columnist, translator, and lecturer, and has been a Member of the Hungarian American Coalition for 30 years. To learn more about her life and publications, go to:

Being Hungarian in Cleveland: Maintaining Language, Culture, and Traditions

From Dr. Endre Szentkirályi

Helena History Press LLC; 1st edition (January 25, 2021)
354 pages

Cleveland, Ohio, has been the U.S. hub for all things related to Hungary and Hungarians since the nineteenth century. Today, Cleveland’s Hungarian community remains vibrant and continues to value and preserve its heritage despite the ongoing impact of economic, social and cultural changes, demographic shifts and gentrification. In this work, historian Endre Szentkiralyi examines the concept of “being Hungarian in Cleveland,” using a variety of methodologies and drawing on his 47 years as an active member of that community.

He looks at the community historically and sociologically via in-depth research into its language and literature, culture, and traditions, with a focus on the years from 1950 to the present. Today, though Cleveland’s unique Hungarian community is shrinking, its extensive roots-significantly shaped by succeeding generations-run deep, and Szentkiralyi’s research attests to the fact that it is still thriving. In his conclusion he addresses recent developments, including the communication and outreach strategies of the community’s core organizations, and offers a hopeful outlook for its changing but enduring future.

Born and raised in and near Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Endre Szentkirályi grew up speaking Hungarian in the household. He studied English and German at Cleveland State University, received an MA in English from the University of Akron, and earned his PhD in literary and cultural studies from the University of Debrecen in Hungary.

He is also author of the books ‘Clevelandben még élnek magyarok? Visszaemlékezések gyűjteménye’, a collection of oral histories, as well as ‘Cold War to Warm Cooperation – the Military Service of Cleveland Hungarians: egy amerikai város magyar katonái 1950-2014’’. He has also worked on the 56Films documentaries “Inkubátor” and “Heritage,” both of which deal with Hungarian-American communities.

Being Hungarian in Cleveland: Maintaining Language, Culture, and Traditions can be purchased on at this link.

56 Stories

Personal Recollections of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
A Hungarian American Perspective

The book was published in 2006, by Lauer Learning, an educational, multimedia company focusing on Hungarian and American educational issues. In that 50th anniversary year, the Coalition and Lauer Learning worked together to collect these stories from 1956 survivors and their family members through the oral history website. The goal of this project was to ensure that not only the personal stories, but the very spirit of 1956 is passed on to future generations.

The book contains 65 personal stories in all: 56 personal testimonials from ‘56ers and nine stories of relatives of ‘56ers, each of which provides a different perspective on 1956, through the eyes of Hungarian-Americans.

These 56 stories were given by: Tibor Arany, Éva Apor Bálintitt, László Béres, László Bőjtös, Charles Farkas, Imre Farkas, Lily Farkas, Andrew P. Fodor, Ágnes Sylvester Fülöp, László G. Fülöp, Anikó Gaál Schott, Ildikó Diósadi Bodó Gajda, Sándor T. Halász, Péter Hargitai, Edward and Judy Hilbert, Miklós and Mária Hitter, János Horváth, Béla Király, Amadé Kis, Ilona Éva Ibrányi Kiss, Éva B. Kisvarsányi, Levente Koller, John S. Kőrössy Jr., Francis Laping, Edith Lauer, Andrea Lázár, Dr. Alfonz Lengyel, Béla Lipták, Paul Maléter, Tamás Markovits, Leslie László Megyeri, Thomas P. Muhl, Károly Nagy, Edit Martha Novák, Ferenc Novák, Károly G. Oláh, Tibor Ország, László Papp, András Pongrátz, Tamás Rátoni Nagy, Tom Rogers, Tibor Sárkády, William S. Shepard, Péter A. Soltész, Dr. Balázs Somogyi, Helen M. Szablya, Helen Alexandra Szablya, Mária Szodfridt, Olga Vallay Szokolay, Martha and Kathy Takács, Csaba Téglás, Dr. Steven Julius Török, Julius Várallyay, Gábor Varsa, Bulcsú Veress and Katalin Vörös.

The personal accounts from families of ‘56ers include: Katica Avvakumovits, László Imre Buda, Elizabeth Halász, Erika G. Kisvarsányi, Andrea Lauer Rice, Kathy A. Megyeri, Eszti Pigniczky, Réka Pigniczky and Endre Szentkirályi. 

The book was edited by Edith Lauer and Andrea Lauer Rice. Photos and original illustrations were included from: Hungarian National Museum, MTI, Dr. Tibor Szentpetery, Ata Kando, International Rescue Committee, Geza Kisvarsanyi, Karoly Szabo and others.

56 Stories is available in hard cover in Hungarian or English. The newly-digitized version can be downloaded from the Coalition website here.

An Anti-Nazi at Hitler’s Table

From Eszter Kandó Odescalchi

The political memoirs of Dr. Ferenc Kandó Melocco have been published, in a volume entitled An Anti-Nazi at Hitler’s Table. The book, translated and edited by his daughter, Coalition member Eszter Kandó Odescalchi, reflects the turbulent years of the 20th century from World War I to the 1980s through the life of a man who lived through them. 

Because of his position in the Ministry of the Interior of Hungary during the 1930s and 40s, he was acquainted with heads of state; he met Hitler and other Nazis and interacted with politicians of many parties. Throughout, Dr. Kandó Melocco opposed both totalitarian regimes, the Nazis and the Communists.

These memoirs are those of a person whose deep religious faith helped him overcome inhuman conditions and misery. He believed in God’s help, and in turn, he helped his fellow man, including the rescue of persecuted Jews. He lived for his convictions, eventually taking a job as a coal-carrier to support his family rather than join the Communist establishment.

The memoirs introduce us to a gifted politician who always knew what to do, when to quit, when to talk and when to remain silent: a courageous man who remained honest, dignified and compassionate throughout many trials.

An Anti-Nazi at Hitler’s Table (2015) is available through the Merritt Bookstore, from the author or on Amazon.

Cold War to Warm Cooperation

from Endre Szentkirályi

Author Endre Szentkirályi was born and raised in Cleveland. During the course of his research, he identified 330 local military personnel of Hungarian origin, and conducted over 250 interviews.

Among his subjects are 40 officers, including two generals and several colonels. They include many sets of brothers and examples of multi-generational military families, and over a dozen Cleveland Hungarians still serving in the military today.

Their military experiences, as documented in the book, illuminate world historical events from a personal viewpoint.  Most of the subjects served their country proudly, then fit successfully into the civilian world. Many also contributed their talents to Cleveland’s Hungarian social life.

The book also provides details on the ten Cleveland Hungarians who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of Vietnam.

Cold War to Warm Cooperation can be ordered from the Cleveland Hungarian Museum at:

or from the HM Zrínyi Térképészeti és Kommunikációs Szolgáltató Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft at:

Vanished by the Danube

from Charles Farkas
July 2013
Pages: 496

In this poignant memoir Charles Farkas tells a story of loss and survival.  Germany’s invasion of Hungary in 1944 marked the end of a culture that had prevailed in Central Europe from the 19th century to World War II. Farkas offers a testament to this vanished way of life—its society, morality, personal integrity, wealth, traditions, and chivalry—as well as an eyewitness account of its destruction, begun at the hands of the Nazis and then completed under the heel of Soviet Communism. The writer’s recollections of growing up in Budapest, a city whose grandeur embraced—indeed spanned—the Danube River; his vivid descriptions of everyday life in Hungary before, during, and after World War II; and his ultimate flight to freedom in the United States remind us that behind the larger historical events of the past century are the stories of the individual men and women who endured and, ultimately, survived them.

“In his evocative new memoir, Vanished by the Danube, Charles Farkas walks us gracefully through the Hungary of his youth. Through stories that extract beauty from everyday events, Farkas pays tribute to the simple elegance of his native country in the years preceding World War II, while never sparing us the truth about the horrors to come. In his story we are reminded that resourcefulness and optimism can prevail even in the face of great struggle.” — President Bill Clinton.

Vanished by the Danube” is published by SUNY Press and is available on at:

Dunától a Mississippihez

from László G. Fülöp
Fekete Sas Kiadó
2013, Budapest
Pages: 280

László Fülöp, who serves as Vice President and long-standing Board Member of the Hungarian American Coalition, gave a most appropriate subtitle to his book:  “Extraordinary events can sweep you far away.”  This book (written in Hungarian) is filled with the extraordinary events of post-WWII Hungarian history. Fülöp pays homage to his wonderful family as well as to some of his unforgettable teachers and several classmates at the Franciscan High School of Szentendre.   After his father’s arrest and imprisonment on trumped-up charges by the Communist authorities, the chapters describing Fülöp’s own compulsory service in a “labor batallion” and his subsequent participation in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution make for compelling reading.  Although his dramatic escape and later life as a successful architect and city planner in Wisconsin and Minnesota have indeed “swept him far away” from his beloved Hungary, his frequent trips and continued love of his homeland speak loudly from these pages.

The book (in Hungarian) can be ordered from the website of the publisher, Fekete Sas Kiadó, Hungary at

My Only Choice – Hungary 1942-1956

from: Helen M. Szablya
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 580

Helen M. Szablya, Honorary Consul General of Hungary, is an award-winning author, columnist, translator, and lecturer, and has been a Board Member of the Hungarian American Coalition for 20 years.  Her family saga is a personal memoir that paints a vividly detailed picture about the daily lives and struggles of Hungarian citizens in the period between WWII and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.  Her description of the 51-day-long siege of Budapest in 1944, its tragic aftermath, the increasingly cruel power of Soviet dictatorship, and of her family’s eventual escape after the defeat of the 1956 Revolution will amaze and touch the imagination of all readers.

“From the eyes and mind of an innocent but precocious young teen, Helen Szablya, paints a picture of how the inconceivable became reality. Hungary as the playground of tyrants in the 1940’s,,is depicted in its inability to withstand fascism or communism. A personal account, as engrossing as fiction but true, this book serves the lessons of history irresistibly on a silver tray.”   Annette Lantos-Tilleman-Dick , Daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos

Avaible at: as well as on Kindle, iPad and iPhone

Az utolsó házi feladat (The Last Homework)

Pages: 362; 

Ez az utolsó – mint egy maroknyi történelem – összegezi tizenöt volt diák életét, egyéni hozzáállását óriási nehézségeik megoldásában a második világháború kezdetétől napjainkig.
Tizenöt volt szentendrei Ferences diák érdekes és megrázó élettörténete 362 oldalon egy szentendrei jelenetet ábrázoló színes csempe-kép borítóval, több mint 60 fényképpel.

The Last Homework, a book in Hungarian with the life stories of fifteen graduates of 1957 of the Franciscan gimnazium (HS) in picture-perfect Szentendre, an artist colony. 
Their early days and ventures during WWII, the Soviet-imposed Communist take over, the Revolution of 1956 – two of this group have been jailed and tortured – their life and adjustments for survival. 362 pages, 60 photographs.

A könyvről szóló ajánlást itt olvashatja.

Out and About in Hungary

Pages: 708; Size: 165×235 mm; Price: 4990 HUF

Those who set out with this book to see Hungary will not miss a thing. This book will provide information about Hungary, back and forth and across. You will learn about the most attractive places, the hiking spots, art and museum ‘must see’, architectural delights as well as unparalleled outdoors you may want to venture in. This book also invites you to travel in time. A new feature is that you may now discover Hungary in alphabetical order. In the Glossary you will find terms and expressions that characterise the country regardless of time and place.

You can read more about the book here.
You can order here:


Látnivalók Magyarországon

Oldalszám: 720; Méret: 165×235 mm; Ár: 4.990 Ft

A már 100 ezer példányban megjelent, méltán népszerű útikönyv ötödik, javított kiadása több mint 700 oldalon és 1100 színes fotóval, térképekkel illusztrálva mutatja be Magyarország közel ezer településének látnivalóit. A kötetek az idegenforgalmi nevezetességek, építészeti értékek, műalkotások mellett a természeti értékekre, a sport- és szórakozási lehetőségekre is felhívja az utazók figyelmét a régiónként, illetve tájegységenként követő útleírásokban. Külön fejezetben, a Magyarország kincsestárában kaptak helyet a hungarikumok, a magyar Nobel-díjasok, feltalálók és tudósok, a nemzeti parkok, a Világörökség címet elnyert nevezetességek, a lexikonban pedig betűrendben követik egymást az országra jellemző fogalmak. A megújított kötet, számtalan újdonságot is tartalmaz. Ezek sorába tartozik az is, hogy a Látnivalók Magyarországon útikönyvben megtalálhatók a vendéglátáshoz és az idegenforgalomhoz kapcsolódó legfontosabb tudnivalók, többek között éttermek, szállodák, fürdők, sportközpontok leírása és elérhetősége. A kötet méltán viseli „az utazók bibliája” jelzőt, s ennél fogva ajánljuk minden Magyarországot megismerni szándékozó ember könyvespolcára.

A könyvről szóló ajánlást itt olvashatja.
Megrendelhető itt:

Vera and the Ambassador: Escape and Return

by Vera and Donald Blinken
SUNY Press

Publishers Weekly review:
The Blinkens alternate chapters to recount their years as the U.S. ambassadorial couple to Hungary during Bill Clinton’s first term as president. Vera Blinken escaped Hungary as a child with her mother after WWII as the iron curtain started its descent on central Europe. Donald Blinken, a former investment banker, was appointed at the dawn of Hungary’s nascent democracy and entry into the world economy, and negotiated its entry into NATO. Together they breathed new life into U.S.–Hungary relations, negotiated the opening of American military bases that contributed to the end of the Bosnian conflict and started health initiatives in the local community. Theirs is a candid behind-the-scenes look at the glamour and challenges of diplomatic life: along with consorting with the pope and Madonna came inevitable security concerns, death-defying trips in former Soviet helicopters and the struggle to reshape attitudes toward what was perceived as American cultural imperialism. The energetic narration moves seamlessly from historical to contemporary political themes to the more personal and particular highlight of the book—accompanying Vera Blinken as she rediscovers what remains of the Budapest of her childhood.

Read the review of the Foreign Affairs here.

Máramarosszigeti történetek – Egy kisfiú kalandjai vészterhes időkben

from László Fülöp
Fekete Sas Kiadó, 2011. 124 oldal

A főhősnek, a Máramarosszigeten élő tízéves kisfiúnak gyerekes csínytevései közben egyre inkább rá kell ébrednie 1944-45-ben, hogy az őt „körülvevő; történelem többfajtaképpen szól bele az életébe. Az Amerikai Egyesült Államokban élő szerző igazi humorral, hol mosolyra, hol sírásra késztető módon, rendkívül olvasmányosan írja le és ismerteti meg az Olvasókkal egy nem mindennapi emberré érett férfi gyerekkorát. A stílusos illusztrációk még hatásosabbá teszik a művet.

  (Stories from Máramarossziget – The Adventures of a Young Boy in Turbulent Times) tells poignant stories of László’s family’s life during and after World War II in Máramarossziget, now located in Northern Romania. Through the Fülöp family’s stories, this stormy period of Hungarian history is placed in a historical and human context. The book’s beautiful illustrations enrich the interest and appeal of each story.

“Even as he is occupied with his childish pranks, the hero of the novel, a ten-year old boy living in Máramarossziget, must increasingly realize that in 1944-45 the history “surrounding him” controls his life in many ways. The author, now living in the United States, describes with genuine humor the childhood of someone who would mature into an extraordinary man, providing us a highly readable account that elicits both smiles and tears.”

The book (in Hungarian) can be ordered from the website of the publisher, Fekete Sas Kiadó, Hungary at

Jelző nélküli magyar. Naplójegyzetek 1992-2007

from Gyula Várallyay
Littera Nova Kiadó, Budapest, 2008. 572 oldal, 3490 Ft

András Sándor: Egy jelző nélküli magyar
(Source: Élet és Irodalom, LIII. évfolyam 2. szám, 2009. január 9.)
Sokféle napló van, és ez a napló – egy megkötéssel: „a szigorúan magánjellegű témákat kihagytam a kéziratból” – maga is sokféle. Szerzőjük eseményekről ír, gyakran nagy, de sohasem fárasztó informá­ció­hátérrel ellátott eseményekről, továbbá arról, amit ezekről gondol, ami róluk képzettársítással eszébe jut, de olykor arról is, amire az adott naptári nap emlékezteti. Ez, úgy tűnik, magára a napló létrejöttére is áll. Az első bejegyzésben olvasható: „Édesanyám ma huszonöt éve halt meg. Az évek során legalább tízszer elkezdtem naplót írni, de most valami belső erő hatott úgy, hogy végül valóban elkezdjem – itt a repülőgépen, egy gyorsírófüzetben, amit a londoni repülőtéren vettem, ahol átszálltunk. Valóban nem előre megfontolt elhatározás volt, hiszen akkor hoztam volna magammal papírt Varsóból, ahol kiküldetésben vagyok, és ahol most lakunk. Nem. Valami mélyről jövő, kifürkészhetetlen ösztönzés hatott végül most, az úton.” Magam úgy gondolom, az ösztönzés nem is olyan kifürkészhetetlen, ha az anya halálának 25. évfordulóján lett eredménye. A napló írója, ez újra meg újra kiderül, nagyon is családhoz kötődő, családban gondolkodó ember, az említett repülőgépen is családostól utazik, feleséggel, gyerekekkel.

Clevelandban még élnek magyarok? Visszaemlékezések gyűjteménye

Title: “Clevelandben még élnek magyarok? Visszaemlékezések gyűjteménye”
Publisher: Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble
Place of Publication: Cleveland, OH
Year of Publication: 2008
Editor: Endre Szentkiralyi

Teenaged members of Cleveland’s Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble ( interviewed senior citizens from the Cleveland area’s 14 Hungarian churches over the course of the last 5 years. These stories of coming to America, of being born in the old Buckeye Road neighborhood, of weddings, of Christmas and Easter traditions, of harvest festivals, were all transcribed and edited into a paperback book of 176 pages, with over 60 older and newer photos of life in Cleveland’s Hungarian ethnic community. The book is all in Hungarian, and includes background information about the group, as well as an introduction written by an professional ethnographic scholar from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.

A clevelandi magyar cserkész Regős Csoport tagjai elmentek Cleveland környéke 14 magyar templomához, s ott elbeszélgettek idősebb magyarokkal.  Ennek az öt éven keresztül végzett néprajzi gyűjtésnek az anyagát szerkesztették könyvbe, régebbi és modern fényképekkel kiegészítve. Húsvéti, karácsonyi, és esküvői szokások, a régi Buckeye negyedről szóló elbeszélések, Amerikába jövetelek, szüreti mulatságok – több generációs, változatos és színes magyar közösségi életet mutat be a könyv, valamint a huszadik század nagyobb történelmi eseményeit az átlagember szemszögéből nézvén.
“…könyvünkkel szüleink és nagyszüleink múltjáról szeretnénk megemlékezni. Azokat az értékeket és hagyományokat kívánjuk feltárni, amelyeket a Kárpát-medencéből hoztak magukkal, valamint azokat, amelyeket itt, Amerikában nekünk továbbadtak, hiszen ezeket Cleveland magyarjai már több évtizeden keresztül, esetenként majdnem egy évszázada őriznek…”
(176 oldal; ára $12)

Beszédből világ 

For a long time, leaders of Hungarian groups in the United States have urged that the responsible parties in Hungary undertake a scientific analysis of the current social and demographic conditions of Hungarian-Americans, their organizations, the way the organizations function, and the size and composition of their membership. 
After several years of discussions, the Government decided to fund the task of undertaking a comprehensive survey of Hungarian-American organizations in 2005.  The task was assigned to the Teleki László Institute to carry out the planned research project, primarily based on the Institute’s background and expertise in carrying out similar sociological studies on Hungarian minorities in Central Europe.
The book was edited by Attila Z. Papp and was published by the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs in August 2008. The authors of the book are: Gábor Czoch, János Márton, Szilvia Németh, Levente Pakot and Attila Z. Papp. The book is written in Hungarian, but it includes an introduction and a summary in English language. 
You can download the book here.

Emigránsok küldetésben

 Emigránsok küldetésben (Immigrants with a mission) – written and edited by Prof. Károly Nagy – is a case study of forty years of volunteer mission by the members of an American Hungarian community in New Jersey, referred to as “one of the most significant Hungarian intellectual workshops of the West” by Prof. György Szépe of Pécs University. Émigré university students of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution founded the Hungarian Alumni Association in 1960 at Rutgers University in NJ. The Association maintained a school and an oral history program, and published ten books. Its lecture series provided a forum for more than 260 outstanding Hungarian writers, scientists and artists from Hungary and from the other countries of the Carpathian Basin. In addition to detailed historic accounts, the richly illustrated volume contains facsimiles of a large number of archival documents including correspondence with government and other officials, newspaper articles and recently declassified secret reports of the Hungarian political police revealing how the communist officials attempted to spy on, to impede and to obstruct the Association`s activities.


The Legacy of the 1956 Revolution, Five Participants Forty Years Later 
By Andrew P. Fodor, János Horváth, Béla K. Király, Károly Nagy, and László Papp. Edited by our Coalition members Károly Nagy and Péter Pastor. Published by the Hungarian Alumni Association, 1996. Price per copy: $8.00. To order, please write to the Hungarian Alumni Association, P.O. Box 174, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.

The Fall of the Red Star

By our Coalition member Helen Szablya and Peggy King Anderson, has been awarded first prize by both the Washington Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Copies of this historical novel, written for young adults about the 1956 Revolution, can be ordered from the Coalition’s Washington office.

Treasury of Hungarian Love Poems, Quotations and Proverbs 
In English and Hungarian, edited and translated by our Coalition member Dr. Katherine Gyékényesi Gatto. Original side-by-side with its English translation, this beautiful collection of poems, quotations and proverbs comes from the pens of Hungary’s greatest writers. Filled with romantic imagery, they provide a glimpse into Hungarian culture and its approach to affairs of the heart. Poets include Bálint Balassi, Sándor Petõfi, Mihály Vörösmarty, Pál Gyulai, Margit Kaffka, Endre Ady, Miklós Radnóti, Gyula Illyés, and Sándor Weores, among others. You can obtain this book from the following website:  Our information office ran out of copies of this lovely little book.