Bard College Archives & Special Collections
Hungary '56 Reunion

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HUNGARY '56 REUNION & CONFERENCE - Hungary '56 Reunion and Conference was a three day event held at Bard in February 2007. This conference commemorated the passage of the 50 years since more than 300 Hungarian Freedom Fighters arrived at Bard for an intensive language and cultural orientation designed to prepare them for life in the United States. It also reunited many of the original participants, and honored their contributions to this country.

At the conclusion of the original Hungarian Student Orientation, the participants thanked the College with a torchlight procession to the homes of the president, the director and staff members. Here, the occasion is revisited as Laszlo Bito lights torches and leads the group in singing the Hungarian National Anthem.

Following the re-enacted torchlight procession on Main Campus, President Botstein unveils and reads the scroll now hanging in Ludlow Hall. It was originally presented to President James Case and Prof. William Frauenfelder at the conclusion of the first torchlight procession, February 27, 1957.

We three hundred freedom-loving Hungarian student who have become refugees and have found generous hospitality at Bard College from December 22, 1956 until February 25, 1957, wish to express our most sincere appreciation for the tremendous efforts exerted by the Bard community in order to orient themselves to us Hungarian students; furthermore, for learning our language, and for having shown an understanding for us beyond the call of duty during the entire Hungarian Student Orientation program.

In recognition thereof, and acting by the authority vested in us by ourselves, we confer the title of HONORARY HUNGARIAN RECTOR MAGNIFICUS on President James H. Case, Jr. and on Director William Frauenfelder. Furthermore, the title of HONORARY HUNGARIAN COLLEGE DEAN on Athletic Director William M. Asip and on Professor Robert Koblitz. Last but not least we confer the title of HONORARY HUNGARIAN COLLEGE PROFESSOR on all Bard teachers and instructors who thought that they could teach us the English Language. February 27, 1957.

In this excerpted video clip, Esther Jankovics remembers Bard as “a home;” a place that provided the tools necessary for her to “start the journey, again,” and begin carving a new life for herself in the United States. Esther went on to earn advanced degrees, becoming a German language instructor and later, a librarian.

Bela Liptak recounts an afternoon of brave individual acts of student protest that triggered what would become the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.  In the process of registering these events, he explains that he "woke up," and himself became a revolutionary.