I was watching the BBC last night, seeing video of bedraggled families being escorted under guard from a Budapest train they’d been told was heading to the Austrian border, and couldn’t help flashing back to stories my Dad tells of having almost the same experience.
My father and his family were some of the 200,000 people who escaped on foot through mid-Winter snow across the border from Hungary to Austria after the revolution of 1956. The big difference is that, literally within days, a pragmatic and humane response had been organized to accommodate them, and within weeks they were airlifted out of Europe to all parts of the world; in the case of my Dad’s family, to New Zealand, a country they hadn’t even heard of before escaping to Austria. And that’s how I came to be.
According to the article above, the entire response was initiated and organized by a very few people in positions of authority in Austria making it up as they went, but today we can’t seem to organize a similar response using this already-existing template anywhere in Europe. What have we forgotten?