Letters to the Editor: Americans can be kind to refugees. I saw that after fleeing Hungary in the 1950s

People in hats and coats wait in the cold.
Refugees from Ukraine wait for a bus in Medyka, Poland, after crossing the border March 5.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As with op-ed article writer Steven Foldes, Russia’s attack on Ukraine evokes for me memories from my childhood in Hungary. I was 8 years old when Soviet tanks rumbled down the streets in front of my home in Budapest to suppress the 1956 anti-communist uprising.

My family also escaped, spent time in refugee camps and eventually arrived in Los Angeles. From there, my story diverges from that of Foldes in a very crucial way.

Rather than feeling completely alone, I was warmly welcomed at Clover Avenue Elementary School in West Los Angeles. On my first day, the teacher spoke to the other children about the Hungarian Revolution and the brave Hungarian boys who hurled Molotov cocktails at enemy tanks. My classmates wanted to get to know me, and several went out of their way to introduce me to American ways.


I do not recall my rudimentary English being ridiculed. Instead, my classmates helped me by explaining the meaning of words I didn’t know.

With gratitude to them and the many others who were kind when I first arrived in this country, I feel that the welcoming attitude of many Americans toward refugees deserves to be known.

Andrew Kadar, Beverly Hills


To the editor: I too bore witness to the brutal forces of the Soviet Union as a 7-year-old standing at the train station in our little town in Hungary.

The Russian soldiers were screaming and hitting and pushing us with their bayoneted rifles onto a train to an unknown place. In an instant we lost everything that generations of our family had built up. The future was empty.

The hopelessness and confusion seen on the faces of the Ukrainian children now brings back these memories daily. At 82 years old, I continue to be haunted by the despair.

Josef Wida, Laguna Woods