Amidst the political turmoil in the Middle Eastern region, accepting refugees who look for an opportunity to survive in foreign soil has become a debated topic in the West. The situation is aggravated by unfortunate events like the attacks in Paris that claimed hundreds of civilian lives, and when refugees from across the border were blamed for the attack. A sense of fear that refugees could be trouble-makers is completely reasonable. But in history, there have been a lot of refugees who have made a difference through their hard work, intelligence and justified ideologies. A list of 6 such famous refugees is presented below:
Victor HugoHe is not only a widely acclaimed French poet but also a political activist whose fight against the death penalty is renowned globally. He also advocated universal suffrage, free education, ending poverty and, freedom of the press. He was elected to the Parliament in 1848 as a conservative. Hr called Napoleon III a traitor of France when the Emperor decided to take power against the parliament’s consent.
He had to flee to Brussels, followed by Jersey a British possession in France and finally to Guernsey, another possession of the Crown in the English Channel, where he spent 15 years of his life with his family from 1855 to 1870. He had to leave Jersey for criticizing the Queen in one of the newspapers.
While in exile he wrote the most acclaimed work of his life Les Misérables and other political pamphlets against Napoleon III. Even though the Emperor offered him amnesty in 1859, Hugo denied it as it would prevent him from criticizing the ruler. Only after the fall of the Emperor, he returned to France in 1870. As a writer, he has struggled for social justice and liberty.
Henry KissingerThe Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1973 for his efforts during Vietnam War, who was also President Nixon’s secretary of state, was born in Germany during which anti-Semitism was at its peak, after the humiliating defeat in World War I. He was a soccer fan and was beaten up by the stadium guards for trying to attend matches, as Jews were banned from attending any sporting events. He wanted to join gymnasium at a time, schools had stopped accepting Jews.
When he was 15, his family moved to New York City. On arrival, he worked in a shaving brush factory to support his family with the income. In 1943, as an American citizen, he joined the army to fight in the World War II. On returning from the army, he decided to pursue an academic career with a specialization in political history. After graduating from Harvard, he completed his Ph.D. there as well. His role in the ending of Vietnam War was so instrumental, so were his foreign policy achievements.
Friedrich NietzscheEven though cited as a German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Prussia, when Germany was yet to be unified. He applied for the cancellation of his Prussian citizenship when he received a teaching job as a professor of classical philology in the University of Basel, Switzerland. His request for the annulment of citizenship was accepted in 1869. After that, he didn’t receive citizenship from any country but remained stateless throughout his life. He lived in his pension from the University and travelled to many places so that the climate is conducive to his health, as he remained sick mostly.
He often has – especially towards the end of his life- noted that his family origins are Polish. He remained as an independent philosopher and died of a mental breakdown in 1900. His philosophy is still considered to be very controversial and revolutionary. His criticism of Christianity and existence and his concept of death of God were outrageously offbeat. His philosophy and his life still remain subjects of debate.
Karl MarxMarx had to leave Belgium as he published The Communist Manifesto along with his lifelong friend Friedrich Engels in 1848. He moved on to France, from where he was again expelled for his support of socialism. His native land of Prussia didn’t accept him either. So he had to move to London, where he wrote the first volume of his Das Kapital was published in 1867. Britain didn’t offer him citizenship, yet he remained there until his death. The remaining two volumes of Das Kapital was published after his death by his friend Engels.
He died of pleurisy in 1883 and his tomb in carries his most famous words, ‘Workers of all lands, unite’.
Sigmund FreudFreud, the Father of Psychoanalysis, became a refugee towards the end of his life when the Nazi Germany attacked Austria demanding its unification. He had spent 79 years of his life in Austria. Freud’s books were burned by the Nazis. Freud was resilient to stay in Austria even after its annexation with Germany. But, in 1938, he decided to leave to Britain when his daughter Anna Freud was detained by the Nazis and interrogated.
His departure to London became so much complicated due to legal and financial procedures involved. With the help of his one of his wealthy followers in France, Freud managed to leave Austria and seek exile in Britain. He spent a year in Britain before he died of cancer in 1939.
In a poll named Britain Thinks conducted during the refugee week in 2013, Sigmund Freud emerged as the clear winner among the refugees that have contributed much to Britain, gathering more than 50% of the votes.
In 1933, while returning from the United States Albert Einstein came to know that he could no longer return to Germany as Adolf Hitler has risen to power. Moreover, the Nazi government has banned Jews from teaching in universities. Along with Freud’s books burned down, Einstein’s works also became the targets of the Nazis. The regime also announced a bounty of $5000 for his head.
He went to Belgium with his wife and found that his home was raided by the Nazis. In Belgium, he went to the German consulate to submit his passport and annul his citizenship. He went to London for a short period of stay for six weeks, where his cottage was guarded by two assistants. He had a lot of offers from universities worldwide including Oxford; he decided to become a citizen of the United States in 1935.
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