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Peter Pastor | Memory Project

Peter Pastor

Interview by Andrea Lauer Rice & Réka Pigniczky


Peter Pastor, 1956er

Peter Pastor was born on March 4, 1942 in Budapest. He fled Hungary after the revolution of 1956 because he was afraid that he would be expelled from high school for taking part in the demonstrations and other events that took place during the revolution. His father was an office worker in acquisitions and was involved in the nationalization of private properties and his mother managed a textile store in Budapest. Peter and his twin brother, both studying at technical schools in the city, decided that they're future would be safest and most fulfilling if they left the country, and they convinced their parents to all leave together.
They had a harrowing escape to Austria via Sopron in early December and spent a few weeks in a refugee camp before arriving to Brooklyn in early January 1957. They spent just 4 days in Camp Kilmer because his mother's relatives were waiting to sponsor them. Peter finished high school in the U.S. and began work as a plumbing estimator. He realized that he had always wanted to become a historian.

Peter Pastor is professor emeritus of history at Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ. He received his BA from the City College of CUNY and his PhD from New York University. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of seven books. His most recent co-edited volume is Essays on World War I (2012). He is also the author of more than forty articles focusing on Hungarian-Russian relations, or on twentieth century Hungarian history. He is also the president of the Center for Hungarian Studies and Publications, Inc., a non-profit corporation specializing on publishing the works of Hungarian historians in English. He is a frequent visitor to Hungary and is on the faculty of the Doctoral Program in History of Eszterházy Károly College in Eger, Hungary, as an invited foreign instructor. In 2003 he received the Commander’s Cross of the Hungarian Republic (a Magyar Köztársasági Érdemrend Középkeresztje) for exceptional contributions to the furthering of Hungarian-American cultural ties.

Interview conducted by Andrea Lauer Rice and Réka Pigniczky in College Park, MD, in 2017.

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