These Famous People Were Refugees

The ongoing refugee situation in Syria has become a topic of hot debate across the globe. While many are of the opinion that these homeless people should be accepted with open arms, others ponder about the threat they may pose. A survey conducted by the fortune magazine in 1938, revealed that two-thirds of the American population was against admitting refugees from countries like Germany and Austria.

With the recent bombings in Paris, many have expressed their concerns over militants infiltrating the countries by posing as refugees. At the same time it is quite possible, that there are many who earnestly want to escape the chaos and lead a normal life. In retrospect, we can find that many famous people were refugees at one point of time. Read on to find out some interesting facts about the lives of these eight celebrities and eminent personalities.


Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam is a famous English rap artist who dons the stage name M.I.A. When civil war ravaged Sri Lanka, M.I.A. who was barely 9 then left the country and migrated to London with her mother. They were housed as refugees in the city and finally England became her home.

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Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist, who founded psychoanalysis, was adamant about not leaving Vienna despite the growing threat from Nazi occupation and rise in anti-Semitism. However, when her daughter was detained and interrogated by the Gestapo, Sigmund decided to leave Austria and made the move to London.

Gloria Estefan

The seven time Grammy award winning singer Gloria Estefan was originally a Cuban resident, where her father was employed in the army. However, with Fidel Castro and gang revolting against the Cuban government, the situation turned chaotic and the family fled to Miami, United States.

Albert Einstein

In the early 1930s Nazi Germany was becoming more and more intolerant towards Jews. The Third Reich had issued a decree which prohibited Jews from occupying any official positions. Even the eminent physicist Albert Einstein who propounded the revolutionary theory of relativity was not spared. His works were burned and his property was vandalized. It was then that Albert Einstein decided to renounce his German citizenship and sought refuge in the United States of America.

Henry Kissinger

This Nobel Prize winning American political scientist is a Jew and was born in Germany. However while Kissinger was in his youth, the Nazi persecution of Jews became more profound and his family fled to London, from where they moved to New York.

Anne Frank

With the threat of persecution looming over the head of Jews, the Franks fled to Amsterdam from where the family wanted to immigrate to USA. They were however forced to go into hiding as their visa application was rejected. It was in hiding that Anne Frank penned a journal of the trying times, which was published posthumously as ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’.

Karl Marx

The radical ideas of this great philosopher and sociologist did not go down well with the ruling forces of the day. This led to his expulsion from the countries of Germany, France and Belgium. He finally took refuge in the city of London, where he spent the remainder of his life.

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright’s family had to move from Czechoslovakia when she was barely a year old. Her father’s political affiliation to Edvard Benes, a Czech democrat, posed a grave threat to the family as the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia. The family returned to the country after the Nazis conceded defeat in the WWII. But, as fate would have it they were forced into exile again as the Communist party rose to power. The Albrights emigrated to the United States this time, where Madeleine would go on to become the first ever woman Secretary of the State.