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Prominent Refugees | Refugees who have made a difference

Refugees or former refugees who have achieved special status within a community due to their achievements, or because they have overcome hardship to build a new life.

This gallery features a selection of refugees who have made a difference and left a mark in the world. The list includes people, dead and living, in all walks of life. Some, like writer Milan Kundera, composer Bela Bartok, physicist Albert Einstein and actress-singer Marlene Dietrich are world famous, others have shared their gifts locally. The UN refugee agency salutes all of them for showing the potential of refugees around the world.

Allende, Isabel

“Often I had no alternative but to work hard in order to survive and protect my family. I was a political exile and then an immigrant. That makes one strong.”

Arendt, Hannah

Philosopher Hannah Arendt, the author of “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and “The Banality of Evil”, was forced to flee Nazi Germany before World War II.

Bartók, Béla

Hungarian composer Bela Bartók is known as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century for creating an original modern music style combined with folk elements.

Brodsky, Joseph

Brodsky wrote nine volumes of poetry, several collections of essays and was co-founder of the American Poetry and Literacy project.

Capa, Robert

Photojournalist Robert Capa became known as one of the greatest war photographers of the 20th century and founder of the world-famous photo agency, Magnum.

Chopin, Frédéric

Passionate, tragic, melancholic and patriotic, the great 19th-century composer Frédéric Chopin dreamed of freedom for his homeland, Poland.

Dietrich, Marlene

Actress and singer Marlene Dietrich was one of the most prominent political refugees of her generation, speaking out against Hitler and singing for the US troops in World War II.

Einstein, Albert

We’ve all heard of Albert Einstein and his scientific theories. Yet few of us know of his days as a refugee, when his books were thrown into Hitler’s bonfires.

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