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  • Writer's pictureMagdalena Gołębiewska

Migrants thrive in their "new homes"

This picture inspired me to touch the subject again. What do you see there? Family of Turkish immigrants who moved to Germany to seek a better life.

It is not the most beautiful picture, but well, given that it was taken 50 years ago it actually doesn't matter. Now.. look at the kid in a yellow T-shirt and guess what the boy is doing now!

He and his wife led the development of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine.

It is not uncommon that immigrants are achieving extraordinary things in their "new homes". Some examples? Well: Henry Kissinger, Nikola Tesla, Rupert Murdoch, Joseph Pulitzer, Sergey Brin (Google), Freddie Mercury, Michael Marks (Marks&Spencer - yes, that iconic UK brand was started by Russian refuge), Madeleine Albright ... and hundreds of thousands more!

The immigrant feels insecure, a little edgy, has to work harder to get the same results, is never quite in their comfort zone. And seems, that this helps with achieving greatness :D

If we start googling the subject, we will find a lot of famous refugees/migrants, who did great things in their "new countries". And it is not only about some individuals, generally, migration helps economies!

The study published in Science Advances on 20 June 2018 finds that soon after a spike in migration, the overall strength and sustainability of the country’s economy improves and unemployment rates drop. Its conclusions contradict the idea that refugees place an excessive financial burden on a country by sucking up public resources.

“Some people say they would like to welcome refugees, but that we cannot afford it,”

says Hippolyte d’Albis, an economist at the Paris School of Economics, CNRS, who led the work.

“But we have shown that historically it has not been a cost, and that if you do not welcome immigrants, the economy might be worse off.”

Details of the study you can find here.

To sum up - the available evidence suggests that immigration leads to more innovation, a better educated workforce, greater occupational specialization, better matching of skills with jobs, and higher overall economic productivity. Immigration also has a net positive effect on combined federal, state, and local budgets. Time to look around and not only welcome migrants, time to actively invite them! End of the day - we are all one, and freedom of movement should be a basic human right (at least in my opinion, might be biased since I am a migrant myself :))

Some examples of famous migrants below (source: Wikipedia). I skipped TV, film, music - in other case I would have to write a book :D


  1. Lord Maurice Saatchi and Charles Saatchi - UK citizens and founders of Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency. Their family fled persecution in Iraq for Britain in 1947.


  1. Eva Jiřičná - British artist and architect, designed the Faith Zone in the Millennium Dome. Born in Czechoslovakia and took refuge in the UK after the Prague Spring in 1968.

  2. Daniel Marot - British architect best known for Hampton Court Palace. Born in France, he sought refuge in the UK in 1685 after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

  3. Richard Rogers - British-Italian architect best known for the Centre Pompidou and the Millennium Dome. Fled Trieste in 1939 and took refuge in the UK.


  1. Marc Chagall - Jewish-Russian painter. Escaped Bolshevism for asylum in France in 1922. Fled France between 1941-48 to reside in the USA.

  2. Jacob Epstein - British modern sculptor. Child of Polish-Jewish refugees.

  3. Lucian Freud - British figurative painter. Born in 1922 in Germany (grandson of Sigmund Freud); came to England in 1933 as refugee from Nazism.

  4. Peter Carl Fabergé - Russian jeweller for Russian Imperial Court, fled Russian Revolution for Switzerland in 1917

  5. Mona Hatoum - British-Palestinian sculptor, performance and installation artist; Palestinian refugee born in Lebanon, forced into exile in London in 1975 when war broke out in Lebanon.

  6. Josine Ianco-Starrels - Los Angeles curator and museum director. Born in Romania, her family escaped to British (or Mandatory) Palestine in 1941.

  7. Marcel Janco - Romanian artist and architect, best known as the co-founder of Dadaism. Fled persecution in Romania for British (or Mandatory) Palestine in 1941.

  8. Anish Kapoor - British-Indian sculptor. His mother's family was Iraqi-Jewish and took refuge in India in 1920 after the Iraqi revolt.

  9. Piet Mondrian - Dutch painter, and contributor to De Stijl. World War II refugee who settled in New York City in 1940.

  10. Camille Pissarro - Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter, took refuge in London from France during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871

  11. Alfred Wolmark - British Post-Impressionist painter and decorative artist; Polish-Jewish refugee whose family came to the UK in 1883


  1. Sir Montague Burton - UK citizen, founded the UK clothing business Burton retail in 1903. Jewish refugee from Lithuania.

  2. Sir John Houblon - UK citizen, first Governor of the Bank of England. Child of Huguenot refugees.

  3. Manubhai Madhvani - Ugandan businessman, son of Muljibhai Madhvani and head of the Madhvani Group. Expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972, returned in 1982.

  4. Michael Marks - UK citizen, one of the founders of Marks & Spencer. He was a Polish-Jewish refugee from Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire) who fled to the UK in 1882.

  5. Aristotle Onassis - Greek billionaire shipping tycoon. Left Smyrna, Turkey for Greece after the Great Fire of Smyrna in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish war.

  6. Thomas Peterffy - Developed electronic trading of securities. Hungarian refugee who arrived in the U.S. in 1965.

  7. de Portal - founder of British paper firm Portal, which for 270 years (until 1995) held the only license to print British money. Huguenot refugee who arrived in the UK in 1685.

  8. Sieng van Tran - UK citizen, founder of the educational website Vietnamese refugee whose family were given refuge in the UK in 1981.

  9. George Weidenfeld - UK citizen; publisher, philanthropist and newspaper columnist. Jewish-Austrian refugee, fled Nazi annexation of Austria in 1938 and found refuge in the UK.

Fashion and design

  1. Sir Alec Issigonis - British car designer, best known for designing the Mini. His family was evacuated from Smyrna following the end of the Greco-Turkish war.

  2. Tanya Sarne - British fashion designer and creator of the Ghost label. Her parents were refugees (her mother was Romanian, her father French-Jewish who met in London at the end of WWII.

  3. Alek Wek - British supermodel. She fled Wau for Khartoum, Sudan to escape the Second Sudanese Civil War, then made her way to the UK with her family.


  1. Lakshmishankar Pathak - UK citizen and founder of Patak's. Fled Kenya for the UK during the Mau Mau uprising.

  2. Rashmi Thakrar - UK citizen and founder of Tilda Rice Company. Fled Uganda for UK during the Expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972.


  1. Madeleine Albright - Former U.S. Secretary Of State. She and her family fled Czechoslovakia in 1948 and came to the USA as refugees. Watch the interview with her run by Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal - great discussion!

  2. Hannah Arendt - Jewish-American author and political theorist. Born in Germany, in 1933 she fled persecution by the Nazis for Czechoslovakia and then Geneva, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen of the USA in 1950.

  3. Adrienne Clarkson - Canadian journalist and 26th Governor General of Canada. Her parents fled Hong Kong with her in 1941 and found refuge in Canada.

  4. Michaëlle Jean - Canadian journalist and 27th Governor General of Canada. Her father fled Haiti's Duvalier regime in 1967, she and the rest of their family arrived in Canada in 1968.

  5. Henry Kissinger - American diplomat and political scientist who fled Germany with his family in 1938.

  6. Karl Marx - German philosopher, writer and journalist best known for "inventing" the political concept of Communism. He spent much of his adult life in exile as a result of his political views, but became truly stateless in 1848 when he gave up his Prussian citizenship, and was expelled from France. He remained stateless till the end of his life.

  7. Maryam Monsef - Canadian politician. In 2015 she became Minister For Democratic Institutions. She and her family fled the Afghan Civil War in 1996, resettling in Canada.

  8. Ilhan Omar - Somali-American politician. Born in Somalia, her family fled the civil war there, and spent four years in a refugee camp. They immigrated to the United States. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 2018.

  9. Edward Snowden - American computer security specialist, leaked information about U.S. National Security data collection, fled U.S. and received asylum in Russia.

  10. Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake (Sitting Bull) - Hunkpapa Lakota holy man who led his people as a tribal chief during years of resistance to United States government policies. Took refuge with his followers in Canada in 1877 for four years, where they petitioned the Canadian government for land and food. The Canadian government refused their request, and ultimately Sitting Bull and his people were forced to return to the United States.

  11. Clara Zetkin - key leader in German Communist movement, chiefly remembered for establishing March 8 as International Women's Day; fled Nazi Germany in 1932 and took refuge in the Soviet Union.

Psychology and philosophy

  1. Michael Balint - UK citizen, Jewish-Hungarian psychoanalyst, best known as a proponent of Object relations theory. Fled persecution by Nazis for the UK in 1939.

  2. Sigmund Freud - Jewish-Austrian neurologist, best known as the founder of psychoanalysis. Fled persecution by the Nazis in Austria in June 1938, took refuge in the UK.

  3. Anna Freud - daughter of Sigmund, also a psychoanalyst. Fled persecution by the Nazis in Austria in June 1938, took refuge in the UK.

  4. Ernest Gellner - UK citizen, Czech-Jewish philosopher and social anthropologist. Came to England in 1939 after the German occupation of Prague.

  5. Stephan Korner - UK citizen, Czech-Jewish philosopher. Came to England in 1939 after German occupation of Czechoslovakia.

  6. Claude Lévi-Strauss - French-Jewish anthropologist and ethnologist. Stripped of his citizenship in 1940 under the Vichy anti-semitic laws for his Jewish ancestry, Levi-Strauss took refuge in the USA until 1948, when he returned to France.

  7. Karl Popper - Austrian-Jewish philosopher; fled from rise of Nazism in Austria to New Zealand in 1937.

  8. Dr. Ruth Westheimer - American psychologist and sex expert who fled Nazi Germany as a child, as part of the Kindertransport. Both her parents were killed at Auschwitz.


  1. Jesus and the Holy Family, according to Matthew's gospel account of their flight to Egypt due to Herod's threat :) - I know a bit crazy, but well, meets the criteria :)

  2. Pope Gregory the Great was driven from Rome in 550 as a child with his family, along with most of the remaining population of the city by King Totila, during the Gothic war

  3. Theodore of Tarsus fled his home for Constantinople during either the Persian or Arab invasions of the Eastern Byzantine Empire in the 7th century

  4. Adrian of Canterbury fled from North Africa to Italy during the Muslim invasions of North Africa in the 640s

  5. Sophronius of Jerusalem fled during the Persian-Byzantine war of the early 7th-century, but returned later

  6. Maximus the Confessor fled from the vicinity of Constantinople for Crete and later to Carthage around the time of the Persian siege of Constantinople during the Persian-Byzantine war

  7. Isaac Abravanel - rabbi and politician - fled from Portugal to Spain

  8. Rabbi Leo Baeck - Reform rabbi and holocaust survivor

  9. Rabbi Hugo Gryn - Reform rabbi and holocaust survivor

  10. Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama) - a refugee, fled from Tibet Autonomous Region, China during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

  11. Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits - Chief rabbi of Great Britain - fled from the Nazis to Britain

  12. Paul Kahle - Christian Hebraist - fled from the Nazis to Britain

  13. Mullah Krekar - Iraqi Kurdish mullah, lives in Norway

  14. Vincent Nguyen - Canadian, Auxiliary Catholic Bishop of Toronto. Fled Vietnam in 1983 and settled in Canada.

  15. Dieter F. Uchtdorf - First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refugee from Czechoslovakia and subsequently from East Germany

Science and technology

  1. Sergey Brin - Co-founder of Google - Russian-Jewish refugee

  2. Gustav Victor Rudolf Born - pharmacologist - German-Jewish refugee

  3. Max Born - Nobel Prize for physics - German-Jewish refugee

  4. Edith Bulbring - pharmacologist - German-Jewish refugee

  5. Constantin Carathéodory- Greek mathematician who spent most of his professional career in Germany. Taught in Turkey until the 1922 Great Fire of Smyrna, when he fled with books he had saved from the university's library to Athens.

  6. Carl Djerassi - the inventor of the first contraceptive pill. He is an Austrian refugee

  7. John Dollond - inventor of the achromatic lens. He founded Dollond and Aitchison; descended from Huguenot refugees

  8. Albert Einstein - Nobel Prize-winning physicist (1921) for his theory of relativity; German-Jewish refugee who escaped Nazi Germany by taking a post at Princeton in 1938.

  9. Enrico Fermi - Nobel Prize-winning physicist (1938) for his work on nuclear reactions; member of the Manhattan Project; moved with his family to America in 1938 to escape Italy's anti-semitic laws.

  10. Robert Fano - physicist - Italian-Jewish refugee

  11. Ugo Fano - physicist - Italian-Jewish refugee

  12. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen - a Romanian American progenitor and paradigm founder in economics, whose work was seminal in establishing ecological economics - fled when the communists took power in Romania in 1948.

  13. Alexander Grothendieck - mathematician - German-Jewish refugee

  14. Erik Jorpes – Finnish biochemist who fled to Sweden after the Finnish Civil War.

  15. Bernard Katz - Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist - German-Jewish refugee

  16. Walter Kohn - theoretical physicist who won the Nobel Prize (1998) in Chemistry for Density-Functional Theory; left Austria for England via Kindertransport

  17. Sir Hans Krebs - Nobel Prize-winning scientist - German-Jewish refugee

  18. Sir John Krebs - zoologist - son of Sir Hans Krebs

  19. Liviu Librescu, physicist; fled from Romania to Israel

  20. Lord (Claus) Moser - British professor of statistics and head of the Government Statistical Service - Austrian-Jewish refugee

  21. Charles Proteus Steinmetz - mathematics and electrical engineering - German-Polish refugee. he identified and explained, through a mathematical equation that later became known as the Law of Hysterisis, or Steinmetz’s Law, phenomena governing power losses, leading to breakthroughs in both alternating- and direct-current electrical systems.

  22. Dame Stephanie Shirley - British information technology pioneer and philanthropist, best known for founding Xansa. Arrived in the UK in 1938 as an unaccompanied child refugee from Germany as part of the Kindertransport.

  23. Maria Curie Skłodowska - was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. Born in Warsaw, left Poland to learn and continue research with her husband. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.


  1. Alexander Alekhine - chess world champion, who moved from communist Russia to France

  2. Ossip Bernstein - chess grandmaster, who escape from Communistic Ukraine to France

  3. Efim Bogoljubow - chess grandmaster, who moved from the Soviet Union to Germany

  4. Fedor Bohatirchuk - chess grandmaster, who moved from Ukraine to Canada

  5. Joel Casamayor - former Lightweight Champion in Boxing, fled from Cuba to U.S.

  6. Luol Deng - Chicago Bulls basketball player and NBA All-Star. Moved from Sudan to Great Britain

  7. Mebrahtom Keflezighi - Olympic marathon silver medallist, Eritrean refugee to U.S. (via Italy)

  8. Lomana Tresor LuaLua - a striker/winger who plays for Blackpool, he migrated from Kinshansa, DR Congo to the U.K.

  9. Fabrice Muamba - Congolese refugee in the United Kingdom, became a football player for Bolton

  10. Ashot Nadanian - chess player, who moved from Azerbaijan to Armenia

  11. Mario Stanic - former footballer with Chelsea. He used to play for Sarajevo F.C. who were targeted during the Bosnian War

  12. Christopher Wreh - former Arsenal footballer and Liberian refugee

  13. Yusra Mardini - Syrian swimmer who was a member of the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team during the 2016 Summer Olympics, she moved from Syria to Germany

Writing and publishing

  1. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - journalist and author, and a Ugandan refugee

  2. Isabel Allende - author of The House of Spirits. She is a Chilean refugee who fled after receiving death threats following the overthrow of her father's cousin, Salvador Allende

  3. Reinaldo Arenas - Cuban novelist. Became a refugee in the USA after years of persecution for his sexuality and political ideas. His autobiography, Before Night Falls, was on the New York Times list of the ten best books of the year 1993 and was made into a film in 2000

  4. Bertolt Brecht - German playwright, refugee from the Nazis during World War II

  5. Elias Canetti - a Bulgarian refugee, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981

  6. Joseph Conrad - author of Heart of Darkness and a refugee.

  7. Anne Frank - German-Jewish teen who fled with her family to the Netherlands during WWII. Her book The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most widely known and poignant accounts of the refugee experience.

  8. Karen Gershon - as a child she fled from Nazi Germany to Great Britain

  9. Michael Hamburger - as a child he fled from Nazi Germany to London

  10. Lord Paul Hamlyn CBE - a Jewish refugee from Germany. He was the founder of Octopus Publishing Group

  11. Victor Hugo - author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Due to his political beliefs, he was forced to flee France several times

  12. Guillermo Cabrera Infante - Cuban writer and journalist. Became a refugee in the UK. Honoured with the Cervantes Prize in 1997

  13. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - novelist and film screenwriter - German-Jewish refugee

  14. Ismail Kadare - Albanian novelist and poet. Claimed political asylum in France in 1990.

  15. Judith Kerr - children's writer - German-Jewish refugee

  16. Rigoberta Menchú - an author and Guatemalan refugee. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992

  17. Thomas Mann - winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature. He moved from Germany to Switzerland and from there to the USA

  18. Vladimir Nabokov - Russian author and lepidopterist. Escaped to Europe from the Russian Civil War and then to the United States from the advance of Nazi Germany

  19. Ursula Owen - editor of Index on Censorship. She was a German refugee as a baby

  20. Felix Salten - author of Bambi - Hungarian-born Jewish refugee from Nazis

  21. Joe Schlesinger - Austrian-born Canadian television journalist and author was a Jewish refugee. In 1938, he was sent to England from Czechoslovakia to escape the Nazis as part of the Kindertransport that rescued 669 Jewish children. His parents, who couldn't escape with him, were later killed in the Holocaust.

  22. Shyam Selvadurai - Canadian novelist, refugee from Sri Lanka as a teenager

  23. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - Russian writer, winner of 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature. Deported from the USSR in 1974 as a result of his criticism of the Soviet system, returned to Russia from the USA in 1994 after the dissolution of the Soviet System.

  24. Samuel Ullman - German-born poet

  25. Loung Ung - a survivor of the Killing Fields of Cambodia, is an activist and author of the books, First They Killed My Father and Lucky Child

Would you add anyone to the list?

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