Béla Angyal:
Electoral Attitude of the Hungarian Community in Czechoslovakia between the Two World Wars

The social sciences still owe a profound introduction and analysis of the electoral attitude of the Hungarian community in Czechoslovakia between the two World Wars and of the electoral results of the Hungarian civic parties operating in Czechoslovakia. There were a number of elections during the twenty years of Czechoslovak civic democracy and in most cases the historians and analysts introduced the achieved results of parties, their supporting power, and their role in the country’s political life on the basis of several political aspects.

In his historical and statistical work Angyal outlines the changing attitude of the Hungarian community in Czechoslovakia and the electoral results of Hungarian political parties. Since the Hungarian parties closely co-operated with the Party of Carpathian Germans (Szepesi Német Párt) and/or they strove to address the German minority during the elections, he deals with the electoral results of territories where the German minority lived. He attempted to introduce the supporting power of certain parties in some of the regions of the country and in the different layers of the society. He also examined in what proportion the members of the Hungarian minority vote for the Hungarian civic parties and what other parties did they support and what was the reason for this.

The author outlined the political institution of the first Czechoslovak Republic that were characteristic of big power of political parties and frequent governmental changes. In many cases untimely elections were provided, but these elections took place within legal and organised democracy.

He deals with social statistical characteristics of Hungarian and German communities in Slovakia and Sub-Carpathia in detail. Provincial and agricultural population was mainly characteristic for the Hungarian minority that gradually impoverished and lost its intellectuals. The German minority was characteristic mainly by keeping its social position.

The Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia living within civic democracy between the two World Wars could regularly exercise its right to vote on the basis of general and secret right to vote. The elections were legal; it was not common in the country in those days. Among the candidate political parties that ran in the elections there were parties from the extreme right to the extreme left and from centralist parties to minority parties propagating autonomy.

In the circle of Hungarians primarily two political groups were dominant. The opposition Hungarian parties got the most votes that were between 50-70 percents. This is clear from the electoral results of territories and districts that Angyal has processed in detail, presented in charts and evaluated in his work. In the first parliamentary elections in 1820, the support of Hungarian parties was the weakest, and it was stabilised in the middle of the 20’s that these parties could count with the 2/3 of Hungarian votes.

The second strongest group was the left-side. In the first parliamentary elections the social democrats got almost the half of Hungarian votes, in the next elections the communist party got 20-25 percent of Hungarian votes. In Slovakia, the Czechoslovak Communist Party (CSKP) possessed the strongest basis mainly in Hungarian territories. Here in general the voting power was almost two times as much as the state average. This can be explained by the large number of destitute agrarian proletariats, the impoverishing peasantry losing its independent existence, and the left-side impressionability of Hungarian people who moved to towns for jobs. The communist party in the civic Czechoslovakia could operate legally and it was the only party encompassing every ethnic group. One of the reasons that resulted in the impoverishment of the Hungarian society was the land reform that followed national goals.

Numerous intellectuals and journalists, who after the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic emigrated to Czechoslovakia, had a strong influence on extending leftist ideas. Leftist individuals employed at government supporting Hungarian papers, educational and cultural institutions, with the help of the government provided propaganda against the Hungarian Horthy system and the parties of the Hungarian opposition.

The Republican Agrarian Party (Köztársasági Agrárpárt) had the third strongest supporting power that primarily had the land reform in its hand and consequently the influence on the Hungarian peasantry that was yearning for land. Considering the number of Hungarians it had a disproportional small share on the land reform, therefore, the agrarian party’s power of support was lower in its circles than the state average. Its supporting power was between 5-10 percents.

The Party of Social Democrats could count with a few percentages of votes that after the leaving of the communist party got very weak, but to the end of the 20’s strengthened a bit. The independent Hungarian and German Social-democratic Party in 1926 merged with the Czechoslovak Social-democratic Labour Party and operated as its Hungarian section afterwards.

The supporting power of other parties was negligible in the circles of the Hungarian minority.

There were significant differences in the electoral attitudes of Hungarian voters. Within the masses of Hungarians that was formed mainly by provincial peasantry, the communists had the most supporting power. Hungarians living in mixed territories and suburban areas, where the feeling of national endangerment was stronger, supported the extreme left-side to a smaller extent. In these territories, the majority of Hungarians supported parties of the Hungarian opposition. Such areas are, for example, the districts of Nitra and Ko¹ice. It is noticeable that in homogenous Hungarian districts of Komárom, Párkány and Zselíz the leftists have the strongest influence. They are gradually getting weaker along the suburban areas, e.g. in the districts of Érsekújvár and Somorja.

From the two Hungarian parties, the Christian-Socialist Party (OKP) had expressly the largest voting basis that is greatly supported by the Catholic religion. It was supported mainly by the Hungarians of Catholic religion and to a smaller extent by the Slovak and German population. Its influence was strong in the two biggest cities, Bratislava and Ko¹ice, but also in other cities like Nitra and Pre¹ov.

The Hungarian National Party was strong primarily in the circles of Hungarians of Calvinist and Evangelic religion in Gemer county and in those South-West districts where there were strong Calvinistic communities. Its voting basis was mainly provincial as that of the OKP’s. Its main supporters were the more well-off provincial population. In the state elections it always ran with the Party of Carpathian Germans, later also with the OPKP, therefore, it is difficult to determine its influence on a state level. It is evident that the Carpatian votes were ensured by the German party. The Party of Carpathian Germans had a very strong influence on the lower part of the Tatras, although this merely reached two or three districts. In the 20’s, about 80-90 percent of the Carpathian Germans supported the Hungarian–German party coalition. It had almost no influence on the population of other areas, for example, the German population of Kremnica. In the second part of the 30’s it had to fight against the Sudeten German Party – that began to spread in Slovakia – for zipzer voters.

Angyal mentions the electoral attitude of the population of Northern towns of Slovakia that are also trilingual – Slovak–Hungarian–German. During demographic censuses these towns recorded only a meagre and lowering number of Hungarians. In spite of this, the electoral results were surprisingly favourable for the Hungarian parties and their coalitions. In such towns as Pre¹ov, Banská Bystrica, where according to the official demographic censuses a little percentage of Hungarian and German population lived, in spite of this fact 5-10, and even 15 percent of support was recorded on the account of Hungarians. This phenomenon had its roots in the traditions of historical culture, induced by bonds and training of this bourgeois layer.

In Sub-Carpathia the Hungarian parties could count with 50-60 percent of the votes of the Hungarian minority. Angyal came to a conclusion the what he found out about the trilingual towns is true for Munkács as well, but it is more characteristic for Uzghorod. Accordingly, here the number of Hungarians voting for Hungarian parties was larger than the number of citizens of urban, Hungarian, German, and Jewish origin recorded during the demographic censuses.

In conclusion it can be stated that the Hungarian civic parties that between the two World Wars were the only and legitimate representatives of the Hungarian minority, in fact represented the two-thirds of Hungarians. A more profound examination of this fact and the detection of the interdependence require from the researchers of minority history further examination.

Csilla Fedinec:
School Network of Nationalities and Hungarian Education in Sub-Carpathia

Sub-Carpathia, belonging to 1919 to Hungary, later to the Czechoslovak Republic, from 1938/1939 again to Hungary, in the autumn of 1944 was occupied by the Soviets that radically created a new situation for the representatives of the Hungarian and other minorities that had experienced several state and system changes, had been driven to several ideological frameworks, cultural environment, and life quality. The intellectuals were replaced again and again, striking against the issue of state loyalty within the unknown state’s frames. In the Soviet system the men were dragged away to labour camps, the Germans were moved away, the Ruthenian ethnic name was cancelled, the Romanians were declared Moldovans, and practically the Slovak population disappeared, emigration and immigration – up to the time it was possible – was followed by rellocation, then nationalisation and collectivisation. Again, in the period of minority there no Hungarian politics could be present. Institutions of the Hungarian culture were as follows: the only paper on a regional level, the Carpathian True Word (Kárpáti Igaz Szó), as the loan translation of the official Ukrainian paper, from 1967 as an independent daily paper – titled Youth beyond the Carpathian Mountains (Kárpátontúli Ifjúság) is a translated youth paper are three regional papers translated from Ukrainian, from 1952 Beregszászi Népszínház operating for 40 years, and the Carpathian Publisher (Kárpáti Könyvkiadó), the Hungarian office of the Uzghorod RTV. Forrás Stúdió (Source Studio) was in the 60’s and 70’s the group of intellectuals-creators, later József Attila Irodalmi Stúdió (Literary Studio of Attila József). Papers and books in Hungarian were delivered to the Sub-Carpathia from the 60’s. There are considerable changes from the second part of the 1980’s. Associations safeguarding Hungarian interest were established – from 1994 an official society, Illyés Gyula Magyar Nemzeti Színház (National Theatre) – therefore, the Hungarian palette became colourful. Literary, artistic, documentary Hungarian communities, and youth organisations also began to operate. At the same time, state publishing in Hungarian language was terminated. This field was supported from abroad, got under publishers supported by foundations. Products from Hungary published in the past decades were not present.

The Hungarian minority of Carpathia had a very specific past considering its education. Although its continuity was not interrupted during the continuous state changes, this continuity is proven by the basic education. During the period of the first Czechoslovak Republic we did not have a single independent Hungarian secondary school, during the years of the Second World War the Hungarian government established in tight geographical territories of the region a Ruthenian administrative unit that was from the point of view of educational arrangements and management different from school-inspectorate valid in the whole country. From the autumn of 1944, there were only elementary schools where the teaching was delivered in Hungarian language. Our first secondary schools were established at the beginning of the 50’s. Vocational training in Hungarian language commences from the 90’s. After previous examinations of university education teaching in Hungarian language is delivered in Uzghorod, and/or in the last years in Beregszász, where the Hungarian centre moved, an unaccredited pedagogical university was established supported by Hungarian foundations.

The Soviet period changed the school system and provided the minority schools with entirely new syllabuses and textbooks. The publisher of Hungarian language textbooks are still an editorial of Uzghorod nationality that operates under the Ministry of Education. The official textbooks are translated from each subject that brings technical and contextual issues, there is a lack of special knowledge, therefore, its delivery is difficult. Spelling books and books on the Hungarian language and literature are exceptions, for they are written or compiled by local authors – pedagogues, editors.

The Hungarian language as a subject is present in the classes of primary and secondary schools (today in classes from I to IV and from V to IX).

The teaching of Hungarian literature, more accurately the reading of literature is involved in the curriculum of classes from V to IX, literature history is involved in classes from X to XI at secondary schools. Thousand years have to be taught during two years. There is no chrestomathy, passages and parts of curricula are comprised in a single book. The teaching of Hungarian history is possible only facultative, therefore, the books on literature were meant as introduction to national history.

The work traces back the phases of identity search of literature teaching and emphasises that outstanding peculiarity that the only writer, from whom a student could ever gain knowledge is Sándor Petõfi – he, who was in a required distance in time from the not chemically pure twentieth century.

Vörös Ferenc:
Examination of Family Names in Four Slovak Villages in the Period between 1896-1999

In the work the author provides an examination of family names of four Slovak villages – Baloò, Orechová Potôò, Malý Cetín, and Veµký Cetín. The processing of names is provided from 1896 to 1999, i.e. we can trace back a more than hundred years old process. During the examined period the population of villages went through more power changes. These factors affect also the formation of the composition of the disposable material of family names.

In the first part of the work we are introduced with those aspects that form the basis of family name systemisation. This set of family names of Hungarian and Slav/Slovak origin are the target of the examination. We can get an overview of the origin of family names present in the villages. Later, we can learn about the main acoustic, morphological, and semantic criteria that were the basis for their categorisation. A special emphasis was set on semantic and morphological comparison of family names of Hungarian and Slovak origin.

In the second part the author depicts the formation of ethnical and religious composition of the four villages in diagrams. Later, he compares these data with the formation of the villages’ composition of family names by villages. Diagrams showing family names of fathers and mothers evidence the following:

  1. In those territories where there was less population movement, diagrams depicting the composition of family names showed only a slight oscillation. Where substantial population exchange occurred, this fact was reflected in the composition of family names.
  2. In the set of family names of two villages of compact Hungarian territories a fewer number represents family names of Slav origin.
  3. Two villages situated on the Slovak–Hungarian language border the proportion of family names of Hungarian and Slav origin is more balanced.
  4. On the language border in the Hungarian speaking village more people have family names of Slav origin than those minorities living in compact Hungarian areas.
  5. We can infer only from other factors about the population’s ethnical proportion.

József Menyhárt:
Bastards of our Language Usage Meditation on the pragmatics of our contact-phenomena

His work deals with the issues that are often discussed in the groves of linguistics of the Hungarian community in Slovakia, the contact-phenomena and the attitudes arisen in connection with them. Frequent topic of linguistic researches, contact-alternative that is in the linguistic literature defined as change of the language in a contact situation (Kontra 1990: 27-29). In this case bilingual norms are in effect and the particular language differs from its other version in that that according to the strength of the contact in a less or more extent a so-called contact-phenomena are present in it (Lanstyák 1998a: 60). These contact-phenomena can be found also in the everyday speech of the Hungarian community in Slovakia (for example tyepláki, ticsinki, párki, horcsica, etc.)

A previous research inspired the author for the provision of this examination, where during the examination of the opinion of language usage a question arouse: whether the persons of the Hungarian community in Slovakia feel ashamed of the Slovakism used in their speech and if they do, in what speaking situations is this shame present.

For examining the phenomena the author addressed the population of Vrakúò with a questionnaire, asking about the use of contact-phenomena. The 12 questions of the questionnaire were answered by respondents divided into three age groups (young 15-30, middle-aged 35-50 and age 55- and up). In his work he processed only the answers of the young generation. According to the answers on the attitude questions, it can be determined that the young respondents can see the differences between the Hungarian language spoken in Hungary and Slovakia. (questions from 1 to 6), and have a so-called „weaker language knowledge”. With the help of communicational situations present in the questionnaires he wanted to find the answer for the question whether the young Várkony speakers experienced shame for their Slovakism and if they did, when they did (questions from 8 to 12). According to the answers given to the 11th question a chart was constructed that describes that according to the respondents in what situation is and is not the contact phenomena present.

According to the research results it can be clearly stated that shame for Slovakism is present in the younger group. This phenomenon means a serious task for those active in Hungarian language development and language planning in Slovakia, whose activities have always been set on self-confidence and the formation of a community that speaks Hungarian or its Slovak version in Slovakia.

Simon Szabolcs:
Books on our language (from the works of Lanstyák István)

In this paper he focused on books published by István Lanstyák, a linguist and teacher, Comenius University Bratislava, Department of Hungarian Language and Literature.

As a single author, he published three of these publications; one of them was published in cooperation with Gizella Szabómihály, a Hungarian linguist living in Slovakia.

He presents the publications in order of their respective publication:

  • 1997: Hungarian Language Use – School – Bilingualism (Magyar nyelvhasználat – iskola – kétnyelvûség). Kalligram Publishing House: Bratislava;
  • 1998a: At Home in Our Language (Nyelvünkben otthon). Nap Publishing House: Dunajská Streda;
  • 1998b: Specific Features of the Hungarian Language Spoken in Slovakia (A magyar nyelv szlovákiai változatainak sajátosságai). University Instalments 1., Lilium Aurum: Dunajská Streda;
  • 2000: The Hungarian Language in Slovakia (A magyar nyelv Szlovákiában). Osiris Publishing House, Kalligram Publishing House, MTA Workshop for Minority Studies: Budapest–Bratislava.

The initial part of this paper refers to early Hungarian social-linguistic surveys in Slovakia in early 1990´s, which also marked the beginning of the academic activities of the above writer. For more than a decade, István Lanstyák has primarily focused on social-linguistics, and on bilingualism in particular. In his article, the author refers to the fact that several of Lanstyak’s studies would deserve individual attention of professionals, in particular his work The Issue of Exchanging Codes (of Hungarian and Slovak Language) in the Hungarian Community in Slovakia (K otázke striedania kódov (maïarského a slovenského jazyka) v komunite Maïarov na Slovensku), published in 2000 in Slovak (in Slovo a slovesnos» 61: 1–17). Several of his other writings evoked heated debates even strong criticism, above all his writings published in Saving or betraying the language? Debate on Trans-boundary Hungarian Language Use (Nyelvmentés vagy nyelvárulás? Vita a határon túli magyar nyelvhasználatról) (editors: Miklós Kontra and Noémi Saly, 1998, Budapest: Osiris). The most significant common feature of the presented four books is the application of social-linguistic research methods. Besides, the major goal of the books is to present and describe the variants of Hungarian spoken in Slovakia. From this perspective, the most significant one is The Hungarian Language in Slovakia (A magyar nyelv Szlovákiában), comprising the most data and originating from a comprehensive study conducted across the Carpathian basin. This survey covers all Central-European countries in which Hungarian is spoken as a minority language (excluding Croatia, since the war disallowed the fieldwork) and Hungary where it is spoken as a native language. Miklós Kontra, a Hungarian linguist, managed the overall comprehensive survey.

The above paper discusses the environment in which the mentioned books originated; it consequently attempts to introduce these publications and to shed light on other correlations of István Lanstyák´s academic activities. By doing so, this paper wishes to pay off a part of big debt, since the introduced publications were, in fact, met with no response, especially in the Hungarian groves of Academe in Slovakia.

Gergely Agócs:
The Social Institution of Mastering Skills in the Circle of Roma Musicians (examples of Hungarian communities in Slovakia)

The author in the work deals with musical training practices of Roma musicians living in Hungarian territories of Slovakia. While reviewing the antecedents of research history, he infers that an array of such folklore phenomena belong to the functional system of traditional music culture of which profound examination is still owed by science. The examination of the process of inheriting music and giving and receiving mechanism also belongs to the research topics. In monographs dealing with vocal music tradition we can sporadically find data concerning the mastering and use of music, although there is even less description of similar relations of instrumental music folklore.

Making music and mastering instrumental skills is undoubtedly complex, for the outsiders a process of hidden „professional training”, of which examination is necessary and instructive. The author emphasises the works of Báling Sárosi and Béla Halmos while considering the issues of the work’s subject. In the works of these two authors we can experience that – putting aside the problems that have been created by the Roma musicians’ origin and way of performance – they also examine the other aspects of making music as an ethnographical phenomenon present in the communal way of life. The precondition of this research work’s successfulness was that change of attitude of which point is that the research approaches the music material not from the melody’s, but from its performer’s point of view. This methodological innovation enables to define what factors determine the fixation of specific forms of way of performance and how the processes of inheriting and techniques of passing on traditions affect the performance style of instrumental folk music and the formation of territorial characteristics present in it.

In the second part of the work the author discusses the social institution of traditional musician training and its tuition process in general.

  1. The child of a musical family learns how to sing the first simple melodies when he is three and at the age of six he is able to perform more than a dozen of songs. Therefore, mastering music on a basic level is provided and so the child experiences the first musical experiences from auditive coding and relations of active usage.
  2. The child in his sixth and seventh years of age gets the musical instrument and his father or other close relative introduces him with the basics of instrumental playing. The talented child can play the most parts of songs known by him in a short time.
  3. Generally accompanied by his parents the student candidate presents himself at the master to show on what level he is expert with his musical instrument. It is equal to an entry examination, when the parents agree with the master on the method and rate of payment.
  4. The training is provided mainly at the house of the master in form of training „classes”. During these classes the practice consists of two parts: individual training and playing with a band. During the individual training besides mastering melodies the emphasis is set on the formation of proper way of performance, which can be considered the most important part of the training. The use of the musical instrument and the issues of mastering grace notes belong here: use of fiddlestick, fingering, technique of compass and shifting, knowledge of tonality, rhythm, etc. During individual training except the melodies (besides traditional melodies and novelties, as well as current up-to-date musical products), the students are taught fingering and scale practising. In learning the melodies not the amount is the determining aspect, but the training is focused mainly on the formation of the correct style of performance. In practice it means that the master teaches his students to play only 20-40 melodies, of which each tiny parts are taught in their finest detail. Consequently, those instrumental techniques and grace notes are fixed that form the basis of the performance style characteristic for the specific territorial area. If the student is able to play (or accompany) a few melodies, the teacher (who is in general an active musician) takes the student to the practice of his own band or calls his band to the class. In such occasions the teacher exercises the student according to the musical instrument, musician or appropriate function of the musician in the band given by tradition and musical event (and the melodies related to it).
  5. The entire training period is finished with an „exam introduction”. The father of the student, who is in most cases also a musician, visits the teacher after the agreed time to see his child’s performance. At such auditions generally the student has to play with the band of his teacher. If he succeeds, he is considered a full-value musician. If he goes to play music, he can rightfully require an adequate proportion of payment as for a full member.

The author emphasises that in accordance with the social function of music and music provision this method has organically developed the possibly most optimal structure of lessons. He also points out the fact that the structural architecture of music education at schools is in contrary with this. Firstly, the students are introduced with a complex system of notations (tonic sol-fa and notation) from which at the end through another transposition he has to understand music through the musical instrument, since the student often learns melody from notes.

In the third part of the work the author deals with the formation of the social institution of the profession of musicians. The author explains this on one hand with the development of musical demand of a relatively large number of the gentry in certain regions (in certain territories of Csallóköz and former Gömör and Bars counties), and on the other hand, with one of the general concomitants of the achievement of middle-class status.

The work comprises a collection of interviews extracts prepared at the research area.