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Hungarians in Slovakia

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Hungarians in Slovakia

Hungarians in Slovakia
Szlovákiai magyarok
Total population
458,467 (2011 census)
Regions with significant populations
Southern Slovakia
mainly Hungarian and Slovak
Roman Catholicism 73%, Calvinism 16% and others.
Hungarians in Slovakia (census 2011)
Hungarians in Slovakia (census 2001)

Hungarians in Slovakia are the largest ethnic minority of the country. According to the 2011 Slovak census, 458,467 people (or 8.5% of the population) declared themselves Hungarians, while 508,714 (9.4% of the population) stated that Hungarian was their mother tongue.[1]

Hungarians in Slovakia are concentrated mostly in the southern part of the country, near the border with Hungary. Averaged on district level, they form the majority in two districts: Komárno and Dunajská Streda. According to the survey of the agency Polis from September 2015, 85.2% of the respondents evaluate mutual relationships between the majority population and the Hungarian minority as good, only 7.6% as bad and 7.2% was unable to answer.[2]


Map showing the border changes after the Treaty of Trianon. As a result, Hungary lost over two-thirds of its territory,[3] about two-thirds of its inhabitants under the treaty and 3.3 million out of 10 million ethnic Hungarians.[4][5]

The First Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938)

Origins of the Hungarian minority

After the defeat of the Central Powers in the Western Front in 1918, the Treaty of Trianon was signed between the winning Entente powers and Hungary in 1920, at the Paris Peace Conference. The treaty greatly reduced the Kingdom of Hungary's borders, including ceding all of Upper Hungary, where Slovaks made up the dominant ethnicity, to Czechoslovakia. In consideration of the strategic and economic interests of their new ally Czechoslovakia, however, the victorious allies set the Czechoslovak-Hungarian border further south than the Slovak-Hungarian language border. Consequently, the newly created state contained areas that were overwhelmingly ethnic Hungarian.


Anachronistic pre-World War I language map, overlain with modern state borders. The current border between the two countries, established shortly after World War I, was only loosely based on the ethnic border.

According to the 1910 census conducted in Austria–Hungary, there were 884,309 ethnic Hungarians, constituting 30.2% of the population, in what is now Slovakia and Carpatho-Ukraine. The Czechoslovak census of 1930 recorded 571,952 Hungarians. (In the 2001 census, by contrast, the percentage of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia was 9.7%, a decrease of two thirds in percentage but not in absolute number, which remained roughly the same.)

Czechoslovak and Hungarian censuses become target of discussion with political impact, but they were not fully compliant and they did not measure the same data. According to official Hungarian definition from 1900, a "mother tongue" was defined as a language "considered by person as his own, the best spoken and mostly preferred".[6] This definition did not match real definition of mother tongue, introduced subjective factors dependent on environment and opened way for various interpretations. More, in the atmosphere of raising magyarization a person could risk if he did not declare Hungarian language to be his favorite for a census commissar. Between 1880–1910, Hungarian population increased by 55.9%, but Slovak only by 5.5% while Slovak had higher birth rate at the same time.[7] Level of differences does not allow to explain this process by emigration (higher among Slovaks) or by population moves and natural assimilation during industrialization. In 16 northern counties, Hungarian population raised by 427,238 while majority Slovak population only by 95,603. Number of "Hungarians who can spoke Slovak" unusually increased in time when Hungarians really had no motivation to learn it – by 103 445 in southern Slovakia in absolute numbers, by 100% in Pozsony, Nyitra, Komárom, Bars and Zemplén County and more than 3 times in Košice.[8] After creation of Czechoslovakia, people could declare their nationality more freely.

Further than, censuses from Kingdom of Hungary and Czechoslovakia differed in a view on nationality of Jewish population.[9] Czechoslovakia allowed Jews to declare separate Jewish nationality, while Jews were counted mostly as Hungarians in the past. In 1921, 70,529 people declared Jewish nationality.[10]

Population of larger towns like Košice or Bratislava was historically bilingual or trilingual and part of them used to declare the most popular or the most beneficial nationality in particular time. According to the Czechoslovak censuses, 15–20% of the population in Košice was Hungarian, but during the parliamentary elections, the "ethnic" Hungarian parties received 35–45% of the total votes (excluding those Hungarians who voted for the Communists or the Social Democrats).[11] However, such comparisons are not fully reliable, because "ethnic" Hungarian parties did not necessarily present themselves to Slovak population as "ethnic" and had also Slovak subsidiaries.

Finally, Hungarian state employees who refused to take an oath of allegiance had to decide between retirement and moving to Hungary. The same applies also for Hungarians who did not receive Czechoslovak citizenship, were forced to leave or simply did not self-identify with new state. Two famous examples of people forced to leave were the families of Béla Hamvas[12] and Albert Szent-Györgyi. The numerous refugees (including even more from the newly created Romania) necessitated the construction of new housing projects in Budapest (Mária-Valéria telep, Pongrácz-telep), which gave shelter to refugees numbering at least in the tens of thousands.[13]


At the beginning of the school year 1918/1919, Slovakia had 3,642 elementary schools. Only 141 schools taught in Slovak language, 186 in Slovak and Hungarian and 3,298 in Hungarian.[14] This large deformation was a direct result of previous magyarization activities of Hungarian government. Also after system reform, Czechoslovakia provided several times larger educational network for Hungarian minority than Kingdom of Hungary did for the whole Slovak nation before 1918. Due to the lack of qualified personnel among Slovaks (missing schools above elementary level, banned grammar schools and none Slovak teacher institutes), Hungarian teachers were replaced in large numbers by Czechs. Some Hungarian teachers resolved their existential question by moving to Hungary. According to government regulation from 28 August 1919, Hungarian teachers were permitted to teach only if they took an oath of allegiance to Czechoslovakia.

In the early years of Czechoslovakia, Hungarian minority as solely group in Slovakia (including Slovaks) had a complete education network, except canceled colleges. Czechoslovak Ministry of education derived its policy from international agreements signed after the end of World War II. In the area inhabited by Hungarian minority, Czechoslovakia preserved untouched network of Hungarian municipal or denominational schools. However, these older schools inherited from Austria-Hungary were frequently crowded and less attractive than new, well equipped Slovak schools built by state and they suffered from lack of finances.[15] In the school year 1920/1921, Hungarian minority had 721 elementary schools, decreased only by one in the next 3 years. Hungarians had also 18 higher "burgher" schools, 4 grammar schools and 1 teacher institute. In the school year 1926/1927, there were 27 denominational schools which can be also classified as minority schools, because none of them taught in Slovak language.[16] Hungarian representatives criticized mainly reduced number of secondary schools.[17]

In the 1930s, Hungarians had 31 kindergartens, 806 elementary schools, 46 secondary schools, and 576 Hungarian libraries at schools. A Department of Hungarian literature was created at the Charles University of Prague.[18]

Hungarian Elisabeth Science University founded in 1912 and teaching only since 1914 (with interruptions during war) was replaced by Comenius University to fulfill demands for qualified experts in Slovakia. Hungarian professors refused to take oath of allegiance, the original school was closed by the government decree and as in other cases teachers were replaced by Czech professors. Comenius University remained the only one university in inter-war Slovakia also for majority population.[16]


St. Elisabeth Cathedral in Košice (dedicated to Elisabeth of Hungary), where the Hungarian national hero Francis II Rákóczi is buried with his family
Betliar – Andrássy Castle

Hungarian minority participated in press boom in Czechoslovakia between wars. Before creation of Czechoslovakia, 220 periodicals were issued in the territory of Slovakia, 38 in Slovak language. During interwar period, number of Slovak and Czech periodicals in Slovakia increased to more than 1,050, while number of periodicals in minority languages (mostly Hungarian) increased almost to 640[19] (only small part of them was published during whole interwar period).

Czechoslovak state preserved and financially supported two Hungarian professional theatre companies in Slovakia and additional one in Carpathian Ruthenia. Hungarian cultural life was maintained in regional cultural associations like Jókai Society, Toldy Group or Kazinczy Group. In 1931, Hungarian Scientific, Literal and Artistic Socienty in Czechoslovakia (Masaryk's Academy) was founded thanks to initiative and financial support of Czechoslovak president. Hungarian culture and literature was covered by journals like Magyar Minerva, Magyar Irás, Új Szó or Magyar Figyelő. The last one had also goal to develop Czech-Slovak-Hungarian literal relationships and common Czechoslovak consciousness. Hungarian books were published by several literal societies and Hungarian publishers, but did not reach higher amounts.[20]


János Esterházy – politician, count, representative of Hungarians in Slovakia

The democratization of politics after creation of Czechoslovakia extended also political rights of Hungarian population in comparison to Kingdom of Hungary before 1918. Czechoslovakia introduced universal suffrage including full woman suffrage available in Hungary only since 1945. 90% of population in Slovakia voted for the first time during the first Czechoslovak parliamentary elections.[21] After Treaty of Trianon, Hungarian minority lost illusions about "temporary state" and had to adapt to a new situation. Hungarian political structures in Czechoslovakia were formed relatively late and finalized their formation only in the half of 20's.[22] Policy of Hungarian minority can be categorized into three main directions by their attitude to Czechoslovak state and peace treaties.

Hungarian "activists" saw their future in cohabitation and cooperation with majority population. They had pro-Czechoslovak orientation and supported the government. In the early 20's, they founded separate political parties and later they were active in Hungarian sections of Czechoslovak statewide parties. Pro-Czechoslovak Hungarian National Party (not to be confused with different Hungarian National Party formed later) participated already in the first parliamentary elections 1920, but failed. In 1922, Czechoslovak government proposed correction of some injustices against minorities in exchange for absolute loyalty and recognition of Czechoslovak state. Success of activists culminated in the half of 20's. In 1925, Hungarian National Party participated on adoption of several important laws, including law regulating state citizenship.[23] In 1926, party unsuccessfully held negations about participation in government. Left-wing Hungarian activists were active also in German-Hungarian Social Democratic Party and later in Hungarian Social Democratic Labor Party. Hungarian social democrats failed in competition with communists and then they were active as a Hungarian section of Czechoslovak Social Democracy. In 1923, Hungarian activists with agrarian orientation founded Republican Association of Hungarian Peasants and Smallholders but party failed similarly to Hungarian Provincial Peasant Party. Like social-democrats, Hungarian agrarians created separate section within Czechoslovak statewide Agrarian Party. Hungarian "activism" was at least stable direction and was not able to become dominant power due to various reasons like mistakes of Czechoslovak government during land reform or revisionist policy of Hungarian government.

Above-average support among Hungarian minority had Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In 1925, party received 37,5% in Kráľovský Chlmec district and 29,7% in Komárno district while Slovak average was around 12–13%.[22]

Hungarian "negativists" were organized in opposition parties represented by right-wing Provincial Christian-Socialist Party and Hungarian National Party (not to be confused with Hungarian National Party above). Provincial Christian-Socialist Party was supported mainly by Catholic population, Hungarian National Party by Protestants. The parties differed also by their views on collaboration with government coalition. Hungarian National Party considered collaboration in some periods, the second one was strictly opposite. Provincial Christian-Socialist Party tried to cross boundaries of ethnic party and tried also for votes of Slovak population. This trial was partially successful and the party had 78 Slovak sections and a journal in Slovak language.[24] Trials to create coalition of Hungarian opposition parties with largest Slovak opposition party – Hlinka's Slovak People's Party were unsuccessful because of fear of Hungarian revisionist policy and potential discredit after affair of Vojtech Tuka who was uncovered as a Hungarian spy.

In 1936, both parties united as United Hungarian Party under direct pressure of Hungarian government and threat of end of financial support. The party become dominant in 1938 and received more than 80% of Hungarian votes.[22] "Negativistic" parties were considered to be potential danger for Czechoslovakia and a lot of Hungarian minority politicians were monitored by police.

Issues in mutual relationships

After the World War I, Hungarians found themselves in difficult position or "superior" nation which become national minority. Dissolution of historical Kingdom of Hungary was understood as artificial and violent act, instead of recognition of failure of anti-national and conservative policy of Hungarian government.[25] During the whole interwar period, Hungarian society preserved archaic views on Slovak nation. According to such obsolete ideas, Slovaks were tricked by Czechs, became victims of their power politics and dreamed about return to Hungarian state.[25] From these positions, Hungarian government tried to restore pre-war borders and drove also policy of opposition minority parties.

In Czechoslovakia, peripheral areas like southern Slovakia suffered from the lack of interest of investors and had difficulties to recover from the Great Depression. Czechoslovak government focused more on stabilization of relationships with Germany and Sudeten Germans while issues of Hungarian minority had secondary priority. The Hungarians in Slovakia felt also aggrieved by results of Czechoslovak land reform. Regardless of its social a democratization character, land reform preferred majority population during redistribution of land previously owned by aristocracy, church and great landowners.

Even if Czechoslovakia officially declared equality of all citizens, members of Hungarian minority could hardly apply for positions in diplomacy, army or state services because of fear that they could be easily misused by foreign intelligence services, especially in time of threat to the country.[26]

Lack of interest for better integration of Hungarian community, the Great Depression and political changes in Europe led to raise of Hungarian nationalism and pushing their demands in cooperation with German Nazis and other enemies of Czechoslovak state.

Preparation of aggression against Czechoslovakia

The United Hungarian Party led by János Esterházy and Andor Jaross played role of fifth column during disintegration process of Czechoslovakia in late 30's.[27] Investigation of the Nuremberg trials proven that both Nazi Germany and Horthy Hungary used their minorities for internal disintegration of Czechoslovakia and their goal was not to achieve guarantees of their national rights, but to misuse the topic of national rights against the state whose citizens they were. According to international law, such behavior belongs to illegal activities against sovereignty of Czechoslovakia and activities of both countries were evaluated as an act against the international peace and freedom.[28]

Members of United Hungarian Party helped to spread anti-Czechoslovak propaganda, while leaders preserved conspiratorial contacts with Hungarian government and were informed about preparation of Nazi aggression against Czechoslovakia. Particularly after anschluss of Austria, the party successfully eliminated various Hungarian activist groups.[26]

In the ideal case, revisionist policy coordinated by Hungarian government should lead to non-violent restoration of borders before the Treaty of Trianon – occupation of the whole Slovakia, or at least to partial territorial revision. The United Hungarian Party and Hungarian government had no interest on direct Nazi aggression without participation of Hungary, because it could result into Nazi occupation of Slovakia and jeopardize their territorial claims. The party copied policy of Sudeten German Party to some extent. However, even in the time of Czechoslovak crisis, sharper political confrontations were avoided in the ethnically mixed territory.[26] Executive leader of United Hungarian Party János Esterházy was informed about plan of Sudeten Germans to sabotage negotiations with Czechoslovak government and after consultation with Hungarian government he received instructions to work out on such program which could not be fulfilled.[29]

After the First Vienna Award Hungarians divided into two groups. Majority of Hungarian population returned to Hungary (503,980 people)[30] and smaller part (about 67,000 people) remained on non-occupied territory of Czechoslovakia. The First Vienna Award did not satisfied ambitions of leading Hungarian circles and the support for idea of Greater Hungary growth in the Hungarian society. This had to be realized by later annexation of the whole Slovakia.[31]

Annexation of Southern Slovakia and Subcarpathia (1938–1945)

Most of the Hungarians in Slovakia welcomed the Ožďany (Rimavská Sobota District) celebrations had stormy course. Despite the fact that mass gathering without permit was prohibited and curfew after 20:00 was still valid, approximately 400–500 Hungarians met on 21:30 after the announcement of the result of the "arbitration". Police patrol felt threatened and during trial to disperse crown deadly injured one victim. The mass gathering continued also after 22:00 and police patrol injured additional people by shooting and riffle butts.[32]

Hungary began with systematic assimilation and magyarization policy and forced expulsion of colonists, state employees and Slovak intelligence from the annexed territory.[33] Hungarian military administration banned usage of Slovak language in administrative contacts and Slovak teachers had do leave schools on all levels of education system. [33]

After extensive propaganda of dictatorship and undemocratic states like Nazi Germany or Hungary when they pretended to be protectors of civic, social and minority rights in Czechoslovakia, Hungary restricted all of them immediately after the Vienna Award. This had negative impact also on Hungarians in Slovakia with democratic orientation, who were subsequently labeled as "Beneš Hungarians" or as "communists" when they started to complain on new conditions.

Mid-war propaganda organized by Hungary did not hesitate to promise "trains of food" for Hungarians[34] (there was not starvation in Czechoslovakia), but after occupation it became clear that Czechoslovakia guaranteed more social rights, more advanced social system, higher pensions and more job opportunities. Hungarian economists concluded already in November 1938 that production on "returned lands" should be restricted to defend economic interest of mother country.[35] Instead of positive development, great majority of companies got into deep recession comparable to the economic crisis at the beginning of 30-ties.[36] After the initial enthusiasm, the watchwords like "Minden drága, visza Prága!" (Everything is expensive, back to Prague)[37] or “Minden drága, jobb volt Prága!” (Everything is expensive, Prague was better) began to spread all across the country.

Positions in state administration released by Czechs and Slovaks were not occupied by local Hungarians, but by state employees from mother country. This raised protests of United Hungarian Party and led to trials to stop their incoming flow.[38] Already in August 1939, Andor Jaross asked Hungarian prime minister to return at last part of them back to the Hungary. Due to different development in Czechoslovakia and Hungary during previous 20 years, local Hungarians grew up in more democratic spirit and came into various conflicts with the new administration known by its arrogance. In November–December 1939, behavior toward Hungarians in the annexed territory escalated into official complaint of "Felvidék" MP's in Hungarian parliament.[38]

The Second Czechoslovak Republic (1938–1939)

According to census from December 1938, 67,502 Hungarians remained on non-annexed part of Slovakia and 17,510 of them had Hungarian citizenship.[39] Hungarians were represented by Hungarian Party in Slovakia (Szlovenszkói Magyar Párt; this official name was adopted later in 1940) formed after dissolution of United Hungarian Party in November 1938. The political power in Slovakia was taken by [40] but tolerated existence of Hungarian Party whose leader János Esterházy candidate on common list of candidates and become a member of The Slovak Diet. The Hungarian Party had little political influence and inclined to cooperation with stronger German Party in Slovakia (Detutsche Partie in der Slowakei).[41]

Already on November 1938, [42] The Hungarian government and Esterházy protested against the principle and criticized it as non-constructive.

The First Slovak Republic (1938–1939)

On 14 March 1939, the Slovak Diet declared independence under direct Hitler pressure and proclaimed threat of Hungarian attack against Slovakia. Destruction of plurality political system caused fast decline of minority rights (German minority preserved privileged position). Position of Hungarian minority was specific. Tense relationships between Slovakia and Hungary after the Vienna Award were worsened by Hungarian attack against Slovakia in March 1939. Hungarian aggression together with violent incidents on the annexed territory caused large anti-Hungarian social mobilization. Hungarian minority become target of discrimination since the beginning.[43] Some of persecutions were motivated by reciprocity principle included in the constitution, but persecutions were caused also by Hungarian propaganda demanding occupation of Slovakia, distribution of pamphlets and other propagandist material, oral propaganda and various provocations.[44] Intensive propaganda was used on both sides and led to several anti-Hungarian demonstrations. The hardest repressions included internment in the camp in Ilava and deportations of dozens of Hungarians to Hungary. In June 1940, Slovakia and Hungary reached agreement and stopped deportations of member of their minorities.[44]

The Hungarian Party did not completely abandon idea of [45] The party organized various cultural, social and educational activities. Its activities were carefully monitored and restricted also because of unsuccessful attempts for establishment of Slovak political representation in Hungary. The Hungarian Party was officially registered after German diplomatic intervention in November 1941 when also Hungarian government permitted the Party of Slovak National unity.

In 1940, after stabilization of international position of the Slovak state, 53,128 people declared Hungarian nationality and 45,880 of them had Slovak state citizenship.[46] Social structure of Hungarian minority did not significantly differ from majority population. 40% of Hungarians worked in agriculture, but in towns lived also class of rich traders and intelligentsia. Hungarians owned several important enterprises, especially in central Slovakia. In Bratislava, Hungarian minority participated also on "aryanization" of Jewish property.[47]

Slovakia preserved 40 Hungarian minority schools, but restricted high schools and did not allow to open any new school. On 20 April 1939, the government banned largest Hungarian cultural association SzEMKE what resulted into overall decline of activities of Hungarian minority.[48] Activities of SzEMKE were restored when Hungary allowed Slovak cultural organization Spolok svätého Vojtecha. Hungarian minority had 2 daily newspapers (Új Hírek, Esti Ujság) and 8 local weeklies.[48] All journals, imported press and libraries were controlled by strong censorship.

After negotiations in Salzburg ( 27–28 July 1940), Alexander Mach held position of the Minister of the Interior and refined approach to Hungarian minority. Mach ordered to free all imprisoned Hungarian journalists (later also of other Hungarians) and disposed chief editor of journal Slovenská pravda because of "stupid texts about Slovak-Hungarian question". Mach emphasized need of Slovak-Hungarian cooperation and good neighborhood.[46] In the following period, repressive actions were based almost exclusively on reciprocity principle.[46]

In comparison with German minority, political rights and organization of Hungarian minority was limited. On the other hand, measures against Hungarian minority never reached level of persecutions against Jews and Gypsies. The expulsion from the country was applied exceptionally and in individual cases, contrary to expulsion of Czechs.[49]

The aftermath of World War II

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Czechoslovakia was recreated. The strategic goal of Czechoslovak government was to significantly reduce size of German and Hungarian minority and to achieve permanent change in ethnic composition of the state. The preferred way was population transfer. Due to impossibility of unitary expulsion, Czechoslovakia applied three forms of solution – Czechoslovak-Hungarian population exchange, "re-slovakization" and internal transfer of population realized during the deportations of Hungarians to the Czech lands.

Many citizens considered both minorities collectively to be "war criminals", because representatives from those two minorities had supported redrawing the borders of Czechoslovakia before World War II, via the Munich Agreement and the first Vienna Award.[18] In addition, Czechs were suspicious of ethnic German political activity before the war. They also believed that the presence of so many ethnic Germans had encouraged Nazi Germany in its pan-German visions. In 1945, President Edvard Beneš revoked the citizenship of ethnic Germans and Hungarians by decree #33, except for those with an active anti-fascist past (see Beneš Decrees).

Population exchanges

Immediately at the end of World War II, some 30,000 Hungarians left the formerly Hungarian re-annexed territories of southern Slovakia. While Czechoslovakia expelled ethnic Germans, the Allies prevented a unilateral expulsion of Hungarians. They did agree to a forced population exchange between Czechoslovakia and Hungary, one which was initially rejected by Hungary. This population exchange proceeded by an agreement whereby 55,487; 74,407; 76,604 or 89,660 Hungarians from Slovakia were exchanged for 60,000; 71,787; or 73,200 Slovaks from Hungary (the exact number depends on the source.)[9][50][51][52] Slovaks leaving Hungary moved voluntarily, but Czechoslovakia forced Hungarians out of their nation.[53]

After expulsion of the Germans, Czechoslovakia found it had a labor shortage, especially of farmers in the Sudetenland. As a result, the Czechoslovak government deported more than 44,129 Hungarians from Slovakia to the Sudetenland for forced labor[54][55] between 1945 and 1948.[55] Some 2,489 were resettled voluntarily and received houses, good pay and citizenship in return. Later on, from 19 November 1946 to 30 September 1946, the government resettled the remaining 41,666 by force, with the Police and Army transporting them like "livestock" in rail cars. The Hungarians were required to work as indentured laborers, often offered in village markets to the new Czech settlers of the Sudetenland.

These conditions eased slowly. After a few years, the resettled Hungarians started to return to their homes in Slovakia. By 1948 some 18,536 had returned, causing conflicts over the ownership of their original houses, since Slovak colonists had often taken them over. By 1950 the majority of indentured Hungarians had returned to Slovakia. The status of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia was resolved, and the government again gave citizenship to ethnic Hungarians.


Hungarians forcibly relocated from Gúta (Kolárovo) unpacking their belongings from train in Mladá Boleslav, Czechoslovakia, February 1947

Materials from Russian archives prove how insistent the Czechoslovak government was on destroying the Hungarian minority in Slovakia.[56] Hungary gave the Slovaks equal rights and demanded that Czechoslovakia offer equivalent rights to Hungarians within its borders.[57]

In the spring and summer of 1945, the Czechoslovak government in exile approved a series of decrees that stripped Hungarians of property and all civil rights.[58] In 1946 in Czechoslovakia, the process of "Reslovakization" was implemented with the objective of eliminating the Magyar nationality.[59] It basically required the acceptance of Slovak nationality.[59] Ethnic Hungarians were pressured to have their nationality officially changed to Slovak, otherwise they were dropped from the pension, social and healthcare system.[60] Since Hungarians in Slovakia were temporarily deprived of many rights at that time (see Beneš decrees), as many as some 400,000 (sources differ) Hungarians applied for, and 344,609 Hungarians received, a re-Slovakization certificate and thereby Czechoslovak citizenship.

After Eduard Beneš was out of office, the next Czechoslovak government issued decree No. 76/1948 on 13 April 1948, allowing those Hungarians still living in Czechoslovakia, to reinstate Czechoslovak citizenship.[59] A year later, Hungarians were allowed to send their children to Hungarian-language schools, which reopened for the first time since 1945.[59] Most re-Slovakized Hungarians gradually readopted their Hungarian nationality. As a result, the re-Slovakization commission ceased operations in December 1948.

Despite promises to settle the issue of the Hungarians in Slovakia, in 1948 Czech and Slovak ruling circles still maintained the hope that they could deport the Hungarians from Slovakia.[61] According to a 1948 poll conducted among the Slovak population, 55% were for resettlement (deportation) of the Hungarians, 24% said "don't know", and 21% were against. Under slogans related to the struggle with "class enemies", the process of dispersing dense Hungarian settlements continued in 1948 and 1949.[62] By October 1949, the government prepared to deport 600 Hungarian families. Those Hungarians remaining in Slovakia were subjected to heavy pressure to assimilate,[62] including the forced enrollment of Hungarian children in Slovak schools.[62]

Population statistics after World War II

Krásna Hôrka

In the 1950 census the number of Hungarians in Slovakia decreased by 240,000 in comparison to 1930. By 1961 census it increased by 164,244 to 518,776. The low number in the 1950 census is likely due to the re-Slovakization; the higher number in the 1961 census is due to the fact that the re-Slovakization was cancelled..

The number of Hungarians in Slovakia increased from 518,782 in 1961 to 567,296 in 1991. The number of self-identified Hungarians in Slovakia decreased between 1991 and 2001, due in part to low birth rates, emigration and introduction of new ethnic categories, such as the Roma. Also, between 1961 and 1991 Hungarians had a significantly lower birth rate than the Slovak majority (which in the meantime had increased from about 3.5 million to 4.5 million), contributing to the drop in the Hungarian percentage of the population.

After the Fall of Communism

After the [63] The preamble of the Constitution, however, cites Slovaks and ethnic minorities as the constituency. Moreover, the rights of the diverse minorities are protected by the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and various other legally binding documents. The Party of the Hungarian Coalition was represented in Parliament and was part of the government coalition from 1998 to 2006. Following the independence of Slovakia, the situation of the Hungarian minority worsened, especially under the reign of Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar (1993 – March 1994 and December 1994 – 1998).

The Constitution also declares that Slovak is the state language on the territory of the Slovak Republic. Make this rules concrete, the 1995 Language Law declares that the State language has a priority over other languages applied on the whole territory of the Slovak Republic. The 2009 amendment of the language law restricts the use of minority languages, and extend the obligatory use of the state language, e.g. in communities where the number of minority speaker is less than 20% of the population. Under the 2009 amendment a fine up to 5000 euros may be imposed on those committing a misdemeanour in relation to the use of the state language.

An official language law required the use of the Slovak language not only in official communications but also in everyday commerce, in the administration of religious bodies, and even in the realm of what is normally considered private interaction, for example, communications between patient and physician. On 23 January 2007, the local broadcasting committee shut down BBC's radio broadcasting for using English, and cited the language law as the reason.[64]

Especially in Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian areas,[65] critics have attacked the administrative division of Slovakia as a case of districts (Dunajská Streda and Komárno) have a Hungarian-majority population. While also done to maximize the success of the party HZDS, the gerrymandering in ethnic Hungarian areas worked to minimize the Hungarians' voting power.[65] In all eight regions, Hungarians are in the minority, though five regions have Hungarian populations within the 10 to 30 per cent range. The Slovak government established new territorial districts from north to south, dividing the Hungarian community into five administrative units, where they became a minority in each administrative unit. The Hungarian community saw a substantial loss of political influence in this gerrymandering.[66]

On 12 March 1997, the Undersecretary of Education sent a circular to the heads of the school districts, ordering that in Hungarian-language schools, the Slovak language should be taught exclusively by native speakers. The same requirement for native Slovak-language speakers applied to teaching of geography and history in non-Slovak schools. In 1998 this measure was repealed by the Mikuláš Dzurinda government.

On 10 April 2008 the Hungarian Coalition Party (MKP) voted with the governing Smer and SNS supporting the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.[67] This is the result of an alleged political bargain:[68] Robert Fico promised to change the Slovak education law that would have drastically limited the Hungarian minority's usage of their native language in education facilities.[69] The two Slovak opposition parties saw this as a betrayal,[68] because originally the whole Slovak opposition had planned to boycott the vote to protest a new press code that limited the freedom of the press in Slovakia.[70]

In 1995, a so-called Basic Treaty was signed between Hungary and Slovakia, regarded by the US and leading European powers as a pre-condition for these countries to join NATO and the EU. In the basic treaty, Hungary and Slovakia undertook a wide range of legal obligations; these include among others the acceptance of recommendation 1201 of the European Council, which in its article 11 states that 'in the regions where they are in a majority the persons belonging to a national minority shall have the right to have at their disposal appropriate local or autonomous authorities or to have a special status, matching the specific historical and territorial situation and in accordance with the domestic legislation of the state.'

After the regions of Slovakia became autonomous in 2002, the MKP was able to take power in the Nitra Region. It became part of the ruling coalition in several other regions. Since the new administrative system was put in place in 1996, the MKP has asked for the creation of a Hungarian-majority Komárno county. Although a territorial unit of the same name existed before 1918, the borders proposed by the MKP are significantly different. The proposed region would encompass a long slice of southern Slovakia, with the explicit aim to create an administrative unit with an ethnic Hungarian majority. Hungarian minority politicians and intellectuals are convinced that such an administrative unit is essential for the long-term survival of the Hungarian minority. The Slovak government has so far refused to change the boundaries of the administrative units, and ethnic Hungarians continue as minorities in each.

According to Sabrina P. Ramet, professor of international studies at the University of Washington, who refers to situation under Vladimír Mečiar's administration between 1994 and 1998:[71]

In Central and eastern Europe, there are at least nine zones afflicted by ethnic hatred and intolerance...the greatest potential for hostilities can be identified with problems of discrimination against the Hungarian minority in southern Slovakia and Romanian Transylvania. In both cases, national regimes have discriminated against local ethnic Hungarians, depriving them of the right to use their native language for official business; taking step to reduce the use of Hungarian as a language of instruction in local schools, and, in the Slovak case, removing Hungarian street signs from villages populated entirely by Hungarians, replacing them with Slovak-language signs. Slovak authorities even went so far to pass a law requiring that Hungarian woman marrying a Hungarian man add the suffix "-ova" to her name, as is the custom among Slovaks. Hungarians have rebelled against the prospect of such amalgams as "Nagyova", "Bartokova", "Kodályova", and "Petöfiova".

Sabrina P. Ramet; Whose democracy?: nationalism, religion, and the doctrine of collective rights in post-1989 Eastern Europe (1997); p52-53

The coalition formed after the parliamentary elections in 2006 saw the Slovak National Party headed by Ján Slota (frequently described as ultra-nationalist,[72][73] right-wing extremist[72][74]) become a member of the ruling coalition, led by the allegedly social-democratic Smer party. After its signing of a coalition treaty with far-right extremist party SNS, the Smer's Social-Democratic self-identification was questioned.

In August 2006, a few incidents motivated by ethnic hatred caused diplomatic tensions between Slovakia and Hungary. Mainstream Hungarian and Slovak media blamed Slota's anti-Hungarian statements from the early summer for the worsening ethnic relations. The Party of European Socialists, with which the Smer is affiliated, regards SNS as a party of the racist far-right. It reacted to news of the coalition by expressing grave concern. The PES suspended Smer's membership on 12 October 2006 and decided to review the situation in June 2007. The decision was then extended until February 2008, when Smer's candidacy was readmitted by PES. On 27 September 2007, the Slovak parliament rejected both principle of collective guilt and trials to reopen post-war documents which established current order.

In May 2010, the newly appointed second Viktor Orbán's cabinet in Hungary initiated a bill on dual citizenship, granting Hungarian passports to members of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, purportedly aimed at offsetting the harmful effects of the Treaty of Trianon, and raising a huge controversy between Hungary and Slovakia. Though János Martonyi, the new foreign minister, visited his Slovak colleague to discuss the dual citizenship, Robert Fico however stated that since Fidesz and the new government did not want to negotiate on the issue, this would be a question of national security. Ján Slota Slovak government member for the Slovak National Party, fears that Hungary wants to attack Slovakia and considered the situation as a "beginning of a war conflict". The designate Prime Minister Viktor Orbán laid down firmly that he considers Slovak hysteria as part of the campaign. As a response to change in Hungarian citizenship law, the National Council of the Slovak Republic approved on 26 May 2010 a law stating that if a Slovak citizen applies for citizenship of another country then he/she will lose his/her Slovak one.

Language law

On 1 September 2009 more than ten thousand Hungarians held demonstrations to protest against the so-called language law that limits the use of minority languages in Slovakia.[75] The law calls for fines of up to £4,380 for institution "misusing the Slovak language".[76] There were demonstrations in Dunajská Streda (Hungarian: Dunaszerdahely), Slovakia, in Budapest, Hungary and in Brussels, Belgium.


  • Új Szó, a Hungarian-language daily newspaper published in Bratislava [1]
  • Madách – former Hungarian publishing house in Bratislava
  • Kalligram – Hungarian publishing house in Bratislava [2]


Some 585 schools in Slovakia, kindergartens inclusive, use the Hungarian language as the main language of education. Nearly 200 schools use both Slovak and Hungarian. In 2004, the J. Selye University of Komárno was the first state-financed Hungarian-language university to be opened outside Hungary.

Hungarian political parties

Towns with large Hungarian populations (2001 and 2011 census)

Note: only towns are listed here, villages and rural municipalities are not.

Towns with a Hungarian majority

  • Veľký Meder (Nagymegyer) – 9,113 inhabitants, of whom 84.6% (75.58%[77]) are Hungarian
  • Kolárovo (Gúta) – 10,756 inhabitants, of whom 82.6% (76.67%) are Hungarian
  • Dunajská Streda (Dunaszerdahely) – 23,562 inhabitants, of whom 79.75% (74.53%) are Hungarian
  • Kráľovský Chlmec (Királyhelmec) – 7,966 inhabitants, of whom 76.94% (73.66%) are Hungarian
  • Štúrovo (Párkány) – 11,708 inhabitants, of whom 68.7% (60.66%) are Hungarian
  • Šamorín (Somorja) – 12,339 inhabitants, of whom 66.63% (57.43%) are Hungarian
  • Fiľakovo (Fülek) – 10,198 inhabitants, of whom 64.40% (53.54%) are Hungarian
  • Šahy (Ipolyság) – 7,971 inhabitants, of whom 62.21% (57.84%) are Hungarian
  • Tornaľa (Tornalja) – 8,016 inhabitants, of whom 62.14% (57.68%) are Hungarian
  • Komárno (Komárom) – 37,366 inhabitants, of whom 60.09% (53.88%) are Hungarian
  • Čierna nad Tisou (Tiszacsernyő) – 4,390 inhabitants, of whom 60% (62.27%) are Hungarian
  • Veľké Kapušany (Nagykapos) – 9,536 inhabitants of whom 56.98% (59.58%) are Hungarian

Towns with a Hungarian population of between 25% and 50%

  • Želiezovce (Zselíz) – 7,522 inhabitants, of whom 51.24% (48.72%) are Hungarian
  • Hurbanovo (Ógyalla) – 8,041 inhabitants, of whom 50.19% (41.23%) are Hungarian
  • Moldava nad Bodvou (Szepsi) – 9,525 inhabitants of whom 43.6% (29.63%) are Hungarian
  • Sládkovičovo (Diószeg) – 6,078 inhabitants of whom 38.5% (31.70%) are Hungarian
  • Galanta (Galánta) – 16,000 inhabitants of whom 36.80% (30.54%) are Hungarian
  • Rimavská Sobota (Rimaszombat) – 24,520 inhabitants of whom 35.26% (29.62%) are Hungarian

Towns with a Hungarian population of between 10% and 25%

  • Nové Zámky (Érsekújvár) – 42,300 inhabitants of whom 27.52% (22.36%) are Hungarian
  • Rožňava (Rozsnyó) – 19,120 inhabitants of whom 26.8% (19.84%) are Hungarian
  • Senec (Szenc) – 15,193 inhabitants of whom 22% (14.47%) are Hungarian
  • Šaľa (Vágsellye) – 24,506 inhabitants of whom 17.9% (14.15%) are Hungarian
  • Lučenec (Losonc) – 28,221 inhabitants of whom 13.11% (9.34%) are Hungarian
  • Levice (Léva) – 35,980 inhabitants of whom 12.23% (9.19%) are Hungarian

Famous Hungarians born in the area of present-day Slovakia

Born before 1918 in the Kingdom of Hungary

Born after 1918 in Czechoslovakia

Born in Czechoslovakia, career in Hungary

Hungarian politicians in Slovakia

See also



  1. ^ "Census: Fewer Hungarians, Catholics – and Slovaks". The Slovak Spectator. 5 March 2012
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  6. ^ Deák 2009, p. 8.
  7. ^ Deák 2009, p. 10.
  8. ^ Deák 2009, p. 12.
  9. ^ a b History, the development of the contact situation and demographic data.
  10. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 98.
  11. ^ kovacs-4.qxd
  12. ^ HamvasBé
  13. ^ Magyarország a XX. században / Szociálpolitika.
  14. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 157.
  15. ^ Béla László (2004). "Maďarské národnostné školstvo". In.: Madari na Slovensku (1989–2004) / Magyarok Szlovákiában (1989–2004). Eds: József Fazekas, Péter Huncík. Šamorín: Fórum inštitút pre výskum menšín. ISBN 978-80-89249-16-9. [3]
  16. ^ a b Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 167.
  17. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 188.
  18. ^ a b Marko, Martinický: Slovensko-maďarské vzťahy. 1995
  19. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 179.
  20. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 189.
  21. ^ Zemko & Bystrický 2008.
  22. ^ a b c Simon 2009, p. 22.
  23. ^ Simon 2009, p. 24.
  24. ^ Ďurkovská, Gabzdilová & Olejník 2012, p. 5.
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^ a b c Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 459.
  27. ^ Pástor 2011, p. 86.
  28. ^ Beňo 2008, p. 85.
  29. ^ Deák 1995.
  30. ^ Zemko & Bystrický 2004, p. 210.
  31. ^ Pástor & 2011 94.
  32. ^ Vrábel 2011, p. 32.
  33. ^ a b Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 483.
  34. ^ Vrábel 2011, p. 30.
  35. ^ Sabol 2011, p. 231.
  36. ^ Sabol 2011, p. 232.
  37. ^ Mitáč 2011, p. 138.
  38. ^ a b Tilkovszky 1972.
  39. ^ Kmeť 2012, p. 34.
  40. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 496.
  41. ^ Ferčuhová & Zemko 2012, p. 495.
  42. ^ Deák 1990, p. 140.
  43. ^ a b Baka 2010, p. 245.
  44. ^ a b Baka 2010, p. 247.
  45. ^ Hetényi 2007, p. 100.
  46. ^ a b c Hetényi 2007, p. 95.
  47. ^ Hetényi 2007, p. 96.
  48. ^ a b Baka 2010, p. 246.
  49. ^ Hetényi 2007, p. 111.
  50. ^ Bobák, Ján: Maďarská otázka v Česko-Slovensku. 1996
  51. ^ Erika Harris (2003) Management of the Hungarian Issue in Slovak Politics: Europeanisation and the Evolution of National Identities. University of Leeds
  52. ^ J. Zvara (1969) Maďarská menšina na Slovensku po roku 1945.
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^ a b
  56. ^ Rieber, p. 84
  57. ^ Rieber, p. 91
  58. ^
  59. ^ a b c d
  60. ^ Szegő Iván Miklós (29 September 2007) "Tudomány – A magyarok kitelepítése: mézesmadzag a szlovákoknak".
  61. ^ Rieber, p. 92
  62. ^ a b c Rieber, p. 93
  63. ^ Hungarian Nation in Slovakia|Slovakia.
  64. ^
  65. ^ a b O'Dwyer, Conor : Runaway State-building, p. 113 online
  66. ^ Minton F. Goldman: Slovakia since independence, p. 125. online
  67. ^
  68. ^ a b
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ a b New Slovak Government Embraces Ultra-Nationalists, Excludes Hungarian Coalition Party HRF Alert: "Hungarians are the cancer of the Slovak nation, without delay we need to remove them from the body of the nation." (Új Szó, 15 April 2005)
  73. ^ New Slovak PM promises to punish extremism, pledges to soften economic reform by previous government. Associated Press. 7 September 2006
  74. ^ Country reports. Antisemitism and racism in Slovakia. The Steven Roth Institute, Israel
  75. ^ "Protests over Slovak language law". BBC News. 2 September 2009
  76. ^ World in brief. 2 September 2009
  77. ^ Štatistický úrad Slovenskej republiky. July 2012


Further reading

External links

  • Hungarian population in present-day Slovakia (1880–1991)
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