Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Hungarian peril

A review of "Narodnostne mensini v Slovenskej republike: Z hladiska demografickeho vyvoja" 

This is a relatively short book in the Slovak language about national minorities in the Slovak republic. Most of it consists of statistical tables. The booklet is published by Matica Slovenska, a Slovak cultural association with a nationalist political orientation, so don't expect any political correctness.

The author's comments about the Roma (Gypsies) are particularly scathing: they refuse to work, were petted by the Communists, etc. I think it's obvious that the real point of the book is to analyze if the national minorities are growing or shrinking. The author eventually reaches the conclusion that the large Hungarian minority (traditional adversaries of the Slovak majority) will become somewhat smaller in the future, while the Roma will continue growing.

Despite this political orientation, I found the statistical tables and maps interesting and useful. As for politics, it turns out that censuses in Czechoslovakia were always politically laden, one way or another. But then, that's hardly unique for this particular state!

During the First Czechoslovak Republic, Czechs and Slovaks were considered to be one united Czechoslovak nationality, so no reliable figures on Czechs in Slovakia (or Slovaks in the Czech lands) exist. During most of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, the “petted” Roma (absurdly) weren't considered a separate nationality, while the Catholic Ruthenians were forced to become Orthodox Ukrainians, leading many of them to declare themselves Slovaks instead (most Slovaks are Catholic). Jews often refused to declare themselves such, for perhaps obvious reasons. Ironically, this was also true of Germans in post-war Czechoslovakia.

I bought this book “back in the days” (it was published in 1998) since it was the easiest available work on Slovakian nationality-related statistics at the time. It's probably not of much interest to the general American reader, even apart from the fact that it's written in Slovak.

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