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National Oppression

Agreement between Austria and Hungary in 1866, brought a strong Magyarization policy, which resulted in closing down three Slovak grammar schools in the years 1874 – 1875 by government and culminated on 6th of April in 1875, when the Slovak cultural institution was repealed. Emigration overseas (to U.S. and Canada) has become a mass phenomenon in the northern areas of Slovakia at the end of the century.

The rapid changes in civilization, which changed the face of Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century did not pass Slovakia by. A network of railways was built, small workshops and manufactures were transformed into factories, banks and savings societies were established, insurance companies formed and, with the growth in the number of secondary and trade schools, illiteracy declined. Even though this advance was behind that of Western Europe by several decades, it was ahead of developments in many areas in Eastern Europe during the same period.

The social and cultural development on the whole was retarded by the backward political situation in Hungary. This manifested itself in the remnants of serfdom, which was abolished only gradually as, through the non-democratic electoral system, the nobility sought to preserve its privileged position and implemented in Hungary magyarization. Their hands were freed by the Austro-Hungarian “Ausgleich” of 1867, which resolved the constitutional crisis of the monarchy by constructing a dualistic state – Austro-Hungary.

The traditional goal of the vast majority of the Hungarian politicians, to turn Hungary into a Hungarian national state, seemed within reach. Nevertheless, even in the year 1880 ethnic Magyars made up only 46.6 % of the total population of the country, it was possible to achieve their goal only through great pressure and the systematic de-nationalization of ethnic minorities. For example, from 1867 until1912, the number of primary schools with Slovak as the language of instruction decreased from 2000 to 377. Slovak cultural efforts were blocked and discriminated against by official authorities. In the year 1875 the government closed the only Slovak cultural institution, the Matica slovenská, and even before that three Slovak secondary schools (gymnasiums). A series of political trials of Slovak patriots took place.

As the century came to a close, Slovak politics, in accordance with European trends, fragmented in several directions: conservative-national, Catholic, agrarian, liberal and social-democratic. What held it together was protection from magyarization. It was also joined to attempts to activate politically the broadest spectrum of the Slovaks, namely the farmers and craftsmen, and therefore proclaimed the need for a general voting right. In 1914, six percent of the inhabitants had a right to vote and so the Slovaks were represented in the parliament by only two representatives, although they made up more than ten percent of the total population of Hungary.

2 Responses to National Oppression

  1. Todd Piskura February 23, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Would like to know more about Slovakia and my great grandfather Johannes Piszkura. Always thought we were Polish until they traced out ancestry to Slovakia. Supposedly he came to America sometime in the late 1800’s.

    [Reply]

    Slovak-Republic.org replies:

    Well, then read our website. :)

    [Reply]

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