Hungarians in Slovakia

Hungarians in Slovakia

Hungarians or Magyars are the largest ethnic minority of Slovakia, numbering 520,528 people or 9.7% of population (2001 census). They are mostly concentrated in the southern part of the country, near the border with Hungary, and they form majority in two districts of Slovakia - Komárno ("Komáromi járás") and Dunajská Streda ("Dunaszerdahelyi járás").


Origins of the Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia

In the aftermath of World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissoluted and several new states were established. One of the new countries to be established out of the remains of the Emprie was Czechoslovakia. This new country was mainly a union of Czechs and Slovaks, but the territory included a sizable German and Hungarian population as well. After the defeat of the remaining Hungarian armies in 1919 the Paris Peace Conference that concluded the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 set the southern border of Czechoslovakia due to strategic and economic reasons much further south than the Slovak-Hungarian language border. Consequently, fully Hungarian-populated areas were annexed to the newly created state. [ 1 ] ]

When Czechoslovakia arose as a new country in this situation, in Slovak-populated regions Slovak schools were established, while Hungarian schools in largely Hungarian regions remained Hungarian and German schools in largely German regions remained German. The Hungarians, for example, had 31 kindergartens, 806 elementary schools, 46 secondary schools, 576 Hungarian libraries at schools in the 1930s and a Department of Hungarian literature was created at the Charles University of Prague. The number of Hungarian elementary schools increased from 720 in 1923/1924 to the above number 806.Marko, Martinický: Slovensko-maďarské vzťahy. 1995] Nevertheless the Hungarian University in Bratislava/Pozsony was immediately closed after the Czechoslovak occupation of the town.

Population statistics before and immediately after the end of World War I

According to the 1910 census conducted in the Kingdom of Hungary, there were 884,309 Magyars (ethnic Hungarians), constituting 30.2% of the population, in what is now Slovakia. The results of the 1910 census, however, are disputed by some Slovak, Serbian, Romanian and other demographers, although they are usually not disputed in present-day Hungary.Podolák, Peter: Národnostné menšiny v Slovenskej republike z hľadiska demografického vývoja. 1998] [Dejiny Slovenska IV., 1985 (Slovak Academy of Sciences)] According to the last undisputed Hungarian official census there were only 22.1% (540 492) Hungarians in the same territory in 1880. The equally disputed Czechoslovak census of 1921 yielded 650,597 Hungarians and the Czechoslovak census of 1930 571,952 Hungarians. For example in Kosice according to the Czechoslovak censuses 15-20% of the population was Hungarian. However during the parliamentery elections the Ethnic Hungarian parties got 35-45% of the total votes (excluding those Hungarians who voted for the Communists or the Social democrats) [ [ kovacs-4.qxd ] ] . The whole matter is complicated by the fact that there was a high percentage of bilingual and similarly "Slovak-Hungarian" persons who could claim being both Slovak and Hungarian.

Some authors interpreted the difference between the 1910 census and the 1930 census as follows: there was a great decrease between 1918 and 1924 by 106,000 people, who fled to Hungary after World War I (partly because they were required to sign an oath of allegiance). The authorities refused to grant Czechoslovak citizenship to a disproportionate number of Hungarians; later, 'Jewish' was also introduced as a separate ethnicity, which led to a further decrease in the number of Hungarians. Slovak sources usually do not deny that many Hungarian teachers and civil clerks left for Hungary, the numbers however are unclear and they basically left because they have lost their previous jobs. These teachers and civil servants are classified as being "expelled" from Czechoslovakia by some sources. There are many examples of Hungarians who were forced to leave their homes from this territory (two famous ones are the families of Béla Hamvas [ [ HamvasBé ] ] , and of Albert Szent-Györgyi). The high number of refugees (and even more from Romania) necessitated entire new housing projects in Budapest (Mária-Valéria telep, Pongrácz-telep), which gave shelter to refugees numbering at least in the ten-thousands. [ [ Magyarország a XX. században / Szociálpolitika ] ]

The aftermath of World War II

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Czechoslovakia was recreated and some politicians aimed to completely remove the German and Hungarian minorities from the territory of Czechoslovakia via ethnic cleansing. Both minorities were considered by some as "war criminals" because representatives of those two minorities, such as Konrad Henlein and János Esterházy, and their two mother countries were instrumental in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia before World War II, via the Munich Agreement and the Vienna Awards. In 1945, President Edvard Beneš revoked the citizenship of Germans and Hungarians by decree #33, except those with an active anti-fascist past (see Beneš Decrees).

Population exchanges

Some 30,000 Hungarians left the formerly Hungarian-annexed territories of southern Slovakia (see Vienna Awards) immediately at the end of World War II. While the Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia, the allies prevented a unilateral expulsion of Hungarians, but agreed to 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 depending on the source used. [Bobák, Ján: Maďarská otázka v Česko-Slovensku. 1996] [] [Zvara, J.: Maďarská menšina na Slovensku po roku 1945. 1969] Slovaks leaving Hungary moved voluntarily, but Hungarians leaving Czechoslovakia were mainly forced.

The result of the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia was a desperate need of work force in that country, especially farmers, in the part of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland. As a result, the Czechoslovak government deported more than some 44,129 Hungarians from Slovakia to the Sudetenland between 1945 and 1947. Of the above 44,129 Hungarians, some 2,489 were resettled voluntarily, receiving houses, good pays and citizenship. Later on, from November 19, 1946 to September 30, 1946, the remaining 41,666 were resettled by force, deported by the Czechoslovak Police and Army as "lifestock" in rail cars and offered to the new Czech settlers of Sudets on village markets as "slaves" - farmwork labour for free, without any status/rightsFact|date=August 2008. These conditions ease up slowely, after a few years the resettled Hungarians started to return back to their homes, and by 1948 some 18,536 had returned already, causing conflicts over the ownership of their original houses since they were re-inhabited by Slovak colonists. The waste majority of these enslaved Hungarians returned by 1950, when the status of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia was resolved and citizenship given by Czechoslovakia.


Between 1945 and 1948, those Hungarians in Slovakia that could provide documentary evidence that they either have been registered as Slovak in 1930 and/or could prove otherwise that they had Slovak or Slavic ancestors, were given the possibility to have their nationality officially changed to Slovak. This operation received the official name re-Slovakization. Since Hungarians in Slovakia were deprived of many rights at that time - in fact their have no citizenship rights and all they assets have been confiscated, as much as some 400,000 (sources differ) Hungarians applied for, and 344,609 Hungarians received a re-Slovakization certificate and thereby Czechoslovak citizenship.

Decree #33 banning most Hungarians and Germans from Czechoslovak citizenship was revoked on April 13, 1948, restoring citizenship and all other rights for both groups. Because of this, most re-Slovakized Hungarians never changed their Hungarian cultural/language identity and clearly used it only as a way to gain citizenship and acceptance from the ruling Czechs and Slovaks. As a result, the re-Slovakization commission ceased operations in December 1948.

Population statistics after World War II

In the 1950s census the number of Hungarians in Slovakia decreased by 240,000 in comparison to 1930 and in the 1961 census it increased again by 164,244 to 518,776. The low number in the 1950 census is likely due to the above mentioned re-Slovakization, the higher number in the 1961 census is due to the fact that the re-Slovakization was cancelled Fact|date=August 2008.

The number of Hungarians in Slovakia increased from 518,782 in 1961 to 567,296 in 1991. The number of Hungarians in Slovakia decreased after decades between 1991 and 2001, due to assimilation accelarated by continues pressure from the Slovak sociaty and state institutions and partly the introduction of new categories in the last censi (particularly the Roma).

The Velvet revolution and the independence of Slovakia

After the Velvet revolution of 1989, Czechia and Slovakia separated peacefully in the Velvet divorce of 1993. 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).

One example of this is that an official language law was promulgated providing the legal framework for the official 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.Fact|date=February 2007On January 23, 2007, BBC's radio broadcasting was shut down by the local broadcasting committee giving the language law as the reason. [cite news|url= |title=BBC's radio license yanked for use of English |date= |accessdate= |work=The Slovak Spectator]

Furthermore, the administrative division of Slovakia was geographically modified in a clear case of gerrymanderingFact|date=August 2008. The administrative system that existed since 1991 included 17 regions of which two regions had a Hungarian majority population. (Note: Between 1991 and 1996, there were no regions recognized in Slovakia [cite web|title=Vladimír Slavík: Reforma verejnej správy v SR (priestorové aspekty).|publisher="Department of Human Geography and Demography, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava."|url=|date=2008-08-28|accessdate=2008-08-28] , therefore the previous information should be taken with care.) The 1996 law eliminated this system of administration. In the reorganized system only two districts (Dunajská Streda and Komárno) have a Hungarian majority population. In all the 8 regions created, Hungarians are in the minority, though 5 regions have Hungarian populations within the 10 to 30 per cent range.

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

On April 10, 2008 the Hungarian Coalition Party (MKP) voted with the governing Smer and SNS supporting the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon [cite web|title=SMK will vote for Lisbon Treaty, to SDKÚ & KDH dismay|publisher="Slovak Spectator"|url=|date=2008-04-10|accessdate=2008-04-15] . This is the result of an alleged political bargaincite web|title=Csáky "tehénszar" helyett már "tökös gyerek" - Fico "aljas ajánlata"|language=Hungarian|publisher="Hírszerző"|url=|date=2008-04-14|accessdate=2008-04-15] : 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 [cite web|title=Készek tüntetni a szlovákiai magyarok|language=Hungarian|publisher="Hírszerző"|url=|date=2008-03-26|accessdate=2008-04-15] . The two Slovak opposition parties saw this as a betrayal, because originally the whole Slovak opposition had planned to boycott the vote to protest a new press code that limits the freedom of the press in Slovakia [cite web|title=Fico's post-Press Code era has begun|publisher="The Slovak Spectator"|url=|date=2008-04-14|accessdate=2008-04-15] .

The situation of the Hungarian minority today

The 1992 Slovak constitution is derived from the concept of the Slovak nation state. [ Hungarian Nation in Slovakia | Slovakia ] ] 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. It is also represented in the parliament by its own political party SMK, which was part of the government coalition from 1998 to 2006.

After the Regions of Slovakia became autonomous in 2002, the SMK was able to take power in the Nitra Region and it became part of the ruling coalition in several other regions. Since the new administrative system was put in place in 1996, the SMK has asked in vain 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 SMK 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 of yet refused to draw any administrative border along ethnic lines.

The coalition formation after the parliamentary elections in 2006 saw the nationalist SNS party of Ján Slota become member of the ruling coalition, led by the social-democratic Smer party. 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, and it reacted to news of the coalition by expressing its gravest 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.


* Új Szó, a Hungarian language daily newspaper published in Bratislava []
* Madách - former Hungarian publishing house in Bratislava
* Kalligram - Hungarian publishing house in Bratislava []


585 schools in Slovakia, kindergartens inclusive, use the Hungarian language as the main language of education. 194 schools use both Slovak and Hungarian. In 2004, the J. Selye University of Komárno was the first state-financed Hungarian language university outside Hungary to be opened.

Hungarian political parties

* Party of the Hungarian Coalition (Strana maďarskej koalície - Magyar Koalíció Pártja), in the government before 2006.

Towns with a large Hungarian population

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% are Hungarian
*Kolárovo (Gúta) - 10,756 inhabitants of whom 82.6% are Hungarian
*Dunajská Streda (Dunaszerdahely) - 23,562 inhabitants of whom 79.75% are Hungarian
*Kráľovský Chlmec (Királyhelmec) - 7,966 inhabitants of whom 76.94% are Hungarian
*Štúrovo (Párkány) - 11,708 inhabitants of whom 68.7% are Hungarian
*Šamorín (Somorja) - 12,339 inhabitants of whom 66.63% are Hungarian
*Fiľakovo (Fülek) - 10,198 inhabitants of whom 64.40% are Hungarian
*Šahy (Ipolyság) - 7,971 inhabitants of whom 62.21% are Hungarian
*Tornaľa (Tornalja) - 8,016 inhabitants of whom 62.14% are Hungarian
*Komárno (Komárom) - 37,366 inhabitants of whom 60.09% are Hungarian
*Čierna nad Tisou (Tiszacsernyő) - 4,390 inhabitants of whom 60% are Hungarian
*Veľké Kapušany (Nagykapos) - 9,536 inhabitants of whom 56.98% are Hungarian
*Želiezovce (Zselíz) - 7,522 inhabitants of whom 51.24% are Hungarian
*Hurbanovo (Ógyalla) - 8,041 inhabitants of whom 50.19% are Hungarian

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

*Moldava nad Bodvou (Szepsi) - 9,525 inhabitants of whom 43.6% are Hungarian
*Sládkovičovo (Diószeg) - 6,078 inhabitants of whom 38.5% are Hungarian
*Galanta (Galánta) - 16,000 inhabitants of whom 36.80% are Hungarian
*Rimavská Sobota (Rimaszombat) - 24,520 inhabitants of whom 35.26% are Hungarian
*Nové Zámky (Érsekújvár) - 42,300 inhabitants of whom 27.52% are Hungarian
*Rožňava (Rozsnyó) - 19,120 inhabitants of whom 26.8% are Hungarian

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

*Senec (Szenc) - 15,193 inhabitants of whom 22% are Hungarian
*Šaľa (Vágsellye) - 24,506 inhabitants of whom 17.9% are Hungarian
*Lučenec (Losonc) - 28,221 inhabitants of whom 13.11% are Hungarian
*Levice (Léva) - 35,980 inhabitants of whom 12.23% are Hungarian

Famous Hungarians born in Slovakia

Born before 1918 in the Kingdom of Hungary

* Gyula Andrássy (politician)
* Gyula Andrássy the Younger (politician)
* Bálint Balassi (poet)
* Miklós Bercsényi (politician, military leader)
* Lujza Blaha (actress, "the nightingale of the nation")
* Mór Jókai (writer)
* Imre Madách (poet)
* Sándor Márai (world-famous writer)
* Kálmán Mikszáth (writer)
* Francis II Rákóczi (prince, military leader, freedom fighter)
* Gyula Reviczky (poet)
* Mihály Tompa (poet)
* Lajos Kassák ( poet, painter, typographer, graphic artist)
* Ernő Dohnányi (conductor, composer, pianist)
* Lajos Batthyány (politician, martyr)

Born after 1918 in Czechoslovakia

* Balázs Borbély (sportsman)
* Imrich Bugár "Imre Bugár" (sportsman)
* Koloman Gögh "Kálmán Gögh" (sportsman)
* László Mécs (Družstevná pri Hornáde, Slovakia; poet)
* Szilárd Németh (sportsman)
* Alexander Pituk "Sándor Pituk" (sportsman)
* Tamás Priskin (sportsman)
* Richard Réti (sportsman)

Born in Czechoslovakia, career in Hungary

* Katalin Szvorák
* János Manga

Hungarian politicians in Slovakia

* Béla Bugár - former chairman of Party of the Hungarian Coalition
* Edit Bauer - member of Member of the European Parliament
* László Nagy
* Pál Csáky - chairman of Party of the Hungarian Coalition
* László Gyurovszky
* Miklós Duray
* Count János Esterházy - World War II politician
* Károly Tóth Leader of the Forum institute, which compiles statistics on minorities in Slovakia.

ee also

*Demographics of Slovakia
*2006 Slovak-Hungarian diplomatic affairs
*Hungarian minority in Romania
*Hungarians in Vojvodina
*Székelys of Bukovina


Further reading

* cite journal
quotes =
last = Gyurcsik
first = Iván
authorlink =
coauthors = James Satterwhite
date =
year = 1996
month = September
title = The Hungarians in Slovakia
journal = Nationalities Papers
volume = 24
issue = 3
pages = 509–524
issn =
pmid =
doi =
id =
url =
language =
format =
accessdate =
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote =

* cite journal
quotes =
last = Paul
first = Ellen L.
authorlink =
coauthors =
date =
year = 2003
month = December
title = Perception vs. Reality: Slovak Views of the Hungarian Minority in Slovakia
journal = Nationalities Papers
volume = 31
issue = 4
pages = 485–493
issn =
pmid =
doi =
id =
url =
language =
format =
accessdate =
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote =

External links

* [ Hungarian population in present-day Slovakia (1880-1991)]

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