The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 2/Magyar Testimony to Slovak Sentiments
Magyar Testimony to Slovak Sentiments.
Public and authoritative declarations by the Czechs in favor of Czechoslovak independence have been numerous and have left no doubt that the Czechs at any rate are absolutely united upon this demand and determined at all cost to realize it. Similar declarations by the Slovaks have been lacking, except on the part of Slovaks beyond the boundaries of Hungary, for the simple reason that under the Asiatic regime of the Magyars the Slovaks have had no means of making their sentiments known in an authoritative manner. The three million Slovaks have only two or three deputies in the Hungarian parliament who are howled down by the Magyar chauvinists, if they attempt to give expression to the aspirations of their people. The few Slovak news papers still maintaining a precarious existence under the Magyar tyranny are not permitted to print anything opposed to the Magyar state idea, and a Slovak public meeting is something unheard of in Hungary. So the Czechs who made good their defiance of the German tyranny in the Austrian half of the monarchy have to speak both in their own name and in the name of their brothers in Upper Hungary.
That the union of the two branches of the Czechoslovak people in an independent democratic state is ardently desired on the Hungarian side of the artificial dividing line is abundantly attested from Magyar sources. We have heard much about the proposed franchise reform in Hungary and the cabinet of Dr. Wekerle recently resigned, because its so-called democratic franchise reform included the concession of a few seats to the non-Magyar races of Hungary, a step that the majority of the Budapest Parliament violently disapproved of. From the debates on the government bill one gleans a few indications as to the true sentiments of the Slovaks.
Deputy Andrew Kuzma, speaking before the Commission on Electoral Reform on February 27, referred to the Slovaks in these words:
“Members supporting the government ought to realize that the objections urged by the majority against the government’s proposal of electoral reform are not due to reactionary motives. They proceed from very grave apprehensions as to the future of the Magyars. These objections deserve closest attention and should not be slighted. I know from experience that the brave Slovak people are ready to yield to the seductions of the Czechs. Prominent Slovaks, men of influence and energy, sent to a Czech newspaper the following statement favoring Czech plans: ‘The Czech Declaration (referring to the Declaration of Independence of the Prague Constituent Assembly) gives us joy and finds here sympathetic reception. We form one nation with the Czechs. The Czech Declaration is among other things a great blow at the Magyar Government which has remained deaf to all Slovak protests. We are indebted to our Czech brothers in that, through them, the whole Europe speaks to day of the oppressed Slovak race.’
“Whoever knows the situation in Slovakia cannot doubt that even the common Slovak people will be captured by Czech agitation, unless we take the proper steps in time. The intellectual class of the Slovaks has for a long time been Czechs. With great boldness and remarkable courage they rouse hatred against Hungary in elections to the parliament and to the county and town councils. As a result it is not really the Slovak question, but the Czech question that threatens Upper Hungary, since the Czech language is supplanting the Slovak. Unless we take a firm stand in time, these Czechoslovak deputies will soon agitate the union of the thirteen Slovak counties to Bohemia not merely in the Austrian Parliament, but also in the Hungarian Chamber of Deputies. It is therefore absolutely necessary that the provisions of the electoral reform bill both as to the right to vote and as to qualifications of deputies should be revised in the interests of the Magyar nationality; and further, that the Magyar national army should become a reality, that administration be centralized, at least six years of schooling required of voters, and above all state police be introduced in all non-Magyar districts.”
The following day Baron Louis Kurthy, former food controller, discussed the same subject. He said:
“Let us avoid an exaggerated and fatal optimism. If one were to judge from the speeches delivered here, it would seem that some of the speakers rely exclusively upon the inherent strength of the Magyar race and its intellectual superiority to solve the problem of nationalities in our interest. On the other hand, we heard here yesterday some sad facts about Slovakia and Transsylvania. I know personally the Slovaks of Upper Hungary and I can state the deplorable fact that our power in Slovakia rests exclusively upon the force of our administration. The intellectual leadership has gotten away from us; it has passed into the hands of Slovak extremists and agitators.”
That was a true saying. The rule of the Magyars over the races of Hungary is founded not on Magyar superiority of character and intellect, but solely on brute force. It will be forever broken by the defeat of Germany in the present war.