The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 2/The Situation in Hungary

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The Situation in Hungary.
By Joža Žák-Marusiak

Ever since the British recognition of the Czechoslovaks the Magyar politics has struck a new note. The oligarchy which rules in Hungary looked heretofore on the Czechoslovak campaign as a mere political trick of the Allies intended to create disorder in the monarchy; but now this clique is beginning to realize the greatness of the danger which threatens the unity of the Hungarian kingdom and the tyranny of the Magyar noblemen over the races of Hungary.

Even before the British declaration was published, the “Pesti Naplo” wrote with reference to the challenge of the Czech deputy Staněk in the Austrian Parliament: "It is greatly to our interest that we should realize the situation in which we are placed and that we should not underestimate the efforts for dismemberment of Hungary which find an echo in the Versailles War Council and in the American White House. . . . Our public administration, our policy toward the nationalities have endangered the vitality of our work in Hungary. That our administration is Asiatic was stated long ago by Baron Paul Szinnyey. We will not defend our administrative system, just because Staněk castigates it, but we shall attack it ourselves. We demand that things be changed; they ought to be changed so that we would not have to appeal as against Staněk—who is really the voice of Wilson and Lloyd George—to the sole fact that we are Magyars. Let us rather show that we are cultured Magyars, which is something very different. It is dangerous for us that the nationalist question has been transferred to the west. Our Eastern question was solved by the fall of Serbia and Roumani, because the problem of the Eastern Slavs can be solved by force, by fist. But the problem of the Western Slavs who are more advanced is primarily a question of culture. If we do not want to lose we have to realize that.”

In these words the organ of Magyar capitalists pointed out a new orientation for Hungarian politicians, the aim being still the same, namely, to maintain Magyar rule over all Hungary. This new orientation manifested itself in a peace propaganda; not for the sake of peace, but to gain friends on the Allied side and to neutralize the growing influence of the Czechoslovaks in the councils of the Allies.

The chief apostle of the “Magyar peace party” is Count Michael Karolyi, who early in August made a speech to his constituents in which he declared that his party would work for a separate peace on the basis of president Wilson’s program. At the same time, however, Count Karolyi is a strong defender of the unity of the Hungarian state which of course implies that the Czechoslovaks must remain divided and that other Slav branches m.ust continue to live under Magyar oppression. It is not likely that the Allies will swallow the Magyar peace bait and abandon the Czechoslovaks with their brave army for the sake of gaining over a few insincere Magyar noblemen. But it is well to realize that the Magyars have no desire to be just to the nationalities of Hungary.

The Budapest Government is still so blind as to imagine that they can hide the desires of the majority of the Hungarian inhabitants for a break-up of Hungary, and that they can accomplish this by suppressing the nationalities themselves. The famous and widely heralded franchise reform was so juggled that it would be practically impossible under this measure for three million Slovaks to elect a single deputy. The latest now is a law consolidating the counties and reducing their number from 63 to 48. The purpose is to bring Magyar districts in to counties that were heretofore overwhelmingly Slav or Roumanian, so that the claim could be made that all of the administrative divisions of Hungary are either Magyar or have strong Magyar elements, and that therefore it would be unjust and impracticable to break up the unity of the Hungarian kingdom.

Another Magyar method for the solution of the question of nationalities is a so-called reform of land law. During the four years of the war peasants in Hungary, and especially in the Slovak counties, received good prices for their produce and they used the money to buy more land from the impoverished Magyar gentry. When the estate that happened to come into the market was too large, Czech bankers bought the property and parcelled it out to the neighboring Slovak peasants. This process scared the Magyar chauvinists who ruled in Budapest, and a law was passed authorizing, the government to expropriate large landed estates and settle on them disabled soldiers who must of course be Magyars. This law copies the Prussian program as applied in Posnania, to settle Polish lands with German farmers. The law provides also that the property of dangerous alients shall be taken over, and this section is aimed principally at the Czechs, who as Austrian subjects are aliens in Hungary.

Political persecution against Slavs has continued in full force. In May representative Slovaks gathered in Liptov St. Nicholas, and indorsed the Czech program for an independent Czechoslovak state, embracing both branches of the nation. The principal speaker at that Assembly was Dr. Vavro Srobar, a physician and author of Ružomberk. After his address he was charged with treason and sentenced to a long term in the Magyar prisons of Szegedine. The best known Slovak poet, Hviezdoslav, and a number of women are now before the Hungarian courts on the charge of treason for participating in the Czech demonstrations held in Prague in the month of May. The terrorism, of the Magyar authorities is best illustrated by the case of the old professor Polony, who was indicted because he said in a funeral address over the grave of the poet Maro that Maro could not attend a Slovak school, because the Slovaks had none. Such cases are only too common and they flatly contradict Magyar peace offensive which has the audacity to claim that it accepts President Wilson’s principles.

-The Slovaks are now as united as the Czechs, and both look forward to the same ideals. The “Slovak Tyždennik,” the only political newspaper of three million people, wrote recently:

“Let us pay no more attention to the Magyar persecutions. No longer will Magyar soft words have any effect on us. Let us stand together, shoulder to shoulder, work and fight for that beautiful future of our people of which we now feel assured.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1979, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 43 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.