|Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia|
The Czech always frequently professed democracy which, according to
them flourished, especially toward other countries, H o w e v e r, the
people living in the country found more weeds than flowers. MASARYK promised
autonomy to Grigory ZATKOVIC and his associates in the United States. BENES
also promised the same. This fact of autonomy was also enacted in the peace
treaty of Saint-Germain, It was included in the Constitutional Law. Only
no one could find it in practice. The citizens of the Czechoslovakian state
already had their lesson in distortion of ideas, which they later implemented
more extensively by the Soviets. The Rusin, Hungarian, and other populations
did not have any legislative rights, neither could they elect their officials,
as required by autonomy. We see the lack of religious freedom in highly
disfigured form. There was no trace of freedom of assembly, nor of the
press. But the most suffering was borne by those who were deprived of their
citizenship, the most elementary and natural right of every citizen.
But let us analyze these one by one,
A U T O N O M Y
We already mentioned those commitments which had to be yielded by the treaty of Pittsburgh, the treaty of St. Germain, and the Constitutional Law. These are nicely listed in the directives of the Czechoslovakian Constitution of February 29,1920. However, the Czechs did not enforce the Law of Constitution, and violations even by minor officials occurred frequently, without being prosecuted. But violations also occurred officially. The Constitution was already violated before it came to existence. The Generalni Statut (General Statute) which was signed by the first governor of Ruthenia, BREJCHA, and the French General HENNOQUE, was issued on November 8, 1919.
In this it was promised that within 90 days after the general elections, the "Soym" of Ruthenia, the Parliament, a Ruthenia Diet would be assembled. However, this was never accomplished. The "Soym" was assembled only once, in March 1919, but even this time only on the basis of autonomy granted by the Hungarians. This never happened again.
According to the Generalni Statut the solution of the frontiers problem is an internal affair of Slovaks and Ruthenes, under the jurisdiction of the Slovak and Ruthenian Diets. But during the existence of the Czechoslovakian s t a t e neither one was ever assembled. Failure to keep the promises made in the United States was the primary reason for the resignation of ZATKOVIC, the first governor of Ruthenia. Realizing, the hopelessness of the battle he had to fight against the most competent persons, he resigned on the 16 March 1921, embittered and disappointed, and returned to the US. According to him, "the enemies of the Rusin people destroyed the illusions of the Rusin people".
The border problems were never solved, and the 150,000 Rusins living in Slovakia were attached partly to the "zhupa" (county) of Kassa, and partly to Liptoszentmiklós.
At first, MASARYK demanded strictly etnographical frontiers for Czechoslovakia. In his first proposal, he allotted the cities of Pozsony, Léva, Ipolyság, Kassa to Hungary, also East-Slovakia, and Ruthenia. 1
According to M. YUHAS: "The gravest political grievance flagrantly offending the provisions of the Peace Treaties are the following: There is no Soym (Autonomous Diet of Podk. Rus); the Governor is only a figurehead without any power, , . In the offices, against the provisions of Peace Treaties, the Rusins have no rights of priority, on the contrary, every possible place is occupied by Czechs and Slovaks, and for the Rusins, "Neni mista" - there is no opening. " 2
But let us listen to Steven PETRIK, Greek Catholic priest at Lorain, a member of the "soym" assembled under the autonomy granted by the Hungarians, a witness still alive. 3 After World War 1, the Hungarian government had given autonomy to the Rusin territory
"Ruska Krajna" under the X, Article of Law dated December 21, 1918, "When the Czech came in he stated - Ruthenia already had legally elected "soym" i. e. House of Representatives. The Czechs did not let them utter a voice; therefore, a part of the House of Representatives: fled to Striy. (Among them was Rev. Steven PETRIK. ) The Soym took the stand for coexistence with the Hungarians. Their decision was submitted to the peace conference through the British mission, and they wanted this desire to be discussed, However, due to the intrigues of MASARYK and BENES, it was rejected, never discussed, The people of Ruthenia did not want to have anything to do with the Czechs. BENES and his associates relied on those who were members of an American association, the "Soyedeniya Homestead", There had been only few Ruthenians among them; they were mostly from Galicia, Bukovina, Ukraina or elsewhere. They then made a decision, without asking those in the country, at the meeting of Pittsburgh. BENES proved - Rev. PETRIK stated - that he considered Ruthenia only a temporary colony. To wit: as unscrupulously as he lied effecting the annexation to the first Czechoslovakia, so did he unconscientiously deliver Ruthenia as a present of allegiance of the second Czechoslovakia to the Russians.
Vice-Governor Dr. EHRENFELD, a Czech, stated: "The worst present we had given to Podkarpatska-Rus after the change: the politics". . . "The constitution was prepared by the national assembly consisting of appointed party representatives. " "The most important and most justified gravemen of the Sudeten-Germans, Hungarians, the minorities generally, and of the Ruthenians in the First Czechoslovakia was that the constitution had been composed and codified without participation of the minorities. " Elizabeth WISKEMAN also related how important laws were made by the national assembly: the Law of Constitution, Law of Language, Law of Agrarian Reform; on 10 April 1919, the Exchange of Currency, Property Tax, and other important laws. All these basic laws were the accomplishments of a legislative assembly consisting of representatives, still alive who had been elected by the(Austrian) elections of 1911, and a certain number of appointed Czechs and Slovaks.
The Germans and Hungarians regarded this with disappointment. The peace treaty of St. Germain ruled concerning the Ruthenians only on September 10, 1919. 4
"In 1924, after the Communal elections had been held, a new Ruthen Governor was appointed: Anton BESKID", He was Rusin, but only a puppet and in the strictest sense of the word. ". . . it still sports a gentleman, bearing the honorific title of Governor, who is housed appropriately enough in the local museum. "remarked MACGARTNEY. 5 - In other words: An old gentleman, literally belonging in a museum.
The governors and vice-governors were changed, but the situation remained the same.
"The Vice Governor was again a Czech, M, ROZSYPAL, In the same year, elections to the National Assembly were held in Ruthenia for the first time, with the somewhat disconcerting result that the Communists obtained 40 percent of the total poll and more than three times as many votes as the next largest party and that was the Magyar Party. 6
"One of the serious political mistakes was the introduction of the Czechs parties in Ruthenia. Compared to the total population but a handful of Czechs strove, by all means, to get their candidates elected. BENES himself said; "I have to condemn the transplanting of the Czech political parties to Podkarpatska Rus. " But nevertheless his party, the National Socialist Party, also participated in the elections.
In 1926, effected by the Law No.17, the Czech language was made the official language in Ruthenia.
The situation in Ruthenia was not at all improved by the Administrative Reform No. 127, dated July 14, 1927. On the contrary, by this law, Ruthenia was put into the same situation as the three other provinces of the republic had been.
"In fact, as everyone knows and almost everyone admits, Ruthenia is not ruled by its Governor, nor by its Diet with its twelve elected members and six Government nominees, nor by its local councils with their strictly limited functions. It is ruled most efficiently by its Czech President assisted by a bureaucracy in which all the important and responsible posts are exclusively in the hands of Czechs or, in rare instances, or entirely trustworthy local personalities or émigrés. " (Mostly Ukranians and Great Russians. ) 7
The territorial Diet Assembly was forbidden from dealing with political matters, or even bringing up such matters; not spoken of making decisions in those. The question of the autonomy was not even allowed to be mentioned, even less to be demanded; in spite of the fact that the contract with the present-time President, the Peace Treaty, and the Law of Constitution obliged the Czechs to establish same.
The Provincial Diet consisted only of eighteen members. Six of these eighteen were nominees. This way, only 3 obedient members had to be elected to secure the majority voting for anything. These had to be present except in case of mortal illness. This applied to the 6 nominees, to the referents who had the right to vote, and to the president, whose vote decided in case of equal votes. So 11 votes were already secured in advance, The president did not have to fear anything unexpected. However, there could have been no trouble even if they had voted against something. It was not a legislative, only an advisory corporation. To vote against some proposal could have meant only a warning.
"Its appointed members and those who ex-officio are also members, together with those who have been elected as members by the aid of the Czechoslovak government and by terror and corruption, the Assembly can easily put through anything the Czechoslovak government wants. Even if this could not be done, the Czechoslovak Minister of Interior has the power to dissolve the Assembly at any time he so desires. " 8
Michael YUHAS compared this type of legislative procedure with the Hungarian County Administrative Law described in 2lst Art. of Law of 1886. Citing the entire text of this law, he pointed out that the Hungarian County Administrative Law had granted more rights to the administrative units than the new Czech administrative reform did. Especially, in view of the fact that the autonomy of Ruthenia was guaranteed by an international agreement.
"To prove the correctness of our statement, we beg to give here the exact working of the hereto relative part of Pg. 11 of the Hungarian County Administration Act No. 21 of the year of 1886. The County Corporation may create status not be in opposition to the law and to government decrees actually in force; they may not encroach upon the autonomous rights of the parishes safeguarded by the Law. ' In this way, while Hungarian Administrative Law merely wishes to enforce the principle of administrative hierarchy in strictly marking out the competencies of the various local authorities, so that the power of issuing Local Statutes is established by Acts of Parliament, the Czech-Slovak Administrative Reform Act makes the exercise of this power dependent upon the previous consent of the Central Government. " 9
"One of the best qualified witnesses is. . . Dr. Grigory ZATKOVIC. . . It was he who in 1918 carried on negotiations with the acting president, Prof. MASARYK .... reserving the right of full-government the Czechoslovak democratic State on federative lines. - This same Dr. ZATKOVIC was obliged during the time of his Governorship, to fight desperately against the Prague Government, for the recognition of the Ruthenian people's rights. "(But without success. )
Dr. ZATKOVIC set forth the reason for the step he had taken in the Memorandum presented to the Czech-Slovak Government.
"I clearly stated before the President of the Republic and before the members of the Government that on entering my post of Governor, I had reserved for myself the right of protest in order to make it possible for Carpato-Russia to receive the autonomy which according to the Peace Treaty is hers by right. . . .
"After having been at work for three months, I made a report of the position of Carpato-Russia to the President of the Republic. This report was discussed and examined by a conference, at which all the Ministers assisted, under the Presidency of Dr. Cerny then Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs. I declared at the time - and maintain my statement to this day - namely, that no sort of consolidation was possible in Ruthenia as long as it did not possess properly elected representatives, as long as there was no Diet. '
"At this conference it had been unanimously decided to hold the elections in the course of the month of January 1921." 10
The parliamental elections were held in Ruthenia 3 years later, in 1924; the Rusin Diet, itself never came into existence.
The passing time fully justified Dr. Grigory ZATKOVIC. Realizing the futility of his struggle, and the fact that he was unable even to oppose SLAVIK, the zhupan of Kassa, successfully in the frontiers debate, he resigned in March 1921.
The Provincial Council, although having more rights and more extended jurisdiction, was also only an advisory corporation; 1/3 of its members were also nominees, serving only for the benefit of the government but not that of the people.
Neither the representatives of the Provincial Assembly, nor the members of the Council had right of immunity. Even the members of the Parliament of Prague did not have immunity. They were under the observation of the police. I am a witness to this myself. On one occasion, a Jewish man came to see me. We were Friendly to each other. However, we seldom met, so the authorities had no knowledge that we were acquainted. He honestly admitted that he had been instructed to keep me under observation and if possible, to follow me wherever I go. "All right, Mr. Hauer - I said - in the future I will tell you where I am going, if you are curious. If you so desire, you can come with me to the door which I would enter. To you I have no secrets I'll go even farther - not even toward the authorities. I am in open opposition. I scourge the discrepancies, but I do not follow secret ways. " - He never followed me. Maybe he did not accept the task. I did believe so, because I knew him as an honest man. I can say this action was most laudable since he was living under hard conditions.
Sir DONALD mentioned: "Another case of penalizing methods of the Czech authorities was brought to my notice. Deputy KURTYAK, a Ruthenian and member of the Czech Parliament who was in sympathy with Hungary was declined a passport to visit England. He could not attend a conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in London. " 11
Briefly, a representative to a Parliament was unable to attend a conference of an international union of deputies, because he was denied a passport. Do we need any further explanation, who are not issued passports?
It happened that the mother of another per son moved to Hungary and died there. Although the death was officially certified, he did not receive a passport. We can disregard cases involving close relatives, like brothers and sisters. Passports were denied upon countless occasions, disregarding the group of persons ''without citizenship. ''
The Reformed bishop of Komarom was expelled. His wife remained and became seriously ill, The bishop applied for an entry visa from Hungary but in vain. It was refused. His wife died shortly thereafter. The bishop separated from his wife, became so desperate upon this inhuman behavior that he also died after a short time.
To change the Provincial Reform of 1927, there was no need for a 3/5 majority of both houses. There was no Constitutional Law. The simple majority of the Parliament was sufficient for the change.
In order to learn the correct opinion of the people, despite all the bragging of the Czechs, and to demonstrate that they were unable to get close to the sentiments of the people, it is proper to cite an article of the "Svoboda" (Freedom), a Ukrainian newspaper, with the title: "After the Festivals of Uzhorod", (No. 266, 1928). The author, Auhustin HELEBAN described the public opinion as follows: "If somebody would like to characterize the present state of mind of the people of Podkarpatska Rus, he could do it in a very short way with the following words ; general and unlimited hatred for the Czechs. " Mr. Auhustin HELEBAN evidently a well informed authority upon the subject; ". . The hatred of the Poles for the Russians cannot be compared to that of the Carpatho-Russians for the Czechs. . . who are masters in creating hatred against themselves. even in the most pliable people.. because they have a very special way of trampling with boots on their feet upon the soul of another people and stirring it up from its very bottom and wounding people in all their most sacred sentiments.... ".
"God forbid an enslaved people becoming master over another. " - says Mr. HELEBAN dolefully in his article which gives a true picture of the deplorable position of the Carpatho Russians, "who voluntarily annexed themselves to Czechoslovakia under the position of 'fullest autonomy' guaranteed by the Peace Treaties, ". . . "But the Czechs are entirely ignoring the provisions of the Peace Treaties. Therefore there is a general unlimited hatred for them in Podkarpatska Rus. " - as Auhustin HELEBAN finally stated.
V. DVORSKY had written: "Czechoslovakia is a state which stands in the way of all neighbors. " 12 A true scientist is not willing to decline the facts given by nature, even if they are unfavorable to his country.
Foot Notes to Chapter III.
1 Henri POZZI: Les Coupables ( The Guilty Ones), p. 328
2 M. YUHAS: Wilson's Principles in Chechoslovak Practice, p. 23
3 Interview with Rev. Steven PETRIK for the "Katolikus Magyarok Vasárnapja" (Catholic Hungarians' Sunday)
4 Wahlpraktiken in der ersten Tschechoslowakie. (Electorial Practics in the First Czechoslovakia)Sudentendeutsche Zeitung (Sudeten-GermanNewspaper), Issue April 18, 1953.
5 MACCARTNEY: Hungary and Her Successors, p. 224.
7 Ibidem, p. 224-225
8 M. YUHAS, op. cit., p. 10
9 Ibidem, p. 44
10 Ibidem, p. 46
11 Sir DONALD: The Tragedy of Trianon, p. 337 ( 12) I. V. DOVORSKY: Z a k 1 a d y politicke geographie, (Principles of Political Geography), Praha, p. 50.
|Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia|