|Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia|
C I T I Z E N S H I P
"The Czechs were the favoured children of the Peace Conference. They became possessed of a country richly endowed by nature; magnificently developed industrially by human enterprise; they did not fight for that country; they fought against the Powers who gave it to them. Their effective political weapon was not the sword, but the pen - not the fiery arena of the battlefield, but cold columns of print. " 1
And still they were able to be so ruthless, so cruel. Perhaps they were the most cruel dealing with citizenship; which is the most powerful right of the citizens of every county.
The Hungarian Article of Law No. XXII of 1886, which ruled concerning the domicile and citizenship, was perhaps the most liberal law in the whole world, It was based on the communal domicile. Anyone who lived in the same place for a period of four years, if he paid only one penny of tax at one single occasion, and if there were no moral objection against his person, could not be denied domicile; and on this basis, the citizenship. On the contrary: if he lived in the same community for a period of two years, and he fulfilled the above mentioned two requirements, and applied for admission as a member of the community, the domicile and citizenship could not be denied.
Act No. 136 of 1886 exempted from taxes everyone in public service: officials, soldiers, teachers; further parish clerks, clericals, and everyone in the service of the community.
A separate law concerned the workers, who were also exempted from state
and municipal taxes.
Foreign citizens were not enlisted for military service.
The Hungarian state did not require even the knowledge of the official language, unless the person concerned was in public service, and did not require any kind of examination. This extremely tolerant attitude toward the minorities was also proven by several other facts. For example: Hungary was the only country of the world which had the value of the currency printed in seven languages on the bank notes.
The certificate of citizenship was never requested nor was the certificate of residency. There was hardly anyone who had a certificate of citizenship. The certificate or residency was required only if someone was a burden to a community. Persons admitted to hospitals or to a home for aged persons needed a certificate in order to determine which community had to pay for the treatment, or which home had to accept the indigent person.
When the Czechs started to demand a certificate of citizenship, there was practically no one who had such a certificate. Their primary goal was to withdraw the pensions of the ex-employees of Hungarian public services, whose pensions they were obliged to pay. However there was another business hidden. Many tens of thousand, or hundreds of thousands of applicants; - since from that time on, everyone made efforts to obtain the certificate - had to obtain documents sometimes as far as 90 years back. The stamp duties of applications, postage, and frequently also travel expenses sometimes amounted up to hundreds of Crowns. There had been many who had to travel several hundred kilometers, back and forth, from one corner of Ruthenia. to the other end of Slovakia. Somewhere traveling from Ruthenia to Pozsony, in order to present their data and reasons in person, or hired a lawyer for this purpose. This was an extra expense for these unfortunates. Those who were granted citizenship, if they were well-to-do, had to pay a considerable amount for same. Those who did not have citizenship, lost their jobs held with the state, community, or public installation (as hospitals), etc. The citizenship of several hundred denominational teachers was withdrawn, these denominational teachers then had to be discharged by the church concerned, not to mention several hundred teachers of state-supported schools. Students were unable to obtain high school diplomas if they did not have a certificate of citizenship. It occurred that the certificate of citizenship was demanded immediately before the examinations. Apprentices could not sign in dentures with tradesmen. They could not become masters of their trade, They could not open shops or stores. In Slovakia and Ruthenia there had been more than 90,000 people without citizenship, mostly Hungarians. These persons could not participate in any kind of elections; they had no civil rights, no freedom.
However, the Czechs had taken advantage of other, different occasions to avoid their public obligations, other than not paying salaries and pensions to public, communal, or denominational employees.
When on July 2,1933 the Tisza river had flooded Tiszaujlak, and destroyed or damaged almost half of the living quarters rendering the majority of the population homeless, the persons without citizenship did not receive any kind of help. Only the houses of those who had citizenship were rebuilt, though all of them lived here a long time before the Czechs had come in. This time it was also proved that in the 20th century, there was a country in Europe which had citizens even before the state came into existence. The child was born before the mother, who was bearing the child.
In Slovakia there had been two legislators whose citizenship had been withdrawn. One living in a town [Guta) for several decades, was a priest of the Roman Catholic church, He paid taxes. The other was resident of the same town for a quarter of a century. He was the cultural councilor of the magistrate. The crime of both was that they defended the just cause of their people. Both were not only denied their citizenship, but they also had to leave the area of the republic.
There had been judges who passed sentences in the name of the Czechoslovak Republic for years, but later for some reason which was not worthy, their citizenship was withdrawn.
"Archbishop Anton PAPP, of the Greek Catholic Church Resident at Ungvar from 1896 and paid taxes since 1904. His domicile was canceled because the authorities were dissatisfied with his politics. The Hungarian authorities refused to accept him as a citizen. He was put over the frontier by force. " 2
1n connection with the agrarian reform, the citizenship of many persons was canceled. However, if the person concerned relinquished his land, or he was willing to bargain and relinquish the majority of his property, he was granted citizenship.
These and similar cases were almost identical with the methods used by the Bolsheviks, only they were less brutal at that time,
Sir DONALD had listed several very characteristic incidents. "The case of Dr. Andrew KORLATH of Ungvar is notorious. His citizenship is not recognized, it is stated on his passport to be ' disputable'. 'His passport is only issued for periods of three months. His family had lived in the commune of Korlathelmeo since 1551, and founded and built the Reformed Church of the commune. He is prominent member of Parliament. " 3
Imre SIPOS Reformed minister of Csepe, father of 8 children, and Ernö HELLER, Roman Catholic Priest, were expelled without any previous interview and legal or administrative action, accusing them with irredentism. (Does it resemble the methods of the Bolsheviks?)
"Alexander PILISSY of Nagyszöllös and his wife were in State Service as elementary school teachers for forty years and residents of the town since 1884 and had paid taxes since 1895. They were discharged in 1920 and received no pension. An appeal to the Administrative Tribunal for recognition of their citizenship was rejected. Precisely similar case is that of John SPOLARICH, teacher of the same town, where he lived for forty years and paid taxes. " 4 PILISSY and his wife were quiet, inactive persons. János SPOLARICH was an outspoken, resolute Hungarian.
"Margit ZHORSZKY school teacher of Nagyszöllös, An application made years ago to the Ministry of Interior is still unsettled. She receives no pension, has not left her house for years, and lives in pitiable circumstances" 5 Her gentleness and shy nature was commonly known; even the idea of her being an enemy of the state was absurd. (The author had known her in person)
"Dr, Kálmán NAGY was in charge of the hospital at Nagyszöllös and was admitted to citizenship of the commune in 1909. His citizenship was canceled and he was discharged
from the hospital. An appeal was pending for six years. " 6 He never received his pension although he had worked for several years under Czech rule. He was a famed and reputed surgeon.
"Sigmund FODOR, day worker, resided at Nagyszöllös since 1882 without interruption. As a worker he paid no taxes. His domicile and citizenship were not recognized and he was deported. No state accepted him as citizen. " 7 Who would have been willing to accept someone who was citizen of another country for forty years? He was a poor, old, simple man of ill health. One can not understand why he was persecuted. Perhaps, because it was one of the goals to expel from the territory of the republic as many Hungarians as possible, since the number of the Hungarians, far over one million, was too high.
"Joseph DAVID of Munkács, born in 1884, employed in a tobacco factory. The Commune of Zsofiafalva acknowledged his domicile but the District Judge annulled the decision. " 7 - He also should have been a citizen by his birth and also by his residency of 80 years.
All these cases were listed by Sir DONALD, just a few among the more than 90 thousand persons without citizenship.
We have to recall the case of Lajos SZABÓ. Lajos Szabó became victim of an illegal expulsion in 1927. SZABÓ was Roman Catholic priest, dean of Munkács, who was expelled as undesirable. Very characteristic of the blunt persecution of the Hungarians by the authorities was the fact, that his appeal against the order of the prefect of the police was rejected by the zhupanate within half an hour, despite the fact that several times an application or appeal was not answered for years. JECH the Chief Zhupan was not willing to withdraw the order of expulsion even after the deputation of the Greek Catholic, the Reformed, and the Jewish churches intervened. On November 17, 1927, he was escorted by Czech detectives to the Romanian border station at Halmi; from there he was taken to Kolozsvár. He was not accepted by Romanian authorities, Finally he was deported to Hungary at Nyir-Abrány, Lajos SZABÓ had been chaplain at Beregszász in the years of 1902-1909, priest at Királyháza between 1909-1920, and dean at Munkacs since 1920.
He had been living in Ruthenia for a quarter of a century. He was granted domicile at Királyháza in 1909. When Chief Zupan JECH was asked why he was undesirable, his answer was: 1.) because he escorted English newsmen, 2. ) because on October 28 he did not hand out the flag of the church, 3) he held speeches against the state at funerals,
Characteristic of the Czechs, they had taken over all the goods of the Hungarian state, but they threw all the burdens onto Hungary, reduced to one quarter of her previous area and robbed of most of her natural resources, The number of refugee state employees and citizens in Hungary rose to 1/2 million, and most of them were forced to live in miserable temporary quarters or railway cars. Further, Hungary had to pay war indemnity to Czechsolovakia although they were never in war. On the contrary, most of their soldiers were fighting side by side. This is the characteristic of the 20th century !
M, YUHAS also mentioned a few noticeable incidents, especially involving the Greek Catholic clergymen, whose persecution was initiated by the Czechs, and whose extermination was completed by the Russians.
Nevertheless, let us read the author:" The very first difficulty that every Greek Catholic priest encounters, albeit his ancestors were born and raised and were living in Podk. Rus is the question of citizenship, No matter how long the family of that priest had been living in Podkarpatska Rus. No matter, that every drop of blood of the great majority of the Uniat priests belongs to the land and history of Podkarpatska Rus, they must produce all kinds of documents; they must undergo great and unpleasant molestations; they must pass to a series of formalities, sometimes similar to the "third degree"; they are to answer a great number of questions, and to fill out questionaires; they are to waste their time and spend money before they can become qualified and declared entitled to receive their Congrue. " (supplement to the salary, paid by the Hungarian state to clergymen of all religions, - The author's note) 8 - Here also, the money was important,
Why should they pay it, if it can be denied to someone? Generally, to squeeze money out of the non-Czech population, as much as possible, was an important part of the Czech politics.
"There is a case of the Very Rev. Basil HADZHEGA, DD. Canon of Uzhorod. His citizenship was questioned and refused, not recognized by one Czech "legionnaire uradnik". 9 What a grotesque contrast! On one side a man, a Rusin, whose family has been living for centuries in Podk. Rus. On the other side there is a self styled " conqueror " representing an inimical governmental tendency - if not terror - trying to deprive a citizen of his inherited, native, and unquestionable citizenship!" 10
"Existing Hungarian teachers are being systematically weeded out. The 'modus operandi' is to revoke their domicile and citizenship, and then discharge them without pension. In many cases they are expelled from the country. " 11
They revoked pensions even from those who had citizenship. An example is my own case, and also of several others. I, along with all my colleagues, was discharged illegally before the Trianon treaty was signed. My father was born in 1851 and had paid taxes since 1873. This did not satisfy them. On the basis of an obsolete law, they inquired about the residency of my grandfather, going back as far as a century in their researches. This inquiry was in vain, since my family had been residents, taxpayers, and officials of the city of Rozsnyó for several centuries. Still, my complaint against the refusal of my pension was rejected by the Supreme Administrative Court.
Young men who had no citizenship were forced to complete their military service. However, upon completion, they still did not receive citizenship. Although, in the democracy, the rights are due to a person with duties. Duties without rights is slavery - everywhere in the world!
All this becomes even more unjust when one considers that in the area where Hungarians were living, also in Ruthenia, the percentage of the Checks was only 0. 18%. For one thousand years there had been no Czechs living and they were never ruled there. On the contrary, during the rule of king Mátyás, Bohemia was a part of his empire.
According to the statement of PALACKY, the greatest historian of the Czechs, Mátyás was a very humane ruler.
". . . The Supreme Civil Service Court of Hungary decided in 1907 that all those persons who by virtue of law of 1886 were free from the law of taxation, were also free from communal rates. The same law applies today to laborers who are exempt from the additional communal taxes according to law passed in 1883. The Czech Government ignores these laws and has been most active in its illegal denationalizing policy among teachers and civil servants." 12 It was useless for anyone to refer to these laws. Such pleas were simply ignored.
There had been cases at the Governorship at Ungvár or in Prague, where the documents had been lost. Still the innocents were punished. Sometimes, if someone was instructed to do so by the authorities, he had to run around for years to obtain the documents. The person concerned often had to report in person, sometimes several hundred kilometers away, in order to obtain his papers. Frequently, the authorities did not even answer a written request. One who did not have money had to renounce his citizenship. Sometimes documents spanning 80 - 90 years, or more, had to be obtained.
At the second Peace Conference of Paris, the Hungarians, complained that there had been too many persons without citizenship in the C.S.R. One can find among them original inhabitant farmers on November 1,1938. 13 There had been communities where after 1918, 90-93% of the original inhabitants were considered aliens, as Nagybereg and Kékesfüred. The first one is an ancient settlement, the second one almost 200 years old. 14
Ivan DERER also created another amendment. However, when this was codified, it turned out to be nothing but a bait for naive people. As Sir DONALD has stated with sarcasm: "Almost one hundred persons obtained citizenship under this law. Considering the more than 90 thousand persons concerned, this was not more than a drop in the ocean. As the Hungarian proverb says: 'Here is nothing, hold it tight'. "
If the citizenship question had been the only method used by the Czechs to torture the non-Czechs, - even this would have been sufficient for the original inhabitants never to like the government which has estranged them by such behavior,
No wonder that Lord RUNCIMAN, when he learned this caricature of a democratic government, or better, this prison-state for the people forced into same; had called Czechoslovakia "the accursed country", 15
Foot notes to Chapter IV
1 Sir R, DONALD: The Tragedy of Trianon, p, 294,
2 Ibidem, p, 330
3 Ibidem, p, 331
4 Ibidem, p, 331
5 Ibidem, p, 332
6 Ibidem, p, 331
7 Ibidem, p, 331
8 M, YUHAS: Wilson's Principle in Czechoslovak Practice, p, 27
9 "Legionary official". Officials appointed from among members of the Gzech Legion, They usually had not qualifications - except their membership to the Legion,
10 Ibidem, p, 27
11 Sir R: DONALD, op, cit" p, 235 referring to the issue of August 28, 1925 of the "Magyar Ujság" (Hungarian Newspaper).
12 Sir R, DONALD, op, cit, , p, 55
13 Francis DEÁK: Hungary at the Peace Conference of Paris, p, 279
14 Article by Laszlo TAUBINGER in the review Unio" (Union),
15 Prof. Dr, Callan TANSILL: Back Door to War, p, 403
|Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia|