|Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia|
THE ECONOMIC POSITION OF RUTHENIA
The absolute necessity of economic integration is the leading doctrine of the 20th century. Thus, the creation of small, self-contained economies in this age must be regarded as absurd, and a crime against the populace.
It was constantly reiterated by President Wilson that the exigencies of a sound economy should never be overlooked. In spite of this, when the new boundaries were drawn after World War I, these arbitrary lines not only destroyed the economic unity of the Danubian Basin but also imposed heavy economic burdens on all the nations concerned.
These new boundaries were drawn along the line of contact between the Great Hungarian Plain and the surrounding mountains. This line contained all the nerve centers of economic exchange between the two regions, and it was called for centuries, "the market line". By drawing the political boundaries along this line many Hungarian cities and their precincts were cut off from the vital products on which their industry was based, while in the same time, on the other side of the new boundary, entire regions were left without marketing possibilities for their products.
Considerations in drawing up this line were not economic, but military. The atmosphere at the peace conference was still impregnated with strategic reasoning, and the ideas relating to the new map had already been decided long before these conferences. (Henry N. Brailford: "The League of Nations. ")
It cannot be surprising therefore, that when the Czechoslovak Republic celebrated its l0th anniversary, a desperate famine was raging in Ruthenia. Nevertheless the celebrations prevented the Czech officials from taking serious cognizance of this situation. Headlines in the "Americansky Vistnik", published by the Ruthenian immigrants in America, reported this "Horrible famine" of the Varchovina region.
Ivan KURTYAK, president of the Ruthenian Agrarian Federation in Prague, twice exhibited the bread which was eaten in those days by the Ruthenian people to the Czechoslovak Congress. This bread seemed
inedible. Its main ingredient was the bark of trees, and only a very small part contained flour made of oats and beet roots. The Congress was shocked, but nothing was done to help the famine - stricken Ruthenians. When Mr. KURTYAK demonstrated the bread for the second time, both houses of the Parliament held a joint session in honor of President Masaryk's second term in office. In the presence of all the delegates and senators, Mr. KURTYAK cried out in a loud voice:" Give bread to the Ruthenian people! " There was a moment of deep silence and a low murmur in the tightly packed diplomatic boxes. But still, there was nothing done to help the situation.
During the campaign of Lord Rothermere against the Treaty of T r i a n o n, the Czech regime organized mass meetings in Ruthenia in order to counteract the international impact of this movement, which was seeking the revision of the boundaries. However, Mr. YUHAS reports in his book, "Wilson's Principles. . . " page 24: "According to official reports some of the orators selected from the peasantry openly declared: 'Brethren, I think it is better for us to go where the River Tisza goes (meaning Hungary), because at least there was bread for us.' Which clearly indicates the natural desire of the Ruthenians to return to Hungary. "
The International Works Bureau in Geneva sent two delegates, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Renn, into Ruthenia to study the famine. They reported that they had never seen such conditions before, not even in India or China.
Senator Klofac, later President of the Senate, gave the following report in his Senate speech in Prague, December 14,1926: "In Ruthenia everybody is against our Republic today. . . We did not understand the religious problems and we committed a great crime with our language policy. . . Where the e c o n o m y is concerned forests, representing millions, are rotting away. There is no work for the people. The famine is unbearable. Great mistakes are being committed daily by the central offices in Prague, proving again and again the utmost ignorance concerning Ruthenia and its people. "
Leaders of the Ruthenian Party had already sent in 1919 a memorandum to the peace-conference in Paris, claiming that the economic interests of Ruthenia could only be satisfied by a union with Hungary.
One of the greatest assets of Ruthenian economy was its Alpine pastures and a unique dairy system, maintained formerly by the Hungarian Government. There had been long-established cooperatives for the cheap buying of commodities, and f a r m e r s profited From a long-term credit system. Home industry was encouraged also by former Hungarian agencies.
All these benefits, which had served the livelihood of the inhabitants of Ruthenia while an integral part of Hungary, were suddenly discontinued. The entire dairy system collapsed, because the Czech Administration was unable to maintain these establishments, mostly for geographical reasons, and they neglected to replace them with others. The poverty which rose from this situation was vividly reported by Sir. R. Donald in his book, "The Tragedy of Trianon", page 152. "The inhabitants of this region (Verhovina) dwell in small hovels, in miserable villages. Anyone wearing boots or shoes is a man of means, and anyone owning a sheepskin coat is a Croesus. . . "
The ill-planned de-forestation policy of the Czech Government resulted in soil erosion and catastrophic floods. In 1933, the River Tisza destroyed more than 25 villages. Especially heavy damages were caused in Hungary. A Czech expert, Mr. Voupletal, strongly objected to the miss-management of natural resources, and predicted increasing flood damages, During the winter of 1947, new inundations devastated the upper and middle Tisza region, due to the large-scale miss-management of the Ruthenian forests by the Soviet exploiters.
The political b o u n d a r i e s dictated in the peace treaties confined Ruthenia and her populace into a cage. Neither Hungary nor Poland were allowed to export goods to Ruthenia. Custom duties imposed on any products entering the country were forbiddingly high.
Up to 1914, the wine of Ruthenia, one of its main products, was bought by Polish contractors right after the harvest, before the fermentation began. Traditional inscriptions of Polish wine-cellars read:
"Hungarian natum, Poloniae educatum. " (Born of Hungary, refined by Poland. ) It was very important for the wine growers to be able to sell their product right on harvest day, without having to wait until the next spring or summer for their money. It meant much more than just the loss in interest in a land so void of capital as Ruthenia. It meant security. The possibility of meeting the necessary expenses of the winter and the investments of the spring without hardship.
The unfortunate economic conditions created by the new boundaries were greatly increased in proportions by the attitude of the Czech Government toward the people of Ruthenia. Instead of trying to help in one way or another, the Czech Administration ruthlessly exploited the new "colony".
When the old Austro-Hungarian currency was converted into the newly created Czech currency, the key of conversion of Bohemia was two to one, while in Slovakia, four to one, and in Ruthenia, ten to one. This shows clearly that the Czech Government used different measures for Czechs and non-Czechs, discriminating not only politically, but economically, against the other nationality groups, and especially against the Ruthenians. Mr. YUHAS states in his book, "Wilson's Principles. . . " page 50: "The Czech State made in Ruthenia a profit of 315 millions by the withdrawal of the old Austro-Hungarian banknotes. As a result of this, sixty agricultural cooperative societies went bankrupt in Ruthenia. The closing of factories. . . the lack of public employment. . . the increase of taxation. . . the massdismissal of native employees in the once autonom municipalities. . . all this has completely disillusioned the population concerning the Czech economical and social policies. "
The widely advertised Czech land-reform in Ruthenia was also one of the biggest hoaxes any government ever perpetrated in Central Europe. In the name of democracy, the land was taken away from the native land owners at a nominal value, but without any monetary compensation. These confiscated lands, instead of being distributed among the native peasantry, were used for the purpose of colonization. Czech families were brought from Bohemia, settled on these lands, and subsidized on government expense.
Sir R. Donald writes in his book, "The Tragedy of Trianon", page 120: "I inspected a large colony at Batyu, near Ungvár, a purely Hungarian village with a population of two thousand. The State acquired under the Land Reform Act, 1400 acres which have been allotted to 56 Czech Families, established in two colonies. The local roads leading to and from the old village are in deplorable state. . but new roads have been built to serve the new colonists and to connect the two settlements. These new roads are fit to carry highway traffic. A school has been built for the colonists. . and as there are not sufficient Czech children to maintain the school, Hungarian children are being forced into it. . ".
Again, in the same book, on page 1 Z 1.
"Before the land was distributed to the alien settlers, the Hungarian inhabitants of Batyu presented a petition to the Government, begging to be allowed to acquire part of the land for cash payment. I have interviewed the leader of local life, who informed me that the petition was rejected, and all the land they were permitted to acquire was two acres for a burial ground. They had to pay 4,000 crowns for it. "
Even Mr. R. W. Seton Watson, the great Czech sympathizer, admits in the "New Slovakia", Prague, 1924, page 111:" No better means of alienating the Magyar peasantry could be devised than the plausible but shortsighted design of planting Czech and Slovak colonists along the frontier to serve in the long run as instrument of Slavization. "
The former land laborers, who used to make their living on the larger landholdings, now distributed among the colonists, lost their jobs and no one cared how they survived. The landless peasantry remained just as landless as before, but in addition to that, they even lost the opportunity for employment.
Every colony became a center of Czech propaganda, and every colonist a government-subsidized rival of the native peasantry. The colonists were unable to absorb their neighbors, and the natives were unwilling to absorb the new settlers. They faced each other in perpetual antagonism, thus creating an atmosphere of hate, unbearable for all concerned.
As a result. of these economical and political pressures, more than 168,000 people immigrated from the country between 1922 and 1926, an unusually high figure, if we consider the number of the population.
Prof. MACCARTNEY sums it up in his book, "Hungary and Her Successors", on page 247, with the following words: "It seems in view of economic connections, that the course most advantageous to the Ruthenians as well as to the Magyars, would be to return the entire district to Hungary. "
|Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia|