[Table of Contents] [Previous] [Next] [HMK Home] Senator Charles J. Hokky : Ruthenia


As pointed out, Ruthenia was an active, integral part of the Danubian community of nations for more than ten centuries. During this time, people not only survived and prospered on the Southern foothills of the Carpathian Mountain ranges, but new settlers of different tongues came seeping in from the disturbed North and East, seeking refuge under the protective wings of the Stephen's Crown. All these new immigrants, - Ruthenians, Romanians, Germans, Slovaks, Jews and Gypsies, were not only able to put down roots, to build towns and villages, but they were able to keep their languages and their cultural heritage and to develop them Freely. Under the inspiring influence of the Danubian community, their culture was able to unfold more and more, and to blend in complete harmony into the multi-colored Danubian culture, representing in this harmony a very particular color of its own.

Whether against Eastern or Western oppressors, the people of Ruthenia took an active part in every Hungarian Liberty War. Ruthenian heroes fought for the freedom of Hungary under Rákoczy as well as under Kossuth. Ruthenian soldiers gave their lives in the defense of the thousand-year-old Hungarian frontier against the armies of the Czar.

According to the Wilsonian doctrine of self-determination, the people of Ruthenia were supposed to decide by popular vote whether or not they wanted to stay with Hungary or become an autonomous part of the newly created Czechoslovakia. But the people never had the chance to express their own desires. The Czechs occupied their country by military force and turned it into a police-controlled colony.

As we read in the many manifestations of Ruthenian writers, the Czechs were never able to reach the heart and soul of the native inhabitants of Ruthenia. Instead of this, the Czechs have brought nothing into this land but terror, persecution, religious disturbances, all sorts of discriminations, poverty, famine and desperation.


By breaking down the resistance of the tormented population, the Czechs laid the foundation for the bolshevization of the country, and made it easy for the Russians to annex the territory after World War II. Through this act, the Soviet Union gained official entrance into the Danubian Basin, in a strategically favorable position.

Today, it would be ridiculous even to propose a plebiscite for a solution of the Ruthenian problem. The proper time for this would have been after World War I, when the right to self-d e t e r m i n a t i o n was, at least in theory, the leading principle of re-organization. Since then, however, Ruthenia has gone through the most tragic period of her long history. Forty-five years of harassment, abuses and terror have taken a heavy toll on the social and ethnical structure of the population. The number of the Hungarians was first reduced by the Czechs, then by the killings, imprisonments and deportations carried out by the Soviet Union. Ruthenians suffered in the same way. Those who were lucky immigrated to the United States, Canada and many other countries, all over the globe. The less fortunate were forced to surrender their national pride and culture, and become obedient slaves of Soviet Imperialism.

A Westerner can hardly grasp the immense psychological pressure to which the population of Ruthenia was subjected. between 1919 and 1945, eight different regimes put their brands on this country, each of them representing a different way of life, a different type of government, and a different set of laws. After many centuries of more or less balanced existence under the Hungarian Constitution, first the communists ruled in 1918 for short time, with extremely bloody terror, then the Romanians "liberated" the country, plundering and devastating the cities. After they left, the Czechs took over, and turned the country into a colony. They were replaced by the short-lived national dictatorship of VOLOSIN. For a short time Ruthenia was then returned to Hungary. At the end of the war, the Czechs took over again, taking bloody revenge on everyone who had allegedly co-operated in any way, either with the VOLOSIN government, or with the Hungarians. Finally, on July 16, 1945, Ruthenia was annexed by Russia, and the final liquidation of the independent peasantry and the small bourgeoisie began.


Each of these eight regimes expected something different from its subjects. What was virtue for one, was crime for the other. Economy had to be started up anew after each change, and in a different way. Each time the people had to search for new opportunities and new markets, for the old ones disappeared overnight. The people were forced to adapt themselves again and again to completely new situations.

This tragic period of Ruthenian history has proved one thing, however. Namely, that compared to the possibilities which were equally available for every nationality group within the former unit of the Danubian Basin, all the other experiments failed. The creation of small national states to replace the old Monarchy unleashed the brutal forces of extreme nationalism and turned one ethnic group against the other.

It proves, too, that old ties of culture and economy cannot be severed arbitrarily just to suit the territorial ambitions of neighboring nations without serious consequences. The Carpathian Basin is one sound and compact geographical and economical unit, where the thousand-year-long co-existence of different ethnic groups created a unique culture, an extremely rich Danubian culture, which differed from all the other cultures of Europe.

While seeking long-lasting solutions to the manifold problems of this region, we must realize that peace can be achieved only through justice, sincerity and good will toward every ethnic group which calls the land its home. The biased, arbitrary decisions of the past, which were influenced by prejudice and only used contemporary doctrines to disguise their chauvinistic aims, has brought nothing but suffering to all concerned. The present situation, which is a direct result of the mistakes made in the past, cannot be regarded as permanent for two reasons. First., because no dictatorship contains the ingredients of peace and happiness. Second, because of the cultural heritage as well as of the economic needs of Ruthenia clearly define it as an integral part of Central Europe, a fortress of the West, and not the spearhead of the East.


The Eastern culture-circle, so totally different from that of Central and Western Europe, has no justificable claim, either south or west of the Carpathian mountains.

The culture community of the Danubian Basin must be restored in a modern and practical form, acceptable to every ethnic group of freedom loving people. Until this is done, peace and stability will never return to Central Europe.


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