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DOCUMENTS - Part Two: Frontiers of Hungary - Chapter III. Summaries and Recommendations

Document 5

Secret H Document 122

Preliminary January 21, 1944



The problem is the determination of the frontier between Subcar- pathian Ruthenia and Hungary.

Although the primary issue is the disposition of Subcarpathian Ruthenia as a whole, the problem of the frontier as such may arise if an attempt is made to reach a compromise between the Hungarian demand for a just ethnic frontier and the Czechoslovak claims for restoration of the 1937 frontiers. With an area of about 4,886 square miles, Subcar- pathian Ruthenia includes parts of the Hungarian counties of Ung (Uhorod), Bereg (Berehovo), Ugocsa (Sevlu) and Máramaros.

Subcarpathian Ruthenia became a part of Czechoslovakia in 1919, after having been a part of Hungary since the eleventh century. Hungary annexed a portion of southwestern Subcarpathian Ruthenia in November 1938, as a result of the Vienna Award, and occupied the rest of the country in March 1939. Czechoslovakia demands the integral restoration of all former Czechoslovak territories, including Subcarp- athian Ruthenia. While Great Britain and the United States do not recognize the legal validity of Hungary's annexations, neither is committed to specific boundary restoration. Both the Soviet Union and the French Committee of National Liberation have announced their recognition of Czechoslovakia's pre-Munich frontiers, including those of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, and the former is now allied with the Czechoslovak Republic for post-war collaboration. II. ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

A. Restoration of the Pre-Munich Frontiers

This solution would mean the restoration of Subcarpathian Ruthenia as a whole to Czechoslovakia. It would give Czechoslovakia common frontiers with Rumania and the Soviet Union, if the latter regains Eastern Galicia and the former regains Transylvania. Restoration of the pre-Munich frontiers would leave the farm lands of the upper Tisza River valley within Subcarpathian Ruthenia and preserve the unity of the railway system of the country. This solution might be the most beneficial to the Ruthenian population, since the Ruthenians made considerable progress, especially in the political and cultural fields, when the province was a part of Czechoslovakia. Restoration of the pre- Munich frontiers would be in agreement with the principle of minimum boundary change, and with that of non-recognition of territorial changes achieved by the threat or use of force. It would also be in accord with the American position at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

According to the Czechoslovak census of 1930, restoration of Subcarpathian Ruthenia to Czechoslovakia would place approximately 115,800 Magyars (16 percent) under Czechoslovak rule, the total population being 725,350, of whom about 450,900 (62 percent) are Ruthenian. The Hungarian census of 1910, however, listed about 338,500 Ruthenians (54 percent) and 176,500 (28 percent) Magyars, out

of a total population of approsimately 625,900. Although it is not a rich region, restoration of Subcarpathian Ruthenia to Czechoslovakia would involve a loss to Hungary of some timber and farm land, as well as a source of farm labor. Hungarians have also contended that possession of the Upper Tisza River is necessary for purposes of flood control and irrigation in the Central Hungarian Plain (Alföld).

B. Cession of Territory Acquired by Hungary through the Vienna Award (1938)

This solution would assign to Hungary, according to Czechoslovak estimates, about 612 square miles of territory in the southwestern part of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, in the districts of Uhorod (Ung), Mukaevo (Munkács), Berehovo (Bereg), and Sevlu (Ugocsa). This territory had a population, according to the Czechoslovak census of 1930, of approxi- mately 172,000 of whom about 86,600 (50 percent) were Magyars,37,700 (21 percent)were Ruthenians,25,800 (15 percent) were Jews, 17,200 (10 percent) were Czechoslovaks, and 4,900 (2.8 percent) were Germans. According to Hungarian estimates, however, the Vienna Award involved an area of about 731 square miles, with a total population of approxi- mately 207,000. The Hungarian estimates were not broken down as to nationality, although they indicated that about 178,100 (86 percent) used Hungarian as their maternal language or had a "knowledge of Hungarian," while only 19,000 (9.2 percent) were listed as Ruthenian- speaking elements. In addition there were 3,700 Germans and 2,260 Slovaks.

If this solution were adopted, it would leave within Subcarpathian Ruthenia, according to Czechoslovak estimates, about 26,000 Magyars, or according to Hungarian calculations, about 59,000. While it would assign to Hungary valuable farm lands and enable that country to control the waters of the Upper Tisza River, it would deprive Subcar- pathian Ruthenia of its most valuable lowlands. It would also take from Subcarpathian Ruthenia the important cities of Uhorod (Ungvár), Mukaevo (Munkács), and Berehovo (Beregszász). Moreover, Czechoslo- vak communications would be severed in Subcarpathian Ruthenia along the principal east-west railway line from op to Chust near Fancikovo, and along the north-south lines from op to Uhorod and Uzok on the Polish frontier, from Batovo to Lawoczne, also on the Polish border, and between Berehovo and Kuánice. Since this solution would deprive Subcarpathian Ruthenia of its most valuable lowlands and place its most important market towns and railway connections in foreign hands, it is probable that Subcarpathian Ruthenia would cease to be viable as a part of Czechoslovakia.

C. A Compromise Solution Based Primarily on Ethnic Considerations According to the Hungarian Census of 1910

This solution would assign to Hungary a small portion of the district of Uhorod, practically all of Berehovo, and a small part of Sevlu. The total area would be about 535 square miles. It would involve the cession to Hungary of the cities of Beregszász (Berehovo) and Nagyszõllõs (Sevlu) but not Uhorod or Mukaevo. This territory, like that involved in the Vienna Award, is in the southwestern part of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, in the upper Tisza River valley. According to the Hungarian census of 1910, this solution would involve a total population of about 89,200, of whom approximately 78,400 (87.6 percent) were Magyar- speaking, and about 9,150 (10.2 percent) Ruthenians. Estimates based on the Czechoslovak census of 1930, which are somewhat more generous to the Ruthenians partly because they include territory extending beyond the ethnic line, gave a total of about 90,350 for the area, of whom about 52,800 were Magyars (58.58percent), 29,900(33.11 percent) Ruthenians, 7,700 (8 percent) Jews, 4,300 (4.7 percent) Czechos1ovaks, and 2,200 (2.4 percent) Germans. It is possible that the Hungarian figures are substantially accurate, if the necessary deductions of Jews from the Magyar total are made, since they are broken down as to communes, and that specific Czechoslovak figures for communes in the area would show a Magyar population of about seventy-five percent.

This solution would have the distinct advantage of removing from Subcarpathian Ruthenia the largest single block of Magyar districts. Nevertheless, if the Hungarian census is taken as the basis, about 98,100 Magyars would remain in Subcarpathian Ruthenia; if the Czechoslovak census is taken as the basis, about 63,000 Magyars would remain in Subcarpathian Ruthenia. This solution, however, offers the nearest approach to ethnic justice, and might lay a basis for an exchange of minority populations.

Economically, this solution would have substantially the same effect on Subcarpathian Ruthenia as cession of the territory involved in the Vienna Award, although it would not involve the cities of Uhorod and Mukaevo. It would deprive Subcarpathian Ruthenia of the rich farmlands of the upper Tisza River Valley. It would also out the principal east-west railway line between op, Sevlu and Chust near Fancikovo, and between Batovo and Mukaevo and Berehovo and Kusnice on the north-south railway lines. In view of the serious injury thus inflicted on Ruthenian railway communications, this solution might be accompanied by provision for the construction of an east-west railway between Uhorod, Mukaevo and Chust, connected with the Koice railway network in Slovakia through the center of op. Since the existing east-west railways were built primarily to serve Hungarian interests and since Hungary would be the beneflciary of this solution, Hungary might be required to make provision for the construction of the new railway as a condition of the cession of this territory.

D. Cession of territory South of the Primary East-West Railway between op and Novo Selo

Cession of this territory to Hungary would involve an area south of the principal east-west railway between op and Novo Selo, in the southwestern border region of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, in the districts of Uhorod, Berehovo and Sevlu. The region is about 125 square miles in area. According to the Hungarian census of 1910 this area would have a total population of approximately 18,600, of whom about 17,300 (93 percent) are Magyars and about 1,200 (6.6 percent) Ruthenians. Accordingto the Czechoslovak census of 1930 about 15,000 Magyars, out of a total of 21,000, live in this border strip.

This solution would be in the nature of a boundary adjustment and would provide no real basis for a solution of the ethnic problem. Although it would involve cession of rich agricultural lands in the upper valley of the Tisza River, the area is so small that it is doubtful that its cession would be of much benefit to Hungary or of injury to Subcar- pathian Ruthenia. Since this solution involves territory south of the principal east-west railway, it would not cut the primary railway system of Subcarpathian railway communications with the rest of Czechoslova- kia. It would, however, place the boundary with Hungary somewhat nearer this important railway than it was in 1937. In the negotiations immediately preceding the making of the Vienna Award, the Czechoslo- vak Govermnent proposed an adjustment of the boundary similar to that involved in this solution.*

TS:HNHoward:AHA Box 154


* The Czechoslovak-Hungarian negotiations preceding the First Vienna Award, and the proposals for boundary revision made, are covered in accurate detail in András Rónai, Térképezett történelem (Budapest, 1989), 137-192.

Part Three: Political Reorganization of Hungary

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