National feelings are strong, and the sense of ‘historical wounds’ is permanent. Hungarian-Hungarian & Hungarian-Slovak relations in the context of 30 interviews in Komárom, Hungary. Wien, 15 October 2008 By Barnabás VAJDA Selye J. University 1
Do you have relatives on the other side of the border?Yes: 001; 002; 003; 004; 005; 007; 008; 010; 013; 015; 016; 023; 026; 027; 029; 030.No: 006; 012; 020; 021; 024.
Sense of former unity: ,,It used to be Hungary. I adore the picture when [Hungarian governor Miklós] Horthy crossed the bridge in 1938.”(013) ,,It used to be Hungarian soil.”(014) ,,I regard it as a former Hungary.”(023) ,,It used to be Hungary.”(029)
Bad experiences: Direct reference on national animosity, such as deportation, resettlement, confiscation: 006; 007; 011; 013; 014; 016; 020; 023; 025; ,,Our family was deported from there.” (002) ,,Until my 10 years, I used to live there. [...] Then we were unfortunately deported to Hungary [...] Not to Komárom but we moved back here in 1958, because we felt deep desire to be close to our homeland.”(003) ,,Poor my father and his family were deported here from there.”(013) ,,They were thrown over the border, the whole family.”(016) ,,We recently had a conflict at the Court of Europe [tourist attraction in Komárno, SK] and we were attacked.”(021) ,,Last week we witnessed a beating/fight in the city when Slovak youngsters came to us and provocated us.”(023) ,,My mother and her family were all deported here from there.”(025)
No ,,Hungarians are Hungarians regardless where they live.”(005) ,,I feel no difference. They consider Hungary as their home exactly as we do.”(008) ,,I think of Hungarians across the border as of ones from our own blood, who belong to us.”(013) ,,There is no difference.”(014) ,,HlS are devoted to Hungary exactly as we are.”(023) ,,They are the same as we as far as inviting people, cooking, laying the table are concerned.”(027) Are Hungarians living in Slovakia (HlS) different than you? If yes, in what way?
Are Hungarians living in Slovakia (HlS) different than you? If yes, in what way? Yes ,,Some differences in their speech [...] They mix some Slovak words in their Hungarian speech.”(029) ,,They stick to their Hungarianism [...], to something that had already been lost in Hungary.”(001) ,,They are different. Emotionally. Their spirit is different. [...] I think people over there are richer in emotions than people here in South Komárom.”(002) ,,There is one difference: they are more conscious Hungarians, they stick to their Hungarian identity [...], they are more conscious of their Hungarian identity then we.”(010) ,,For them, being Hungarian has a different meaning. [...] Their consciousness of being Hungarian is on a high level.”(011) ,,HlS? They stick to the mother country [note: Hungary] more than we do.”(015) ,,They are more show off in their Hungarianism.”(020) ,,In some of them the sense of being Hungarian is stronger than in people living here.”(024) ,,The way they speak about Hungary shows that they really love Hungary, even would love living here.”(024) ,,HlS are a little bit more conservative.”(001) ,,They are more stubborn.”(018) ,,They have different habits. It’s a different area.”(006)
About the Slovaks: ,,Unfortunately due to the socialism, we didn’t really use to distinguish between Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks.”(004) ,,After 1989, we realized the differences between Czechs and Slovaks.”(005) ,,I know nothing about the other side.”(006) ,,Slovaks avoided contacts with us. [...] They used to be repulsive to us. Now it’s better.”(008) ,,We don’t like each other.”(009) ,,We hate them.”(016) ,,Slovaks have always been hindering Hungarians everywhere they could.”(013) ,,They were inhuman regarding the deportation.”(014) ,,After 1945 they started repressions against Hungarians.”(015) ,,A group of Hungarian tourist once visited the High Tatras but Slovaks didn’t even offer them parking place, saying ‘Stinking Hungarians, get out of here.”(016) ,,In the young Slovaks, there is a little bit of hatred against Hungarians.”(023) [A professional railwayman:] ,,They can speak Hungarian with us.”(012) [A professional policeman/ex customs officer:] ,,When we go over on business, they can speak Hungarian to us.”(025) ,,We have very good experiences in restaurants and hotels in the Tatra mountains.”(012) ,,We have good experiences from the High Tatras [...] Once we were lost and an olderly lady showed us the way. She first tried to speak Slovak but none of us could speak it. Then she changed to English, and since my father speaks this language, we succeeded.”(024)
References to any Hungarian – Hungarain conflict: ,,HlS are more apparent in the press nowadays. In a very positive way in the cultural context, but as a conflict in the political context.”(010) ,,In 1968, they spat on us.”(012) ,,A friend of mine, a HlS when parking his car in front of a shopping mall, had an incident. For it is audible from his speech that he is from Slovakia, and also the number plate on his car is Slovak, he was told off by a local lady as a ‘Stinking Slovak’. My friend nearly beat her up saying ‘Now, look, who is Slovak! Are you coming to me with a colour of a skin like this!?’”(018) ,,Many of them don’t even realize the treasure that they can learn and speak Slovak, and that it is their big advantage that they can speak two languages. [...] They shouldn’t feel so hostile against the Slovak language.”(029) ,,Once I heard one of them saying that it was good to be a HlS [...] A colleague of mine told me, if asked she would even say she was Slovak. When I asked her why, she said that when she went to Hungary she was told off as a Slovak.”(029) ,,It might be surprising, but for our people here it’s not clear at all that Hungarians live over there.”(029) ,,Would be logical to me that every person, every HlS over there would dream of living once in Hungary as a Hungarian citizen.”(029)
The reason of the conflicts: ,,The same nation lives on both sides along the border, and it is a problem from the point of view of the national unity of Slovaks.”(004) ,,Czechoslovak xenophobic feeling had been fuelled more on that side.”(007) ,,We wanted to be silent about them, about the members of our own nation over the border. [...] Hungarians living abroad used to be tabuised. [...] We were silent about them.”(011) ,,We didn’t use to hear from our teachers that Hungarians are living on the other side.”(030) ,,During the Czechoslovak era, there were less incidents.”(014) ,,They [HlS] feel that they are oppressed. Slovaks are afraid of their revisionism of Trianon or they demands of autonomy.”(015) ,,We are occupants in their eyes. We were war criminals in 1945. We attacked Czechoslovakia in 1968, and occupied Prague.”(015)
There is a strong sense of historical ex-unity, even after some 90/60 years. There can be identified a strong sense of animosity towards Slovaks as a nation. Interviews have confirmed the theory about the conservativism deriving from the position of a minority. Interviews confirmed:
Interviews disproved: Hungaians living in Hungary generally idealise their fellow Hungarians living in Slovakia. This idealisation derives either from lack of knowledge*, or from absolutisation** of the importance of the national feature in peoples’ life. *Lack of knowledge means that Hungarians are not aware of the fact that the vast majortiy of HlS regard Slovakia as their home rather than Hungary. **Absolutisation means that Hungarians’ perception of HlS is fundamentally dominated by the national perspective. Paralel with strong sense of ex-unity, Hungarians are not aware (are less susceptible) or simply overlook the specificities of the Hungarian community living in Slovakia.
Questions raised by the research: • Where does ostentatious and rigid refusal of Slovaks as partners come from? • Where does faceless/impersonal animosity come from, and how was it created? • Does national animosity (as a traditional historical prejudice) have anything to do with modern urban social problems? • What is the correct weight of the national/minority problem in the complete context of our project?
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