The Czechs And The Slovaks

A Slavic population whose state construction is very recent, the Czechs and Slovaks represent a minority in Romania; they have brought respect for labor and education in our country, as well as a vigorous religious faith. Short history The Slovaks settled on the current territory of Romania in three independent waves. The first wave (from the second half of the 18th century) resulted in their settlement in the plains of Arad and Banat, in the mountains and forests of Bihor and Salaj, in the plain areas and in the mining towns of Satu Mare and Maramures, as well as in the north-east of Bucovina. All these regions were then under the domination of the Hapsburg Empire. In the region of Arad and Banat, the first Slovaks arrived in 1747, and founded the town of Mocrea. In 1803 a large number of evangelical Slovaks colonized Nadlac, then Butin, Vucova, Brestovat etc. Another wave of immigration, represented by Romano-Catholic Slovaks, began in 1790. Czech communities settled in southern Banat in the first half of the 18th century. Poor miners, woodworkers and blacksmiths moved to the area, having been promised land and free building materials. Most members of the Czech ethnic group are Catholics.  The communist period Important changes occurred in the life of the Slovak communities, after the re-immigration of a part of the population back to Czechoslovakia in 1946-1948, and after the instauration of the communist regime in Romania. In that period, almost twenty thousand Slovaks left Romania, which led to a considerable thinning of the local population. The policy of the communist authorities of suppressing the existent national Slovak institutions, such as the evangelical archiepiscopate, the cultural societies and the Czechoslovakian Union of Romania, was added to the depopulation process. The teachers, who had once professed in Slovak schools, also left Romania. Through the foundation of the Slovak high school in 1945 in Nadlac, which functioned until 1956 as a pedagogic high school, training numerous teaches and Slovak intellectuals in Romania, the school system with Slovak language teaching was consolidated, because its existence stopped being influenced by other external factors. In this period, among the graduates of the Nadlac high school, appeared the first authors of Slovak language and literature text books, translators of Romanian text books, and teachers which later taught in all of the Slovak schools in Romania. In the 1960's, the Slovaks from Bihor and Salaj started migrating towards Arad and Bihor due to economical reasons. In the same period, an assimilation phenomenon of the Slovaks from the small rural areas began to be noticed, as a result of the abolishment of the Slovak language schools. On the other hand, there was a rise in the number of Slovaks in cities such as Arad, Timisoara, Resita, thanks to professional considerations. In the 1970's, in Nadlac appeared the first manifestations of the Slovak literary creation, as well as the first writers, who in 1976 founded the "Ivan Krasko" literary circle (today Ivan Krasko Cultural and Science Society).  The contemporary period After 1989, the national life of the Slovaks from Romania acquired new dimensions. The Democrat Union of the Slovaks and Czechs in Romania (UDSCR) was founded in Nadlac, new cultural societies appeared, the Slovak evangelical archiepiscopate was reestablished, and four Slovak language magazines were edited in the same town. In the other towns, UDSCR local organizations were established, where Slovak nationals developed cultural activities, and through the agency of their own councilors, they even acted as representatives in the local councils, participating in this way to the social and political life of the country. At the same time, following the reduction of the economic activity, a decrease of the Slovak population was registered, caused especially by the departure of the young families, and the young people in general, to work abroad, mostly in Slovakia, but also in the CzechRepublic. The Democrat Union of the Slovaks and Czechs in Romania (UDSCR) was founded in 1990 as a tutelary forum of the Czech and Slovak minorities in Romania. Even if on the 31st of December 1992 Czechoslovakia came apart, the Union continued to exist as such, having regional autonomy for both the Slovak and the Czech minorities.   Cultural activities The main publication of the Democrat Union of the Slovaks and Czechs in Romania is "Our endeavors" ("Nase snahy"), a publication that resumed its activity in 1990 after an interruption of more than 50 years. "Our endeavors" is a monthly publication where Czech or Slovak language articles are published. Only important normative acts and documents issued by the Union are translated. The magazine contains a column on Parliament, articles of general interest as well as short stories, poems and different studies. The magazine also has a very avant-garde supplement of the Youth Organization: "My" (We). Regarding Slovak writers, six of them are members of the Romanian Writers' Union; eight are honorary members of the Writers' Association in Slovakia and two of them are members of the Writers' Society in Slovakia. In Nadlac there is also a Slovak language theatrical season. They stage around five premieres every year, from Slovak, Romanian and universal dramaturgy. In Nadlac there is also a museum of the Slovaks from the "Lower regions" (this is the name of the southern territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire: Transylvania and Voivodina), where a museographer and an ethnographer carry on their activity. On a national level, the UDSCR organize every two years alternatively the "Slovak Folklore Festival" and the "Czech Folklore Festival".

by Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center; www.