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RE: Re: [S-R] Post-1895 Church Records

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  • Bill Tarkulich
    Dear Vladimir, Thank you for your comments. Indeed you should be surprised by the naievity of my questions, but I must admit is is purposeful. I often find
    Message 1 of 9 , May 17, 2004
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      Dear Vladimir,
      Thank you for your comments. Indeed you should be surprised by the
      naievity of my questions, but I must admit is is purposeful. I often
      find that it is better to ask the simple question and see what "bubbles
      up." I am very cautious of the fact that my information is likely
      flawed.

      Perhaps I know a few things, but am quick to admit that as a Westerner,
      I know very little. And what I do know may be in error. In fact, if
      you review my initial hypothesis, there are clearly a number of errors
      in my understanding. And I thank you for the corrections.

      So, I think you can see that westerners such as myself do not know much
      about Czechoslovakia life in the 2nd half of the 20th century. We are
      victims not so much of propaganda, but lack of basic information of life
      under communism. Only the ones that understand it lived it. And a few
      westerners willing to apply rigorous study.

      What I'd like to do is to try and summarize in English the state of the
      records. Most comments in English-speaking genealogical publications
      are glancing, generalized and really don't speak to it. I'd like to try
      to put together a couple of paragraphs that accurately describe the
      state of things. It is beginning to sound like a general discussion of
      the religious setting of the times, and the variability of collections
      from this period is most appropriate.

      It's my experience that many westerners (including many genealogy
      researchers) won't put the energy and effort into research. Sadly, most
      of the good writings, as you reference, will probably not be translated
      to English. If the book is not readily available to them, they won't
      ever read it. In America, most of these books are only available in
      private research or academic libraries with limited access. It's for
      this reason I'd like to take a stab at an English-language summary more
      in line with the things you are describing.

      Thanks again for your perspective. You offer much valuable knowledge
      and advice.

      Bill



      -----Original Message-----
      From: Vladimir Bohinc [mailto:konekta@...]
      Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 10:16 AM
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: Re: [S-R] Post-1895 Church Records


      Dear Bill,
      I know, that you are very familiar with many things. This is why I was a
      bit surprised over the question "what happened to the records?". The
      fact is, that in 50ties, the communists took what they could from the
      churches. Some churches managed to save some copies, some not. Some
      churches did not even have complete books, because they vanished in war
      or fire etc too. But, this is so individual, that you can not say in
      general what happened to them. Sovietization = Orthodixing of the Gc
      church was going on only in Far East of Slovakia. The rest of the
      churches operated more or less normally. Priests being imprisoned is a
      thing one would expect, since Tiso was a priest too. Many people stopped
      to go to the church or had their child baptized secretly etc. But the
      rural population continued to go to church. They had nothing to loose.
      Why would an Orthodox church want to preserve records? I am surpised
      over this question too. Almost every church is keeping records of what
      they are doing. Mambers of one church are also subject to the Church
      Law, so everything has to be made in a proper way. The church needs to
      keep own records disregarding whether they have a legal power or not,
      because for example for marriages, they must know, what is the status of
      the spouses etc. The priests are busy not only with ministering, but
      they run a company so to say. Many are involved in businesses and other
      activities, so they are never idle.
      "The records were left behind..." is too strong. I think, that pretty
      much has been saved and only here and there, something is really
      missing. Not as a result of a planned destruction, as it was the case
      with military records. I also must say, that civil records from 1896
      onwards are much better than the church records. They contain much more
      information. If you are entitled, you have access to such data. The
      thought process: There were so many various actors here, that this
      would be also too much generalized. If you want to know, what the
      communists thought, you must read genuine communist materials, not
      western comments about the subject. If you want to know, what pro Tiso
      priests thought, you can read the book " Zamlcana pravda o Slovensku"
      and similar books. Lots of new facts from the past. If you want to know,
      what priests thought I think, you will have to find a closer friend
      among them, who will slowly tell you more about that. They might
      hesitate to say that openly in a book. While I was in Sastin, I was
      invited by one of the brothers of the Order there into his room and
      there we had our political discussions, accompanied with "the best you
      can find" drop. Last week there was a Czechoslovak movie on TV, which
      showed, how the Slovaks (Hlinka Guard etc) were killing brother Slovaks,
      also women, by shooting them one by one in the neck and throwing them
      into chalk oven.( the suppression of SNP) The movie went pretty much
      into detail about that. Many actors are still alive, so asking about the
      period after 1938 is a tricky thing. The other day I called an Orthodox
      priest in the East for the phone number of the GC parish office. He got
      angry with me, telling me, that this is all the same and it is
      Orthodox!? He said, the GC are traitors. Sure there was a GC office too.
      Regards, Vladimir

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Bill Tarkulich
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 2:48 PM
      Subject: Re: Re: [S-R] Post-1895 Church Records


      Hi Vladimir,
      Thank you for your reply. I'm not looking for vital records, nor am I
      interested in "looking at" church books. I'm simply trying to do some
      historical research, to determine what happened to church book records
      from the period 1895 forward.

      I am quite familiar with civil records, having worked with my cousins
      to review what exists in the village office registries. But this is not
      what I am interested in.

      Access to church records in Slovakia follows a procedure very familiar
      to that in the USA, a procedure I'm quite comfortable with. I too
      understand that priests in both Slovakia and the USA are called to
      minister first, with genealogy taking a "back seat." I have experience
      this first hand.

      So I will be interested in learning a bit about how churches operated
      under communism. My cousins in East Slovakia tell me that to attend
      church was frowned upon (even Orthodox), since you would not be
      permitted a good job - in a government-owned factory if you attended
      church. So ceremonies were done in secret.

      I understand that Orthodox took over GC and RC churchs, since I have
      seen first-hand the repatriation of churches to the GC. But what about
      villages that had both RC and GC churches? Surely the Orthodox did not
      operate both? And what about Lutheran and other protestant
      denominations? What happened to their churches - did the Orthodox take
      them over also?

      After 1895, church records were records of sacraments, no longer of
      civil validity. So why would the Orthodox want to preserve such
      records? What I'm interested in is an understaning of the thought
      process used to handle these period records.

      So you see, my questions are historical in nature. I am not pursuing
      genealogy with these questions.

      I would not be posing these questions if there wasn't a dearth of
      English-language material on this topic. I have read the autobiography
      of Jan Korec, the imprisoned RC priest who testifies there were hundreds
      of priests, brothers and other religious imprisioned. It is his
      perspective that the Pope was in essence an "enemy of the state." The
      records were left behind to an unknown future.

      Thanks for the comments,
      Bill

      >
      > From: "Vladimir Bohinc" <konekta@...>
      > Date: 2004/05/17 Mon AM 02:59:13 CDT
      > To: <SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com>
      > Subject: Re: [S-R] Post-1895 Church Records
      >
      > Dear Bill,
      > I would not make this issue too big.
      > There is no straight answer to what is in the churches and what not.
      If I want to know for a particular case, I call the priest.
      > Civil records were introduced by the end of 1895, so they begin with
      1896. They include everybody, disregarding religion.
      > However, a word of caution; since we are coming into modern times (
      after 1896), although somebody actually was living in on place, he may
      have died in another place, for example in a hospital. His death record
      will be in the civil records of that place and not in the place where he
      was living.
      > Churches were not closed in general. Some Gc churches were forced
      under the Russian orthodox authority. Some priests were imprisoned. Some
      monasteries were closed down.
      > So, practically all churches were still open and working. Only in
      those communist times, many people left religion and so one can not find
      their records in church books. I always rely more on civil records.
      > Sastin has excellent books, some from before 1900. I spent several
      days there, studying them. However, I had a special treatment. It is not
      to be understood, that this parish office is like a public archive.
      > In general it is also fact, that all priests are very busy and will
      hardly find time to search through books for you.
      > They can make a certificate, if the date is known, but researching
      unknown mambers of the family may be too much for some.
      > Town office has no church records. Church records are either in the
      archive and you have films of them, or are in the parish offices( the
      newer ones). If there is something missing, it is missing and there is
      nothing you can do.
      > This is the case of Stara Tura RC, for example. Records in the
      archive are 1706-1876, and the civil ones begin with 1869.
      > The parish office has books beginning I think with 1920 or so. No
      big help.
      > Please, understand, that books like Church records are such books,
      that can not be kept in secrecy. If one person knows about them, shortly
      everyone will know. So, give up hope, that some hidden books will be
      found, as the genealogical legends so often suggest.
      > Regards,
      > Vladimir
      >
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: Bill Tarkulich
      > To: slovak-roots@yahoogroups.com
      > Cc: bill.tarkulich@...
      > Sent: Monday, May 17, 2004 12:58 AM
      > Subject: [S-R] Post-1895 Church Records
      >
      >
      > I am interested in hearing experiences of researchers regarding
      the
      > whereabouts or existence of post-1895 church records.
      >
      > First, I'd like comment on whether I've got these facts straight:
      >
      > 1. Beginning in 1895, all official vital records were to be kept
      by the
      > government. It is presumed that the churches continued to
      maintain their
      > own records, but no longer accountable to the state.
      >
      > 2. In 1950, the CSSR (Czechoslovak government) began to shut down
      churches
      > and imprison priests. It is unclear what happened to records from
      1895 to
      > 1950. It is presumed they may have been given to local village
      offices.
      >
      > 3. In 1952, the CSSR ordered that all pre-1895 church records be
      deposited
      > into the state archives. Anecdotally, researchers have found
      church records
      > as late as 1940 in Slovak State Archives.
      >
      > 4. It is understood that after the 1968 "Prague Spring" the
      Catholic church,
      > and other churches were allowed to resume operation. But it's my
      suspicion
      > that very few people attended church from 1968 to 1989. It is
      expected that
      > non-Orthodox church records would be quite negligible from a
      research
      > perspective. I would appreciate comment.
      >
      > 5. During the period 1950 to 1989, it is presumed the only church
      operating
      > was the Orthodox, so the only church records kept would be by the
      Orthodox.
      >
      > So this begs the question: What happened to church records from
      1895 to
      > 1950? Destroyed/Lost? Assumed by the Orthodox? In the town office?
      In the
      > archives? Anecdotal evidence suggests it was a little of all,
      depending on
      > the village.
      >
      >
      > I would appreciate hearing further commentary on this. I'd like
      to keep my
      > web pages as accurate as possible. It's really quite difficult to
      get this
      > kind of info into the hands of English-speaking readers, thus my
      pages.
      >
      > Thank you.
      >
      > http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/churches.htm
      > Bill
      >
      >
      >
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