Re: [Slovak-World] Re: Rusyns demand Rusyn in church
- Hi Martin, You are so knowledgeable, thank you for explaining all this to us. Keep up the good work. Maxine
Is Michalovce Rusyn also?
----- Original Message -----
From: Martin Votruba
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:50 AM
Subject: [Slovak-World] Re: Rusyns demand Rusyn in church
I think you gave a very good account of the situation, Joe. One's
identity is formed by what others tell us what we are, beginning with
our parents and soon by others. Once we are a little older, we use
that information to begin to decide who we are for ourselves, but then
others can still influence us by labeling us in ways different from
what we'd rather choose.
Most of the Eastern Slavs in the former Kingdom of Hungary acquired a
fairly clear identity -- they became Rusyns (just as the Western Slavs
in the Kingdom became Slovaks and the Southern Slavs became Croats).
It was more complicated in Poland-Ukraine because the borders shifted
a lot all the time.
Although the Rusyns/Eastern Slavs still used several labels for
themselves once they found themselves in Czechoslovakia after 1918
(Rusin, Rusnak, Malorus, Rus, Ukrajinec...), it was clear that those
who did saw their identity as different from that of their West Slavic
fellow citizens and neighbors, the Slovaks, and the other way round.
That was crushed after WW II. Their administrative part of
Czechoslovakia, Sub-Carpathian Rus (the north-eastern part of the
earlier Kingdom for the preceding 800 years), was annexed by the
Soviet Union in 1945 and all the Eastern Slavs had to call themselves
Ukrainians there after that (Rusyn identity was banned).
Czechoslovakia, which turned communist in 1948, had to follow suit.
When Prague copied the Soviet ban on Rusyn identity, many Rusyns in
Slovakia were eager to call themselves Slovak out of fear that their
villages might still be annexed by Moscow, too, or they personally
deported if they called themselves Ukrainians (those fears were
probably unfounded by then).
So, the Rusyns in communist Czechoslovakia were left with two options:
either call themselves Ukrainians or Slovaks. Understandably, most
chose the second option -- the identity of the majority in the state
where they lived rather than the identity that was being forced on the
Rusyns across the border just east of them, who had now found
themselves in the Soviet Union -- a lot incomparably worse than being
in communist Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland.
After 40 years of Rusyn "official non-existence," communism collapsed
in Czechoslovakia, people are allowed to call themselves whatever they
want again, and Rusyn activists are trying to persuade the descendants
of those who used to call themselves Rusyns before communism to
recognize that identity for themselves again. It's an uphill
struggle: the decades of Slovak identity, intermarriage, migration
have taken their heavy toll on a group of people that was not
particularly numerous in Slovakia to begin with. Moreover, they've
lost the supportive influence/"hinterland" of the about 500,000 pre-WW
II Rusyn majority in Sub-Carpathian Rus where Ukraine is still
suppressing Rusyn identity.
About 90,000 people called themselves Rusyns (and related identities)
in pre-WW II democracy in Slovakia in the 1930 census. Immediately
after the collapse of communism, about 17,000 called themselves Rusyns
+ about 13,000 Ukrainians for a total of ca. 31,000 in the 1991
census, a precipitous drop of 60% while Slovakia's population actually
grew by 60% during the same period. Although activists (and Magocsi)
hoped then that the number might quadruple within a decade, it hasn't
happened: about 24,000 called themselves Rusyns + about 11,000
Ukrainians for a total of ca. 35,000 in the 2001 census.
Rusyn activists base their hopes on the higher number of people in
Slovakia who say their mother tongue is Rusyn, ca. 55,000 + 8,000
Ukrainian for a total of about 63,000 more than a half of whom
identify as Slovak; and on the number of Greek Catholics, ca. 220,000
plus ca. 50,000 Eastern Orthodox for a total of 270,000, most of whom
Rusyn activists tend to see as people who lost their Rusyn/East Slavic
identity over the centuries of living in the Kingdom among the Roman
Catholic and Protestant Slovaks and Hungarians.
People can claim whatever ethnicity and religion in Slovakia, and
change both freely, so it's been up to the activists and people's
choice in the past 16 years. But the present choices are among the
results of the annihilating grinder through which Rusyn identity was
put in the decades between the end of WW II and the collapse of communism.
votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "maxine" <maxine96@...> wrote:
>this to us. Keep up the good work. Maxine
> Hi Martin, You are so knowledgeable, thank you for explaining all
> Is Michalovce Rusyn also?
Let me just jump in and say that I think Martin's summary of Rusyns
in (Czecho-)Slovakia was superb.
Before he responds to your question, let me throw out there this
very interesting article from the website of the Orthodox parish in
It pretty clearly demonstrates that Rusyns were one of the
significant ethnic groups who lived in Michalovce and many of the
surrounding villages. Unfortunately, according to the 2001 census
statistics, that is no longer the case (of course, the descendants
of the people who were the local Rusyns are still around; they just
don't feel anymore that they are Rusyns). Perhaps Martin will refer
to / summarize this article when he responds to your question.
- In the GC church in Bardejov and the Orthodox cathedral in Presov I
heard Rusyn spoken during the sermons. The Rusyns have already been
publishing a New Testament in Rusyn. No one is forcing the faithful to
use or pray in Slovak like they are doing in the US with English.
- --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "bergschlawiner" <KD7EER@...>
> In the GC church in Bardejov and the Orthodox cathedral in Presov I
> heard Rusyn spoken during the sermons. The Rusyns have already
> publishing a New Testament in Rusyn. No one is forcing the faithfulto
> use or pray in Slovak like they are doing in the US with English.You provide two examples, but you assert that "No one is forcing the
faithful to use or pray in Slovak". Are you certain that this has
never happened, anywhere?
As my Greek Catholic Rusyn priest friends in Europe have asked
me, "Why is the Church acting so vehemently against Rusyns?" Frankly,
I didn't have an answer for them, and I too would love to know why.
Ponder, if you will, the sad stories on this website:
The ONLY time the current bishop of Presov, Babjak, has written to
address the concerns of Rusyns at all has been to denounce and rebut
Where is the pastoral concern in that? Does he have nothing more to
say to them than "this is all a lie"?
- Rich, any chance that comes in an English version?
--- vchromoho <rcuster@...> wrote:
> --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "maxine"http://www.pcomichalovce.szm.sk/HISTORIA/historia1.html
> <maxine96@...> wrote:
> > Hi Martin, You are so knowledgeable, thank you
> for explaining all
> this to us. Keep up the good work. Maxine
> > Is Michalovce Rusyn also?
> Hi Maxine,
> Let me just jump in and say that I think Martin's
> summary of Rusyns
> in (Czecho-)Slovakia was superb.
> Before he responds to your question, let me throw
> out there this
> very interesting article from the website of the
> Orthodox parish in
> It pretty clearly demonstrates that Rusyns were one
> of the
> significant ethnic groups who lived in Michalovce
> and many of the
> surrounding villages. Unfortunately, according to
> the 2001 census
> statistics, that is no longer the case (of course,
> the descendants
> of the people who were the local Rusyns are still
> around; they just
> don't feel anymore that they are Rusyns). Perhaps
> Martin will refer
> to / summarize this article when he responds to your
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> Is Michalovce Rusyn also?Thank you Dr. Q, Maxine, Rich, for your kind words. Actually, I
wondered whether Rich might be able to say more about it -- he's got
the best information about these topics of anyone I know. Rusyns have
certainly been in the Michalovce area for hundreds of years. It's not
easy to be very specific about the more distant past because reports
about ethnicity become scanty. The earliest survey of the languages
in the Habsburg monarchy listed Slovak as the major language in
Michalovce and the surrounding area (roughly, from Trebisov to
Humenne) in 1772 but that's all. The survey didn't ask about all the
languages, only about the major (not necessarily majority) language in
The website that Rich has linked to says that the earliest known
record of the Rusyns in the area comes from 1254, but such Central
European records rarely tell us anything about when a settlement came
into existence, only by what year it had already been in place, which
is the case in this instance, too. (I'm skipping some amateurish
narration about earlier history at that website.) Those who follow
the Eastern Christian rite have been the second largest religious
group in Michalovce (40%-->20%) since at least the 18th century.
votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
- No, Caye, unfortunately not. It would make a worthwhile project to
translate it, though; perhaps the Carpatho-Rusyn Society could do
something about that.
The Michalovce Orthodox parish has an English version of their site,
but so far there's really nothing on it:
--- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, Caye Caswick <ccaswick@...>
> Rich, any chance that comes in an English version?
> --- vchromoho <rcuster@...> wrote:
> > --- In Slovak-World@yahoogroups.com, "maxine"
> > <maxine96@> wrote:
> > >
> > > Hi Martin, You are so knowledgeable, thank you
> > for explaining all
> > this to us. Keep up the good work. Maxine
> > >
> > > Is Michalovce Rusyn also?
> > Hi Maxine,
> > Let me just jump in and say that I think Martin's
> > summary of Rusyns
> > in (Czecho-)Slovakia was superb.
> > Before he responds to your question, let me throw
> > out there this
> > very interesting article from the website of the
> > Orthodox parish in
> > Michalovce: