Conflict in Subcarpathian Ruthenia

Czech Republic Table of Contents

During World War I, emigre Ruthenian leaders had reached an agreement with Masaryk to include an autonomous Ruthenia in a future Czechoslovak state. The agreement received international sanction in the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain. The Paris Peace Conference had also stipulated earlier that year that Subcarpathian Ruthenia be granted full autonomy and promised the territory a diet having legislative power in all matters of local administration. But the constitution of 1920 limited the provision on autonomy, making reference to the requirements of the unity of the state. All Ruthenian legislation was made subject to approval by the president of the republic, and the governor of Ruthenia was to be nominated by the president. As a result, even the constitutional provision for Ruthenian autonomy was never implemented; the Ruthenian diet was never convened. The issue of autonomy became a major source of discontent. Other grievances included the placement of the western boundary--which left 150,000 Ruthenians in Slovakia--and the large numbers of Czechs brought to Ruthenia as administrators and educators.

Post-World War I Ruthenia was characterized by a proliferation of political parties and a diversity of cultural tendencies. All Czechoslovak political parties were represented, and a number of indigenous parties emerged as well. Of particular significance were the Ukrainophiles, Russophiles, Hungarians, and communists.

Ukrainophile and Russophile tendencies were strengthened by the large influx of emigres following the war. The Ukrainophiles were largely Uniates and espoused autonomy within Czechoslovakia. Some favored union with Ukraine. The Ukrainophiles were represented by the Ruthenian National Christian Party led by Augustin Volosin. Russophile Ruthenians were largely Greek Orthodox and also espoused Ruthenian autonomy. They were organized politically in the Agricultural Federation, led by Andrej Brody, and the fascist-style Fencik Party.

Hungarians populated a compact area in southern Ruthenia. They were represented by the Unified Magyar Party, which consistently received 10 percent of the vote in Subcarpathian Ruthenia and was in permanent opposition to the government.

The communists, strong in backward Ruthenia, attempted to appeal to the Ukrainian element by espousing union with the Soviet Ukraine. In 1935 the communists polled 25 percent of the Ruthenian vote. The elections of 1935 gave only 37 percent of the Ruthenian vote to political parties supporting the Czechoslovak government. The communists, Unified Magyars, and autonomist groups polled 63 percent.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress