Part 3, Section 14 - Socio-Political Relations In Transcarpathia

During World War I, when Hungarian gendarmes arrested hundreds of Russian villagers and shipped them to concentration camps, the Uzhorod Bishop Chernokh called a conference of the clergy subordinate to him. At this conference it was decided to eliminate the Slavic alphabet in Transcarpathia and replace ft with Latin script and Magyar phonetics. Soon after that, the Mukachevo bishop, Antoniy Papi, a rabid magyarophile, followed Chernokh's example. The aim of this literary change was nothing less than to transform the Transcarpathian Rusyns Into Magyars and open up a deep chasm between Uzhorod and Mukachevo on the one hand, and Kiev and Moscow on the other.
As a consequence of the decision to eliminate Russian script in Transcarpathia, the priest Avhustin Voloshyn, a teacher and pedagogue, published a whole series of textbooks in Magyar script for Russian schools. Budapest paid him handsomely for this.
On November 19, 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian empire was hurtling into the abyss, its loyal followers, the Greek Catholic clergy headed by a bishop, announced the organization of a "Council of Rusyns in Magyarland", which issued the following manifesto: "The Rusnak people must support their old homeland (Magyarland) and protect its territorial inviolability. By the same token, they reject all attempts to tear the Rusyns from their Magyar homeland", and so on.
Soon, however, the magyarophiles concluded that any hope of continuing Magyar domination was an empty dream, and they began to flirt with Prague. These traitors tried by every means to have Czechoslovakia take over Transcarpathia, since this was the only power that could save them from popular wrath. The compromised renegades faded into the shadows, and their place was taken by new figures, hitherto unknown. For these, it would have been more convenient to have Magyars in charge rather than Czechoslovakia, concerning which they had their doubts and which they regarded as only "a seasonal state". They soon linked up with Galician Ukrainians who believed strongly in a revival of the German empire. Under the influence of the latter, the magyarophiles came to the conclusion that this time best regime for them would be a German one, because only a German hand would keep a stranglehold on the throat of the people while treating the Magyars gently.
Prague proved to be a treasure trove for Transcarpathian politicians. It established a Central Rusyn Council and appointed the American wealthy businessman Zhatkovich as governor of Transcarpathia. His assistants Beskid and Voloshyn each received two thousand acres of fertile land from the Prague government. Nor did others of their henchmen, especially the Greek Catholic clergy, go unrewarded. But the Czechoslovak authorities took a different tack in respect to the Transcarpathian poor. Now that the Hungarian gendarmes had left the country, the villagers could follow their own inclinations. Now that the Czechoslovak constitution had proclaimed "freedom of conscience", they felt that they couldget rid of their disliked priests. But when they tried to drive them out of their parishes, they were bitterly disillusioned. The arguments of the Greek Catholic hierarchy were more convincing to the Czech authorities than were those of ordinary people. The Prague government sent police, troops, and punitive expeditions against the rebellious villagers, who were dealt with harshly white the deposed priests were restored to their former positions. Despite the terror of 1930, however, about a third of the villagers broke with the Greek Catholic church and went over to Orthodoxy.
Years went by. Germany got up on its feet again under the leadership of the demon Hitler. The Vatican concluded a concordat with Hitler. Under the black flag of fascism, Hitler went on the march to conquer the world. The reactionary forces of fascism began stirring in all corners of Europe, and they did not forget Transcarpathian Rus'. Of the principal organizers of "fifth columns" and agents of the fascist forces many were Greek Catholic priests. They ordered the parties subordinate to them to work for Germany, Poland and Hungary. Their main political support during the Czech domination was the so-called "Autonomous Agricultural Union". Operating under this benign symbol was a group of magyarophiles whose aim was to prepare the soil for a Magyar takeover of Transcarpathia. The leaders In this effort were Kurtyak and Brodiy. Brodiy was a cantor and teacher, as welt as a paid agent of Budapest. Until 1918, he published In Kosice a Magyar revisionist newspaper, thus earning himself appointment as secretary of the Autonomous Agricultural Union. Brodiy's party was subsidized by the Hungarian government, which every month sent him 50,000 Czech korunas through Bishop Stoyk under the guise of a "fund to defend the faith".Another "star" In the renegade effort was the above-mentioned Father Avgustin Voloshyn. In 1903, he was editor of a Monthly Word, in which he castigated Ukraine as "a frightful plague that alienates Rusyns from the church". Thirty years ago he published a series of schoolbooks in Magyar script in place of Cyrillic, which Budapest had ordered for Russian schools on the Initiative of church leaders. Then in the winter of 1919-1920, we find him in the position of president of a Directorium, which was led by Zhatkovich. Sensing how the political winds were blowing, FatherVoloshyn became one of the directors of a Czechophile Central Rusyn National Council, and for his efforts received from the government a large allotment of land. When the western winds brought news of the rise of the German fortress, he joined up with Galician Ukrainian nationalists like Konovalets. When Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Avgustin Voloshyn was appointed Gestapo resident in Transcarpathia.
A third counterpart of these two was the Russian nationalist Stepan Fentsik. While Brodiy was serving in the Hungarian espionage apparatus and Voloshyn in the German, Fentsik at the same performed the functions of a secret agent for Hungary and Poland. He was an almost daily guest of the Polish consul in Uzhorod, Kalupchinsky. In the style of the Italian Mussolini, Fentsik organized young men and dressed them in black shirts. When the Magyars took over Transcarpathia, he put his Black Shirts at the disposition of the Magyar counter-espionage apparatus, which made use of them in dealing with the village people.
All three of these "stars" and their parties operated under a single command and for a single purpose designed by Berlin and carried out by its satellites - Horthy in Hungary and Beck in Poland.

Originally appeared in the newspaper "Karpatska Rus'". Yonkers NY. Permission was granted by the editor for it to appear on The Lemko Page.

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Date Posted: August 27th, 1998
Last Revision: May 29th, 1999

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