Slovakia Genealogy Research Strategies
Below Snina Rock
Download the book: Below Snina Rock (PDF format, 138K)
Regional Histories can tell us much about everyday life of indigenous folk. Especially in the area of northeastern Slovakia, very little English-language histories exist. It is for this reason that I was driven to seek the translation of historical accounts of the region.
I began by translating a history of the Ulic valley, which included my ancestral villages of Zboj and Nova Sedlica. This second book, "Below Snina Rock" is an account of the history of the Snina region (including the Ulic valley), which extends eastward from Snina to the Ukraine and northward to Poland. The region includes several dozen villages, including Stakcin, Ulic, Ubla, Kolbasov, Zboj, Nova Sedlica, Ulicske Krive, Topola, Rusky Potok and Klenova amongst others.
The book was written in 1964 clearly under the heavy hand of the Czechoslovakia Communist Party. It focuses on the large town of Snina and its environs. No attempt was made in the translation to diffuse the rhetoric which glorifies the Party's accomplishments or it's claims of being a superior form of governance over capitalism. For this rhetoric is a part of Slovakia history and must be fairly presented.
To aid the researcher, I have complimented the book with a number of references. First, an index of settlements referenced, Second, an index of place-names, third, a list of surnames, Fourth, World War Two items: battlegrounds, military units and military figures.
World War II is prominently featured, providing much honor and glory to the Soviet Army and its leaders. An interesting description of the movements of the liberating armies throughout the region, and the citizen's independent efforts to assist the Soviet Army is quite insightful. The improvements by the post-war government, especially regarding health care and education cannot be overlooked.
Most historical treatments of the 1938-39 German land grab of Czechoslovakia (of it's Czech lands) and it's Zakarpattia region (present-day Western Ukraine), and southern Slovakia make minor note of the subsequent land-grab by Hungary of Snina's eastern regions. From the town of Stakcin westward was invaded and controlled by Hungary for the duration of World War II. Apparently Hitler turned a blind eye to this move. While in the overall scope of the war, this was strategically unimportant, it caused quite a bit of strife to the local citizenry. First and foremost, the men were drafted into the Royal Hungarian Army, many seeing service in Yugoslavia. While Hitler allowed the creation of the puppet government of Slovakia (known as the first republic), the people of the eastern regions, the people in the Ulic and Ubla valleys (amongst others) was under Hungarian governance. The Hungarians re-imposed their Magyarization ethic on them, renaming all the villages and insisting their citizens speak Magyar (Hungarian).
Surprisingly, nothing is said about World War One, though we know that the battle front did pass through the region. Others have told me that damage was more severe during the first war than during WWII.
A considerably important treatment is given to the "bourgeois" landowners both before World War I and during the interwar period. Without surprise, the interwar Czechoslovak government is wholly indicted as being the root cause of the regions impoverishment and victimization. This is an important read on just how difficult the people of this region had it. Although peasant emancipation was legislated in the 1850's, it was clear that these folk remained enslaved to the landowners by other means until World War II.
Snina region was always an impoverished and politically ignored region. After World War II, the local economy was enlarged by the collectivization of farms and the construction of heavy industry, especially that of Vihorlat factory in Snina (purchased in 2001 by Vihorlat s.r.o., a firm co-owned by the Dutch firm Cebuwa (66%) and the Slovak Hubertus (34%). The region was shall we say, economically "propped up" by trade with the Soviet Union. The book is quick to brag about its trade with countries such as Iraq, Argentina and Afghanistan, of which most outsiders would be quick to raise eyebrows.
This book contains several dozen photographs. As time and space permit, I will post certain of the photographs to these pages. In due time, I plan to also publish the Slovak version to these pages.
A great deal of credit is due to Mr. Mark Sabol, who provided many hours of reworking and re-translating paragraphs I had translated to ensure that the text was true to the author's intent. I have taken Mark's work and reworked it to a more readable, grammatically proper format.
I hope you find this material useful. If you have other information which may correct, clarify or expand on these writings, please drop me a note. I would also appreciate your comments and reaction to these writings.
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