Village of 12,000
HOME OF A FORGOTTEN PEOPLE
There Once Was a Hucul Republic
Customs and Superstitions
IN the wall of Jasina’s Town Hall is a memorial tablet put up in the ‘thirties to commemorate the short-lived Jasina Republic of 1918-19. The tiny independent republic was set up almost immediately after the guns of the First World War fell silent, when the Huculs of the Jasina region rose in revolt to shake off the Hungarian rule.
This revolutionary act was by no means an isolated incident in the country’s history, for the Huculs have a deeply-rooted urge to be free. When in 1914 the Cossacks advanced into Carpatho-Ukraine, the people of Jasina proclaimed their independence and sent a memorandum to the Tsar, asking for affiliation with his mighty Empire. W hen the Russians were thrown back the revolt was smashed and the Hungarians wreaked merciless revenge. About three hundred leading 1-luculs found safety in Russian occupied territory, and when the war was over they played a leading part in the political life of their homeland.
It was only a handful of local lads who attacked and disarmed the Hungarian garrison of Jasina and seized control of the village. A little later the small Jasina army was equally successful in other Hucul localities. The Hungarians, weakened as they were by domestic strife, could not stop them, particularly when the men of Jasina obtained reinforcements and supplies from their Ukrainian kinsmen in Galicia.
Reinforced by two regiments, the armed forces of Jasina marched on. It was a motley crowd which marched south-ward to the important salt mines of Slatina. Men clad in ill-assorted uniforms of the former Austro-Hungarian army —some wearing a Hussar’s flamboyant tunic with the plain trousers of an infantry men - marched shoulder to shoulder with odd-looking warriors in sheepskin coats.
These irregulars were, of course, no match for the regular Rumanian army which was holding the Slatina mines in some strength. But they rejected the Rumanian ultimatum to lay down arms and engaged the enemy in a fierce battle. In spite of then: valour they were defeated. The inevitable end of the Hucul Republic was delayed by this action, but in May 1919 the Rumanians sealed its fate when they entered Jasina.
And so the independent Republic of Jasina became an insignificant incident in history. Yet, though short-lived, the tiny State was an interesting improvisation on democratic lines. A parliament of forty-two members, including Jewish representatives, was elected, and a government of four ministers tried to deal with the country s problems.
The memorial of Jasina was set up to proclaim that to the Huculs this brief spell of independence was more than a mere episode.
East Slovakia Genealogical Research Strategies