70th anniversary of the annexation of Subcarpathia to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
On 29 June 1945, the Soviet-Czechoslovak Treaty was signed in Moscow, which meant the annexation of Subcarpathia (Zakarpattia Oblast) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, itthon.ma reported.
Situated in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine, Subcarpathia is the only Ukrainian administrative division which borders upon four countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
According to the 2001 Ukrainian Census, the population of Zakarpattia Oblast is 1 254 614. This total includes people of many different nationalities of which Hungarians, Romanians, and Rusyns constitute significant minorities in some of the province’s cities, while in others, they form the majority of the population.
For a long time, the lands of Subcarpathia were part of the Kingdom of Hungary which eventually transformed into the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary until the latter’s demise at the end of World War I. It approximately consists of four Hungarian counties: Bereg, Ung, Ugocsa, and Maramaros.
The Treaty of Trianon, which formally ended World War I, annexed Subcarpathia to the newly formed Czechoslovakia with a supposedly equal level of autonomy as Slovakia and Bohemia-Moravia-Czech Silesia. Nevertheless, such autonomy was granted as late as in 1938, after detrimental events of the Munich Conference; until then this land was administered directly from Prague by the government-appointed provincial presidents or elected governors. The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country’s borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation “Sudetenland” was coined. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the future of the Sudetenland in the face of ethnic demands made by Adolf Hitler.
In October 1938, Avgustyn Voloshyn, president of the independent Carpatho-Ukraine, established an autonomous Rusyn government. By the First Vienna Award on 2 November 1938, arbiters from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sought a non-violent way to enforce the territorial claims of the Kingdom of Hungary, in revision of the Treaty of Trianon. It separated largely Hungarian-populated territories in southern Slovakia and southern Carpathian Rus from Czechoslovakia, and awarded them to Hungary. Hungary thus regained some of the territories in present-day Slovakia and Ukraine that it had lost by the Treaty of Trianon.
The remaining portion was constituted as an autonomous region of the short-lived Second Czechoslovak Republic. After the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939 and the Slovak declaration of an independent state, Carpathian Ruthenia declared its independence as the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, but was immediately occupied and later annexed by Hungary.
In October 1944, the Sub-Carpathian Ukraine was occupied by the Red Army. In 29 June 1945, Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš formally signed a treaty ceding the area, and the next month it was united with the Ukrainian SSR through the “Manifest for unification with the Soviet Ukraine” that was accepted by the 1st Congress of People’s Committees of Sub-Carpathian Ukraine without any knowledge of common people. It was then incorporated – or better said annexed – into the Ukrainian SSR as Zakarpattia Oblast. After the break-up of the S¬oviet Union, it became part of independent Ukraine.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine held an independence referendum in which the residents of Zakarpattia were asked about the Zakarpattia Oblast Council’s proposal for self-rule. About 78% of the oblast’s population voted in favour of autonomy; however, it was not granted.
According to the 2001 Ukrainian Census, the population of Subcarpathia is 1 254 614. Although Ukrainians, including ethnic Rusyns, are in the majority (80.5%), other ethnic groups are relatively numerous there. The largest of these are Hungarians (12.1%), Romanians (2.6%), Russians (2.5%), Roma (1.1%), Slovaks (0.5%) and Germans (0.3%). The Ukrainian government does not recognize the Rusyn people living in that country as a distinct nationality but rather as an ethnic sub-group of Ukrainians.
based on the article of itthon.ma
translated by Gábor Hajnal