The efforts at “magyarization”, supported by the Hungarian state, weakened the Carpathian Germans from year to year, especially in the cities. At all German schools, the German language of instruction had been abolished. The incorporation of Slovakia into Czechoslovakia in 1918 brought a turn for the better for the Carpathian Germans. The national minorities had the right to their own schools, associations, and press.
Since there was often a lack of qualified teachers, teachers came from the Sudetenland, who, in addition to education, also contributed to the formation of independent associations and revived national consciousness. Politically, Carpathian Germany was fragmented. Only the Zips was almost united behind the Zips German Party.
The Carpathian German Party was founded in 1929, and in 1935 it formed an electoral alliance with the Sudeten German Party. In October 1938, the Carpathian German Party was transformed into the German Party. The German Party tended towards the National Socialist ideology, its agitation and its appearance was often exaggerated. The Carpathian Germans as well as the Slovaks, however, did not stand united in the service of German fascism.
Due to the treaty of Slovakia with the German Reich, the Carpathian Germans received political freedom and school and cultural autonomy in the Slovak Republic. Against the background of the 1943-1945 war, the Carpathian Germans were in a state of crisis. During the uprising in autumn 1944, the scattered settlements and the Hauerland were particularly affected. The suffering of the Carpathian Germans has begun.
THE SUFFERING PATH OF THE CARPATHIAN GERMANS
In addition to the millions of Germans from the East, the Carpathian Germans were also among the victims of the war and the power politics of Hitler, Stalin, and Benesch. After the outbreak of the uprising in Slovakia (autumn 1944), the Carpathian Germans were left to their own devices.
The scattered settlements and the Hauerland were worst affected. There were mass murders in Rosenberg, Glaserhau, Schemnitz, Deutsch-Proben, Sklabiná, with well over 500 dead. Evacuation began in November 1944. In total, two-thirds of the Carpathian Germans were probably affected by the evacuation. Many tried to return home after the war, but, like those who remained in their homeland, were put into camps and expelled from the CSR in 1945/46.
From a Carpathian-German perspective, the greatest tragedy occurred on the night of 18 to 19 June 1945 in Prerau/Prerov in Moravia. There, 267 people held for Carpathian Germans fell victim to a massacre. Under the command of Slovak lieutenant Karol Pazúr, soldiers of the 17th infantry regiment stationed in Bratislava-Petržalka shot 78 children (including three infants aged six, seven and eight months), 120 women (including a 90-year-old) and 69 mostly older men who were no longer fit for military service.
Victims also included persons of other nationalities, such as Slovaks, Hungarians and a Russian woman. 131 victims came from Dobschau/Dobsina, 36 from Drexlerhau/Janova Lehota, 34 from Mühlenbach/Mlynica, 30 from Käsmark/Kezmarok, 7 from Deutschendorf/Poprad, 7 from Groß Schlagendorf/Vel’ký Slavkov, 6 from Matzdorf/Matejovce, 5 from Michelsdorf/Straze pod Tatrami, 4 from Einsiedel/Mnišek nad Hnilcom, 3 from Georgenberg/Spišská Sobota, 3 from Altwalddorf /Stará Lesná and 1 victim from Hollomnitz/Holumnica.
About 10-15% of Carpathian Germans stayed in Slovakia for various reasons. During the flight, expulsion, deportation and in the concentration camp in Nováky hundreds more Carpathian Germans lost their lives. In the years 1944-1947, the extremely fertile culture and the good coexistence of the Carpathian Germans with the Slovaks, which had lasted for more than 800 years, were destroyed as a result.
THE CARPATHIAN GERMANS AFTER 1945 IN GERMANY, AUSTRIA, AND OVERSEAS
After the expulsion in 1945/46, the Carpathian Germans felt lost in destroyed Germany. But the unbroken will to preserve their existence and the help of the organizations in the social field, such as family reunification, as well as the support of the pastors of both denominations led to an orderly life again. In 1946 the “Aid Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Slovak Germans” was founded. In 1948 the “Hilfsbund Karpatendeutscher Katholiken” followed.
At the same time “The Association of Carpathian Germans” was founded as the umbrella organization at that time, which was expanded in 1949 after the foundation of the “Carpathian German Association Slovakia”.
The “Karpatendeutsche Kulturwerk Slowakei” (Carpathian German Cultural Work Slovakia) with its museum, library, and archive, founded in Karlsruhe in 1969, was responsible for the collection, preservation, research, and presentation of Carpathian German cultural assets and for clarifying cultural and interethnic contexts.
In Austria, the “Hilfsverein der Österreicher aus Preßburg und Umgebung” was founded in Vienna in 1950 (from 1955 “Karpatendeutsche Landsmannschaft in Österreich”) and also in Linz in 1950 the “Karpatendeutsche Landsmannschaft in Oberösterreich” was founded. A national team was also founded in the USA. Only in the then Soviet occupation zone and the subsequent GDR did the Carpathian Germans remain on their own until 1989, as no organizations of this kind were allowed.
THE CARPATHIAN GERMANS IN SLOVAKIA AFTER 1945
The situation of the Carpathian Germans who remained in Slovakia for various reasons was difficult. Due to the Beneš decrees they became lawless, dishonored and without possession. In the 1950 census, 5179 inhabitants declared their German nationality. In 1980 there were only 2819. The purposeful assimilation and the lack of German schools led to the fact that the Carpathian Germans were completely threatened in their existence at the end of the 80s.
A new light of hope has risen for them after 1989. In the 1991 census, 5629 people registered as German nationals. However, it is assumed that there are currently more Germans in Slovakia. In September 1990 the Carpathian German Association in Slovakia was founded in Metzenseifen.
It is organizationally divided into five regions and has more than 4,000 members in 36 local groups. The financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, donations from the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as the moral and material support of the compatriots, help the Germans living in Slovakia to cultivate and preserve their own culture, customs, and traditions.