Slovakia's Second City in Times of Turbulence: Kosice and its Hungarians, Eastern Rite Catholics and Steelworkers in 1948, 1968, and 1989
Mullins, Marty Manor
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This dissertation argues that Kosice's experience of the milestone years of 1948, 1968 and 1989 in Czechoslovakia's history was distinctive from that of Prague or Bratislava due to the city's unique concentration of Hungarians, Ukrainian-Rusyn Eastern Rite Catholics and steelworkers. These populations were subject to homogenizing agendas from above as the postwar Benes administration sought to "make Kosice Slovak" and the Communist regime implemented industrialization and urbanization plans to change the socio-economic class makeup of the city. Thus, this dissertation is a study of nationalism and ethnicity, religion and class as embodied in one city and its nearby districts. It represents the first scholarly analysis of Kosice's history under Communism and therefore significantly contributes to urban and area studies literature. The theme uniting these three groups is the two post-1945 governments' efforts to homogenize the city and its surrounding region. By ridding Kosice of its Hungarian majority, by eliminating the Eastern Rite Catholic Church and by establishing a steel mill in Kosice to draw in Slovak labor from the surrounding countryside (purging the city of its former bourgeois character), the two Czechoslovak government administrations largely conformed the city and its inhabitants to their desired norms. This dissertation elucidates multiple findings that make Kosice's Communist experience unique. First, the blow that postwar re-Slovakization dealt to Kosice's Reformed Church significantly contributed to the denomination's decline across Slovakia. Second, the Eastern Rite Catholic Church was the only confession in the country to be completely liquidated by the Communist regime (in 1950) only to be reinstated in 1968. Third, challenging the assumption that Prague and Bratislava were the only two centers of civic participation in 1968, this dissertation demonstrates that eastern Slovak civil society effected change at local and statewide levels during the 1968 liberalization period. Finally, steelworkers at Eastern Slovak Steelworks (today U.S. Steel) formed the largest collective of blue collar labor in Slovakia during Communism, yet were noticeably absent from initial days of demonstrations in 1989. These findings underline the importance of considering Slovakia's second-largest city and its surrounding region in any analysis of Czechoslovakia's postwar years, Prague Spring or Velvet Revolution.
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