Veľké Slemence

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Coordinates: 48°30′34″N 22°08′49″E / 48.50944°N 22.14694°E / 48.50944; 22.14694
Veľké Slemence
Village
Veľké Slemence.JPG
Country Slovakia
Region Košice
District Michalovce
Elevation 106 m (348 ft)
Coordinates 48°30′34″N 22°08′49″E / 48.50944°N 22.14694°E / 48.50944; 22.14694
Area 9.97 km2 (4 sq mi)
Population 598 (2004-12-31)
Density 60 / km2 (155 / sq mi)
First mentioned 1332
Postal code 076 77
Car plate MI
Location of Veľké Slemence in Slovakia
Location of Veľké Slemence in Slovakia
Location of Veľké Slemence in the Košice Region
Location of Veľké Slemence in the Košice Region
Statistics: MOŠ/MIS

Veľké Slemence (Hungarian: Nagyszelmenc) is a village and municipality in Michalovce District in the Košice Region of easteastern Slovakia.

History[edit]

The border as seen from Veľké Slemence pre 2003

In historical records the village was first mentioned in 1332. It was a single village named Szelmenc (between 1919–1938 it was called Slemence) before 1945. From 1919 until 1945, Szelmenc bore the same history as Subcarpathia. It was first ceded to Czechoslovakia in 1919, then after the First Vienna Award in 1938 it returned to the Kingdom of Hungary, then back, then, after the Soviet-Czechoslovak Treaty in 1945 was partially ceded to the Soviet Union along with Subcarpathia. The new border between the two states run through Szelmenc. The town was divided between Slovakia (2/3) and Ukraine (1/3) by simply cutting it into two parts - Veľké Slemence became a part of Slovakia and Mali Selmenci (Малі Селменці) a part of Ukraine.

The locals didn't believe that such border would really be established until 1946, when the house which lay exactly on the border was demolished with all the other objects in the way, and a 6 meters high palisade wall with watch towers and border patrolling were installed. For the next 60 years the crossing between the two parts were prohibited. If one liked to meet with their relatives on the other side, they had to first travel 13 km to Uzhgorod for visas to Czechoslovakia, which was granted or not, depending on the office, which usually considered it at least two weeks. Then, if granted, travel 80 km south to the nearest border crossing, then 80 km back, and go home the same way, making a family visit trip of normally 3–500 meters and a half day at least 160–200 km long for one way only and at least a month to organize, making it virtually impossible to meet each other. Those, who tried to shout over from one side to the other were penalized on both parts. This resulted in discussing, sending messages, news in form of songs, sung loud near the border.

"Egy Szelmencből lett a kettő, egyesítse a Teremető
Áldjon Isten békességgel, tartson egybe reménységgel
Mi reményünk megmarad, összeforr mi szétszakadt
Két Szelmencnek kapuszárnya, falvainkat egybezárja"


(the poem on the Mali Selmeci side of the Szekely gate)

In 2003 a Székely gate (székelykapu) was installed on the border, one half of it being in the Slovak, while the other half being on the Ukrainian part of the border, with a short poem on the Mali Selmeci part. The poem can be roughly translated as "From one Szelmenc became two, should be unified by the Creator, God bless with peace and keep us together, our hope remains, and will join together what torn apart, gate wings of the two Szelmec closes our villages together".

After the fall of communism, and more than a decade of fights with bureaucracy and negligence, a border checkpoint for pedestrians and cyclists was established in 2005 on the street which was divided. It was opened on December 23, 2005 ending 61 years of division. On January 1, 2008 Slovakia joined the Schengen Agreement once again hardening the crossing between the two Szelmences, forcing again the Mali Selmencians to travel to Uzhgorod for visas to Slovakia.

The two parts has a total population of about 840 people, almost exclusively (+95%) ethnic Hungarians, with a few Romani in and around the village(s).

The elderly citizens of the two Szelmences were once citizens of Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Soviet Union, and now are the citizens of Slovakia (and thus the European Union) and Ukraine, while most of them never ever left the village, where they were born.

Geography[edit]

The village lies at an altitude of 106 metres and covers an area of 9.972 km². The municipality has a population of about 600 inhabitants.

Culture[edit]

The village has a football pitch.

Literature[edit]

  • Zelei, Miklós: A kettézárt falu. Ister Kiadó, Budapest, 2000.

References[edit]