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Černová massacre

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The Černová massacre (or Černová tragedy, Slovak: Černovská tragédia, Hungarian: Csernovai tragédia or Csernova Affair[1]) was a shooting that happened in Csernova, Kingdom of Hungary (today Černová, part of Ružomberok, Slovakia) on 27 October 1907 in which 15 people were killed and many were wounded after gendarmes fired into a crowd of people gathering for the consecration of the local Catholic church. The shootings sparked protests in European and American press and turned world's attention to the treatment of minorities in the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary.[citation needed]

Outline of the events


On the initiative of Andrej Hlinka, the Slovak parish priest of nearby Ružomberok and a native of Černová, people of Černová decided to raise money for the construction of a new church.[2] The locals raised 80,000 crowns[2] and the collections received minor[3] donations from the Slovak Americans as well. The construction started in April 1907 and by the autumn, the church was ready for consecration.[4]

The locals wanted the church to be consecrated by Hlinka, however, he was at the time suspended by bishop Sándor Párvy and sentenced to two years of imprisonment due to his pro-Slovak agitation during the election campaign of 1906 and the subsequent conviction of incitement.[5] The people of Černová thus demanded the consecration to be postponed until Hlinka would be able to perform the ceremony. The bishopric denied their request and two Magyar speaking priests[3] were appointed in his stead. First Canon Anton Kurimsky and after his refusal, Dean Martin Pazurik of Likavka.

The shooting

The ceremony was to take place on 27 October 1907. The official procession arrived at the village accompanied by a squad of 15 gendarmes. It was protested against by the locals, who attempted to block its way to the church to prevent Pazurik from consecrating. The demonstration was peaceful in nature [6] [7] although some accounts report stone-throwing at a member of the gendarme escort.[2] In panic[8] the gendarme leader sergeant Ján Ladiczky,[8] an ethnic Slovak,[9] ordered his squad to open fire into the crowd without prior warning[2] killing 15 of the protesting villagers, seriously wounding 12 and lightly injuring 40.[10][3][11]

According to historian Roman Holec, the majority of the members of the Hungarian[12] gendarmes involved in the shooting were of Slovak origin.[8]


Many attempted to capitalize politically on the events, Czech and Slovak nationalists in general, and Hlinka in particular. On the one hand, Hlinka's appeal against his 1906 verdict was rejected, thus, on 30 November 1907 Hlinka started to serve his jail term in the Csillagbörtön (Star Prison), Szeged. On the other hand, Hlinka appealed with success his suspension to the Holy See, so it was cancelled on 8 April 1909. When Hlinka left the prison, Bishop Párvy appointed him again to his Ružomberok parish, and Hlinka consecrated the church in Černová with Párvy's consent.

The tragedy sparked protests in the European and US press and it turned the world's attention to the attitude to the minorities in Hungary. Important protesting European personalities included the Norwegian Nobel Prize holder Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, the Oxford historian Robert William Seton-Watson, and the speaker of the Austrian parliament[citation needed].

Today's Slovak politicians — especially the members of the Slovak National Party — even though all perpetrators were Slovaks, interpret the event as "Hungarian gendarmes shooting at innocent Slovaks" (during the legal actions after the massacre, some gendarmes refused to testify as witnesses, because the victims were their relatives)[citation needed]. With many of their claims regarding the events, the Slovak National Party continues to perpetuate a "false myth of Černová".[13] Some Slovak sources claim that the gendarmes were ethnic Hungarian.[14] even though there was a very small number of ethnic Hungarians in the region where the gendarmes were recruited. According to Slovak historian Roman Holec, professor at Comenius University in Bratislava, the majority of the gendarmes were Slovaks from Liptó county. (According to the official 1910 census, over 90% of the population were ethnic Slovaks in that county.) They were nevertheless honored for the deed, because they were in the service of Hungarian state. Both the rioters and the gendarmes can be held responsible for the massacre. The rioters were violent from lack of fear of getting shot (i.e. that the sergeant would refrain from giving an order of fire or use blanks). The gendarmes were shooting in all directions instead of aiming for feet or into the air (most victims died due to their head and chest injuries).[8]

See also


  1. ^ Oakes, Elizabeth; Roman, Eric (2003). "Historical dictionary A-Z". Austria-Hungary and the Successor States: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present (European Nations). Facts on File. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-8160-4537-2.
  2. ^ a b c d Seton Watson, Christopher, Hugh (1981). The Making of a New Europe: : R.W. Seton-Watson and the Last Years of Austria-Hungría. Austria: Taylor & Francis. p. 53.
  3. ^ a b c Nedelsky, Nadya (2009). Defining the Sovereign Community: The Czech and Slovak Republics. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 61.
  4. ^ (in Slovak)
  5. ^ Kamusella, Tomasz (2009). The politics of language and nationalism in modern Central Europe. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 556.
  6. ^ Gleiman, Lubomir (2011). From the Maelstrom: A Pilgrim's Story of Dissent and Survival in the Twentieth Century. AuthorHouse. p. 30.
  7. ^ El Mallakh, Dorothea H. (1979). "The Slovak autonomy movement, 1935-1939: a study in unrelenting nationalism". East European Quarterly.
  8. ^ a b c d Roman Holec szerint egyes politikusok régi mítoszokat próbálnak újraéleszteni Interview with Roman Holec, historian
  9. ^ Slota újabb kirohanása: tovább sértegeti a magyarokat
  10. ^ (in Slovak)
  11. ^ "Historik: Ospravedlnenie Maďarov za Černovú by nebolo produktívne". Petit Press.
  12. ^ Wingfield, Nancy Meriwether. reating the other: ethnic conflict and nationalism in Habsburg Central Europe.
  13. ^ Egy elfelejtett sortűz nyomában A szóvivő Rafael Rafaj aláírásával ellátott dokumentum annak ellenére ápolja tovább csernova hamis mítoszát, hogy egy évtizede már komoly, a legendákkal, tévhitekkel leszámoló monográfia szól az esetről egy szlovák történész, Roman Holec tollából.
  14. ^ Kirschbaum, Joseph M. (1978). Slovakia in the 19th & 20th centuries. Slovak World Congress. p. 464.

External links