© Electronic Library of Scientific Literature - © Academic Electronic Press


Volume 51, 2003, No. 3



Mgr. Oľga Danglová, CSc.; PhDr. Katarína Popelková, CSc.
Ústav etnológie SAV, Klemensova 19, 813 64 Bratislava, Slovakia

The aim of the article is to present partial results of a study into   transformation processes viewed from the point of regional co-operation in a small area in south-western Slovakia. The qualitative field research carried out in the District of Pezinok focused on conditions for local development. The District is very attractive as it partially overlaps with the area of the recently established Association of Towns and Villages in the Little Carpathians Region. On the one hand, the article analyses results of the research and presents them as a starting point for researches in the future: on the other, it indicates the potential of ethnological interpretation.
The contribution consists of three parts: the first one states the research question as well as methods of research and analysis, the second one summarises knowledge obtained by way of social characteristic of the region with respect to the „inheritance“ from the pre-transformation period, and the final part examines the intraregional co-operation in the Little Carpathians Region, then identifies areas of co-operation and also assesses quality of this co-operation. Moreover, it refers to conditions and perspectives of the District to pass successfully through the transformation period and to get engaged in supraregional co-operation.

Kľúčové slová: regionálny rozvoj, malokarpatský región
Key words:
regional development, the Little Carpathians Region.

Summary: In addition to the above-mentioned information, the analysis of empirically obtained data by means of ethnological research revealed several problems of methodological character. It raised a number of additional questions, which have remained without answers. Moreover, it indicated possible directions for future ethnological researches into transformation processes in the Little Carpathians Region. Furthermore, it also enables to predict results of these processes and estimate their applicability for regional development.
1 Research and methodology. Although much due attention was paid both to the design of the open-ended questionnaire, the field research and the transcription of interviews with the magistrates and despite the fact that a great amount of detailed material was obtained for the purposes of an applied project, it is not possible to regard them as an adequate and reliable basis for a deep analysis and ethnological interpretation of the transformation processes in various regions in Slovakia. On the one hand, many more data from the mezzolevel are needed. That means that first of all detailed entrance demographic data and latest statistics about the region should be exploited and used together with qualitative research techniques (an identification of actors in the development, interviews with established entrepreneurs, local authorities and other important persons, questionnaires about the structure of employment in sample villages, records of opinions of both the positive and negative aspects of the transformation as held by local people, priorities for the local and regional developments – not always necessarily in agreement with the policy and goals of the local self-administration, etc.). On the other hand, in a research of this type two factors may be seen as shortcomings: firstly, the lack of opportunity to do a similar research in towns and, secondly, to interview magistrates in towns in the Little Carpathians Region. The writers believe that a comparison of data obtained both in villages and towns backed by the current ethnological knowledge of social and cultural interactions and dynamic relations between rural and urban districts seen in a historical perspective and today´s social reality would add value of the research as a basis for ethnological interpretation of the transformation processes.
2 The range of topics for empirical research into the problem: Not only can a research conducted from a microlevel find answers to all questions but it may raise new ones relevant to the particular transformation processes and the  potential for development in the Little Carpathians Region. An additional question to be mentioned first is about the ambivalent position of the metropolis of Bratislava. Due to the fact that this region is also a part of the Bratislava Region, a higher territorial unit, the role of the capital city in plans for further development may be then viewed as rather negative. The Bratislava Region as the most highly developed one in Slovakia „throws shade“ on the real situation in the region. For instance, the number of foreign investments placed in Bratislava is obviously the highest, while in the District of Pezinok it attains only the level of low-developed regions in the country. Another example illustrating this situation are coefficients, which must be stated in application forms for various grants. They may aggravate the application process or even entirely block it in the whole region. On the other hand, Bratislava is the  most important employer for the villages mentioned in the research. Moreover, from a historical perspective, Bratislava cannot escape attention for its cultural and modernising “radiation”. Also, it is not possible to avoid mentioning generations lasting firm ties between the capital and the Little Carpathians Region, existing in business, employment, administration, social life, etc. In addition, there are also other factors worth mentioning, such as tourism spreading from the metropolis to the surrounding areas, or Bratislava´s residents returning to the birthplaces of their parents or grandparents, including a specific phenomenon of going to a weekz


Mgr. Katharina Richter-Kovarik

The article offers an analysis of a specific phenomenon in Slovakia during the communist regime: a more or less tolerated form of a German, in the regional dialect called „mantak”, mikroculture in the quite isolated small town Medzev (germ. Metzenseifen) with about 4000 inhabitants in the valley of river Bodva in East Slovakia. It deals with the actively spoken mantak language and with the use or even abuse (!) of mantak elements of folklore (songs, dances, traditional costumes etc.) for example for socialist propaganda in the time after World War II and 1989. The original mantak population, that had been living there since the middleages and that managed to stay during the cruel time of the compulsory transfer under president Beneš in 1946/1947, was strongly discriminated on the one hand side. But on the other hand side their peculiarity was tolerated and even stimulated by local mantak or Slovak communist leaders. As Metzenseifen was a traditional hammersmith town the communists who had called the smiths to work in a huge local factory were interested in motivating them. They should not forget how „diligent” their mantak ancestors had been and allowed them to dress up in traditional mantak costumes and sing mantak songs during folkloristic festivals. Of course they could practise in the factory after work. Slovak newspapers were writing about the mantak people and special mantak customs without mentioning that they were Germans. Everything „German” had been put under a taboo, and although there still lived people of German origin in some regions of Slovakia they preferred to camouflage it and spoke about „mantaks”, „potoks” or „swabians”. Peculiar groups in different small towns or villages were easier to control than a strong German association of an accepted minority. When mantaks of Medzev started to mobilize members for a Cultural Association of the German Minority of Czechoslovakia (Kulturverband der Bürger deutscher Nationalität der ČSSR) that had been founded in Prague in 1969 they got problems with Slovak authorities as there was an aversion against German cultural manifestation. Inspite of all problems there was founded a local group of the association in Medzev in 1970, the only one in Slovakia. It had been working only for three years, then the pressure started to be unbearable and the officials stopped their activities (e.g. German cultural program with songs, dances, poems, theatre etc.). In Slovakia the more than 5000 official Germans (of course there were much more who were afraid to declare their affiliation) had no own newspaper, radio program, special German classes for small children etc. during communist time as they were not accepted as a German minority group with the same rights as other national minorities.

Kľúčové slová: Nemci na Slovensku, nemecká tradičná kultúra za socializmu, mantácka mikrokultúra
Germans in Slovakia, German traditional culture during socialism, „mantak” microculture

Summary: The study analyses the ambivalent relation of the political power to a German microculture of the  so-called mantáci at the period of socialism in Slovakia. The field research focused on traditional communities of iron-founders at Nižný Medzev and Vyšný Medzev. Here at least one third of approximately 4, 000 inhabitants can speak or understand the local German dialect called mantáčtina. The German colonists settling in the area between the 12th and the 14th centuries lived in their new home till WWII, after which they were deported. Since immediately after the War everything German was described as “Fascist” or “Hitlerian“, the Germans in Slovakia were simply put under toboo. Nevertheless, the situation was a kind of paradox: although the Germans as a minority were discriminated, specific features of their culture were tolerated and even used for socialist propaganda. Officially the German nationality hardly existed at all, which was the consequence of involuntary resignation of many Germans on their nationality in favour of the Slovak. Only gradually, as a result of softer policy towards nationalities, the “original” Germans dared manifest their own nationality in census papers. However, they had fewer rights than other minorities in Slovakia, e. g. they did not have any national representatives in the all-national institutions, could not publish their own newspapers and were still marked by popular regional denotations as “mantáci” or “švábi” (Swabians). The Carpathian Germans were still totally disregarded during the second half of the 20th century. Most probably it was because of the fact that an active union claiming minority rights for a much larger ethnic group it represented could not be so easily overseen, conrolled or just ignored as was the case of the mantáci. The emphasis on local dialect and associations with hard work of iron-founders in fact accentuated the by-gone past next to elements typical of traditional folk culture. Such an attitude did not inspire any thoughts about ties with  German culture. The older generation, especially old-age pensioners, were expected to preserve traditional historical elements of their culture, mainly those expressing social criticism of exploitation of workers at feudal times and also those describing them as heroes. Many inhabitants of Medzev who preserved their awareness of being mantáci were quite satisfied by a mere opportunity to present traditions of their grandparents. This also enabled them identification with culture of the German enclave in Slovakia. Under these circumstances they did not consider important the fact that they were participating in various performances serving, to a great extent, as socialist propaganda. Nevertheless, folklore enabled the active ones to speak about their own values and also interprete them in such ways that “everyone could be satisfied”. Although the inhabitants of Medzev described themselves first of all as the mantáci (not the Germans), the town was given a negative attribute of being a  German town. A sign of  partial discrimination from official authorities was the allocation of lower sums of money for various community projects. The situation did not improve even after 1970 when the local branch of the Cultural Union of the Inhabitants of German Nationality in the C.S.S.R. (Kulturverband der Burger deutscher Nationalität der ČSSR) founded in Prague in 1969 was also established at Medzev. With one hundred members the branch was the only one operating in Slovakia (till 1990). It was active for three years (cultural programmes, theatre performances, choir singing, etc.) despite a constant pressure from the local National Committee. At that period a signature campaign was run with the aim to have more lessons in German at school, but without any success. In 1973 the representation of the Union resigned on its activities. Since that time, songs of the mantáci have been sung only at home, and the number of young people and children using the dialect has rapidly decreased as well. This unfavourable situation has consequently caused much frustration amidst the mantáci population.


Mgr. Silvia Letavajová, PhD. – katedra etnológie, FiF UCM, Nám. J. Herdu 2, 917 01 Trnava

The aim of this article is to explain the specific approach of ethnology to the migration of refugees. It deals with the relationship between ethnocultural processes and the migration of Afghan refugees to Slovakia. The strength of ethnology is, first of all, in the traditional study of intercultural communication, in identification of the causes of and reasons for the existence of various types of prejudice and also in the assessment of alien cultural elements. In addition, it disposes of the most convenient theoretical and methodological instruments to examine the subject. The immediate application of knowledge amassed by ethnology into everyday practice enables to attain much  higher effectivity at practical work with refugees, to better understand and satisfy social and cultural needs and requirements of refugees in Slovakia. Moreover, it may also show how to overcome problems in communication.

Kľúčové slová: migrácia, utečenci, etnológia, akulturácia, integrácia, asimilácia, prechodové rituály
Key words:
migration, refugees, ethnology, acculturation, integration, assimilation, transition rituals (rités de passage).

Summary: This article explains a specific approach of ethnology to the problem of refugees, in particular to Afghan refugees in Slovakia. As migrations of various peoples have long been studied both by American and European ethnologists, the writer first presents a survey of employed terms, such as accommodation, adaptation, acculturation, assimilation and integration as used by them. In the following part she attempts to apply these terms to explain the situation of Afghan refugees in Slovakia. In this context she defines the concept of adaptation as a process consisting of both the identification and compliance with differences between the two cultures and the consequent harmonisation of images about Europe, namely those about Slovakia with the reality they encounter after their arrival. She highlights the most striking differences they identify: the relationship between man and woman and the public presentation of the relationship, consumption of pork meat and alcohol, a different religion and hospitality. Moreover, she deals with processes which may support integration with or divergence from the host culture. In addition, she examines the process of reinterpretation of specific elements in the original culture. To illustrate this she refers to the acceptance of and compliance with the laws and regulations enacted by the accepting country and, on the other hand, the simultaneous private practice of tradition or religion, which may give rise to  new autonomous cultural elements.
In the next part the author applies Van Gennep’s theory of transition rituals into the position of migrants. So, the second liminary phase related to the case of Afghan refugees is approximately coincidental with the asylum procedure, when the domestic population is represented and protected against the foreigners by official state institutions, to which the refugees have to explain the reasons for leaving their country and seeking asylum in Slovakia. The quarantine, through which the refugees must pass, may then be seen as a kind of magic purification of an alien before entering a new world as it is practised in traditional societies.
In the third part she discusses the oral history method, which she regards as the most relevant to this case although observation, participatory observation and interview are also considered as important. In her opinion, such an approach enables the subject to narrate about his/her life and, therefore, reveal more about their own personality. Based on these narratives a picture of every single refugee is not only more complete and objective but it often makes possible to obtain missing personal data. The writer supports this individualised approach also because every case of a refugee is highly personal. For this reason, individual case studies may preserve the highest measure of objectivity in examining this widely disseminated phenomenon. On the other hand, a direct application of ethnological knowledge into everyday practice may result in  much more effective work with refugees in Slovakia.


PhDr.Peter Salner, CSc., Ústav etnológie SAV, Klemensova 19, 813 64 Bratislava, Bratislava

The article deals with a history of an old Jewish cemetery in Bratislavc. It examines several issues: first the dating of the cemetery back to the 17th century, then the period between 1942 and 1944, when most of the tombstones here were destroyed except for the so-called Rabbis’ District, and finally the fate of the preserved graves after WWII. A special attention is given to road works when the tramway line crossing the cemetery was diverted from there and the new Chatam Sofer Memorial was constructed according to the rules of Orthodox Judaism. As directly supervised by a mažgiach ( religious supervisor), these works are very interesting for ethnology. A special section is devoted to epitaphs copied from the preserved tombs and later discovered in a German translation. This material little known in Slovakia enables us to make a picture of the people buried here and the community as a whole. Moreover, it explains the way of thinking and poetry of the Jews in 17th-19th centuries.

Kľúčové slová: židovský cintorín, epitafy, rabinát, mažgiach
Key words:
Jewish cemetery, epitaphs, Rabbis’ District, mažgiach

Summary: According to archival records the oldest preserved Jewish cemetery in Bratislava was opened at the end of the 17th century, although several sources move the date of its origin fifty years earlier. The last burial took place here in 1847. The cemetery became a place of pilgrimage for the Orthodox Jews, coming here to pay respect to the Bratislava rabbis, namely to teacher and scholar Chatam Sofer (1762-1839).
The existence of the cemetery was seriously endangered for the first time in 1942-1944, when Bratislava was building here a tunnel for civil defence. At that time most of the graves were destroyed. The Jewish community made great efforts to save at least twenty-three graves of rabbis, buried in the Rabbis’ District. Approximately nine hundred burials were exhumed by the members of Chevro Kadiš’s brotherhood of sextons and then again entered under the supervision of rabbis in a common grave in the near-by Orthodox cemetery. The history of the preservation of the Rabbis’ District has not completely been explained yet. In this context several explanation have been considered as possible: a strong political pressure from abroad, a miracle or Chatam Sofer´s malediction. Also corruption of the city administrators has to be mentioned. Even after WWII the graves were not safe, either. Only in 1949 the city officers decided to preserve the graves where they were. Then it was possible to enter the tomb, a low, ever-damp cell, from the street through a manhole. In the 1980s the city administration decided to convert the tunnel to a short-cut for the city transport. New tram line was leading across the area of the cemetery, and directly above the graves was a tram stop. Before the tombstones were destroyed, an unknown writer had made a list of the epitaphs and translated them into German. Now these texts are an invaluable source for studying the Jewish community. The translation is very important for getting acquainted with some still unknown ways of thinking and poetry of the Jewish community in the 17th – 19th centuries.
The efforts of the Jewish community to preserve and give a decent lay-out to the Rabbis’ District transformed to a new initiative in the mid-1990s the aim of which was to move the tram line from the old cemetery and also to build a new Chatam Sofer Memorial. It was successful. However, the reconstruction works could be done only under the strict observation of Jewish prescriptions on activities performed in a cemetery. For this reason, it was necessary to reduce digging and drilling works here. In case bones had been excavated, they had to be interrupted or even terminated. The final decisions were made by Beth Din Zedekh (Orthodox Rabbinate in Jerusalem), who consented to the project and also dispatched a mažgiach (a religious supervisor) from Israel to Bratislava. During the reconstruction works differentiation within the Jewish community came to light.
A close study of this cemetery, its history, preservation and reconstruction enable to better understand the way of thinking of the Jews during the period under examination. Moreover, it also explains relations between them and the majority population.

Táto práca vznikla v rámci projektu VEGA č. 2/2075/23.

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