Július Molitoris (1927)
“All the citizens, our acquaintances and relatives perceived it very badly. Until then, ceding the land was absolutely unimaginable for us.”
Július Molitoris was born in 1927 in the village of Klenovec. He comes from the woodsman family. His brother Vladimír was a doctor. Július lived in Hnúšťa, but he enrolled at the public elementary school in Klenovec in 1933. In 1935 his father died and then they moved to his grandparents to Klenovec. In 1938 he left for Veľká Lomnica to learn German language, because he longed for studying at grammar school. In autumn 1938 he started to study at the grammar school in Rimavská Sobota, where he lived with one Hungarian family. For the first time he felt a whiff of intolerance from the side of his Hungarian classmates. This tension came mainly from the political situation and mobilization that had already been declared. Mr. Molitoris experienced occupation of southern Slovakia after the Vienna Award; he also witnessed expelling Slovaks from their homes and taking over Rimavská Sobota. Later he worked as a journalist and correspondent and still tried to find some information about the fate of his family after the Vienna Award.
Situation in the Year 1938
“It was the year 1938 and even though I was only eleven-year-old boy I was very excited about it, because a lot of serious things were going on, there was a danger of war, fascism spread rapidly and I experienced it in Veľká Lomnica, where various German celebrations took place. Not only young people, but also adults and all the residents of the villages in the Spiš region and under the Tatra Mountains used to gather and deliver speeches and the like.”
Tense Relations among People
“Yet in 1938 the situation was changing. At the grammar school there were two classes in every year. I think there were a bit fewer Hungarians. So Slovaks outnumbered them, at least I estimate it, and during the break we used to walk along the corridors, we promenaded there and I usually wore a special Slovak embroidered shirt with laces called ‘handelka’. One tall Hungarian boy leapt to me and unfastened those laces on my shirt. But it didn’t happen just once, because as soon as I laced them up he unfastened them again. I felt very bad about it. We knew that they didn’t like us. Boys commuting to school from the countryside were always waiting at the station or they went through the park behind the railway line and Slovak and Hungarian children usually met there. We had many conflicts; we even used to throw chestnuts on each other and things like that. Simply said, relationships between us were really tense.”
Evacuation of the Grammar School and Military Ceding of Rimavská Sobota
“I would like to say something about Hungary’s annexation of the town Rimavská Sobota. Ján Saluba, the headmaster, had already supposed that the grammar school in Rimavská Sobota wouldn’t withstand, so it was necessary to evacuate it, he ensured an evacuation of collections, materials, school aids and the like to public municipal school in Tisovec, where the grammar school was established later. Pupils who commuted to school by train were taking those collections, for example preserved birds, piece by piece. I remember very well how Rimavská Sobota was preparing for evacuation. But as for the ceding the area of Rimavská Sobota, I know that from the military point of view Rimavská Sobota was surrendered by the captain in reserve Pavel Moncoľ, a teacher in Klenovec, father of our classmate Ľubo Moncoľ, who later became a Czechoslovak diplomat. I know from various rumours, I have information that Mr. Moncoľ used to say at home, in the village, that ceding the town of Rimavská Sobota went perfectly from the military aspect. The Czechoslovak side, actually Mr. Moncoľ and some other officers got the credit for it. He recalled that Hungarian troops essayed some provocation actions. Fortunately, they were thwarted and no conflicts appeared there when Hungary annexed a part of our land.”
Godfather’s Memories of Hungarian Army
“My grandfather recalled that when he had been conscripted into the Hungarian army, he was almost fifty, so he didn’t soldier for a long time. He told me that conditions were really horrible in Hungarian army. And what he used to tell me was pretty bad; I got the picture of Hungarian army. My grandfather used to talk about it as well, because he served in Hungarian army during the Austro-Hungarian era. Hungarian drill, flogging, physical punishments, torture and the like. It was inconceivable. During that twenty years people got used to some democratic principles, particularly in army. Czechoslovak army was well-known, because it was a kind of elite very similar to French one or something like that.”
Forcible Displacement after the Vienna Award
“I could give you one more example. Slovaks were being expelled from this area when Sudetenland was occupied. For example, I had a friend, Viktor Lukáč was his name. I know that his father had moved to Tisovec along with his sons and then taught us at that grammar school. Only his wife stayed in Rimavská Sobota and one day some Hungarian policeman came and told her: ‘Mrs. Lukáčová, you have to move away from Rimavská Sobota within twenty-four hours. Your husband has left to Slovakia, so now he is accused.’ He quoted various clauses. ‘I will come to check you.’ And he really came and drove her to the village of Čerenčany. Well, things like these really happened.”
Commandeering of Properties
“There was also another case when they commandeered the property of settlers, who got it from the squire Coburg. It was near the village Bottov. These properties belonged to Czechoslovak legionaries, poor peasants from Orava, Podpoľanie, Kysuce regions, but also from Moravia and the like. They got some money as a subsidy and built nice houses and during those twenty years they were running their farms. Several hamlets were being found and unified later. This way they created one bigger village called Bottovo these days. Then the year 1938 came and they had to leave Slovakia. After the end of war, they struggled to get their property back, because they obtained, owned and managed it. However, it was a very long process; sometimes it wasn’t possible at all, because Hungarian authorities signed it over to Hungarians very promptly. And Slovaks encountered many obstacles. Because of the state bureaucracy they had to present various documents which they usually didn’t have. They became fed up with it and many of them have never come back to this area.”
The story and videoclips of this witness were put together and published thanks to the financial support of EU within the programme Europe for Citizens – Active European Remembrance.