2
Czech and Slovak Demography

MILAN KUČERA and ZDENĚK PAVLÍK

The creation of Czechoslovakia in the year 1918 was marked by both the spirit of the era and the geopolitical situation after the defeat of the central powers in the First World War: the new country inherited similar ethnic problems to those which had existed previously in Austria-Hungary. It was also just as heterogeneous in its social make-up, economic development, education level, settlement structure and population development. Along the whole historical border of the Czech Lands with Germany and Austria, and often in the interior of the country and in some towns there lived, according to the 1921 census, over three million Germans, representing 31 per cent of the population. This was mainly the original German settlement dating back to the Middle Ages and strengthened by colonization after the Thirty Years War (1618–48), as well as the original Czech population which had succumbed to Germanization. In Slovakia there were only 146,000 Germans, who had been living there since the Middle Ages, mainly in Bratislava and its surroundings and in some mining towns. Altogether in 1921 there were 3,207,000 Germans living in Czechoslovakia almost a quarter of the country's population. In Slovakia there were 651,000 Hungarians, who formed almost 22 per cent of Slovakia's population, mainly along its southern border with Hungary, created according to the Trianon agreements of 1919. It was the original Hungarian settlement which had been strengthened by Magyarization for a long time. Within the framework of the whole republic Hungarians formed only 5 per cent of the population. Moreover, on the territory of the new state there lived 110,000 Poles (mainly in Silesia) and 102,000 Ruthenians, Ukrainians and Russians (mainly in Slovakia), as well as 109,000 Jews (of which 74,000 in Slovakia) and 21,000 persons of other nationalities (including Romanies). In Ruthenia, which is not considered here, 62 per cent of the total number of 607,000 inhabitants in the 1921 census were Ruthenians, including Ukrainians and Russians, 17 per cent Hungarians, 13 per cent Jews and only a little over 3 per cent of the population considered themselves to be Czechoslovak.

-15-

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