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Hungarian and Mixed (Hungarian-Rumanian) Families in Northern-Transylvania, 1942-1944

By Toth, Pal Peter | East European Quarterly, June 1997 | Go to article overview

Hungarian and Mixed (Hungarian-Rumanian) Families in Northern-Transylvania, 1942-1944


Toth, Pal Peter, East European Quarterly


Like everywhere else, there are also strokes of luck in the field of scientific research work. The fact that I was able to analyze the documents of a sociological survey taken more than 50 years ago is due to a fortunate accident. This survey was conducted in January of 1942, just one and a half years after the Northern part of Transylvania was returned to Hungary -- following the Second Vienna Award. I also consider this work important from the point of view of the history of social sciences, as I have never encountered a project in which the questionnaires were processed more than 50 years after the survey was conducted.

Hungary lost this territory in 1921 due to the decision of the Great Powers in the framework of the post-war Peace Treaty. The territory had been a part of the Hungarian Kingdom from the time of its foundation as a state. It was returned in 1940, by decision of the Great Powers and not due to war. It is important to mention that the Hungarian government at that time did not anticipate the loss of this territory again so quickly, also due to a decision of the Great Powers. This is confirmed by the extensive nature of the survey made on the re-annexed Northern-Transylvanian territory between January 1942 and December of 1944, which suggests a long-range project.

Archival documents about the purpose of the survey and the office or institution directing and financing it were destroyed or have not been discovered. Therefore we must draw out conclusions only from the formulation of the questionnaire itself. Presumably the survey was initiated by a division attached to the Office of the Prime Minister dealing with the issues of the re-annexed territories. It would seem that the aim of the survey was to give a sociologically authentic picture about the state of the Hungarian population after 25 years of Rumanian rule, particularly in those areas in which they were not in the majority. This can be concluded from the content of the questions, the structure of the questionnaire, and from the fact that the survey covered ten of the twelve counties of Northern-Transylvania returned to Hungary. In addition, of the existing 2,321 settlements, 527 settlements were chosen where it seemed that the Hungarian population was in the greatest danger of losing its national identity. A similar message can be deduced from the notice on the first page of the questionnaire: "strictly confidential." The apparent goals of the survey mentioned above are confirmed by the fact that this research covers only two types of families: the ethnically Hungarian families and the mixed (Hungarian-Rumanian) ones -- i.e., those persons who drafted the plan of this survey must have decided that the role of families belonging to other ethnic minorities was not important, either from the point of view of explaining prevailing conditions, or for developing their suggestions to change the existing situation.

Concerning the adequacy of the volume of the research, one can mention that in Hungary today 2,000 persons are considered sufficient for a representative national survey, and in this Northern-Transylvanian survey, about 10,000 families were questioned. The survey was conducted by Roman Catholic priests and Protestant ministers and their students, teachers of the given settlements, and in a few cases, university students. As I mentioned before, since there are no archival documents about the project, the objectives and the exact scale of this survey, we cannot be certain whether these 9,490 questionnaires are the complete documentation of the survey.

In the following, I would like to give a brief outline of the questionnaires themselves. They contain the same questions for both types of families. They differ from each other only in color. The A-type questionnaire, investigating Hungarian families, was pink, while the B-type, investigating the mixed Hungarian-Rumanian families, was white. The first group of the questions is concerned with the statistical, so-called "hard" data of the families investigated.

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