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Bizarre Campaign in Slovakia Using Lajos Kossuth’s Image

Dániel Deme 2023.04.26.

Signs are that not everyone is content with the success of Hungarian minority education in Slovakia. A poster campaign has emerged shocking citizens of towns in Southern and Eastern Slovakia, where members of the Hungarian minority live in numbers.

The billboards that appeared in Slovakian municipalities in the past few days say: “Even Kossuth spoke Slovak, register your child in a Slovak school”. Lajos Kossuth was the leader of the Hungarian national independence movement in the 19th century, later the leader of the 1848-49 anti-Habsburg revolution. He is regarded as one of the greatest personalities of Hungarian history, hence the Slovak far-right party’s appeal to Hungarian parents with his name.

Since the fall of Communism in 1989, Slovakian nationalists of all colors have been actively involved in campaigns aiming to assimilate the Hungarian minority in Slovakia that is numbering over 400,000, some 8% of the total population. They may have clearly been successful in some instances, as the Slovak Revival Movement’s (SHO) leadership, that is behind the poster campaign, also contains names such as Alzbeta Szénásióvá, or Alexander Székely, people of Hungarian origin, judging by their surnames.

The ultra-nationalist party currently polling at around 0.2% in Slovakia is reportedly sympathetic to the historic heritage of the leader of the fascist Slovak State during World War II, Jozef Tiso. They are also trying to fashion their image on the German conservative parliamentary party, Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) with the slogan “Alternative for Slovakia”, but as their strange poster campaign shows, they lack similar sophistication and credibility.

It is a fact that Lajos Kossuth’s family has come from the northern parts of historic Hungary, now Slovakia, yet he himself was born in Monok, now Northern Hungary, in 1802. It is also true that he likely had some knowledge of Slovak, as he also spoke German, English, French and Latin, as it was customary with children of the land-owning Hungarian nobility at the time, yet how this is an argument for Hungarian parents to consign their children on the path of assimilation by sending them to Slovak schools instead of Hungarian is a mystery.

Early photograph of Lajos Kossuth. Photo: Wikipedia

The provocative billboards of the nationalists point to the success of Slovakian Hungarian leaders’ campaign aiming to explain to parents the importance of education in Hungarian for the preservation of their children’s national identity. Large sums of money have been poured into educational facilities in Slovakia by the government in Budapest, which has resulted in a slight growth of pupils starting Hungarian minority schools as compared to previous years. Due to the investment, some of these schools are now often better equipped and staffed than their Slovak counterparts, which had a positive effect on the number of Hungarian minority children enrolled.

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Featured Photo: Reddit

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