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News from Vojvodina: Ethnic Cleansing


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Anti-Hungarian Grafitti in Zenta10/30/2004 - AHF Releases Statement on Vojvodina Violence. Reacts to Anti-Hungarian Grafitti: “Drop dead Hungarians”... In the last six months, non-Serbs, including members of Vojvodina’s 300,000-strong Hungarian minority, have been harassed and assaulted and their cemeteries and churches have been desecrated in a wave of physical violence, vandalism and anti-Semitism. [download the statement] or [Read it below].

The Minority communities in Serbia's former Hungarian northern province of Vojvodina (Vajdaság) are feeling the heat after stunning gains by Serbian ultra-nationalists raised fears of a return to the ethnic violence of the 1990s.

Kill MaygarsMagyars Go Home!Residents in the province's capital, Novi Sad (Ujvidek), were woken by drunken mobs over Serbian New Year on January 13-14 shouting, "Hey Serbs let's butcher the Croats! Hey Serbs, let's butcher the Hungarians!" In recent developments, Serbs riot and set historic landmarks on fire and spray graffiti saying "We Will Kill Hungarians."

During the recent bloodshed in Kosovo, violence also broke out in the northern Serb province of Vojvodina.  According to Tanjug News Agency in Belgrade, there were several dozen protests throughout the province.  The region’s large ethnic Hungarian minority was the target of the attacks especially in the provincial capital of Novi Sad. 

YugoslaviaDuna TV on March 19 reported a group of demonstrators had “vandalized and smashed up things and set fire to them.”  The mob also attacked the Magyar Szinhaz (Hungarian Theater), a symbol of Hungarian culture in Vojvodina.  The report states that following a performance, a shouting crowd marched in front of the theater and broke the doors and windows as well as ripped off the posters and pictures promoting the show.  The Tanjug News Agency on March 22 reported several injuries during the protest. 

According to Radio B92 in Belgrade, nationalist graffiti was found on a cathedral saying “Death to Hungarians” in the northern city of Novi Sad (Ujvidek). There have been many cases of anti-Hungarian graffiti in the city.

VojvodinaOn Duna TV (March 19), the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) condemned the violence and called for the ethnic Hungarians to stay calm.  Peace and stability has returned after the few days of protests.  On Kossuth Radio (March 20), Jozsef Kasza, leader of SVM, “demanded that the Serbian government prevent the settling of ethnic scores and that it punish the perpetrators of the law and order offences that had taken place at the Theater.”  Tanjug News Agency stated that criminal charges have been filed against numerous individuals who participated in the violent acts in Vojvodina.

March 2004 brought more sadness and fear when 85 crosses were pulled out and broken in Subotica (Szabadka). Another 100 had been destroyed in a previous attack in a different cemetery in January. The police always come up with some useless "results" This time they say it was two 7-year-olds who did it.

Violence and anti-Hungarian graffiti spread to smaller towns as well: Zenta (35,000, 70% Hungarian) and the neighboring Ada (20,000, 75% Hungarian). See on the left, Zenta's city sign was vandalized with the words "Death to Hungarians" on April 4, 2004.

AHF STATEMENT - “Drop dead Hungarians”

In the last six months, non-Serbs, including members of Vojvodina’s 300,000-strong Hungarian minority, have been harassed and assaulted and their cemeteries and churches have been desecrated in a  wave of physical violence, vandalism and anti-Semitism.

“When the Setets family set off this morning to take their 13-year-old daughter to school, they got a shock.  As they left their small, two-room house on the outskirts of Subotica, in northern Serbia, they found a 15-inch kitchen knife embedded in their front door.  Alongside it, someone had sprayed the Serbian word for ‘death’ in red.  Further to the right was ‘Drop dead Hungarians.’”  The New York Times, September 16, 2004. 

On July 9, 2004, thirteen Members of Congress, including members of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the Hungarian American Caucus, wrote to the Prime Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vojislav Kostunica, to express their “concern regarding the rise of anti-Hungarian violence in the province of Vojvodina.”                                                  

Throughout this wave of violence and intolerance, the Serbian authorities have turned a blind eye to these hate crimes.  This moved Congressman Tom Lantos, Ranking Member of the House International Relations Committee and a co-chair of the Hungarian American Caucus, on July 9, 2004  to urge Prime Minister Kostunica to “take immediate action to curb those Serbian elements in Vojvodina which are targeting Hungarian and other minorities as scapegoats. It is important that the Government of Serbia vigorously investigate and prosecute the criminal elements responsible for these hate crimes. Government leaders, under your direction, should undertake a high profile campaign to condemn anti-minority hostilities and restore the centuries-old spirit of inter-ethnic harmony.”

Unfortunately, neither has there been a high profile campaign nor have the perpetrators been brought to justice.

Vojvodina  is one of  two provinces in the Republic of Serbia which along with  Montenegro forms Serbia and Montenegro.  Vojvodina occupies the northern one-fifth (8,348 sq. miles) of the  country’s territory,  bordering Hungary in the north, Croatia in the  west, Bosnia-Herzegovina in the southwest, Serbia proper in the south, and Romania  in  the  east.  The province has 2.2 million inhabitants of which 57 percent are Serbs, 17 percent  Hungarians, 5 percent Croats, 3 percent Slovaks, 2 percent Montenegrins, 2 percent Romanians, 1 percent Ruthenians, and 13 percent  others.  These  numbers are based on the 1991 census and have likely changed during the Balkan wars in the 1990’s.

Prior to World War I Vojvodina was part of Hungary for approximately 1,100 years, with the exception of 200 years of Turkish occupation (1526-1699/1718).  That occupation resulted in the depopulation of  the area.  Thereafter, the Habsburgs began to repopulate the area with German and Serb settlers and the Hungarians also began to resettle in the region. In 1910 the 1,320,000 inhabitants included 30.2 percent Hungarians, 25 percent Serbs, 23 percent Swabian Germans, 10 percent other South Slavs (including Croats, Bunjevci, Sokci), and 10 percent others (Romanians, Slovaks, Ruthenians).  It is unlikely that this region would have become part of Yugoslavia had Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination been respected.  It was not and the Paris peace treaties awarded Vojvodina to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Yugoslavia in 1929).

The Serbs began an aggressive Serbianization process that, among other things, radically altered Vojvodina’s ethnic composition in the 20th century.  As soon as Vojvodina was transferred to Yugoslavia, they moved tens of thousands of Serb families into Vojvodina, dispossessing the original residents.  This  was repeated after World War II when twenty to thirty-five thousand Hungarian men and boys were massacred between October and December 1944.  An additional 40-50,000 Hungarians fled this terror. 

A third wave of “ethnic cleansing” took place under Milosevic: tens of thousands of Serb families poured in from Kosovo, Croatia, and Bosnia, while some hundred thousand Hungarians and Croats  fled the forced mobilization and intimidation.  The ethnic structure of Vojvodina has thus been significantly altered -- international treaties notwithstanding -- through  forced or state-sponsored  relocation, in favor of the Serbs, as noted above.

In 1988  Milosevic’s Serbian parliament, supported by populists rallies financed by Serb nationalists, destroyed the province’s autonomy when it illegitimately overturned the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, which guaranteed legislative, executive, and judicial powers to both  Vojvodina and Kosovo.  As noted by the March 15, 2001 RFE/RL Newsline, “[d]estroying the two provinces’ autonomy was an important step in the consolidation of Milosevic’s power.”  For Vojvodina this has resulted in domination by Belgrade and loss of the right to local self-government.

Despite years of intimidation, Vojvodinians consistently and peacefully voted against Milosevic, demonstrating their deep commitment to democracy.   Milosevic is gone and on trial for war crimes.  The  decimated  minorities and  those Serbs whose historical roots  are in Vojvodina are still waiting for the restoration of autonomy, both territorial for the province  (indeed,  legislative, executive,  and  judicial) and “personal” autonomy  (in  education, the media, publishing, and cultural institutions) for members of the ethnic minorities.  They are still waiting for the intolerance to stop, the xenophobia to vanish, and the criminals to be brought to justice. - Frank Koszorus, Jr. (Professor Andrew Ludanyi and Tibor Purger contributed to the background on Vojvodina).

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Why So Many Hungarians Across the Border?

Vojvodina was part of Hungary since 896 AD and was awarded to the newly formed Yugoslavia by the French in the "Treaty" of Trianon in 1920 when Hungary lost 2/3 of her territory and 1/3 of her Hungarian population.Vojvodina (Vajdsaság in Hungarian), an integral part of Hungary for over 1000 years, was awarded to the newly formed Yugoslavia by the French at the "Treaty" of Trianon in 1920 when Hungary lost 2/3 of her territory and 1/3 of her Hungarian population. Intimidation, large scale evictions and ethnic cleansing, emigration, and fear of self-reporting have official estimates of only 300-350,000 ethnic Hungarians remaining in the province. Some, however, estimate this number to be double that since many fear self-reporting as Hungarian exposes them to risk.The American-Hungarian community is increasingly concerned by ethnic violence in Vojvodina.

"Ethnic Cleansing" in action

Ethnic Map of Vojvodina 1910How did this region become part of Yugoslavia? Read "The Conflict in the Former Yugoslavia and Autonomous Region of Vojvodina, and the Need for a More Coherent U.S. Foreign Policy" by Bryan Dawson and refer to the following demographic maps comparing Vojvodina in 1910 and 1991. Note the decline seen here in Hungarian population does NOT take into consideration the Balkan conflicts and the significant escalation of atrocities against Hungarians over the last decade:

Ethnic Map of Vojvodina 1991One thousand years of nation building successfully delineated groups based on culture, religion, geography, and other attributes to create the countries with which we are so familiar. While some WesternEuropean nations would continue power struggles and princely battles and civil wars, Hungary, founded in 896, was a peaceful multi-ethnic state for a 1000 years and her borders were virtually unchanged. Until 1920...

Vojvodina Ethnic Map in 1996 showing more Hungarian population decline and Serbian refugee influxThe Treaty of Trianon in 1920... in the aftermath of WWI, was extremely harsh on Hungary and unjustifiably one-sided. The resulting "treaty" lost Hungary an unprecedented 2/3 of her territory, and 1/2 of her total population or 1/3 of her Hungarian-speaking population. Add to this the loss of up to 90% of vast natural resources, industry, railways, and other infrastructure. The clear winner of the land grab, was Rumania, who, established only 60 years earlier, more than doubled in size overnight.

Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)

Ethnic Distribution in the Kingdom of Hungary in 1910 (Hungarians shown in red)
[download extra large image 4962x3509]
[download large image 1000x707]

Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies such as the 2009 Slovak Language Law, this trend continued over the past 90 years.

Hungarian populations declined significantly after forced removals such as the Benes Decrees and other pograms, the effects of WWI, and Trianon in 1920. With continued pressure and discriminative policies sucha s the 2009 Slovak Language Law, this trend continued over the past 90 years.

  • In Upper Hungary (awarded to Slovakia, Czechoslovakia): 1,687,977 Slovaks and 1,233,454 others (mostly Hungarians - 886,044, Germans, Ruthenians and Roma) [according to the 1921 census, however, there were 1,941,942 Slovaks and 1,058,928 others]
  • In Carpathian Ruthenia (awarded to Czechoslovakia): 330,010 Ruthenians and 275,932 others (mostly Hungarians, Germans, Romanians, and Slovaks)
  • In Transylvania (awarded to Romania): 2,831,222 Romanians (53.8%) and 2,431,273 others (mostly Hungarians - 1,662,948 (31.6%) and Germans - 563,087 (10.7%)). The 1919 and 1920 Transylvanian censuses indicate a greater percentage of Romanians (57.1%/57.3%) and a smaller Hungarian minority (26.5%/25.5%)
  • In Vojvodina 510,754 Serbs and 1,002,229 others (mostly Hungarians 425,672 and Germans 324,017)
  • In Vojvodina and Croatia-Slavonia combined (awarded to Yugoslavia): 2,756,000 Croats and Serbs and 1,366,000 others (mostly Hungarians and Germans)
  • In Burgenland (awarded to Austria): 217,072 Germans and 69,858 others (mainly Croatian and Hungarian)

[read more on the Treaty of Trianon]

AHF Related Links

External Links

Read additional Stories in HUNGARIAN

  • 10/14/2005 - Koszorús Ferencet idézi az újvidéki Magyar Szó: „NEMZETKÖZIESÍTSÜNK”-E VAGY SEM: Tojástánc [tovább]
  • 6/10/2005 - A MAGYAROK CSAK TÁNCOLJANAK: Egybehangolt lejáratási kampány a VMSZ ellen [tovább]


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  • "Magyarellenes Falfirkák Szabadkán,"
    MAGYAR SZÓ, Novi Sad/Újvidék (in Hungarian) 4/3/2004

  • "Temetőgyalázás,"
    MAGYAR SZÓ, Novi Sad/Újvidék (in Hungarian)

  • See the International Crisis Group Report on Serbia from July 1994: Serbia's Changing Political Landscape, a Briefing. An excerpt regarding Serb violence: "Some Serbs in Vojvodina are demonstrating behaviour reminiscent of that which they so frequently and vociferouslt condemn the Kosovo Albanians."

    Featured Hungarian

    Monica SelesMonica Seles - (b. in the Vajdaság (Vojvodina), the Hungarian region that was given to Serbia/Yugoslavia.)
    Tennis Superstar - She has won 9 Grand Slam singles titles and bronze in Sydney 2000! 

Seles (pronounced sell-esh and spelled Szeles Monika) won the European junior championship at the age of ten. Born to a Hungarian family in the former Hungarian province of Vojvodina, she moved to the United States in 1986, and in 1989 turned professional. In 1990 she won her first French Open, and in each of the following two years she won the Australian, United States, and French opens. Seles won the Australian Open in early 1993, but later that year, while resting between sets during a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, she was stabbed by a spectator. The incident caused Seles to withdraw from competition in 1993 and 1994. Seles returned to competition in 1995 and won the initial tournament of her comeback, the Canadian Open. In 1996 she again won the Australian Open.

Monica is a fierce competitor and is still going strong into the new millennium including winning the Bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olmpics!

See: http://www.angelfire.com/tx/MONICASELES/index2.html or a small bio: http://www.bartleby.com/65/se/SelesMoni.html

AHF Statements on Trianon:

AHF Articles on Rumania:

Adobe You will need the free Adobe Reader to open the following files. Click the image to download.

Articles and Essays by AHF Members

  • "NATO Enlargement" by Frank Koszorus Jr. March 29, 2004
    Remarks on the Occasion of the Enlargement of NATO, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. [download]
  • "Nato Enlargement And Minority Rights: Prerequisites To Security" by Frank Koszorus, Jr., April 2003
    A memorandum that was submitted to Robert A. Bradtke, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Heather A. Conley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs during a roundtable discussion on "NATO Enlargement and the Current State of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance." This submission follows several other intiatives, including submissions to Lord Roberston, Secretary General of NATO. [download]
  • “Nato Enlargement: Promoting Western Values, Strengthening The Alliance” by Frank Koszorus, Jr., April 29, 2003
    A Statement Before The United States Senate Committee On Foreign Relations.
  • "U.S. Senate Unanimously Ratifies Nato Treaty; Senators Raise Rights Of Minorities: Federation Supports Efforts Aimed At Encouraging Romania And Slovakia To Respect Rights Of Hungarian Minorities And Restore Communal Properties" - Press Release by Zoltan Bagdy, May 9, 2003 [download]

Congressional Resolutions and Records

  • H.RES 191 - A RESOLUTION urging the "prompt and fair restitution of church properties by Romania and Slovakia - TOM LANTOS / TOM TANCREDO (April 6th 2005) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • A RESOLUTION REGARDING THE ISSUE OF TRANSYLVANIAN HUNGARIANS -- HON. DONALD E. `BUZ' LUKENS (Extension of Remarks - February 26, 1990) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • VIOLENCE IN TRANSYLVANIA -- HON. DON RITTER (Extension of Remarks - March 22, 1990) in the House of Representatives [download]
  • Transylvanian Monitor #14: Property Restitution.
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