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Where is my home?

Slovak Immigration to North America (1870–2010)


Mark Stolarik

Between 1870 and 2010 over half a million Slovaks migrated to the USA and Canada. As other ethnic groups from East Central Europe, they headed principally to the industrial triangle of the USA and to central Canada’s cities in search of work. Finding themselves in strange surroundings, they quickly established institutions that helped them to survive in a capitalist economy and to also preserve their religion, language and culture. As for many other ethnic groups, the border between the USA and Canada was to them irrelevant. Slovaks crossed it according to economic need and stayed in touch with each other. Meanwhile, they also remained in touch with their families in Europe and helped their people to survive Magyarization in Austria-Hungary, to achieve self-determination in the new Republic of Czechoslovakia and, finally, independence.
For the first time ever, the author has told the epic story of Slovak immigration to North America. Based upon forty years of archival and library research, supplemented by the life histories of over two dozen families scattered across the USA and Canada, and lavishly illustrated, this book will satisfy both academics and the general public who have long been waiting for a comprehensive history of this significant member of the family of Slavic nations.


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Chapter 2 - Czechoslovakia Appears and Disappears 35


Chapter 2 Czechoslovakia Appears and Disappears Between 1918 and 1945, all of Europe, including Slovakia, went through tumultuous changes. A new Republic of Czechoslovakia came into being but disintegrated in 1939. It was followed by the German-supported Slovak Republic, which collapsed with the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. The fortunes of the Stolárik family closely mirrored these changes. Young Imrich was educated in new Czechoslovak grade and high schools; he met and married Margita Vavro, started a family, began his career as a civil servant and climbed into the middle class. The happiest years of his life were spent in the city of Martin between 1936 and 1945. However, the fortunes of the Slovak Republic were closely tied to those of Nazi Germany, which was defeated by the Red Army, and, the Stolárik family suddenly found itself living as refugees in Austria. In the 1920’s life improved for the Stolárik family in Dlhá, especially for young “Imriško” (diminutive for Imrich). Decked out in his American clothes, every morning Imriško walked five kilometres north down a logging road to the newly built Czecho- slovak public school. It stood behind the parish church of the As- sumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Turzovka. In the evening he would trudge back up again. At school Mrs. Hana Janota taught him and twenty other children in grade five, and Olga Gracová in grade six. He graduated in 1923. Meanwhile, for lunch Mrs. Janota often...

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