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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 3 - Exiles and Americans 71


71 Chapter 3 Exiles and Americans Towards the end of the Second World War, several thousand Slovak refugees, seeking to avoid the Russian front, sought temporary shelter in Austria and languished there until their American coun- trymen came to the rescue. Life in the village of Aurolzmünster was, at times, bucolic; at other times brutal. One member of the Stolarik household decided to return to Czechoslovakia, where life was even worse. Others helped the anti-Communist “White Legion” to infiltrate Czechoslovakia. Slovak Americans, led by the Slovak League of America, had sought to maintain their identity between the two World Wars. As a result, a delegation of the Matica slovenská had visited Ameri- can Slovak communities in the mid-1930’s, and a delegation of the Slovak League had visited Slovakia in 1938. Now both groups, having supported the independent Slovak Republic (1939–1945), were disappointed by the resurrection of post-war Czechoslovakia. The January and February 1945 evacuation of Slovaks to Aurolz- münster in Austria took several weeks; its first leg was uneventful, but then it narrowly escaped disaster. The refugee train, which had originated in Ruz¡omberok, stopped in Martin and moved slowly westward through Z¡ ilina, where it picked up more families. It then proceeded south through Bytc¡a, Trenc¡ín and Trnava, where the women of the local Red Cross provided food and drink. After this, the train moved west to the town of Holíc¡ and the village of Kopc¡any, on the border with Moravia, where...

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