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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 9 - From “Consolidation” to Collapse and Independence 267


Chapter 9 From “Consolidation” to Collapse and Independence Between his last research trip to Slovakia in the summer of 1970 and his triumphal return as a delegate of the Slovak League of America in 1990, Mark Stolarik witnessed and experienced mo- mentous changes on both sides of the Atlantic. On the one hand, Gustáv Husák, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, set about “consolidating” communist rule in his country. On the other hand, various émigré groups in the United States and Canada worked to overthrow such rule in their former homeland and were elated when Communism collapsed and Slovakia finally achieved independence. They were disappointed, however, by the lack of interest shown in them by the new Slovak governments. In November of 1981 Mark Stolarik and a colleague from Temple University in Philadelphia were invited to present papers at an international scholarly conference on immigration to be held in the ancient capital of Kraków, Poland.1 Because he had not seen his relatives in Slovakia since 1970, Stolarik persuaded professor Ira Glazier to fly with him from New York to Vienna and then to drive with a rented car through Czechoslovakia to Kraków, which was near the Czechoslovak border. When they arrived at the Petrz¡alka crossing into Slovakia, a lonely soldier swung inward the heavy cantilevered gate, and a surprised border guard ap- 1 The papers presented were published as “Slovak Emigration to North America in Historical Perspective,” by M. Mark Stolarik and...

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