Pavel Kamaráš

* 1940

  • “Some time later the Slovak Hungarians revolted and they pressed the Slovak government to allow the establishment of Hungarian schools for Slovak Hungarians. The government granted it to them and in 1947 I enrolled in the second grade of a Hungarian class at elementary school. All subjects were taught in the Hungarian language, but there was a compulsory class of the Slovak language as well so that every Hungarian would be able to speak Slovak too.”

  • “From the printing works where I worked I went to do my basic military service on 2nd January 1960 to Zákupy in Bohemia. Few weeks later I was transferred to Krnov in Moravia for one year of school for non-commissioned officers. There was a problem because as a Hungarian I had to study in Czech in the school. Although I knew Slovak and I could somehow speak it, Czech language was ‘all Greek to me.’ So I had to start learning Czech.”

  • “In 1993 there was a problem for me again, because Czechoslovakia broke up and the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic were established. Again, as a Slovak, if I remained a Slovak, I would not have the same benefits in the Czech Republic. So in order to get the right to vote and to get social security and retirement insurance I applied for the Czech citizenship at the local administration office, and my application was granted. In 1999 I was thus granted Czech citizenship. You can thus see how it goes, from an ordinary Hungarian I became a Slovak, and now I remained a Czech, and it is actually my third nationality.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Rybitví, 05.10.2013

    duration: 01:01:02
    media recorded in project Soutěž Příběhy 20. století
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Hungarians, who could not speak a single word in Slovak, suddenly became Slovaks

Pavel in 1956
Pavel in 1956
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Pavel (Pali in Hungarian) Kamaráš was born in 1940 in what was the Hungarian village Rimaszombat (Rimavská Sobota) at that time. From the period of World War Two he remembers German soldiers who briefly stayed in the village before their retreat. While retreating, they let a bridge explode, but they had warned the inhabitants beforehand. For little Pali this was a great experience. At the end of the war, Rimavská Sobota became a part of Czechoslovakia again under the post-war arrangements and the Hungarians living there were given the option to leave. Pali’s family decided to remain and to accept Slovak citizenship. However, in their native village they were being regarded as strangers. Pavel Kamaráš began learning Slovak at the elementary school. He learnt the bookbinder’s trade and he worked in Banská Bystrica. He did his military service in Bohemia and he learnt Czech as well. In 1963 he married Czech woman Eva and he decided to stay in Bohemia. They had three sons. After 1993 he applied for the Czech citizenship.