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Checking the distribution of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine, is seems there is a stripe of land next to the Hungarian/Ukrainian border which has a majority of Hungarian inhabitants. Such a stripe, which corresponds more or less to the Berehove Raion, does not seem to be separated from Hungary by a geographical border. If I understood correctly this region belonged to Bereg County which was split up after the First World War, with the upper part going to Czechoslovakia and the south to Hungary. Again if I understand correctly, the current border mostly follows the post-WW1 Hungarian-Czechoslovakian one. Given that the border does not follow a natural one (e.g. the nearby Tisa river), and that the Bereg county was split anyway, why was this stripe of Hungarian-inhabited land assigned to Czechoslovakia?

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    For the group: Didn't we recently have a question about this strip of land, or another similar one nearby?
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 31, 2023 at 17:40
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    @T.E.D. This one is titled "Where are the 1921 census records for Haloch?" (in that contested strip of land). Jul 31, 2023 at 17:42
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    Does this answer your question? Why was the Budjak annexed to Ukraine in 1940? Jul 31, 2023 at 17:44
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    @T.E.D. indeed Ukraine is for unfortunate reasons in the spotlight, so I believe it is normal it attracts more questions than other countries.
    – pinpon
    Jul 31, 2023 at 18:40
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    To those that voted to close: How can an answer to a question about a change of the border between Ukraine and Moldova in 1940 answer why another border was drawn in 1919 between Hungary and Czechoslvakia? Look at the last sentence, this is about the Treaty of Trianon, not about WWII. (As what happened later, look at the history of Carpatho-Ukraine. Carpathian Ruthenia and Bessarabia may be neighbouring regions, but they had completely diffent fates during WWII.)
    – ccprog
    Jul 31, 2023 at 20:40

1 Answer 1

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The grandpowers (France, Britain, Italy) that decided about the borders of Hungary in 1919-1920 did not take into account the ethnic division lines at all. About 1/3 of Hungarians found themselves outside of Hungary, and many regions that were predominantly Hungarian were attached to other countries (some other examples are Székelyföld which was given to Romania or the Csallóköz which was given to Czechoslovakia - today Slovakia). They not even allowed for the local people to vote if they really wanted to join the state to which their territory was given (one notable exception is Sopron).

The reasons were complex.

  1. Often railways or important commercial roads were passing through these areas, and they did not want Hungary to control these lines.

  2. Czechoslovakia and Romania wanted to get as much land from Hungary as possible, even many areas where hardly any Slovaks or Romanians were living. The grandpowers favoured them instead of trying to follow the ethnic borders.

  3. In the case of Transcarpathia, the majority of the local population (not just that 20-30% who were ethnically Hungarian and were living in the strip next to Hungary) was kind of loyal to Hungary in 1920. But Benes wanted to get that land and attach it to Czechoslovakia to have a connection to Romania. This was important for him because he wanted to organise a coalition against Hungary (called Little Entente), and he wanted a direct border between Czechoslovakia and Romania (BTW, he also wanted a corridor between Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia to completely surround Hungary. This area is now called Burgenland, and it is part of Austria, as the idea was rejected by the grandpowers). The main point is that he wanted Czechoslovakia to control the Cop (Csap)-Berehove (Beregszász)- Vinogradov (Nagyszőlős) railway line.

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  • Taking a look at the 1910 linked map, we can see the territories where Hungarian population was clearly majoritarian roughly correspond to the present map of Hungary. While it is true that large numbers of Hungarians found themselves outside Hungary after 1918-1919, that doesn't mean they were the majority on the bodies of territories Hungary lost. Taking as example the most disputed case of Transylvania (Hungarians red, Romanian pink): Székelyföld and some large cities are the places where Hungarians were dominating, but they were far from dictating the ethnic "color" of Transylvania.
    – cipricus
    Aug 22, 2023 at 22:00
  • the borders of Hungary in 1919-1920 did not take into account the ethnic division lines at all. - is therefore an exaggeration. The frontiers of the newly created or enlarged states (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania) were essentially ethnically-defined. Were they favoring these states against Hungary? Of course. Hungary had just lost WW1 and then the subsequent 1919-1920 wars.
    – cipricus
    Aug 22, 2023 at 22:17
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    @cipricus: I agree to some extent when you write "... roughly correspond... ". The key word here is roughly. In the case of Berehove region, there is a 20-30 km wide strip which is of Hungarian majority but which was not given to Hungary. This is what the question was about. In the case of Romania, Szekelyfold could have been an independent country (its population is larger than that of Cyprus or Estonia) or a nonconnected part of Hungary (like the Kaliningrad enclave of Russia these days). These ideas were not considered at all, because Romania wanted to get that part of Transylvania as well. Aug 23, 2023 at 7:15
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    @cipricus: Unfortunately I cannot agree with you when you write that let's say Czechoslovakia was essentially ethnically-defined. Again that map shows that the northern shore of the Danube from Bratislava till Esztergom is completely red with hardly any Slovak. How come that it was attached to Czechoslovakia? How about also the Sudeten Germans in Czechia? In fact, Czechoslovakia was almost as mixed ethnically as the Habsburg monarchy, of course with czechs and slovaks the two largest groups, but with about 35-40% of minorities. Aug 23, 2023 at 7:38
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    I am sorry I am not competent to give a Berehove-specific answer, as there are indeed specific reasons for the drawing of the different frontiers, beside the general ones I have mentioned. But I agree with what you say about the geopolitical plans relating to the Little Entente. Others can be found: Czechoslovakia needed more territory rather than less as a new country, in which context the ethnic component became secondary; Romania was and is a France-style centralized state, hence autonomy for the Szekel was improbable, and after occupying Budapest Romanian army was a strong factor, etc...
    – cipricus
    Aug 23, 2023 at 14:31

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