What do Hungarians think of Croats?
Twenty villages remain in Hungary
Twenty villages with different proportions of Croatian population remain in Hungary after Burgenland was annexed to Austria. Today 12,000 - 15,000 Burgenland Croats live in the districts of Györ-Moson-Sopron and Vas in around 15 villages.
In Austria, on the other hand, there are now eighty villages. The Hungarians call them "Western Croats".
In terms of language and culture, the Croatians of western Hungary differ from the other Croatians who live in other regions of Hungary along the border between Hungary and Croatia or Yugoslavia (e.g. the Šokci or Bunujevci).
The Burgenland Croats in Hungary had little contact with the other Croats in the south of the country, so they developed independently. They orientated themselves on the Burgenland Croats in neighboring Austria. Although they do not live in Burgenland, they refer to themselves as Burgenland Croats.
Difficult post-war period
Between 1948 and 1956 the situation for the Croatian minority worsened. The Hungarian government broke off its contacts with Yugoslavia, which politically had increasingly distanced itself from the communist bloc.
Commitment to minority politics brought the Croatians punishments, imprisonments and oppression. As in Horthy's reign, people were now again afraid to acknowledge their ethnic group. Some also Magyarized their names during these years. The psychological repercussions of this suppression can still be felt today.
The normalization of relations between the Hungarian government and Yugoslavia has also eased the situation of the Croatian minority. Popular and cultural work has experienced a renaissance. A major problem, however, was what is known as "spontaneous assimilation". The government viewed this process as normal and did nothing against it. Only since 1962 has there been active support from (the) Croatian government. It promotes the development of the Croatian minority and supports their fight against disappearance.
After the Second World War, the "Antifascist Front of the Slavs" and the "Democratic Union of the Southern Slavs" were founded in Hungary. At that time the Hungarian Burgenland Croats were connected with the other Hungarian Croats in a common umbrella organization.
After the fall of the iron curtain, contacts between the Burgenland Croats of Hungary and Austria became more intensive. The Hungarian Burgenland Croats have developed a new self-confidence.
In 1989 Franjo Pajric demanded at the "Xth Congress of the Democratic Union of the Southern Slavs in Hungary" that "Burgenland-Croatian" should be the language of instruction in schools in western Hungary. He said that the Austrian teaching aids could be taken over.
In 1990 the village organizations of the Burgenland Croats in Hungary came together to form a common umbrella organization. The younger generation is organized in the "Association of Burgenland-Croatian Youth in Hungary".
Minority rights in Hungary
The rights of national and ethnic minorities are enshrined in the Hungarian constitution. The establishment of local and national self-government, the development of culture, the use of the Croatian language, the teaching of the minority languages and the right to use the name in the minority language are constitutionally guaranteed.
At the beginning of the 1960s, a plaque with the Croatian name of the place was put up in 12 villages below the Hungarian place-name sign.
Soon after the fall of the iron curtain, the Hungarian parliament decided to adopt European legal norms. Hungary has ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of Minorities and the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages.
Since 1994 the Croatians in Hungary have constitutionally guaranteed local and national self-government. The aim of this self-government is to create cultural autonomy. The representatives in these self-governments are determined in local ballots. These local self-governments are networked with self-government all over Hungary. The Burgenland Croats are in a union with the other Croatian minorities in Hungary, but they have a defined autonomy.
Education, culture and media
There are two types of minority schools in Hungary:
- bilingual schools in which the humanistic subjects are taught in the Croatian and the other subjects in the Hungarian language
- Schools where Croatian is taught as a subject - a few hours a week.
The number of bilingual elementary schools is falling due to the poor language skills of the students. Most schools only offer Croatian as a separate subject.
The Hungarian Burgenland Croats are very active in the cultural field. They have their own folklore groups and choirs. The weekly newspaper of Croatians in Hungary, "Hrvatski glasnik", reports regularly on Burgenland Croats and Croatian radio is broadcast from Pecs / Fünfkirchen.
The Croatian editorial office of the ORF in Eisenstadt also supplies the Burgenland Croats in Hungary. The Austrian Croatian weekly newspaper "Hrvatske novine" does the same.
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