One hundred years ago, on 4th June, Hungary, as the successor state of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy which had lost the First World War, was represented by Ágoston Benárd, Head of Delegation, and Alfréd Drasche-Lázár, Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at the Grand Trianon Palace in Versailles who signed the Treaty of Trianon, according to which the territory of Hungary decreased from 325,411 km² to 92,952 km², and its population decreased from 20,886,487 to 7,615,117. As a result of the peace treaty that mutilated our country and divided our nation, 3.3 million Hungarian-speaking compatriots came under the rule of the neighbouring states.
Zemplén was one of the large number of counties mutilated by the dictate. Only the areas of Abaúj-Torna and Bács-Bodrog remained within the motherland of Hungary. The historic county lost about 61% of its population and 83% of its settlements when 373 of its 450 settlements were drawn within the newly formed Czechoslovakia. Its area dropped by approximately 71.7% from 6282 km² to 1776 km². Only three of the 12 districts, Tokaj, Szerencs and Sárospatak, remained entirely in Hungary. Bodrogköz and Sátoraljaújhely were split in two, and the other seven were completely lost.
Clearly there were geostrategic interests behind the division of our county and its county seat, Sátoraljaújhely. If we look at how the Zemplén part of our country’s borders was formed, we can see that the border line that divides the county essentially lies along the railway line that connects the city of Košice through Sátoraljaújhely and the railway junction of the Transcarpathian city of Chop, Zakarpattia Oblast, the railway connecting two parts of the country of Transcarpathia and Slovakia. Sátoraljaújhely was thus a victim of these territorial changes, and its eastern part, today’s Slovenské Nové Mesto, was drawn with one of MÁV’s workshops employing around 500 people and its brick factory within Czechoslovakia.
The Trianon Peace Treaty did not leave the economic and social conditions of the world-famous Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region (Hegyalja means Foothills) untouched either. “Hegyalja is the most abandoned, orphaned and poorest region of the truncated country. The Peace of Trianon threatens and destroys us,” said Miklós Lázár, member of parliament for the Tokaj district as he summed up the serious problems of the people living in the region ten years after the signing of the peace treaty. We can conclude that the above statement proved to be completely correct. According to the law XLVII of 1908, there were 31 settlements in the wine region. However, their number decreased by two as a result of the Treaty of Trianon, when two villages in Zemplén, Szőlőske and Kistoronya (today Viničky and Malá Tŕňa in Slovakia), became ruled by Czechoslovakia. And although the loss of these two Hungarian villages was extremely painful, the plight of the wine region could not be explained primarily by this, but by the fact that the borders established in 1920 cut off the region from its traditional markets, as countries (e.g. Poland, Russia, and Germany) were separated from Hungary by the ring of small states. It was not possible to transport wine at all to some countries; in others there were obstacles set by unfavourable customs policies.
The negative effects of Trianon have still not gone away. The Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, which ended World War II, basically restored the borders established in 1920, and even separated three other settlements in Moson County (Dunacsún, Horvátjárfalu and Oroszvár (Čunovo, Jarovce and Rusovce)) from Hungary to Slovakia.
Szabolcs Demján – /posted by Együtt a Városért Egyesület Tokaj/