(The aged mister Cernovski from Cernova (1898-1987) speaks about Slovak history and father Hlinka)


   But that's nothing yet. For the elections, it was necessary to thwart Hlinka with his passional and dangerous temper, and to eliminate and crush him. In our ecclesiastical circles, secular authorities came together with priests. The principal among them was the bishop of Spis, who didn't even speak a proper bit of Slovak, but did his very best to manifest himself as a patriottic bishop. He did away with the parish office and put Fisher in its place, who was a priest of German descent, but strongly Hungary-minded. Before long, he suspended the rights and duties of Hlinka as a priest, such as marrying, preaching and burying. The Ruzomberok tribunal now condemned Hlinka for the third time, on account of the incitement of riots. He got three years of imprisonment, and fines summing up to one thousand and five hundred crowns. Once more, this added to the number of Ruzomberok political trials.
   One could think that this was nothing, that it was a big splutter in a little pot - the Hungarians too had this opinion. They softened things and covered them up with new prohibitions in the Ugrian parliament. But no. The world began to be concerned with the events in central Europe. The politics of Hungarization, for example, got a crossfire of criticism from the Norwegian writer Björnstejerne Björnson. And this man was a firm personality! Here, read this!"
   When it comes to working for peace, the Hungarians are very active. For they oppress three million Slovaks at home. They forbid them to speak their mother's language. They laugh at them, because they love their remembrances of history. There is a man who as a most venerable minister knows all these exhibits of improperness: it is count Apponyi, who in all international conferences is the most eloquent speaker ..
   "And see what he writes later on:"
   At home in the Ugrian Empire, they conduct a national war - to be accurate, it is a war against more than one nation. And at the same time, they come to international congresses and speak about peace. That is pure brag and humbug. One of the very best representatives of this humbug is count Apponyi ..
   "When Björnson continued to openly hand out pinpricks, Apponyi solemnly answered and resorted to a haughty demeanour. Where is that answer? Here it is."
   I don't think that I have to say anything about the attacks of Björnson. Whoever will get to know me, will laugh at the accusation that I oppress any nation or any human being. But before a session of the international judicial court, where ever Björnson wants to have it take place, before the court of the freedomloving peoples, which are ardently striving after the great ideals of humanity, I will be able to clear the air without bending down my head ...
   "With these words, Apponyi only provoked a new reply of Björnson, which overawed the world press and will forever be written in marble. Its title is WHILE HOLDING HIGH ONE'S HEAD."
   Count Apponyi answered me with his head upright. He guaranteed that he will add some words to this answer at some future time, whenever there is an international peace meeting, and that he will not bend down his head.
   Who would doubt that? Would any oppressor of a nation ever show himself as such? We saw lately the behaviour of count Apponyi in the Ugrian parliament, when they abused and expelled the Slovak representatives. He announced to take measures against further oppression of the Slovaks. These 'measures' turned out to be the approval of the school law, which was never wellknown before. Because the law concerning this most important arrangement was made out of rubber! They undertook to stretch this law so far that all representatives of ethnic minorities choked on it. But alienating the children from their mother's tongue is as bad as tearing hungry babies from the breasts of their mothers. And that's exactly what count Apponyi demands in his law, while holding his head upright. Under this law, Germans, Rumanians, Croatians, Ukrainians and Slovaks must assimilate Hungarian spirit and will, because the Hungarians think that this spirit and will are the oldest, the noblest and the best to lead the nations to the tops of the world. Under the government of this law, there will be a larger number of emigrants to fill the cattle wagons with their parcels and tatters, just as we have seen before. Here, count Apponyi will stand in between, with his head upright. That will comfort him! The saying goodbye, and the shedding of tears, will comfort both them who depart and them who stay at home.
   Are the children who stay behind unable to learn Hungarian because it is a difficult language, and do they therefore learn nothing, such that the Ugrian Empire has the largest number of analphabetes in Europe? Behold, count Apponyi is standing in their midst, proudly holding his head high! The churches are empty, because one corrupts them with Hungarian language and practice (Hungarian bishops from the high nobility ordain the priests!) - count Apponyi fills these churches with air, while holding his head upright. They close the Slovak museums and confiscate the funds for these museums (among which even gifts from the Austrian emperor), and you surely can see again that Hungarian ghost, protecting them from a hilltop nearby: count Apponyi with his head upright! To honour that guardian angel, they already are gathering witnesses and testimonials among the oppressed people of Ugria. They certainly need not hurry, for we all see count Apponyi waiting for them, always keeping his head high and upright.

   "Apponyi didn't answer this slashing criticism. However, seven days after the publication of Björnson's paper, Cernova made its appearance in the world. Until then, hardly anybody in Slovakia knew something about Cernova. And in the world, people knew still less about it. And then suddenly the name of this little village - a few streets in Ruzomberok, came prominently into the news all over Europe and America. But let's proceed in good order. Cernova was originally Cernova Ves ... "
   "Cernova Ves?"
   "It was named after the first village mayor, whose name was Soltys Cerno. In the fourteenth century, he had been delegated to the Ruzomberok settlement that already existed, to commit the village with its inhabitants to the duties and benefits of the town.
   I must say that this village had no church of its own during six hundred years. There was only a little chapel, where the people made such a throng that even the mice had no way to escape. People walked from Cernova to Ruzomberok, which was far away, so they considered that they would rather have a church at home.
   But heaven didn't gratuitously provide a church. The people had to build it themselves. The inhabitants of Cernova were willing enough, but there was nobody who dared to fully commit himself to this task. Then came Hlinka. Hlinka was the founder of the church in Cernova. The building cost eighty thousand crowns and that was a rather big burden for the village. Some people gave some goods, but it was not much. But Hlinka found money elsewhere. Above all in Moravia and Czechia, where life was much easier because these lands belonged to Austria. In America too, he had issued a bishop's request for money, but there nobody gave a penny. When he had just a bit of money from the collections, he issued a public reception of tenders. Two architects applied for a contract, Milan Harminc and Andrej Jancek. The construction was granted to both of them, and they began with it immediately.
   But then there came some turbulent events in the spring of 1906. As a candidate for the elections, they snared not only Srobar, but also this agitator Hlinka. We have already seen what then happened. The things concerning Hlinka and the construction of the church began to be complicate.
   Nevertheless, the construction made progress. In the autumn of 1907, the nice gothic church was only lacking a church clock and an organ. They began to deliberate about the consecration. The people of Cernova wished to ask the bishop of Spis, Alexander Parvo nicknamed Alexander Horrible, to grant the consecration to somebody. They translated the request into Hungarian, because in that time you couldn't correspond with the bishop in Slovak, but in Hungarian only. The bishop agreed. He asked, however, that the people of Cernova would lay down some funds for further maintenance of the church. Representatives of the village therefore went to the office of the notary in Ruzomberok. On the paper that they had to sign, it said, that they would withdraw themselves from the patronal right in favour of the bishop of Spis. Why is this? - they asked. When we build a church , we want to keep the patronage. They went to Hlinka and asked what they should do. He gave the following advice: Sign the paper, but keep the patronage.
   Thus they did. The formalities were dealt with, and within a couple of days, there came representatives of the Ruzomberok district to Cernova, to have a look at the new church: the deacon, the administrator and the mayor. Then Stefan Kaliar-Klopta came ahead and said: We, people of Cernova, request that our fellow countryman Andrej Hlinka, without whom we wouldn't have the church, will also take part in the consecration. We politely ask the reverend bishop to revoke the suspension of Hlinka, and that he will come back to his parish and to his profession. We don't want a consecration without Andrej Hlinka.
   The deacon, who was present, admitted that the request was reasonable. He instructed the people of Cernova that they should write a new petition and present it to the bishop of Spis alone. The bishop replied that he could not agree with that condition, and that he would not come in person to the consecration under these circumstances. The people of Cernova wrote a third request, and then the bishop fixed a date for the consecration, delegating instead of himself canon Kurimsky of Spis, a former Ruzomberok parish priest, to consecrate the church, but without Andrej Hlinka.
   When, on the twentieth of October, the clergy announced from the pulpit that the consecration of the church would take place on the twenty-seventh of the same month, the people of Cernova became enraged. Immediately, four men from Cernova went to deacon Pazurikov, demanding that the consecration would be postponed. Another group went to administrator Fischer with the same requirement. They argued that nobody in the whole village would approve a consecration of the church if Hlinka wasn't present."
   "But how could he be absent? He was there, wasn't he?"
   "No. Hlinka was not in Cernova at the time. Things happened in such a way that he couldn't personally influence the events, nor take part in them. During a former flight with the aeroplane, he had already promised to doctor Alois Kolisek from Hodonin that he would give a series of lectures in Moravia and Czechia about the cultural conditions in Slovakia. In October, his friends urged him to come to Hodonin. He first answered: I must perhaps assist in the consecration of our church, so I can't come. Obviously, he was still hoping that the bishop would soften the handling of his case. But when things didn't get solved, but, contrarily, became ever more complicate, and the organisators of his lectures in Moravia repeatedly urged him to come, he decided to go.
   The people of Cernova began to attack where they could, but without success. Anonymous letters showed up, full of threats. The Spis canon Kurimsky got such a telegram, and he was astonished and fainted away. But deacon Pozurik and administrator Fischer kept to the line.
   I don't want to cover up anything: these anonymous letters weren't nice at all. For example, deacon Pazurik could read, how they would welcome him in Cernova. That even the smallest child would throw stones at him, because he was not a man of God, but only a savage Hungarian. On the other hand, he also got a nice letter. It said the following: please, reverend and mighty lord deacon, don't come to Cernova. We are not going to consecrate the church without Andrej Hlinka. We are very sorry for Thee, but please don't come ...
   Deacon Pazurik had already written a letter to Hlinka, in which he let him know the date of the consecration and invited him to come to the celebrations. The letter had been sent to Olomouc. Hlinka answered immediately, and his standpoint was irrevocable: he was suspended, so he could never participate. He would do what he was obliged to do. He couldn' do more than that. He should stay away. Because he didn't intend to be responsible for all kinds of things that might happen."
   "And what happened in Cernova at the same time?"
   "There was a lot of uproar. The women of Cernova didn't distinguish between the church and its goods. They emptied the church, only the bare walls stayed behind. Ornaments, cloth, candles, candlesticks, they pulled foot with everything. The church went under lock and key.
   But the authorities intended to consecrate the church at any cost. Administrator Fischer of the Ruzomberok parish took action. He informed the district office of everything that came round to his ear. On the twenty-sixth of October, the chief officer Andahazy already sent a group of gendarmes to Cernova. There was nobody in the streets. Everybody had locked up himself in a tavern that night. Assemblage in the streets was prohibited, and the people couldn't even make a visit to each other. The gendarmes had to bring order and to arrest everyone whom they would catch in a riot. But nothing happened.
   Only one thing! Matus Fulla of Klasnik brought a ladder to the church at night, placed it against the wall, climbed on it, and tried to hang out, high above, a cloth with some slogan. I don't know what it said, because the gendarmes catched him. They chased him away. He went home, and .. that was all.
   That night, there was the silence before the storm. The village woke up early in the morning, and everybody got to his feet at once. It seemed such a nice day. My father tended the sheep of the village in those days. I wanted to help him, for it was Sunday, and there was no school. It was almost seven o'clock and I stood in front of the house. The gendarmes were running to and fro. Those who knew Slovak, spoke to the boys. They said that we should do nothing violent, because they would shoot at us.
   We will be soldiers too! - snarled the men of Cernova - We know when we have to shoot at random!
   And the women joined them and said: That would be a fine consecration! Is our Lord Jesus Christ perhaps walking among the gendarmes, or Saint Peter?
   Shoot here!
- cried fiftyfive year old Anna Fullova, uncovering her breasts.
   We will throw boiling water over you! - cried another.
   We will crush you Hungarians with stones! - cried the crowd.
   I kept looking at the events, and from time to time I glanced at the sheep as well, to see whether they already went away, but they didn't. The atmosphere became ever more threatening. The gendarmes preferred to stay together, maybe they were afraid too. Sure, seeing which way the wind is blowing and repressing passionateness, that is really troublesome work.
   Over the highways from Ruzomberok, there came little women with small wagons loaded with honey cake, which they wanted to sell during the celebrations. They had to go back. The women of Cernova would perhaps have destroyed the cakes in the marquee.
   They really began considering to do that. I myself had kept an eye on my father. He was still waiting. People acted as if they had lost their minds. Some cried an octave higher than normal, others behaved differently. Near the house of Ondrej Surova there was sticking out that little garden, off the upper fields. About ten little women were standing there, each with a big stone in her hand. I swear it's true. They threw the stones at the gendarmes, who didn't know where the stones came from. They turned round and grabbed their guns as if they were going to shoot. I myself had run aloft. I hid myself under a wall near the houses of Haluska and Debnarik, and kept watching the events. The women took shelter and the gendarmes shrank back.
   In that time, officers were often nervous. Chief officer Andahazy got the news that the people didn't behave respectfully toward the gendarmes, but became ever more menacing. The gendarmes asked him to send reinforcements.
   Andahazy went to the parish house in Ruzomberok. There were several priests waiting over there. It is hard to guess what exactly they said to each other. But one thing is certain. Andahazy didn't talk like a wise man in the parish house. To the direct question whether they were going to consecrate the church or not, he gave the evasive answer that he preferred to go back to the Honved barracks.
   But in the Honved headquarters there wasn't enough manpower. There were only teenagers in the barracks, they couldn't handle weapons. These recruits were incapable to maintain order. So Andahazy went to annoy the parish house once again. This time he said clearly to the priests that they should go to Cernova. The officer himself went back to his office, called on underofficer Pereszlényi, and ordered him to take along every sixth gendarme from the barracks to escort the priests to Cernova. But he explicitly commanded that all gendarmes should immediately withdraw themselves to Ruzomberok if there was only a little bit of resistance.