Forbidden Mourning. Szolyva (Svaliava) – From Zone of Oblivion to Zone of Remembrance


Transcarpathia Szolyva Memorial Park Hungarian Minority Forced Labour Camp Giambattista Vico Cultural Memory Collective Memory Regime Change Mourning Process Minority Identity

How to Cite

1. Bódi F. Forbidden Mourning. Szolyva (Svaliava) – From Zone of Oblivion to Zone of Remembrance // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2023. № 2 (8). C. 274-290.


From the autumn of 1944, Hungarians in Kárpátalja fell victim to the ferocious atrocities. Tens of thousands of civilians were taken hostage and deported by Soviet authorities to Russian labor camps. Mentioning the victims of “malenky robot” was forbidden, as it was adverse to the interests of the ruling communist elite in Hungary. It was only 45 years later, in 1989, that the process of unearthing the truth began. The Szolyva Memorial Park was established in the 1990s. In this study, we analyze an ideal type: the reconstruction of the collective memory of now minority Hungarians in Kárpátalja is a unique story, yet it can be interpreted on a universal level, that of mankind. From Szolyva’s story, it becomes abundantly clear that preserving collective memory is crucial in any community, especially for minority ethnic groups. Since Vico’s axiom states that a common higher truth reflects what is basically human, the fate of Hungarian communities in Kárpátalja represents themselves on a universal level. Freeing the ways to reconstruct the community’s collective memory had an impact on the process of regaining long-lost freedoms. While older generations finally regained the right to grieve, mourn, and remember their own past, younger generations had the chance to integrate the once-forbidden past into the pillars of their future, hence helping the re-emergence of Hungarian identity and reshaping the framework of the community’s existence from 1990 onwards.


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