Emigres from Czechoslovakia

explanatory Essay
2104 words
2104 words

During the communist regime in Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989, scholars estimate that as many as 550,000 people emigrated from the country, or about 3.5 percent of the total population of the country. Some 250,000 of those émigrés left between the years 1968 and 1989. Unlike earlier waves of emigration, these Czechs, Slovaks, and a much smaller number of Carpatho-Rusyns left largely for political reasons. Some of these émigrés would play an active role in monitoring the situation of their countrymen, working to overthrow communism, and energizing their respective ethnic communities in the new host countries.

When the Czechoslovak government first released its census information in 1991 after the Velvet Revolution, official statistics indicated that 3,412,000 people living abroad claimed either Czech or Slovak origin. That amounted to one-sixth of the population of Czechoslovakia at the time, about 15.6 million. Of that total, 62 percent were Czechs and 31 percent Slovak.

Most of these people resided in North America (2,780,000), with a majority residing in the United States (2,669,880). Before the publication of these statistics, scholars had surmised emigration demographics based largely on host country census data and the estimates of émigrés and scholars.

Based on ancestry, U.S 1990 Census data had counted even higher numbers -- nearly 1.3 million Czechs, about 1.9 million Slovaks, over 315,000 Czechoslovaks, and over 77,000 Slavic peoples. The Czechoslovak and Slavic peoples most likely included Slovaks and Czechs, as well as Carpatho-Rusyns (also called Ruthenians), who received no separate designation. Carpatho-Rusyns could also have been mixed with Ukrainian and Russian figures.

Czechoslovak immigrants...

... middle of paper ... the USA and Canada. This helped perpetuate and enrich the culture of second and third generations of Czechs, Slovaks and Carpatho-Rusyns.

Nonetheless, the inexorable process of assimilation into mainstream society has proceeded. Even after 1989, very few émigrés returned to Europe apart from occasional visits, as they had become accustomed to the new world they had settled in. The émigrés’ children, schooled in North America, have adopted the values, language, and customs of its new homeland; their children have intermarried with other nationalities and ties to the old country have gradually diminished. Now émigré families more typically resemble those of other acculturated social groups. While some retain ties to their roots by celebrating their ethnicity at occasional nationality celebrations, connections with their ancestral pasts have faded with time.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that 550,000 people emigrated from czechoslovakia during the communist regime from 1948 to 1989. these émigrés left largely for political reasons.
  • Explains the history of political emigration for the czechs and slovaks.
  • Explains that the first large post-world war ii wave of emigration of czechs and slovaks began after the communist takeover of february 1948.
  • Explains that the communist regime made communications difficult for émigrés with relatives in czechoslovakia and aided by their skills, youth, and educational backgrounds, assimilated into their new surroundings.
  • Explains that slovaks and czechs from the pre-1948 emigration did not extensively socialize with one another or join the same organizations. old world politics and religious differences confined interactions within their own ethnic groups.
  • Explains that the czechoslovak society of arts and sciences was founded in 1958 as a non-political academic society.
  • Explains that émigrés from the former czechoslovakia provided an alternative to communist propaganda during the era of totalitarian rule in their homelands.
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