Historie – Otázky – Problémy

Opening of the Slovak Carpathians. Structural policy and its consequences for the society and the countryside


Abstract: Since the 19th century, the Slovak Carpathian region has witnessed a vast transformation of its landscape. Making the region more accessible by the State authorities, under the First Czechoslovak Republic, was achieved through building transport routes and infrastracture, setting up local administrations or modernizing agriculture. These changes, together with the industrialization promoted after 1945, had an impact on both the social and environmental aspects of the mountainous regions of the Carpathians, leading to changes in their cultural landscape. These changes can be compared with parallel tendencies in other mountainous regions, such as the Alps. Both regional specificities and a potential contrast between the centre and the region seen as periphery were at play here.
The article explains the particularities of the history of this part of Slovakia, analyzing mutually competing concepts on how to exploit the Carpathian regions. One of these particularities, besides the influence of Czecho-Slovak relations within Czechoslovakia, was the modernization of agriculture, strongly supported by the regime. However, from the sixties of the 20th century, agriculture policy based on extensive planning and intensification started to hit up against its natural limits. At the same time, it clashed with long-established tradition and lifestyles of the local population. When, in the sixties of the 20th century, plans on the exploitation of the Carpathian region faced a crisis, alternative suggestions were proposed whose aim was to focus more on nature conservation and tourism. The idea of a „socialist landscape“ – symbolized by urban landscape contrasting with a withering original cultural landscape seen as wilderness – eventually proved to be unworkable.

Key words: the Carpathians, Slovakia, landscape, making accessible, infrastructure

Dr. Martin Zückert působí jako výkonný ředitel Collegia Carolina v Mnichově. Odborně se zabývá dějinami první československé republiky, náboženskými a církevními dějinami středovýchodní Evropy ve 20. století, vojenskými dějinami, dějinami sudetoněmeckého národopisu a etnologií vyhnanců. V poslední době se intenzivně věnuje dějinám životního prostředí a infrastruktury ve střední Evropě (martin.zueckert@extern.Irz-muenchen.de).