Marty Manor Mullins – Forgotten Velvet: Understanding Eastern Slovakia’s 1989


Version
Download

 

Václav Havel & Slovak actor Milan Kňažko in Kosice on Dec. 20, 1989.: Eastern Slovak News [no longer in circulation], (Photo by author).

By focusing on the experience of Eastern Slovakia during Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution, this article examines the motivations propelling local revolutionaries who opposed the Communist regime at great risk to themselves and their families. It asks what inspired those who countered the government 30 years ago and argues that, for many, ideological factors were the primary driver, rather than economic considerations. Exploring these questions through the lens of Košice provides a counterpoint to accounts of the Velvet Revolution in Prague and Bratislava, which have come to dominate understandings of Czechoslovakia in 1989 and which obscure the particularities of the revolution in other significant places across the country. The text draws on regional archival and period news- paper accounts which foreground the voices of students, steel workers, dramatists, mi- norities and local Communist Party leaders. These sources indicate the active but uncertain nature of civil society in those crucial November and December days. The article also underscores the urban rivalry between Bratislava and Košice, which manifested itself

when Košice sided with Prague’s protest organization over Bratislava’s. The 30th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe provides a timely platform for a glimpse into the largely untold story of Eastern Slovakia’s Velvet Revolution.

Student Jozef Vrábeľ (bottom, right) rides the "Train of the Velvet Revolution" from Košice to Prague to participate in the General Strike on 27/11/89. Used with permission.