|Capital|| Prague (Praha) |
|Common languages||Czech · Slovak · German · Polish · Hungarian · Yiddish · Rusyn|
|Government|| First Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938)|
Second Czechoslovak Republic (1938–1939)
Third Czechoslovak Republic (1945–1948)
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1948–1990)
Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (1990–1992)
|Tomáš G. Masaryk|
• 1935–1938 ·1945–1948
• 1918–1919 (first)
• 1992 (last)
|Historical era||20th century|
|28 October 1918|
|10 May 1945|
|25 February 1948|
|31 December 1992|
|1921||140,446 km2 (54,227 sq mi)|
|1992||127,900 km2 (49,400 sq mi)|
|Today part of|
Czechoslovakia, or Czecho-Slovakia /,- -,- -,- -/ ; Czech and Slovak : Československo, Česko-Slovensko ), was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.(
From 1939 to 1945, following its forced division and partial incorporation into Nazi Germany, the state did not de facto exist but its government-in-exile continued to operate.
From 1948 to 1990, Czechoslovakia was part of the Eastern Bloc with a command economy. Its economic status was formalized in membership of Comecon from 1949 and its defense status in the Warsaw Pact of May 1955. A period of political liberalization in 1968, known as the Prague Spring, was forcibly ended when the Soviet Union, assisted by several other Warsaw Pact countries, invaded Czechoslovakia. In 1989, as Marxist–Leninist governments and socialism were ending all over Europe, Czechoslovaks peacefully deposed their government in the Velvet Revolution; state price controls were removed after a period of preparation. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the two sovereign states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The country was of generally irregular terrain. The western area was part of the north-central European uplands. The eastern region was composed of the northern reaches of the Carpathian Mountains and lands of the Danube River basin.
The weather is mild winters and mild summers. Influenced by the Atlantic Ocean from the west, Baltic Sea from the north, and Mediterranean Sea from the south. There is no continental weather.
The area was long a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the empire collapsed at the end of World War I. The new state was founded by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk(1850–1937), who served as its first president from 14 November 1918 to 14 December 1935. He was succeeded by his close ally, Edvard Beneš (1884–1948).
The roots of Czech nationalism go back to the 19th century, when philologists and educators, influenced by Romanticism, promoted the Czech language and pride in the Czech people. Nationalism became a mass movement in the second half of the 19th century. Taking advantage of the limited opportunities for participation in political life under Austrian rule, Czech leaders such as historian František Palacký (1798–1876) founded many patriotic, self-help organizations which provided a chance for many of their compatriots to participate in communal life prior to independence. Palacký supported Austro-Slavism and worked for a reorganized and federal Austrian Empire, which would protect the Slavic speaking peoples of Central Europe against Russian and German threats.
An advocate of democratic reform and Czech autonomy within Austria-Hungary, Masaryk was elected twice to the Reichsrat (Austrian Parliament), first from 1891 to 1893 for the Young Czech Party, and again from 1907 to 1914 for the Czech Realist Party, which he had founded in 1889 with Karel Kramář and Josef Kaizl.
During World War I small numbers of Czechs and Slovaks, the Czechoslovak Legions, fought with the Allies in France and Italy, while large numbers deserted to Russia in exchange for its support for the independence of Czechoslovakia from the Austrian Empire.With the outbreak of World War I, Masaryk began working for Czech independence in a union with Slovakia. With Edvard Beneš and Milan Rastislav Štefánik, Masaryk visited several Western countries and won support from influential publicists.
The Bohemian Kingdom ceased to exist in 1918 when it was incorporated into Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was founded in October 1918, as one of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I and as part of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It consisted of the present day territories of Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia. Its territory included some of the most industrialized regions of the former Austria-Hungary.
The new country was a multi-ethnic state, with Czechs and Slovaks as constituent peoples. The population consisted of Czechs (51%), Slovaks (16%), Germans (22%), Hungarians (5%) and Rusyns (4%). [ citation needed ] This policy led to unrest among the non-Czech population, particularly in German-speaking Sudetenland, which initially had proclaimed itself part of the Republic of German-Austria in accordance with the self-determination principle.Many of the Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians and Poles and some Slovaks, felt oppressed because the political elite did not generally allow political autonomy for minority ethnic groups.
The state proclaimed the official ideology that there were no separate Czech and Slovak nations, but only one nation of Czechoslovaks (see Czechoslovakism), to the disagreement of Slovaks and other ethnic groups. Once a unified Czechoslovakia was restored after World War II (after the country had been divided during the war), the conflict between the Czechs and the Slovaks surfaced again. The governments of Czechoslovakia and other eastern European nations deported ethnic Germans to the West, reducing the presence of minorities in the nation. Most of the Jews had been killed during the war by the Nazis and their allies.
*Jews identified themselves as Germans or Hungarians (and Jews only by religion not ethnicity), the sum is, therefore, more than 100%.
During the period between the two world wars, democracy thrived in Czechoslovakia. Of all the new states established in central Europe after 1918, only Czechoslovakia preserved a democratic government until the war broke out. Thus, despite regional disparities, its level of development was much higher than that of neighboring states.[ citation needed ] The population was generally literate, and contained fewer alienated groups. The influence of these conditions was augmented by the political values of Czechoslovakia's leaders and the policies they adopted. Under Tomas Masaryk, Czech and Slovak politicians promoted progressive social and economic conditions that served to defuse discontent.
Foreign minister Beneš became the prime architect of the Czechoslovak-Romanian-Yugoslav alliance (the "Little Entente", 1921–38) directed against Hungarian attempts to reclaim lost areas. Beneš worked closely with France. Far more dangerous was the German element, which after 1933 became allied with the Nazis in Germany. The increasing feeling of inferiority among the Slovaks, [ citation needed ]who were hostile to the more numerous Czechs, weakened the country in the late 1930s. Many Slovaks supported an extreme nationalist movement and welcomed the puppet Slovak state set up under Hitler's control in 1939.
After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in central and eastern Europe.
In September 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded control of the Sudetenland. On 29 September 1938, Britain and France ceded control in the Appeasement at the Munich Conference; France ignored the military alliance it had with Czechoslovakia. During October 1938, Nazi Germany occupied and annexed the Sudetenland border region, effectively crippling Czechoslovak defences.
On 15 March 1939, the remainder ("rump") of Czechoslovakia was invaded and divided into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the puppet Slovak State.
Much of Slovakia and all of Carpathian Ruthenia were annexed by Hungary. Poland occupied Zaolzie, an area whose population was majority Polish, in October 1938.
The eventual goal of the German state under Nazi leadership was to eradicate Czech nationality through assimilation, deportation, and extermination of the Czech intelligentsia; the intellectual elites and middle class made up a considerable number of the 200,000 people who passed through concentration camps and the 250,000 who died during German occupation.Under Generalplan Ost, it was assumed that around 50% Czechs would be fit for Germanization. The Czech intellectual elites were to be removed not only from Czech territories but from Europe completely. The authors of Generalplan Ost believed it would be best if they emigrated overseas, as even in Siberia they were considered a threat to German rule. Just like Jews, Poles, Serbs, and several other nations, Czechs were considered to be untermenschen by the Nazi state. In 1940, in a secret Nazi plan for the Germanization of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia it was declared that those considered to be of racially Mongoloid origin and the Czech intelligentsia were not to be Germanized.
The deportation of Jews to concentration camps was organized under the direction of Reinhard Heydrich, and the fortress town of Terezín was made into a ghetto way station for Jewish families. On 4 June 1942 Heydrich died after being wounded by an assassin in Operation Anthropoid. Heydrich's successor, Colonel General Kurt Daluege, ordered mass arrests and executions and the destruction of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. In 1943 the German war effort was accelerated. Under the authority of Karl Hermann Frank, German minister of state for Bohemia and Moravia, some 350,000 Czech laborers were dispatched to the Reich. Within the protectorate, all non-war-related industry was prohibited. Most of the Czech population obeyed quiescently up until the final months preceding the end of the war, while thousands were involved in the resistance movement.
For the Czechs of the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, German occupation was a period of brutal oppression. Czech losses resulting from political persecution and deaths in concentration camps totaled between 36,000 and 55,000. The Jewish population of Bohemia and Moravia (118,000 according to the 1930 census) was virtually annihilated. Many Jews emigrated after 1939; more than 70,000 were killed; 8,000 survived at Terezín. Several thousand Jews managed to live in freedom or in hiding throughout the occupation.
Despite the estimated 136,000 deaths at the hands of the Nazi regime, the population in the Reichsprotektorate saw a net increase during the war years of approximately 250,000 in line with an increased birth rate.
On 6 May 1945, the third US Army of General Patton entered Pilsen from the south west. On 9 May 1945, Soviet Red Army troops entered Prague.
After World War II, pre-war Czechoslovakia was re-established, with the exception of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was annexed by the Soviet Union and incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Beneš decrees were promulgated concerning ethnic Germans (see Potsdam Agreement) and ethnic Hungarians. Under the decrees, citizenship was abrogated for people of German and Hungarian ethnic origin who had accepted German or Hungarian citizenship during the occupations. In 1948, this provision was cancelled for the Hungarians, but only partially for the Germans. The government then confiscated the property of the Germans and expelled about 90% of the ethnic German population, over 2 million people. Those who remained were collectively accused of supporting the Nazis after the Munich Agreement, as 97.32% of Sudeten Germans had voted for the NSDAP in the December 1938 elections. Almost every decree explicitly stated that the sanctions did not apply to antifascists. Some 250,000 Germans, many married to Czechs, some antifascists, and also those required for the post-war reconstruction of the country, remained in Czechoslovakia. The Beneš Decrees still cause controversy among nationalist groups in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Hungary.
Carpathian Ruthenia (Podkarpatská Rus) was occupied by (and in June 1945 formally ceded to) the Soviet Union. In the 1946 parliamentary election, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was the winner in the Czech lands, and the Democratic Party won in Slovakia. In February 1948 the Communists seized power. Although they would maintain the fiction of political pluralism through the existence of the National Front, except for a short period in the late 1960s (the Prague Spring) the country had no liberal democracy. Since citizens lacked significant electoral methods of registering protest against government policies, periodically there were street protests that became violent. For example, there were riots in the town of Plzeň in 1953, reflecting economic discontent. Police and army units put down the rebellion, and hundreds were injured but no one was killed. While its economy remained more advanced than those of its neighbors in Eastern Europe, Czechoslovakia grew increasingly economically weak relative to Western Europe.
The currency reform of 1953 caused dissatisfaction among Czechoslovak laborers. Prior to World War II, the Czech purchasing power surpassed that of the Soviet Union by 115-144%. This disparity was noted after Czechoslovakia came under the Soviet Bloc. To equalize the wage rate, Czechoslovaks had to turn in their old money for new at a decreased value. This lowered the real value of wages by about 11%.The banks also confiscated savings and bank deposits to control the amount of money in circulation. The economy continued to suffer as production achievements of bituminous coal was less than anticipated. Bituminous coal powered 85% of Czechoslovakia's economy. Because of low production, coal was utilized in industry only. Pre-war years, consumers used both coal and lignite for fuel, however due to low production, coal was for industrial use only which meant the consumer was only able to utilize lignite. In 1929, a typical family of four consumed approximately 2.34 tons of lignite, but by 1953 it was allowed to use only 1.6-1.8 tons per year.
In 1968, when the reformer Alexander Dubček was appointed to the key post of First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, there was a brief period of liberalization known as the Prague Spring. In response, after failing to persuade the Czechoslovak leaders to change course, five other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded. Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia on the night of 20–21 August 1968.Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev viewed this intervention as vital for the preservation of the Soviet, socialist system and vowed to intervene in any state that sought to replace Marxism-Leninism with capitalism. In the week after the invasion there was a spontaneous campaign of civil resistance against the occupation. This resistance involved a wide range of acts of non-cooperation and defiance: this was followed by a period in which the Czechoslovak Communist Party leadership, having been forced in Moscow to make concessions to the Soviet Union, gradually put the brakes on their earlier liberal policies. In April 1969 Dubček was finally dismissed from the First Secretaryship of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Meanwhile, one plank of the reform program had been carried out: in 1968-69, Czechoslovakia was turned into a federation of the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic. The theory was that under the federation, social and economic inequities between the Czech and Slovak halves of the state would be largely eliminated. A number of ministries, such as education, now became two formally equal bodies in the two formally equal republics. However, the centralized political control by the Czechoslovak Communist Party severely limited the effects of federalization.
The 1970s saw the rise of the dissident movement in Czechoslovakia, represented among others by Václav Havel. The movement sought greater political participation and expression in the face of official disapproval, manifested in limitations on work activities, which went as far as a ban on professional employment, the refusal of higher education for the dissidents' children, police harassment and prison.
In 1989, the Velvet Revolution restored democracy. This occurred at around the same time as the fall of communism in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.
The word "socialist" was removed from the country's full name on 29 March 1990 and replaced by "federal".
In 1992, because of growing nationalist tensions in the government, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved by parliament. On 1 January 1993 it formally separated into two independent countries, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
After World War II, a political monopoly was held by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Gustáv Husák was elected first secretary of the KSČ in 1969 (changed to general secretary in 1971) and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975. Other parties and organizations existed but functioned in subordinate roles to the KSČ. All political parties, as well as numerous mass organizations, were grouped under umbrella of the National Front. Human rights activists and religious activists were severely repressed.
Czechoslovakia had the following constitutions during its history (1918–1992):
In the 1930s, the nation formed a military alliance with France, which collapsed in the Munich Agreement of 1938. After World War II, active participant in Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), Warsaw Pact, United Nations and its specialized agencies; signatory of conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Before World War II, the economy was about the fourth in all industrial states in Europe. The state was based on strong economy, manufacturing cars (Škoda, Tatra), trams, aircraft (Aero, Avia), ships, ship engines (Škoda), canons, shoes (Baťa), turbines, guns (Zbrojovka Brno). It was the industrial workshop for Austro-Hungarian empire. The Slovak lands were more in agriculture.
After World War II, the economy was centrally planned, with command links controlled by the communist party, similarly to the Soviet Union. The large metallurgical industry was dependent on imports of iron and non-ferrous ores.
After World War II, the country was short of energy, relying on imported crude oil and natural gas from Soviet Union, domestic brown coal, and nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Energy constraints were a major factor in the 1980s.
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Slightly after the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, there was a lack of needful infrastructure in many areas – paved roads, railways, bridges etc. Massive improvement in the following years enabled Czechoslovakia to develop its industry. Prague's civil airport in Ruzyně became one of the most modern terminals in the world, when it was finished in 1937. Tomáš Baťa, Czech entrepreneur and visionary outlined his ideas in the publication "Budujme stát pro 40 milionů lidí", where he described the future motorway system. Construction of the first motorways in Czechoslovakia begun in 1939, nevertheless, they were stopped after Nazi occupation during the World War II.
Education was free at all levels and compulsory from age 6 to 15. The vast majority of the population was literate. There was a highly developed system of apprenticeship training and vocational schools supplemented general secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
In 1991: Roman Catholics 46%, Evangelical Lutheran 5.3%, Atheist 30%, n/a 17%, but there were huge differences in religious practices between the two constituent republics; see Czech Republic and Slovakia.
After World War II, free health care was available to all citizens. National health planning emphasised preventive medicine; factory and local health care centres supplemented hospitals and other inpatient institutions. There was substantial improvement in rural health care during the 1960s and 1970s.
During the era between the World Wars, Czechoslovak democracy and liberalism facilitated conditions for free publication. The most significant daily newspapers in these times were Lidové noviny, Národní listy, Český deník and Československá republika.
During Communist rule, the mass media in Czechoslovakia were controlled by the Communist Party. Private ownership of any publication or agency of the mass media was generally forbidden, although churches and other organizations published small periodicals and newspapers. Even with this information monopoly in the hands of organizations under KSČ control, all publications were reviewed by the government's Office for Press and Information.
The Czechoslovakia national football team was a consistent performer on the international scene, with eight appearances in the FIFA World Cup Finals, finishing in second place in 1934 and 1962. The team also won the European Football Championship in 1976, came in third in 1980 and won the Olympic gold in 1980.
Well-known football players such as Pavel Nedvěd, Antonín Panenka, Milan Baroš, Tomáš Rosický, Vladimír Šmicer or Petr Čech were all born in Czechoslovakia.
The International Olympic Committee code for Czechoslovakia is TCH, which is still used in historical listings of results.
The Czechoslovak national ice hockey team won many medals from the world championships and Olympic Games. Peter Šťastný, Jaromír Jágr, Dominik Hašek, Peter Bondra, Petr Klíma, Marián Gáborík, Marián Hossa, Miroslav Šatan and Pavol Demitra all come from Czechoslovakia.
Emil Zátopek, winner of four Olympic gold medals in athletics, is considered one of the top athletes in Czechoslovak history.
Věra Čáslavská was an Olympic gold medallist in gymnastics, winning seven gold medals and four silver medals. She represented Czechoslovakia in three consecutive Olympics.
Several accomplished professional tennis players including Ivan Lendl, Jan Kodeš, Miloslav Mečíř, Hana Mandlíková, Martina Hingis, Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Petra Kvitová and Daniela Hantuchová were born in Czechoslovakia.
The history of what are now known as the Czech lands is very diverse. These lands have changed hands many times, and have been known by a variety of different names. Up until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy after the First World War, the lands were known as the lands of the Bohemian Crown and formed a constituent state of that empire: the Kingdom of Bohemia.
The creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 was the culmination of the long struggle of the Czechs against their Austrian rulers and of the Slovaks against Hungarisation and their Hungarian rulers.
The First Czechoslovak Republic emerged from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in October 1918. The new state consisted mostly of territories inhabited by Czechs and Slovaks, but also included areas containing majority populations of other nationalities, particularly Germans, who accounted for more citizens than the state's second state nation of the Slovaks, Hungarians and Ruthenians. The new state comprised the total of Bohemia whose borders did not coincide with the language border between German and Czech. Despite initially developing effective representative institutions alongside a successful economy, the deteriorating international economic situation in the 1930s gave rise to growing ethnic tensions. The dispute between the Czech and German populations, fanned by the rise of National Socialism in neighbouring Germany, resulted in the loss of territory under the terms of the Munich Agreement and subsequent events in the autumn of 1938, bringing about the end of the First Republic.
The German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945) began with the German annexation of Sudetenland as outlined by the Munich Agreement. Adolf Hitler justified the invasion by the purported suffering of the ethnic Germans living in these regions. The Sudetenland annexation by Nazi Germany was detrimental to the future defense of crippled Czechslovakia as the extensive Czechoslovak border fortifications were also located in the same area.
With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed as a result of the critical intervention of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, among others.
Carpatho-Ukraine or Carpathian Ukraine was an autonomous region within the Second Czechoslovak Republic, created in December 1938 by renaming Subcarpathian Rus' whose full administrative and political autonomy was confirmed by the Constitutional law of 22 November 1938. After the breakup of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, it was proclaimed an independent republic on 15 March 1939, headed by president Avgustyn Voloshyn, who appealed to Hitler for recognition and support. Nazi Germany did not reply, and the short-lived state was returned to the Kingdom of Hungary, crushing all local resistance by 18 March 1939.
The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was the name of Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 23 April 1990, when the country was under communist rule. Formally known as the Fourth Czechoslovak Republic, it has been regarded as a satellite state of the Soviet Union.
This article deals with historic administrative divisions of Czechoslovakia up to 1992, when the country was split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the divisions were changed.
The (First) Slovak Republic, otherwise known as the Slovak State, was a client state of Nazi Germany which existed between 14 March 1939 and 4 April 1945. It was created out of the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia one day before the start of the German occupation. The Slovak Republic controlled the majority of the territory of present-day Slovakia but without its current southern and eastern parts, which had been ceded to Hungary in 1938. The Republic bordered Germany and constituent parts of "Großdeutschland": the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the General Government – along with independent Hungary.
Carpathian Ruthenia was a region in the easternmost part of Czechoslovakia that became autonomous within that country in September 1938, declared its independence as the "Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine” in March 1939, was immediately occupied and annexed by Hungary, invaded by the Soviet Red Army in 1944 and incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1946. In total between 1939 and 1944 80,000 Carpathian Ukrainians perished.
The coat of arms of Czechoslovakia were changed many times during Czechoslovakia’s history, some alongside each other. This reflects the turbulent history of the country and a wish to use appropriate territorial coats of arms.
The First Czechoslovak Republic, often colloquially referred to as the First Republic, was the first Czechoslovak state that existed from 1918 to 1938, dominated by ethnic Czechs and Slovaks, the country was commonly called Czechoslovakia, a compound of Czech and Slovak; which gradually became the most widely used name for its successor states. It was composed of former territories of Austria-Hungary, inheriting different systems of administration from the formerly Austrian and Hungarian territories.
The history of the Jews in the Czech Republic connects to the history of the Jews in Bohemia, in today's Czech Republic. They are predominantly Ashkenazi Jews, and the current Jewish population is only a fraction of the pre-Holocaust Jewish population. As of 2005, there were approximately 4,000 Jews living in the Czech Republic. There is evidence that Jews have lived in Moravia and Bohemia since as early as the 10th century.
The history of Czechoslovak nationality involves the rise and fall of national feeling among Czechs and Slovaks. Once forming a rather unified group, they were historically separated, unified under a democratic system, separated during threat of war, and reunified under an authoritarian regime. However, a democratization process has led to a definition of separate statehood for the majority of Czechs and Slovaks.
The Second Czechoslovak Republic existed for 169 days, between 30 September 1938 and 15 March 1939. It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and the autonomous regions of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus', the latter being renamed on 30 December 1938 to Carpathian Ukraine.
Czechoslovakism is a concept which underlines reciprocity of the Czechs and the Slovaks. It is best known as an ideology which holds that there is one Czechoslovak nation, though it might also appear as a political program of two nations living in one common state. The climax of Czechoslovakism fell on 1918-1938, when as a one-nation-theory it became the official political doctrine of Czechoslovakia; its best known representative was Tomáš Masaryk. Today Czechoslovakism as political concept or ideology is almost defunct; its remnant is a general sentiment of cultural affinity, present among many Czechs and Slovaks.
This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Slovakia.
This article describes ethnic minorities in Czechoslovakia from 1918 until 1992.
Czechoslovak National Council was an organization founded by Czech and Slovak émigrés during World War I to liberate their homeland from Austria-Hungary. During the closing weeks of the war, the Czechoslovak National Council was formally upgraded to a provisional government and its members were designated to hold top offices in the First Czechoslovak Republic.
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Maps with Hungarian-language rubrics: