Life in the first Czechoslovak Republic

Category: History

Formation of the Czechoslovak Republic after WWI was greeted with joy and belief in better future by both local inhabitants and the region as a whole. Although the population had traditionally been of Ruthenian nationality, in 1919 as much as 69 out of 115 citizens chose Czechoslovakian nationality over the Ruthenian one. This, no doubt, reflected their high expectations from the new state.

Important source of sustenance for local people had been cutting and transporting wood in the nearby forests. In 1922, a steam saw mill in Kapišova was put back into operation. It was supplied chiefly by round wood from Mazgalica forest in Dlhoňa, form where it was transported by narrow gauge railway. When the wood supply in that spot had been exhausted, the railway was dismantled and reassembled in Vyšná Pisaná in 1926. Loaded carriages were simply released downhill to the mill and on the way back up, they were pulled by steam engine, or horses. Many inhabitants were employed in the process.

The Great Depression of 1930s and its consequences, lasting until the second half of the decade, made life much harder. The saw mill stopped working and logging was discontinued, which narrowed possibilities for work and income. Even those who kept their jobs had problems to support their families, as their wages had been cut by often as much as 50%. The whole region suffered from agrarian overpopulation. According to District Chief reports from 1932, there were 1800 starving people in the region.

The economical situation started to improve in the late 30s, but at that time the horizon in Europe had already been clouded by the threat of new war.

Despite persistent poverty, the first Czechoslovak Republic did bring some improvements in living standard when compared to previous regime. In 1931, a Voluntary Fire Brigade was established, as the first social organization in the village.

Embroidering became one of the favourite activities and contributed to embellishment of dwellings and clothing. While women preferred the old traditional clothes, the men’s garments became more similar to those of townspeople. Traditional dances and songs were still prevalent and customs were similar to those in regions in the vicinity of Svidník.