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Bending Borders

by Oľga Džupinková (2528 words)

When a political decision split the village of Szelmenc between Europe and the Soviet Union, people on both sides of the wall devised ingenious ways of staying in touch with friends and family members.

At the beginning of 1945 Slemence was a tiny, largely Hungarian-speaking village in the Subcarpathia region of Czechoslovakia. Originally part of Hungary, it had been ceded to Czechoslovakia, then to Hungary, then back to Czechoslovakia (the present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia). And once again in faraway Moscow, in the aftermath of the Second World War, politicians with pencils were redrawing the borders between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and the new border cut straight through Slemence. At first it ran through the village cemetery.

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