The Tragic Tale of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia (Podkarpatska Rus')

Reproduced from the Collections of the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Prior to the First World War, the northeast part of the Hungarian Empire was inhabited by a slavic people who some called "Uhro-Rusyns" (Rusyns inhabiting Hungary) They were predominantly members of the Byzantine Rite Catholic Church.

During the First World War, the Uhro-Rusyns were under the domination of Hungary, and, therefore, they could not make known to the world that they desired to throw off alien domination and have a government of their own choosing.

Knowing the above fact, the American Rusyns organized the American National Council of Uhro-Rusyns on July 23, 1918. The council appointed Gregory Zatkovich, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania lawyer, as its representative, and on October 21, 1918 he conferred with President Woodrow Wilson. Following this conference President Wilson publicly recognized the Uhro-Rusyns as a separate nation subject to alien domination and as such would be entitled to the right of "self-determination".

On October 23, 1918, the "Declaration of Common Aims of the Independent Mid-European Nations" was signed in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the twelve representatives of the nations constituting the Mid-European Union, namely:

  1. Czecho-Slovaks
  2. Poles
  3. Yugoslavs
  4. Ukrainians
  5. Uhro-Rusyns
  6. Lithuanians
  7. Roumanians
  8. Italian-Irredentists
  9. Unredeemed Greeks
  10. Albanians
  11. Zionists
  12. Armenians.

(see signatures).

In order to concretely ascertain the opinion of the American Rusyns as to the form of government they would recommended to their European brethren, a plebiscite was held. The result thereof was overwhelmingly (67 percent) in favor of a union between Czecho-Slovakia and the Uhro-Rusyns on a federative basis.

Zatkovich and Julius G. Gardos, President of the American Council of Uhro-Rusyns, went to Paris, and on February 22, 1919 they presented the result of the above plebiscite to Andre Tardieu, President of the powerful Committee of Five. Assured by him that the Allied Powers would approve the proposed federation if the Rusyns in the former Hungarian Empire expressed a desire for such a federation. Zatkovich and Gardos went personally to their European brethren and fully informed them of all the foregoing.

On May 8, 1919, the Central National Rusyn Council, at Uzhhorod, unanimously voted for a union of the Uhro-Rusyns with Czechoslovakia on a federation basis.

On August 7, 1919, the Czechoslovak government authorized the creation of a "Directorium" comprised of five members with authority to organize the newly created State. President Thomas G. Masaryk made the appointments and designated Gregory Zatkovich to be President of said Directorium.

On September 10, 1919, the Saint Germaine-en-Laye Treaty was signed by the Principal and Allied Powers and Czecho-Slovakia. Under the terms of this Treaty Czecho-Slovakia undertook to constitute the Ruthene territory south of the Carpathians as an autonomous unit and to accord to it the fullest degree of self government compatible with the unity of the Czecho-Slovak State. (See full text below).

The Directorium functioned until March 2, 1920 when all the members resigned.

On April 26, 1920, Gregory Zatkovich was appointed by President Masaryk as the first Governor of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia. He resigned on April 17, 1921. The reason for his resignation was the failure of the Czecho-Slovak government to fully accord to Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia the autonomous rights granted it in the Saint-Germaine-en-Laye Treaty.

After the death and interment of his daughter Joan, age 3 1/2, accompanied by his wife Leona C. and their son Gregory P., age 5, he returned to Pittsburgh, and resumed the practice of his legal profession.

The Second Governor of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia was Anthony Beskid. The Third Governor was Constantine Hrabar.

During the Second world War Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia was occupied by Hungary.

Shortly after the termination of the Second World War, namely on June 29, 1945, the Czecho-Slovak government, contrary to International Law, violated the terms of the Saint Germaine-en-Laye Treaty, and ceded Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia to the Soviet Union, and such has been its status to the present day, despite numerous protests against this ILLEGAL seizure.

Its present international status, slated in a USA State Department letter addressed to Stephen M. Tkatch, President of the American Rusyn National Council, is as follows; "On June 29, 1945, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union signed an agreement which acknowledged the incorporation of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia into the USSR. The United States was not a party to this treaty". Said letter is dated November 4, 1960.

Note: The official name of the above small country, designated by the above mentioned Directorium, is Podkarpatska Rus' (Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia), in abbreviated form Karpatska Rus' (Carpathian Ruthenia). It is at times loosely called Rusynia, Ruthenia, Carpathian Russia and Carpathian Ukraine.

Note: With the consent and approval of the USA State Department, President Thomas G. Masaryk and the Central National Rusyn Council at Uzhhorod, Gregory Zatkovich continued to be an American citizen while holding the office of President of the Directorium and Governor.


Signed at Saint Germaine-en-Laye, September 10, 1919



Czecho-Slovakia undertakes to constitute the Ruthene territory south of the Carpathians within frontiers delimited by the Principle Allied and Associated Powers as an autonomous unit within the Czecho-Slovak State, and to accord to it the fullest degree of self-government compatible with the unity of the Czecho-Slovak State.


The Ruthene territory south of the Carpathians shall possess a special Diet. This Diet shall have the power of legislation in all linguistic, scholastic and religious questions, in matters of local administration, and in other questions which the laws of the Czecho-Slovak State may assign to ut. The Governor of the Ruthene territory shall be appointed by the President of the Czecho-Slovak Republic and shall be responsible for the Ruthene Diet.


Czecho-Slovakia agrees that officials in the Ruthene territory will be chosen as far as possible from the inhabitants of this territory.


Czecho-Slovakia guarantees to the Ruthene territory equitable representation in the legislative assembly of the Czecho-Slovak Republic, to which Assembly it will send deputies elected according to the Constitution of the Czecho-Slovak Republic. These deputies will not, however, have the right of voting in the Czecho-Slovak Diet upon legislative questions of the same kind as those assigned to the Ruthenian Diet.

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