In the late nineteenthirties, in the European general political atmosphere it could be felt that the territorial order formed in 1919-1920 was facing a revision. From that time it became important for Hungary to know the state of affairs in the surrounding states and to be able to formulate its claims in the light of the whole picture when opportunity arises. The idea of compiling a comprehensive datacollection on the entire area of Central Europe showing the geographic, demographic and nationality conditions objectively and uniformly, on the basis of the official statistics of each state, was born at that time. The best way of achieving this aim seemed to be the construction of an atlas with text. In Hungary, in the Institute of Political Sciences all the sources and the data needed for the preparation of such a comprehensive work were available.
As deputy director from May, 1938 and later director of the Institute of Political Sciences, I submitted a proposal to Count Pál Teleki, president of the Institute, for the construction of such an atlas and subsequently I was charged with the implementation of the idea. After Pál Teleki's death the Institute of Political Sciences became a member of the Count Paul Teleki Research Institute, a group of institutes organized by the Minister of Education, Bálint Hóman. Mr. Hóman confirmed my assignment to the function of the director and took it for granted that I was working on the compilation of the Atlas of Central Europe, in the framework of the preparation of the peacetreaty. In the spring of 1944 Mr. Hóman decided to move the institute to Balatonfüred in order to defend it from the bombing. There were succeeded to make proper arrangements for our accommodation and to complete the Atlas in two languages with coloured maps reproduced by "rotaprint" technique by mid-March, 1945.
Beside the staff of the Institute several other institutes and experts contributed to the preparation of the material. The authors of the maps and explanatory texts produced by these are indicated in the text or on the sheets. The majority of the sheets, however, were prepared by the permanent staff and some temporary employees of the Institute. Assistance was given also by the students of the Geographical Institute of the Faculty of Economy. The explanatory text was written by the editor.
Originally the Atlas was produced in two languages. The Hungarian version with 134 maps and of 334 pages was issued first. The English version was somewhat enlarged: it comprised 171 maps and with the explanatory texts together it was of 367 pages.
In this edition no changes were made either in the maps constructed between 1943-45 or in the explanatory texts written at the time. (Finally it has changed. - editor) I owe a debt of true gratitude and thanks to the publishers, the Society of St. Steven and Dr. Sándor Püski for considering this work worthy of final publication and working hard, with utmost care on the preparation of the publishing. By that they have preserved the image of Central Europe, in the middle of the twentieth century.
Dr. András Rónai