Foreword of the original Atlas of Central Europe (1989)

The atlas this foreword relates to was issued by our in-house printing office some 45 years ago. Its purpose, its sources and methods of preparation are reported in the Introduction written at that time. Some information, however, has to be given on the producing Institute itself herewith as its function may not be known by the majority of the readers to—day. The Institute of Political Sciences was founded in 1926 by Count Pál Teleki - university professor and Prime Minister of Hungary on two occasion - within the Hungarian Statistical Association, a scientific society. Its task was the recording of the state of affairs in the neighbour countries surrounding Hungary. All these states received considerable areas from the historical territory of Hungary. Also a significant part of Hungarian population was surrendered to these states, thus their fate and living conditions as well as the development of the new states meant the continuation of the Hungarian history in certain respect.
The Peace-Treaty of Trianon brought about drastic changes in the Carpathian Basin and its surroundings. As a result, many traditional relations were interrupted and some new relations were emerging between the newly organized states and the surviving mother-country. Therefore, these neighbour states were much more interested in each other's affairs than the states which lived within old and stable borders. After 1920 all the borders of Hungary were new ones, accordingly attention had to be paid in every direction. Information had to be gathered on the living conditions of the Hungarian minorities and also due to the fact that the new borders while disturbing the economic relations could not break them off.

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 data—collection 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 peace—treaty. 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

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