Mihály Lieb or Mihály Munkácsy? Developing Cultural Identity in Hungary’s German National Minority Schools
Keywords:Hungarian Germans, national minority schools, education in folk traditions, identity culture history
AbstractIn the Carpathian Basin, German-speaking peoples have lived alongside Hungarians for hundreds of years, resulting in many, shared points of cultural intermingling. (Although commonly referred to as svábok [‘Swabians’], this is not the correct term for Hungary’s German minorities since their origins differ from those of Swabians living in Germany today). After World War II, thousands of Hungarian Germans were deported to Germany. Those who remained could not use their native language and dialect in public. Today, young generations reconnect with their German roots in state-funded, national minority schools where, through the medium of Hochdeutsch, students are familiarized with their Hungarian German dialect, history and traditions in a subject called népismeret [‘folk education’]. This paper provides a brief overview of the current legal documents and rulings that determine the curriculum in Hungary’s national minority schools before detailing the topics studied in a Hungarian German folk education class. We contend that the overwhelming losses in cultural heritage that resulted from assimilation must be reversed in a process that simultaneously respects their unique, dual identity. To this end, we recommend adapting the curriculum of folk education to include an alternative, more inclusive perspective of famous, “Hungarian” individuals.
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