Tracing the Slovenes from the

Raba and the Mura Region in the USA


Our exhibit about the Slovenes from the Raba and the Mura Region in Bethlehem, PA was opened with a festive ceremony at the Slovene Centre Lipa (Szentgotthárd) on March 9.


Szentgotthárd, 03/09/2007                                 Pictures


The official part of the event started with a performance of the local Slovene choir, which sang a selection of Slovene songs. Subsequent to this musical introduction to the topic, the president of the Slovene minority in Hungary, Mr József Hirnök, welcomed the guests and introduced us as exhibitors.


Afterwards, Ms Marianna Szukics, the chief editor of the Slovene weekly journal “Porabje”, briefly outlined the content of the exhibit in Slovene and Hungarian and told the visitors who we were. Following Mrs Szukics’ short introduction Tibor rose to speak and explained in more detail the interested audience the motivation, the content and the intention of the exhibit in Hungarian. As a high representative the Slovene ambassador from Budapest, Mr Ladislav Lipič, was among the visitors as well. He was talking to us after Tibor’s speech and congratulated us on our work.


After the official opening of the exhibit the numerous guests had the opportunity to look around the exhibit and to discuss with each other and with us.


Subsequent to the opening Tibor was interviewed by the local TV station Gotthárd TV and by the Hungarian television channel MTV and asked about the motives and the structure of the exhibit. Furthermore, MTV wanted to know from Joël’s which personal motivations made him work on such an exhibit.


Excerpt from Tibor’s speech


“[…] About two years ago, the two of us started dedicating ourselves more intensively to the history and culture of the Slovenes from the Raba Region. On the one hand, because the history, culture and tradition of the Slovenes in South West Hungary is very interesting and on the other hand, because Tibor can learn more about his own Slovene roots in the process. We have created a website about this very topic as well. Since many Slovenes from the Raba and the Mura Region had emigrated to Bethlehem, PA (USA) around the turn of the century, we considered flying to the U.S. ourselves in order to see what the city is like and to search for testimonies of the Slovene immigrants. […] Before going to Bethlehem we visited Ellis Island. This is a small island close to New York City, which was the “gate” into the “New World” for more than 12 Mio. immigrants, among whom there were also numerous Slovenes. […] After having arrived in Bethlehem we visited both the historical sites of the founders of the city, the Moravians, and the Catholic and the Evangelic Slovene church and had the opportunity to meet a couple of people who have their roots in Porabje / Prekmurje. What is more, we were invited to several gatherings, amongst others a meeting, at which we could get to know some former Slovene steelworkers. Furthermore, we met some Slovenes from Števanovci / Apátistvánfalva, who had once immigrated to the United States. Wherever we went we were welcomed very warmly and with great helpfulness, which we highly appreciated. […] Since we had collected many impressions and had gathered a great deal of information on our trip, we thought we could share our experiences with the population of the Raba and the Mura Region. Hence we began accumulating material for an exhibit. We did this besides working and studying and paid everything ourselves. We asked Ms Szukics if we might use a room at the Slovene Centre “Lipa” in Szentgotthárd, which she agreed on. […] It is the goal and motivation of our exhibit to give the population of the Raba and the Mura Region an understanding of the city of Bethlehem and of its rich Slovene heritage. […] The exhibit consists of four major sections: In the first part we treat Ellis Island and the immigration process into the U.S., in the second section we show the influence of the Moravians on the image and the history of the city. The third part of the exhibit is about the Slovenes from the Raba and the Mura Region. The fourth and final section is dedicated to Bethlehem Steel, the steel company for which numerous immigrants from the Raba and the Mura Region used to work. […]


The exhibit “Tracing the Slovenes from the Raba and the Mura Region in the USA” is still open until mid-May 2007 and can be visited at the Slovene Centre Lipa (Gárdonyi u. 1) in 9970 Szentgotthárd, Hungary. Entry is free.                      


                                                                                       Tibor Horvat / Joël Gerber