THE CAUSES FOR THE EMIGRATION OF SLOVENES IN THE LAST TWO CENTURIES

Marjan Drnovšek

(Summary)

During the time of modern migrations in the 19th and 20th centuries the Slovene emigrants have been a component in the European and world migration processes, with their peaks in the last decades before World War I (The U.S.A.), between the two World Wars (South America and Europe), and in the sixties and seventies of the 20th century (Europe). Emigration to different parts of the terrestrial globe was in course before the beginning of modern emigration and is still in process today (brain drain).

Emigration presents only the first phase in the process, which is followed by immigration to a new environment, integration and eventually assimilation. When we speak about the causes, we divide them into local and other, linked to the immigration environment. Understanding of the both gives us a more clear sight on the decision of an individual for going abroad. Emigration is otherwise a phenomena that grasps a mass of people, and the mass is composed of individuals, each with their own reason for leaving home. As a universal phenomena it offers the possibility of generalising the causation backgrounds for leaving (for example because of economic, social or political reasons), and at the same time we can find in individual cases many causes and impulses interlacing, general and linked to a concrete individual or one’s local environment.

The Slovenes have been in the last two centuries emigrating from different states (Austria, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia, today from Slovenia) and from different social and political systems. The relativity of estimating the significance of the economic degree of development in emigration is proved to us by the fact that during the Habsburg Danubian Monarchy they emigrated from the less developed Austrian south, while in the time of pre- and after war Yugoslavia from the most developed part of the state. In both cases the economic development was lower than that of the immigrant states. Also heterogeneous is the causation image by individual regions of the Slovene territory, as some are in a certain period captured by a proper “emigration fever” while others are only touched slightly, sometimes to the contrary to our expectations in view of the general causation grounds and conditions for emigration. Strongly present in emigration of Slovenes in the 20th century were political reasons, for example the emigration of the population from the Littoral that was under Italy between the two wars, refugees after the year 1945 etc. There were many forcible migrations during the World Wars One and Two. More concealed were the involuntary displacements for example of teachers, non-conformist intellectuals, military officers and other, outside Slovene territory, into different ethnic environments and in civilisation sense less developed regions of otherwise the common state Yugoslavia.

The author will in his contribution describe the main causes in the local environment, which have encouraged the Slovenes in going abroad in the last two centuries. It remains a fact that the Slovene territory has been expressively emigrant up to the sixties of the 20th century, when the immigration from the less developed parts of Yugoslavia has increased as well. At the same time it should be pointed out that it was always the policy of the immigrant countries that stopped the Slovene emigration streams, ant not an awareness on perniciousness of the phenomena for the Slovenes as a nation. And if we have a look into the future: what will happen to emigration from Slovenia after joining the European Union? Is the living standard in Slovenia truly high enough that in the case of open borders and a free flow of labour resources it will not result in seeking better earnings and a better life in the more developed regions of Europe? However this is more the subject for the announcers of the future development than of a historian.