COMMUNIST propaganda successfully blackened the image of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy. For more than 40 years, the blue bloods were depicted as heartless exploiters – a perception which, unfortunately, survives to this day.
In truth, this region’s rulers were often admirably altruistic to their subjects of simplest means.
One example involves Count János Pálffy, who set up a foundation in the small town of Častá, located under the Small Carpathians, to support poor middle-class boys and finance their studies at secondary schools and universities. The foundation even paid for its most diligent pupils to study at prestigious foreign universities. An overwhelming majority of the pupils could never have afforded a higher education without Pálffy’s support.
The foundation also assisted local rectories and churches. For the peasants under Pálffy’s rule, this assistance was welcome, since they were often unable to pay the priest and keep the church in good repair.
The foundation’s premises, which now houses Častá’s municipal office, can be seen in this postcard from the 1920s. The rather short man with an unbuttoned coat in the foreground is probably János Pálffy himself.
10. Nov 2008 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan