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Matej Andráš (1921 - 2012) - Biography

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I have never forced anybody to profess to be a Slovak. I only proclaimed everyone’s right to profess whatever he/she wanted

Matej Andráš was born on September 19, 1921 in the village of Ždiar in the Tatra region. Since his childhood he grew up in a Goral environment. He attended the public school in Lendak and later in Ždiar, where he first acquaint himself with problems of the Slovak minority in Poland, who lived in former Slovak villages of the northern Spiš region. After finishing the Grammar school in Kežmarok (1933 - 1941), he continued studying at the Faculty of Law in Bratislava. Before finishing his studies, in 1945 he started to work as an editor for the Slovak News Agency in Košice. In August 1945 he found a job at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague, where he worked as a reporter for Poland. Later, from the year 1947 he worked as a Consul of the Czechoslovak Republic in Katowice. During his diplomatic work in Poland, which ended in 1950, he used to solve various problems and advocate the rights of Slovak inhabitants who lived in the villages located in the northern Spiš and Horná Orava regions, which were receded to Poland in May 1945. In 1950 he was dismissed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and excluded from the party. In the next years 1951 - 1955 he worked as a turner in ČKD - Sokolovo Company in Prague. During this period he also engaged in translating the Polish, Czech, and Russian literature. Subsequently, he returned to Bratislava and until 1969 he worked as a head of the secretariat of the Zväz slovenských spisovateľov (Slovak Writers' Union). In 1968, on the one thousand and one hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Cyril, he was present at the national pilgrimage to Vatican. After the return, he became a permanent secretary of the Minister of Culture Miroslav Válek. He held this office until 1971, when he moved to the Slovenské ústredie knižnej kultúry (Slovak Centre for Book Culture). Then, in the years 1972 - 1977 he was a head of the Slovenský spisovateľ (Slovak Writer) publishing company. After he had left the publishing house, he worked as a director of the Slovenská literárna agentúra (Slovak Literary Agency) until the year 1989. When he was staying in Bratislava, he kept in touch with several well-know writers and personalities of the political stage such as Vladimír Clementis, Ladislav Novomeský, Vladimír Mináč, Ladislav Hanus, and Vincent Hložník. Even after he had retired, he pursued the Slovak-Polish relations and cooperated with the Spolok Slovákov v Poľsku (Association of Slovaks in Poland). His literary works on this theme are well-known, too. He died on March 5, 2012, in the age of ninety years.

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