The text is part of the series “Philanthropists and Philanthropists of the 19th and 20th Centuries”. Its authors are looking for inspiring stories in Slovak history of people who were not indifferent to their surroundings. The series is created with the support of the Pontis Foundation.
One night in 1909, two sisters were sitting in the nursery, writing a letter to the Russian tsar. Marína and Ľudmila want to tell him what Slovaks and Czechs living in Austria-Hungary want. They put the paper in an envelope, sealed it, and wrote the return address on the back – Stamford, USA.
The Pauliny family came from Slovenská Pravna, a village in the Turks, where it was difficult not to be a nationalist. However, Father Ján tries to look for a job overseas and the family eventually went with him. Marina spent the second end of her childhood near New York.
Nevertheless, her bond with her hometown remained. The parents were active in regional associations and their daughter helped Slovak workers as a schoolgirl, who could not find a place for English.
However, something has changed. Teen Marina stopped associating her hopes with Russia. Her admiration won humanism and the freedom of American democracy. In particular, studies were formed at the business school of the charitable Christian association of young women.
When he received his diploma, the First World War raged in the world and the family unexpectedly lost their father. There was little money, so Marina, as the eldest daughter, was employed in Pittsburgh, where Czechoslovak compatriot organizations were based.
From there, in 1918, she watched the declaration of the common republic and observed the first speech of President Masaryk. The Paulinys said at that time that they would return home. That’s what the poor head of the family wanted.
The marine finally did not succeed until three years later – due to the adventure from which she just escaped.
Nurse of Czechoslovak legionaries
On Friday, May 30, 1919, a cargo ship set sail from San Francisco to Vladivostok. She carried food, medicine, and clothes on board. Along with the material, 45 doctors and nurses sailed in the cabins, among whom sat a girl from Turkey.
The event was organized by the American Red Cross. He wanted to help Czechoslovak legionnaires, who after the war remained “hanging” on the Russian front and had no way to get home. Marina was young, but she took a nursing course, so she was thrilled with the mission that they took her.
On the way back, the ship hit the rocks and almost sank. The crew was rescued by Japanese sailors. The Pauliny family, who had meanwhile been back in Czechoslovakia, did not see the Marina until 1921. She arrived with the last transport of wounded soldiers.
Used to the modern and war-torn United States, they found another world at home. At that time, millions of tons of humanitarian aid from US President Hoover flowed into Europe. Marina used her contacts and tried to make food packages for Slovakia as large as possible.
Shortly afterwards, she became the head of the Bratislava branch of the YWCA – the International Women’s Association, thanks to which she attended school in Chicago as a child. As everywhere else, in Slovakia it was in any way a contemporary cultural and social center that supported girls in development.
The new director organized summer camps for them, lectures, language courses and sewing lessons. Also thanks to her organization, the usual building is obtained. However, there were few people interested, so after three years it was decided that she would go back to the USA. Not knowing it won’t be for long.
Unofficial diplomat of Slovakia
Inside the building were embroidery, ceramics and folk art. And when the visitor was lucky in the early 1930s, Marina Paulínyová also follows in the Czechoslovak Art Studio in Chicago.
The graduate saleswoman ran one of the sales of this growing cultural network.
However, she promoted the business with her own products to advertising for her home country. She arranged Slovak embroidery at exhibitions in hotels throughout the United States. Her chosen methods attracted wealthy American women, who did not let them support the crafts.
Ethnographer Zora Mintálová described Marina as an “unofficial diplomat of her homeland”. She was twelve years old until she decided in 1936 to return to Czechoslovakia – tentatively forever. At least that’s what she thought then.
The young republic was increasingly threatened by Nazi Germany at the time. If the Allies were to help her, they had to know what was going on inside the state. Milan Hodža therefore came up with the idea of establishing it in Bratislava Slovakotour, a kind of travel agency for foreigners.
Linguistically and organizationally competent Marina became its director. She accompanied foreign journalists, politicians and artists in Slovak cities. Later, under Tis’s state, she was released for “unreliability.” Critical voices were a nuisance to the new regime.
She wrote for a while as a correspondent for Anglo-Saxon magazines. Thanks to that, the world learned about the dismal news from Slovakia. And then, two weeks after the start of World War II, her sister’s guards knocked on the door of her sister’s apartment.
Raising funds for humanitarian aid
Fortunately, it was Marina, on her way to London. It took her over a month to