Motto: Verní sebe, svorne napred!
"Faithful to Ourselves, Together Ahead!"
Anthem: Hej, Slováci
English: "Hey, Slovaks"
The Slovak Republic in 1942
|Status||Client state of Germany|
|Common languages||Slovak, Hungarian|
|Government||Clerical fascist one-party republic under a totalitarian dictatorship|
|Historical era||World War II|
|14 March 1939|
|23 March 1939|
|21 July 1939|
|1 September 1939|
|22 June 1941|
|29 August 1944|
|4 April 1945|
|1940||38,055 km2 (14,693 sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||SK|
|Today part of|
The (First) Slovak Republic (Slovak : [Prvá] Slovenská republika), otherwise known as the Slovak State (Slovenský štát), was a client state of Nazi Germany which existed between 14 March 1939 and 4 April 1945. It was created out of the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia one day before of the start of the German occupation. The Slovak Republic controlled the majority of the territory of present-day Slovakia but without its current southern and eastern parts, which had been ceded to Hungary in 1938. The Republic bordered Germany and constituent parts of "Großdeutschland": the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the General Government (the German-occupied remnant of Poland) – along with independent Hungary.
Germany recognized the Slovak State, as did several other states, including Croatia, El Salvador, Estonia, Italy, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Manchukuo, Romania, the Soviet Union, Spain, Switzerland, and the Vatican City. The majority of the Allies of World War II never recognized the existence of the Slovak Republic. The Soviet Union nullified its recognition after Slovakia joined the invasion of the USSR in 1941.
The official name of the country was the Slovak State (Slovak: Slovenský štát) from 14 March to 21 July 1939 (until the adoption of the Constitution), and the Slovak Republic (Slovak: Slovenská republika) from 21 July 1939 to its end in April 1945. The country is often referred to historically as the First Slovak Republic (Slovak: prvá Slovenská republika) to distinguish it from the contemporary (Second) Slovak Republic, Slovakia, which is not considered its legal successor state. The name "Slovak State" was used colloquially, but the term "First Slovak Republic" was used even in encyclopaedias written during Communist rule.
After the Munich Agreement, Slovakia gained autonomy inside Czecho-Slovakia (as the former Czechoslovakia had been renamed) and lost its southern territories to Hungary under the First Vienna Award. As the Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler was preparing a mobilisation into Czech territory and creation of his Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, he had various plans for Slovakia. German officials were initially misinformed by the Hungarians that the Slovaks wanted to join Hungary. Germany decided to make Slovakia a separate puppet state under the influence of Germany, and a potential strategic base for German attacks on Poland and other regions.
On 13 March 1939, Hitler invited Monsignor Jozef Tiso (the Slovak ex-prime minister who had been deposed by Czechoslovak troops several days earlier) to Berlin and urged him to proclaim Slovakia's independence. Hitler added that, if Tiso did not consent, he would have no interest in Slovakia's fate and would leave it to the territorial claims of Hungary and Poland. During the meeting, Joachim von Ribbentrop passed on a report claiming that Hungarian troops were approaching the Slovak borders. Tiso refused to make such a decision himself, after which he was allowed by Hitler to organise a meeting of the Slovak parliament ("Diet of the Slovak Land") which would approve Slovakia's independence.
On 14 March, the Slovak parliament convened and heard Tiso's report on his discussion with Hitler as well as on a possible declaration of independence. Some of the deputies were skeptical of making such a move, among other reasons due to the fact that some worried that the Slovak state would be too small and with a strong Hungarian minority.The debate was quickly brought to a head when Franz Karmasin, leader of the German minority in Slovakia, said that any delay in declaring independence would result in Slovakia being divided between Hungary and Germany. Under these circumstances, Parliament unanimously declared Slovak independence, thus creating the first Slovak state in history. Jozef Tiso was appointed the first Prime Minister of the new republic. The next day, Tiso sent a telegram (which had actually been composed the previous day in Berlin) asking the Reich to take over the protection of the newly minted state. The request was readily accepted.
On 23 March 1939, Hungary, having already occupied Carpatho-Ukraine, attacked from there, and the newly established Slovak Republic was forced to cede 1,697 square kilometres (655 sq mi) of territory with about 70,000 people to Hungary before the onset of World War II.
Slovakia was the only Axis nation other than Germany to take part in the Polish Campaign. With the impending German invasion of Poland planned for September 1939, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) requested the assistance of Slovakia. Although the Slovak military was only six months old, it formed a small mobile combat group consisting of a number of infantry and artillery battalions. Two combat groups were created for the campaign in Poland for use alongside the Germans. The first group was a brigade-sized formation that consisted of six infantry battalions, two artillery battalions, and a company of combat engineers, all commanded by Antonín Pulanich. The second group was a mobile formation that consisted of two battalions of combined cavalry and motorcycle recon troops along with nine motorised artillery batteries, all commanded by Gustav Malár. The two groups reported to the headquarters of the 1st and 3rd Slovak Infantry Divisions. The two combat groups fought while pushing through the Nowy Sącz and Dukla Mountain Passes, advancing towards Dębica and Tarnów in the region of southern Poland.
The Slovak military participated in the war on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. The Slovak Expeditionary Army Group of about 45,000 entered the Soviet Union shortly after the German attack. This army lacked logistic and transportation support, so a much smaller unit, the Slovak Mobile Command (Pilfousek Brigade), was formed from units selected from this force; the rest of the Slovak army was relegated to rear-area security duty. The Slovak Mobile Command was attached to the German 17th Army (as was the Hungarian Carpathian Group also) and shortly thereafter given over to direct German command, the Slovaks lacking the command infrastructure to exercise effective operational control. This unit fought with the 17th Army through July 1941, including at the Battle of Uman.
At the beginning of August 1941, the Slovak Mobile Command was dissolved and instead two infantry divisions were formed from the Slovak Expeditionary Army Group. The Slovak 2nd Division was a security division, but the Slovak 1st Division was a front-line unit which fought in the campaigns of 1941 and 1942, reaching the Caucasus area with Army Group B. The Slovak 1st Division then shared the fate of the German southern forces, losing their heavy equipment in the Kuban bridgehead, then being badly mangled near Melitopol in southern Ukraine. In June 1944, the remnant of the division, no longer considered fit for combat due to low morale, was disarmed and the personnel assigned to construction work, a fate which had already befallen the Slovak 2nd Division earlier for the same reason.
In the 1944 Slovak National Uprising, many Slovak units sided with the Slovak resistance and rebelled against Tiso's collaborationist government, while others helped German forces put the uprising down.
From the beginning, the Slovak Republic was under the influence of Germany. The so-called "protection treaty" (Treaty on the protective relationship between Germany and the Slovak State), signed on 23 March 1939, partially subordinated its foreign, military, and economic policy to that of Germany.[ citation needed ] The German Wehrmacht established the so-called "protection zone" in Western Slovakia in August 1939.
The Slovak-Soviet Treaty of Commerce and Navigation was signed at Moscow on 6 December 1940.
The most difficult foreign policy problem of the state involved relations with Hungary, which had annexed one third of Slovakia's territory by the First Vienna Award of 2 November 1938. Slovakia tried to achieve a revision of the Vienna Award, but Germany did not allow it.[ citation needed ] There were also constant quarrels concerning Hungary's treatment of Slovaks living in Hungary.
Following Slovak participation in the Axis invasion of Poland in September 1939, border adjustments increased the Slovak Republic's geographical extent in the areas of Orava and Spiš, absorbing previously Polish-controlled territory.
85% of the inhabitants of the Slovak Republic were Slovaks; the remaining 15% were made up of Germans, Hungarians, Jews and Romani. 50% of the population were employed in agriculture. The state was divided in six counties ( župy ), 58 districts ( okresy ) and 2659 municipalities. The capital Bratislava had over 140,000 inhabitants.
The state continued the legal system of Czechoslovakia, which was modified only gradually. According to the Constitution of 1939, the "President" (Jozef Tiso) was the head of the state, the "Assembly/Diet of the Slovak Republic" elected for five years was the highest legislative body (no general elections took place, however), and the "State Council" performed the duties of a senate. The government with eight ministries was the executive body.
The Slovak Republic was an authoritarian state where the German pressure resulted in the adoption of many elements of German Nazism. Some historians characterized the Slovak regime from 1939 to 1945 as clerical fascism. The government issued a number of antisemitic laws, prohibiting the Jews from participation in public life, and later supported their deportation to concentration camps erected by Germany on Polish territory. The only political parties permitted were the dominant Hlinka's Slovak People's Party and two smaller openly fascist parties, these being the Hungarian National Party which represented the Hungarian minority and the German Party which represented the German minority.
The Slovak Republic was divided into 6 counties and 58 districts as of 1 January 1940. The extant population records are from the same time:
Soon after independence and along with the mass exile and deportation of Czechs, the Slovak Republic began a series of measures aimed against the Jews in the country. The Hlinka's Guard began to attack Jews, and the "Jewish Code" was passed in September 1941. Resembling the Nuremberg Laws, the code required Jews to wear a yellow armband, and banned them from intermarriage and from many jobs. By October 1941, 15,000 Jews were expelled from Bratislava; many were sent to labour camps.
The Slovak Republic was one of the countries to agree to deport its Jews as part of the Nazi Final Solution. Originally, the Slovak government tried to make a deal with Germany in October 1941 to deport its Jews as a substitute for providing Slovak workers to help the war effort. After the Wannsee Conference, the Germans agreed to the Slovak proposal, and a deal was reached where the Slovak Republic would pay for each Jew deported, and, in return, Germany promised that the Jews would never return to the republic. The initial terms were for "20,000 young, strong Jews", but the Slovak government quickly agreed to a German proposal to deport the entire population for "evacuation to territories in the East" meaning to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The deportations of Jews from Slovakia started on 25 March 1942, but halted on 20 October 1942 after a group of Jewish citizens, led by Gisi Fleischmann and Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl, built a coalition of concerned officials from the Vatican and the government, and, through a mix of bribery and negotiation, was able to stop the process. By then, however, some 58,000 Jews had already been deported, mostly to Auschwitz. Slovak government officials filed complaints against Germany, when it became clear that many of the previously deported Slovak Jews had been gassed in mass executions.
Jewish deportations resumed on 30 September 1944, when the Soviet army reached the Slovak border, and the Slovak National Uprising took place. As a result of these events, Germany decided to occupy all of Slovakia and the country lost its independence. During the German occupation, another 13,500 Jews were deported and 5,000 were imprisoned. Deportations continued until 31 March 1945. In all, German and Slovak authorities deported about 70,000 Jews from Slovakia; about 65,000 of them were murdered or died in concentration camps. The overall figures are inexact, partly because many Jews did not identify themselves, but one 2006 estimate is that approximately 105,000 Slovak Jews, or 77% of their pre-war population, died during the war.
Although the official policy of the Nazi regime was in favour of an independent Slovak state dependent on Germany and opposed to any annexations of Slovak territory, Heinrich Himmler's SS considered ambitious population policy options concerning the German minority of Slovakia, which numbered circa 130,000 people.In 1940, Günther Pancke, head of the SS RuSHA ("Race and Settlement Office") undertook a study trip in Slovak lands where ethnic Germans were present, and reported to Himmler that the Slovak Germans were in danger of disappearing. Pancke recommended that action should be taken to fuse the racially valuable part of the Slovaks into the German minority and remove the Gypsy and Jewish populations. He stated that this would be possible by "excluding" the Hungarian minority of the country, and by settling some 100,000 ethnic German families to Slovakia. The racial core of this Germanization policy was to be gained from the Hlinka Guard, which was to be further integrated into the SS in the near future.
After the anti-Nazi Slovak National Uprising in August 1944, the Germans occupied the country (from October 1944), which thereby lost much of its independence. The German troops were gradually pushed out by the Red Army, by Romanian and by Czechoslovak troops coming from the east. The liberated territories became de facto part of Czechoslovakia again.
The First Slovak Republic ceased to exist de facto on 4 April 1945 when the Red Army captured Bratislava and occupied all of Slovakia. De jure it ceased to exist when the exiled Slovak government capitulated to General Walton Walker leading the XX Corps of the 3rd US Army on 8 May 1945 in the Austrian town of Kremsmünster. In summer 1945, the captured former president and members of former government were handed over to Czechoslovak authorities.
Several prominent Slovak politicians escaped to neutral countries. Following his captivity, the deposed president Jozef Tiso authorized the former foreign minister Ferdinand Ďurčanský as his successor. Ďurčanský, Tiso's personal secretary Karol Murín, and cousin Fraňo Tiso were appointed by ex-president Tiso as the representatives of the Slovak nation, however they failed to create a government-in-exile as no country recognized them. In the 1950s with fellow Slovak nationalist they established Slovak Action Committee (later Slovak Liberation Committee) which unsuccessfully advocated the restoration of the independent Slovak State and the renewal of war against the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the creation of the Slovak republic, the Slovak Liberation Committee proclaimed Tiso's authorization as obsolete.
Jozef Tiso was a Slovak politician and Roman Catholic priest who governed the Slovak Republic, a client state of Nazi Germany during World War II, from 1939 to 1945. After the war, he was executed in 1947 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bratislava.
Spiš is a region in north-eastern Slovakia, with a very small area in south-eastern Poland. Spiš is an informal designation of the territory, but it is also the name of one of the 21 official tourism regions of Slovakia. The region is not an administrative division in its own right, but between the late 11th century and 1918 it was an administrative county of the Kingdom of Hungary,.
The German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938–1945) began with the German annexation of Czechoslovakia's border regions known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. German leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this action was the alleged privations suffered by the ethnic German population living in those regions. New and extensive Czechoslovak border fortifications were also located in the same area.
With the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed as a result of the critical intervention of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, among others.
Carpatho-Ukraine or Carpathian Ukraine was an autonomous region within the Second Czechoslovak Republic, created in December 1938 whose full administrative and political autonomy was confirmed by the Constitutional law of 22 November 1938. After the breakup of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, it was proclaimed an independent republic on 15 March 1939, headed by president Avgustyn Voloshyn, who appealed to the Axis powers for recognition and support. Nazi Germany did not reply, and the short-lived state was occupied and annexed by the Kingdom of Hungary, crushing all local resistance by 18 March 1939.
Hlinka's Slovak People's Party was a far-right clerofascist political party with a strong Catholic fundamentalist and authoritarian ideology. Its members were often called Ľudáks.
The First Vienna Award, or otherwise known as the First Vienna Diktat, was a treaty signed on November 2, 1938, as a result of the First Vienna Arbitration. The Arbitration took place at Vienna's Belvedere Palace. The Arbitration and Award were direct consequences of the Munich Agreement the previous month and decided the partitioning of Czechoslovakia.
Vojtech Lázar "Béla" Tuka was a Slovak politician who served as Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the First Slovak Republic between 1939 and 1945. Tuka was one of the main forces behind the deportation of Slovak Jews to Nazi concentration camps in German occupied Poland. He was the leader of the radical wing of the Slovak People's Party.
Carpathian Ruthenia was a region in the easternmost part of Czechoslovakia that became autonomous within that country in September 1938, declared its independence as the "Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine” in March 1939, was immediately occupied and annexed by Hungary, invaded by the Soviet Red Army in 1944 and incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1946. In total between 1939 and 1944 80,000 Carpathian Ukrainians perished.
The history of the Jews in Slovakia goes back to the 11th century, when the first Jews settled in the area.
During World War II, the Kingdom of Hungary was a member of the Axis powers. In the 1930s, the Kingdom of Hungary relied on increased trade with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to pull itself out of the Great Depression. Hungarian politics and foreign policy had become more stridently nationalistic by 1938, and Hungary adopted an irredentist policy similar to Germany's, attempting to incorporate ethnic Hungarian areas in neighboring countries into Hungary. Hungary benefited territorially from its relationship with the Axis. Settlements were negotiated regarding territorial disputes with the Czechoslovak Republic, the Slovak Republic, and the Kingdom of Romania. In 1940, Hungary joined the Axis powers. The following year, Hungarian forces participated in the invasion of Yugoslavia and the invasion of the Soviet Union. Their participation was noted by German observers for its particular cruelty, with occupied peoples subjected to arbitrary violence. Hungarian volunteers were sometimes referred to as engaging in "murder tourism."
Count János Esterházy was a prominent ethnic Hungarian politician in inter-war Czechoslovakia and later in the First Slovak Republic. He was a member of the Czechoslovak Parliament and of the Slovak Assembly. After the Second World War, he was illegally deported to the Soviet Union, sentenced on trumped-up charges at a show trial, and imprisoned. In the meantime he was sentenced, in absentia, to death by the National Court in Bratislava on the charges of High Treason to the State, collaboration with enemy, the breaking-up of Czechoslovakia, and his participation in an anti-democratic regime as a deputy of the Slovak Assembly. The sentence was not executed as a consequence of a Presidential pardon, following his return to Czechoslovakia from Soviet Union. He died in prison in 1957.
The Second Czechoslovak Republic existed for 169 days, between 30 September 1938 and 15 March 1939. It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and the autonomous regions of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus', the latter being renamed on 30 December 1938 to Carpathian Ukraine.
The Czechoslovak–Hungarian population exchange was the exchange of inhabitants between Czechoslovakia and Hungary after World War II. Between 45,000 and 120,000 Hungarians were forcibly transferred from Czechoslovakia to Hungary, and their properties confiscated, while around 72,000 Slovaks voluntarily transferred from Hungary to Czechoslovakia, half of whom eventually moved back to Hungary.
The newly formed Slovak Republic during World War II was occupied by Germany and forced to cooperate with members of the Axis. The Slovak State was founded with the help of Nazi Germany. After the Slovak-Hungarian War Hungary annexed a great part of the country. In 1940, under pressure from Germany, Slovakia joined the Axis.
Ivan Kamenec is a Slovak historian.
The Slovak National Uprising or 1944 Uprising was an armed insurrection organized by the Slovak resistance movement during World War II. This resistance movement was represented mainly by the members of the Democratic Party, but also by social democrats and Communists, albeit on a smaller scale. It was launched on 29 August 1944 from Banská Bystrica in an attempt to resist German troops that had occupied Slovak territory and to overthrow the collaborationist government of Jozef Tiso. Although the resistance was largely defeated by German forces, guerrilla operations continued until the Soviet Army, Czechoslovak Army and Romanian Army liberated Fascist Slovakia in 1945.
The Holocaust in Slovakia was the systematic dispossession, deportation, and murder of Jews in the Slovak State during World War II. Jews were blamed for Slovakia's territorial losses to Hungary and were targeted for discrimination and harassment, including the confiscation of property and businesses. The exclusion of Jews from the economy impoverished the community and caused social problems, which encouraged the government to conscript them for forced labor.
In August 1942, Jozef Tiso, president of the Slovak State and a Catholic priest, gave a speech in Holič, Slovakia, in which he defended the deportation of Jews from Slovakia. Referring to Jews as "parasites" and "the eternal enemy", Tiso claimed that their deportation was both economically necessary and congruent with Christian moral principles. The speech has been recognized as a key part of Tiso's moral legacy, emblematic of his complicity in the Holocaust.
Presidential exemptions were granted by President of the Slovak State Jozef Tiso to individual Jews, exempting them from systematic persecution through anti-Jewish legislation introduced by Tiso's Jewish Code,, during the Holocaust. The exemptions were exchanged for arbitrary monetary fees. From an estimated 20,000 requests, 600 documented exemptions covering 1,000 people were granted, but only after 1942, when deportations to Auschwitz death camp had already stopped. Following the German invasion of 1944, when deportations resumed, all exemptions were nullified.
Between 1920 and 1924, some areas of Orawa and Spisz fell to Poland, others to Slovakia. With Germany's support, on the basis of the November 1 and 30, 1938 agreements between Poland and Czechoslovakia, Poland annexed 226 square kilometers (and 4,280 people) of Orawa and Spisz. The following year, on the basis of an agreement (November 21, 1939) between Germany and Slovakia, these territories, along with some previously Polish sections of Orawa and Spisz (a total of 752 square kilometers of land with 30,000 people) were transferred to Slovakia.
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