World War II: Slovakia

Figure 1.--Slovakia was a NAZI pupet state formed out of eastern Czechoslovakia. This Slovakian youth looks to be a recruit in the new Slovakian Army. The photo postcard is undated, but was probanly taken about 1939-41. The Slovaks participared in the German invasion of the Soviet Union--Operation Barbarossa (June 1941). There were two Slovak divisions, but only one was a combt division.

Slovakia seceeded from Czechoslovakia as the Wehrmact massed on the Czrch border. Slovakia declared independence as the Slovak Republic (March 14, 1939). Monsignor Tiso was elected president. Tiso might be described as a clerical nationalist. Tiso was a strident natinalist, but not a NAZI. His vission was a independent nationalist, Christian, corporative state. Tiso faced even more radical Slovak nationalists and their paramilitary Hlinka Guards--the Slovak version of the SA Storm Troopers. The radical nationalists were more clearly Fascists and cooperated with the NAZIs who also entered Slovakia (March 15). The radical nationalists worked closely with strongly NAZI German minority led by Franz Karmasin. As a result, radicals dominated the Slovak government. Vojtech Tuka gad been released from prison and became prime minister. An ally Ferdinand Durcansky was appointed foreign minister. Hlinka Guard commander Alexander Mach was appointed propaganda minister. Slovakia became a compliant NAZI puppetstate. A NAZI "advisory mission" was installed in each Slovak ministry. The Wehrmact had entered Slovakia (March 15) and soon was stationed throughout the country. Slovakia became the most slavishly obedient of all the NAZI satellite regimes.

World War I (1914-18)

The Czechs and Slovaks when World War I broke out were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were two of several restive minorities within the Empire. As Slavs they were not enthusiastic to fight with the Austrians, Germans and Hungarians against fellow Slavs (Russians and Serbs). Many Czechs and Serbs on the Eastern front defected from the Austrian-Hungarian Army and formed the Czechoslovak Legion to fight with the Russians. Thomas Masaryk who emerged as a leader in the Czech independence movement went to western Europe with his American-born wife to promote the the idea that the Austro-Hungarian Empire should be disolved after the war and the new nation of Czechoslovakia created. The Allies resisted at the time because the Russians still fighting on the Wastern front were a multi-national empire not well-disposed toward national self-determination in Eastern Europe. Masaryk along with fellow Czech Eduard Benes and Milan Stefanik (a Slovak war hero), established the Czechoslovak National Council. Masaryk went to America to promote the idea. Benes worked in in France and Britain. The Russian Revolution and the entrance of America into the War changed the political situation. President Wilson in his 14 Points had embraced national self-determination. Britain and France hesitated because they were involved in secret talks with Austrian Emperor Karl I (1916-18) who had replaced Emperor Franz Josef. They hoped to convince the Emperor Karl to make a separate peace. When this failed, the Allies recognized the Czechoslovak National Council (summer 1918). as the supreme organ of a future Czechoslovak government. The German German Western Front began to crack under British and American offensives (September 1918). German and Austrian officials began making peace feelers (early October). Masaryk from America declaraed Czechoslovak independence (October 18). As in other Eastern European countries, borders became a controversial issue. Many areas included mixed ethnic populations. Masaryk wanted Czechoslovakia to be built around the historic Bohemian Kingdom, but include the German-populated Sudetenland. As the Austro-Hungarian Empire began to desintegrate, German deputies from the Sudetenland joined other German and Austrian deputies in the Austrian parliament and declared a new German-Austrian state (October 21). Emperor Karl abdicated on the same day the armistice on the Western Front went into effect (November 11). Czech troops also occupied the Sudetenland (November 11). The Slovaks to the east had the Hungarians to deal with. Hungary officually withdrew from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (November 1). Count Michael Karolyi formed a liberal-democratic government. This Government attempted to retain control over Slovakia. The Czechs gained Allied approval and occupied Slovakia. The Hungarians withdraw. The Czechs and Allies agreed on the Danube and Ipel' rivers as aborder between Hungary and Slovakia. This meant that in the west there would be a German minority and inthe east a substantial Hungarian minority.

Czechoslovakia (1918-38)

The Republic of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed in 1918 after the Hapsburg Ausro-Hungarian Empire. The first president was Tomas Masaryk. The creation of Czecheslovakia had been urged by President Wilson and was associated with the Versailles Treaty--making the country with a large German minority an anethma to the NAZIs. The two major ethnic groups comprising Czecheslovakia weee the Czechs and the Slovaks. The Slovaks like the Czechs desired independence from the Austo-Hungarian Empire, but there were substantial cultural differences. The Slovak areas of the country were not as developed economically and thus found it dificult to compete. The Czech lands were highly industrialized and ejoyed a standard of living comparable to Western Europe. Slovakia was a largely agrarian society. The Czechs were highly secular while most Slovaks were strongly Catholic. The Czechs were generally better educated than the Slovaks and mre experience with self-government than the Slovaks. Czecheslovakia tried o pomote the industrialization of Slovakia, but these efforts achieved little success in the 1920s and the world-wide Depression in the 1930s made further efforts difficult. The open, dmocratic Czech state, however, offered considerable freedom for Slovaks in a Czech-dominated country. Czechoslovakia was the only east European country to remain a parliamentary democracy during the inter-War era. Even so, there were problems, not only the Czech-Slovak conflict but also problems in the substantial German minority. Especially in the 1930s with the advent of he Great Depresion, resntment grew in Slovakia over the Czech-dominated Government. Right wing groups began agitating or independence. Some Slovak Church leaders participated in the independemnce movement. mmigration increased. Another problrem was the German minority. Over 20 percent of the population was German who were mostly concentrated in the German/Austrian border regions called the Sudetenland. After the NAZIs seized power in Germany during 1933, they began to promote unrest and the German press reported real and imagined invcidents, accusing the Czechs of brutally supressing the German minority. President Masaryk was succeeded as president by Edvard Benes in 1935.

Munich Conference (September 1938)

Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister mused how terrible it was that war should be threatened by a "... quarel in a far away country by people of which we know little." A prominent member of the British parliament displayed even more ignoramce when he told the press, "Why should we bother with those gypsies in the Balkans?", meaning the Czechs who were of course not located in the Balkans. It looked in September as if war was imminent. Chamberlain appealed to Hitler for a conference in a last minute effort to prevent war (September 28, 1938). The conference was held at Berchegarten, Hitler's mountain top refuge. Hitler and his ally Mussolini met with Primeminister Chmberlain and Premier Daladier. The Czechoslovak government was neither invited nor consulted about the discussions. The British and French gave in to Hitler's demands. The result was the Munich Agreement which was signed by Germany, Italy, France, and Britain (September 29). The Czechoslovak government, deserted by its allies, capitulated the following day and agreed to abide by the agreement forced upon (September 30). Chamberlain flew back to London and stepping off the plane waved the agreement signed by Herr Hitler which he assured the waiting repoters guaranteed "Peace in our time." Churchill was apauled. The British and French people were releaved. One European leader, Soviet Marshall Stalin, who was not invited to attend the conference drew the inescapable conclusion that the British and French could not be trusted as potential allies against Hitler.

Sudetenland Occupied (October 1938)

The Wehrmacht occupied the The Sudetenland which is where the Czech border defences were located. This rendered Czechoslovakia indefensible. The Sudetenland was heavily populated by ethnic Germans. The NAZIs were greeted with enthusiam by the ethnic Germans when after Munich, they entered the Sudetenland.

After Munich

Czechoslovakia after Munich and the loss of the Seudetenland was remamed Czecho-Slovakia to placate the Slovaks. The Slovaks also gained considerable autonomy. Slovakia, however, lost territory in the south to Hungary.

Poland and Hungary (October 1938)

Poland took advantage of the situation to annex the Tesin region in the north of Czechoslovakia. Tesin had a Polish minority of 75,000. Polish leaders do not seem to have understood that they were to be Hitler's next target. Hungary also acted. The Austo-Hungarian Empire had been a joint monarchy. Hungarian nationalists saw themselves as an imperial power and the rightful inheritor of formerly Hungarian lands no matter what the nationality of the population. ungarians attitutudes were further fueled by Hungarian minorities in those lands. Hungary after Munich annexed the southern part of Slovakia and Ruthenia which had a Hungarian minority of 750,000. The arrangement was approved by Hitler as part of the Vienna Award. This was difficult for Slovak nationalists to take because it amounted to a third of the country's area. Slovakian officials appealed to Hitler to reverse the Vienna Award. Hitler would not budge. Even afterwards further difficulties occurred because of Hungarian treatment of Slovaks in the territory acquired.

Slovakia Secceeds (March 14, 1939)

Slovakia seceeded from Czechoslovakia as the Wehrmacht massed on the Czech border. Hitler was not sure at first what to do with Slovakia. His Hungarian ally wanted to annex all of Slovakia. He finally decided to set a separate state under Germany control. Monsignor Jozef Tiso was the Slovak prime minister within Czecho-Slovakia. He was deposed by Czech troops. Hitler invited Tiso to Berlin to discuss the situation. Hitler ordered him to proclaim an independent Slovakia. Otherwise he told Tiso that Slovakia would be partioned between Hungary and Poland. German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop told Tiso that the Hingarians were preparing to invade. Tiso refused to declare independece on his own. Hitler permitted him to call the Slovak parliament (Diet of the Slovak Country) into session. The Slovak parliament convened to hear Tiso's report. They unanimously declared Slovak independence (March 14). Historians debate Tiso's position. The Parliament appointed Tiso to be Slovakia's first Prime Minister. Tiso might be described as a clerical nationalist. Tiso was a strident natinalist, but not a NAZI. His vission was a independent nationalist, Christian, corporative state.

Czecheslovakia Invaded (March 15, 1939)

Hitler threatened the Czechs with military action on several occassions after Munich. Finally he called elderly President Dr. Emil Hacha to Berlin (March 14). There after midnight Hitler haranged him. Then Göring offered a mocked applogy for having his bombers destroy Prague, but said it would be a good lesson to the British and French. Hacha fainted and had to be revived. He telephoned Prague ordering that there should be no resistance. Göring and Ribbentrop bullied him into signing a paper asking for German interbention. [Black, p. 512.] Thus independent, democratic Czechoslovakia became the NAZI Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Hacha told the Czech people on the radio, "I have entrusted our country to the Führer and have been promised his trust." The Wehrmacht crossed the border and occupied Bohenia and Moravia in one day (March 15). This was a total violation of the Munich Agreement. Slovakia had succeeded the day before and became Hiler's most slavish puppet state. Hungary with Hitler's approval seized Ruthenia. All of Czechoslovakia was now in the NAZI orbit. The Czechs would pay a terrible price. They would be Hitler's last bloodless victory. They would not, however, be his last stunning victory.

Czechoslovak Government in Exile

After the signing of the Munich Agreement, President Benes ordered the Czech Army not to resist the occupation of the Sudetenland. He then resigned (October 5, 1938). He flew to exile in London and with other exiles organized a Czechoslovakian Government-in-exile. The British hoping that Hitler had been apeased did not recognize Benes. Even after Hitler violated the Munich Agreement and invaded Czecheslovakia (March 1939), the British still did not recognize him. This only came with Hitler's invasion of Poland and the start of World War II (September 1939). The British organized Czech military units including a RAF detachment for those Czechs who managed to get to England. Benes was sensitive to the charge that the Cechs were cooperating with the German war effort. He spported a plan to asasinate Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich with British-trained agents, knowing that massive reprisals against civilians would occur. The Allies recognized the exiled government (Summer 1941) and repudiated the Munich Agreement (1942). Benes worked toward ensuring that the country's pre-War borders would be restored. He also sought to resolve the German minority problem. He received consent from the Allies for a solution based on the transfer of the Sudeten German population after the War.

Hungarian Invasion (March 23, 1939)

Hungary after Munich had seized Carpathian Ruthenia. After the Germans seized the Czech lands, the Hungarians did invade Slovakia (March 23). The Slovaks had to ceede 1,697 km˛ of territory with about 70,000 people to Hungary.

Political Structure

The Slovak Republic continued the Czechoslovakia legal system which they changed as necessary over time. The Constitution of 1939 established a President as head of state. The first president was Jozef Tiso. The Assembly/Diet of the Slovak Republic was to be elected for 5 years and was nation's legislative body. The elections spelled out in the Constitution, however, were never conducted. A State Council assumed the functions of a senate. The Government was essentially the president and primeninister and eight ministries. Conflicts soon developed between the president and the orimeminister.

The Country

The resulting Republic of Slovkia was much more ethnically homogenous than the former Czechoslovakia. About 85 percent of the country was Slovak. The rest of the populastion was German, Hungarian, Jewish, and Roma. The country had both an agriculytural and industrial economy. About half the population was involved in agriculture. There were six counties ("župy"), 61 districts ("okresy") and 2,659 municipalities. The capital and largest city was Bratislava with a population of over 120,000 inhabitants.

Slovak Fascists: The Hlinka Guards

Tiso faced even more radical Slovak nationalists and their paramilitary Hlinka Guards--the Slovak version of the SA Storm Troopers. The radical nationalists were more clearly Fascists and cooperated with the NAZIs who also entered Slovakia (March 15).

Slovak State

The Slovak state itself is somewhat difficult to classify. The ultra-nationlists and Hlinka Guards can be identified as Fascists. Assessing Tiso is more complicted. The Communists called the Slovak Republic a "clerical fascist state". This was in part to taint the Church with Fascism in the post-War era. The governing political party was the "Hlinka's Slovak People's Party-Party of Slovak National Unity. The Government banned all other political parties, except those representing minority nationalities (German and Hungarian). The Slovak Government slavishly participated in the NAZI Holocaust. On the other hand, Slovak authorities did not carry out executions of political discedents. Ulta nationlist Slovaks dominated the new Slovak government. Vojtech Tuka gad been released from prison and became prime minister. An ally Ferdinand Durcansky was appointed foreign minister. Hlinka Guard commander Alexander Mach was appointed propaganda minister.

German Minority

The radical nationalists worked closely with the strongly NAZI German minority led by Franz Karmasin. The largest German population was the Carpethian Germans. Our knowledge of the ethnic Germans in Slovakia is very limited at this time. We think that there were essenttially two groups. One was the Germans living in urban centers and were heaviky politicized and pro-NAZI. The other group were the Carpethian Germans which were a more rural population and less heaviky politicized. Here we need more information. Unlike ethnic Germans in the Czech lands (NAZI Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), the Germans in Slovakia did not receive the legal status of cutizens of the Reuch. They remained Slovak citizens. As a result, ethnic Germabns served in the Slovak army. About 7,000 ethnic Germans served in the Freiwillige Schutzstaffeln (paramilitary squads Slovak SS)/ Another 2,000 ethnic Germans volunteered for the Waffen-SS. This changed after the War turned agaunst the NAZIs and the Soviet Red army neared Slovakia. The Slovak National Uprising (late-1944) began targeting Germans. Young Germans in Slovakia were called up for military service either with the Whermcht or Waffen-SS. The youngerteenagers and oldermen were organized into the Heimatschutz--a force comparable to the Volkssturm. Some of these units were used in anti-partisan units and to deport the remaining Jews in Slovakia. [Littlejohn] NAZI authorities as the Red Army reached Slovakia, the etnic German civilians (elderly men, women, and children) totaly about 120,00o people including the Carpethian Germans who were evacuated west to the Sudetenland, at the time part of the Reich and areas in the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

NAZI Puppet State

Slovakia became a compliant NAZI puppet state. It was a NAZI protectirate in all but nane. The NAZIs insisted on a "Protection treaty" or Treaty on the protective relationship between the German Empire and the Slovak State (March 23). Under the treaty, Slovakia placed its foreign, military and economic policy under NAZI control. With its foreign policy under NAZI control, Slovakia would join Germany and the NAZIs in World war II. Until late in the War, however, it avoided a NAZI occupation. The Germans only occupied a narrow strip of Slovakia along the border. A NAZI "advisory mission" was installed in each Slovak ministry. The Wehrmacht had entered Slovakia (March 15) and soon was stationed throughout the country. Slovakia became the most slavishly obedient of all the NAZI satellite regimes.

Salzburg Compromise (July 1940)

Tiso and the radical nationalists soon came into conflict. To ensure order, the NAZIs intervened. The result was the Salzburg Compromise, an agreement reached between the German Reich and the Slovak Republic (July 1940). The compromise established a kind of dual command for the governing Slovak Populist Party and the Hlinka Guards. The NAZIs appointed SA officer Manfred von Killinger as the German representative in Slovakia. Tiso was allowed to reorganize the Slovak Populist Party along the Christian corporative principles he advocated. Tuka and Mach were given a free hand to deal with Slovakian Jews.

Slovakia Declares War (1940-41)

Slovakia, Hungary and Romania under NAZI pressure entered World War II by declaring war on Britain (November 20-23, 1940). At the time, none of the three governments fully realized the significance of their action. Britain seemed a largely defeaed country and the powerful Royal Navy of little significance for central Europe. Neither of the three countries understood that Hitler was preparing to expand the War by invading the Soviet Union. The NAZIs and their allies never bothered to declare war on the Soviet Union when Grmany invaded (June 1941). After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Germany and Italy declare war on the United States (December 11, 1941). NAZI Allies (Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Romania) followed suit (December 13). Declaring war on a isolated Britain was one thing. Declating war on the United States while still fighting the Soviet Union was a different matter.

The Holocaust (September 1941- )

There are various accounts of the Jewish population of Slovakia. We have noted estimates of 90,000-130,000 Jews. The variation may in part be due to the loss of Slovakian terrtory, especially to Hungary. Slovak officials quickly after declaring independence began taking measures against Jews. Czechoslovakia had been a democratic country in which Jews had full civil rights. Laws were designed to prevent Jews from participating in public affairs. In addition to legal measures aimed at Jews, the Hlinka Guard began extra-legal attacks on Jews. The Slovak Government enacted a "Jewish Code" (September 1941). This was the Slovak version of the NAZI Nuremberg Laws. The Code required Jews wear a yellow armband so they could be easily identified. Jews were prohibited from marrying gentiles and banned from many jobs. A canpaign was begun to expel Jews from Bratislava. Authories expelled 15,000 Jews by October 1941. Many were interned it camps. The Jewish Code provided the legal basic for the expropriation of Jewish property, their internment, and ultimately deportment to NAZI camps in occupied Poland where they were murdered. The Slovak Government negotiated an agreement with Germany covering the deportation of the country's Jews (1942). The deportments began immediately and about 68,000 Slovak Jews were deported to NAZI concentration camps, mostly in occupied Poland. About half of Slovakia's Jews were able to evade deportation under a provision of Slovak law that permitted Tiso to exempt Jews from deportment if they were classified as being economically necessary for Slovakia.

Slovak Army

The principal military formation of Slovakia during World War II was the Slovakian Army. The Slovak Army should not be confused with the Czech and Slovakian Legion (mostly Czechs) which was a Polish military formation and interned by the Soviets when they invaded Poland (September 1939). The Slovaks after declaring independence set about building an army. Modern militry equipment was scarce. Another problem was that there were few experienced Slovak commanders in the pre-War Czech Army which the NAZIs disbanded. The Czechs Army had been reluctant to promote non-Czechs to command positions. Thus there was a leadership problem. There was only a small group of Slovak non-commisioned officers. The Slovaks sent a group of men to the Reich for officer training. Eventually two divisions were formed. One of those divisions were heavikly involved in Operation Barbarossa, but had difficulty keeping up with the more mobile German German units.

Invasion of Poland (September 1939)

Slovakia was the only German ally to participate in NAZI invasion of Poland which launched World War II (September 1). OHW requested that Slovakia assit in the invasion. WEhrmacht and Luftwaffe units had already been positioned there in preparation for the invasion. The Slovak Army was just in an early stage of organization and hardly prepared for a military campaign. The Slovaks had only began to form an army after the Germans invaded Czcechoslovakia and Slovakia seceeded (March 1939). The Slovaks had formed a small mobile combat group (several infantry and artillery battalions). The Slovaks organized two combat groups especially for the Polish Campaign. They were to operate along side German units. The Slovaks participated in the drive through Nowy Sacz and Dukeilska Mountain Passes and moved toward Debica and Tarnow. The Slovaks were in no osition to attack Poland, but the Germans so overpowered the Polish Army that they were able to assist the Germans.

Russian Campaign (1941-44)

NAZI Germany invaded the Soviet Union--Opertion Barbarossa (June 1941). Other Axis countries (Italy, Hungary, and Romania) became an important part in the international effort organized by the NAZIs. Slovakia was not a major part of the invading NAZI force. This was not because the Slovakian Goverment was unwilling, but reflects the small size of the country and the new Slovak Army. The Slovaks thus did not have a substantial or well equipped army when the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union. Some Slovaks did participate in Operation Barbarossa The Germans launched Barbarossa (une 21, 1941). Slovakia ordered its Army to invade the Soviet Union 4 days later (June 25). The original Slovakia formation was the Slovakian Expeditionary Army Group (SEAG) commanded by the Slovak Minister of Defense, Ferdinand Catlos was composed of 45,000 men. The SEAG as the Wehrmact drove into the Soviet Union had trouble keeping up, primarily because it was not as well equiped as the Germans and lacked the vehicles need for mobility. The Germans themselves were not fully mobility and thus unwilling to divert equipmrnt deliveries from their own troops to their allies. The Slovaks decided to reorganize and all the mototized units of the Slovak Army Group were combined into a single formation named the Slovak Mobile Command (SMC) or the Brigade Pilfousek, commanded by Rudolf Pilfousek. He had formerly commanded 2nd Slovak Division. The SMC paeticipated in several major campaigns of Barbarossa. It was pulled out of the lines and regrouped (August 1941). Two new units were formed: 1st Slovak (Mobile) Infantry Division and the 2nd Slovak (Security) Infantry Division. The 1st Slovak (Mobile) Infantry Division was also referred to as the Slovak Fast Division. The Slovak 1st Division after the great battle of Kiev were moved south. Thus they were not near Moscow when the Red Army Offensive smashed a size part of the attacking force. The Slovak 1st Division was emoloyed in the German summer offensive into the Ukraine (1942). They were with the prong that drove beyond Rostov into the Caucauses and thus not immediately affected by the Red Army Stalingrad offensive. They along with the German units were forced to with draw from the Caucauses to avoid entapment. The Division has to be airlifted, abandoning their equipment. The Division escaped, but later was caught in a Red Army offensive action near Melitopol. The Soviets broke through the Germans lines and smashed the Slovaks. The Division was neverthe same. The survivors were rehrouped and redeployed in an effort to save the Crima (1944). It proved unreliable and the Germans eventually disarmed them and used it as a construction batalion. The 2nd Slovak Infantry Division was used ad a security unit and for abti-partisan operations. After Stalingrad units wre transferred to the 1sy Division, but the @nd Division became increasingly unreliable and the Germans disarmed it (November 1943) and converted it into a construction brigade redeployed to Italy. The other Slovak unit deployed to Russia was rge 12th Engineeer Battalion which helped to maintain rail lines behinf Army Group South. It was combined with the 1st Division after it was reorganized as a construction brigade. We do not yet have details as to Slovak losses during the War One source estimates that about 10,000 Slovak soldiers were killed in the War.

Political Developments

Tiso's political position was was strengthened (October 1942). The Slovak Diet proclaimed him leader of the state as well as the Slovak Populist Party. This gave him the authotity to intervene in all state of state. This also subjected the Hlinka Guard to party control. These political developments were possible because the NAZI authorities were not that concerned about dometic Slovak politics as long as they did not question NAZI occupation or the efficent running of the economy and war industries.

NAZI Economic Control

The NAZI focus was on the Slovakian economy and how to best exploit it for the Reich. Te NAZIs had seized control of Slovak armanents factories soon after the War began ((December 1939). The princial NAZI interest in Slovakia was on the armaments industry. A second German representative, Hans Elard Ludin, devoted his energies to war production. Th NAZIs used German banks to control Slovak production. German banks took a controlling interest in all important Slovak industries. German investments flowed into Slovakia as did German technical expertise. This resulyed in an economic spurt, particulrly in the armaments industry. This created jobs for Slovak workers. Until the War began to go against the NAZIs, they could use Slovakia as a showcase for the benefits of collaboration with the Reich.

NAZI Racial Policies

The NAZIs were proceeding with the deportment of Poles from areas of Poland annexed to the Reich and their replacement with German colonists. The same was planed in the Czezh lands of Bohemia Moravia. Some deportments occurred, but the program was derailed by the assasination of Heydrich and ultimately the failure of German arms. These deportments did not occurr in Slovakia. The Slovaks, however, were Slavs and ultimateky had the NAZIs pervasiled in the War, a similar fare would have been visited on the Slovaks. This racial component of NAZI ideology is something the Slovak Fascists seem to have not understood.

Slovak Resistance

The Slovak Ressistance was complicated by the fact that many in Slovakia before the war thought that Czechoslovakia was too dominated by the Czechs. Thus it was not only the Fascists who wanted an independent Slovakia. The Communists wanted an indepedent Slovkia and within the democratic parties, Slovaks at leasted wanted mote Slovak influence in a revived Czechoslovkia. The democratic parties (Republican Party of Farmers and Peasants, Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party, and Czechoslovak National Socialist Party) organized a resistance movement after the NAZIs occupied the country. Underground cells sprang up throughout Slovakia. NAZI supression was not as focused on these groups, in part because Slovakia was seen as an ally and in part because there were few actual overt actions on NAZI officials and the war industries. The Resistance attempted to inform the public about the actions of the Tiso Government. Here there operations were limited, because a major effort would draw the attention of NAZI secruity forces. The "Zeta" organization headquarters was set up in Bratislava to help coordinate with the Czech resistance (Spring 1939). Communists who managed to evade the security forces formed the underground Komunisticka strana Slovenska (KSS) which until 1943 wanted an independent Soviet Slovakia. The Tiso Government lacked politically reliable individuals with technical skills. Thus the Resistance was able to thorougly infiltrate the Slovak Government. The Resistance claims to have committed economic sabotage. There are reports of mutiny in the Army, such as at Kremnica during the invasion of Poland (September 15, 1939). The underground Slovak Revolutionary Youth carried out attacks in factories. The overall impact of these attacks, however, seems limited. Slovak youth, however, did turn increasingly against Tiso and his collaborationist regime. Here conscription and forced labor were a factor. President Benes in London was working toward the Allies accepting the pre-War boundaries of Czechoslovakia as the boundaries for a restored Czechoslovalia after the War. He was concerned that seeming Czech and Slovak collaboration with the NAZIs was affecting his effectiveness. This was one reason that he hd approved to support the Heydrich assasination project. Benes during his annual Christmas broadcast encouraged Resistance groups to untensify their operations (December 25, 1942). By this time developments in the War had dramtically changed calculations about the outcome of the War. Resistance groups attempted to coordinate operations. The democratic parties and Communists agreed to work together and signed the Christmas Agreement (December 1943). They set up the Slovak National Council to work with the Czechoslovak government in exile. The agreement envisioned a postwar Czechoslovakia state that would be democratic and organized to permit "national equality"--a reference to the relationship between Czechs and Slovaks. At the insistance of the Communists and recognition that the country would be lberated by the Red Army, the Christmas Agreement called for a close association with the Soviet Union in both foreign policy and military affairs. Benes in London endorsed the agreement with some trepedation (March 27, 1944).

Slovak National Uprising (August 29, 1944)

Slovakia had been a compliant NAZI puppet during the War. That of course does not mean that there were not Slovaks opposed to the Germans. As the Red Army moved west, the liberation of Czechoslovakia became possible. And the Slovaks woulld be the first to rise up. The geography of Czechoslovakia meant that the Red Army would reach Slovakia first. The Slovak National Council authorized Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Golian to organize a national coup (March 1944). The plan was to coordinate with the advancing Red Army. President Beneš approved the operation. Golian set up a headquarters at Banska Bystrica and organized Slovak partisan units made up primarily of escaped POWs and Army deserters. The Slovak National Uprising began (August 29). It proved a dissaster. The Soviet Government did the same as they were also to do when the Polish Home Army struck in Warsaw. The Soviets saw the Slovak resistance as politically unreliable, meaning that it was not controlled by the Communists. The Americans attempted to help, but could offer little real assistance. The NAZIs reponded by formerly occupying Slovakia. The Slovaks held out for 2 months. The Germans finally took Banska Bystrica (October 27). It was, however, a Pyrrhic victory. The NAZIs had crushed the Slovak National Uprising, but reverses in France and the Red Army destruction of Army Group Center meant that NAZI military power in the East had been greatly reduced. They could slow, but no longer stop thre Red Army advance west. Local patisan groups continued to strike at the Germans while the Slovaks waited the arrival of the Red Army. The NAZIs took advantage of the occupation to round up the few remaining Jews and deport them to the concentration camps in western and central Poland still under their control.


Czechoslovakia is a long, but relatively narrow country. Thus the liberation of the country was prolonged and was accomplished by the most diverse forces of any country during the War. Stalin's focus was to the north in the drive though Poland to Berlin. The Red Army moving from east to west thus took some time to liberate the country. The process began even before the Red army reached the Czech border. The Beneš Government-in exile signed an agreement with the Soviets providing that that Czech territory liberated by the Red Army would be turned over to Czech civilian control (May 8, 1944). Czech troops and the Resustance participated in the process as did the RussianLiberation Army (RLA). The Red Army destruction of Army Group Center opened up the liberation of Czechoslovakia (July-August 1944). The Slovaks rose up as the Red Army approached (August 1944), but as in Warsaw, Stalin ordered the Red Army to hild to allow the Germans to eliminate non-Communist nationalist groups. Czech troops fighting with the Red army reached Czechoslovakia (September 1944). The Soviets detached Sub-Carpathean Ruthenia. The toughest fighting was in Prague (May 1945). Hitler commited an SS Armored Division to hold Prague, a division which could have been used to defend Berlin. Because of the stiff German resisance, in Hungary and Slovakia, and Stalin'sc focus on Berlin, it was the American Third Army which liberaed western Czechoslovakia. Except for the fighting in Prague in the final days of the War, Czechoslovakia suffered relstively little damage in the War.

United Czecoslovakia

Expulsion of Germans


Black, Conrad. Franklin Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (Public Affairs: New York, 2003), 1280p.

Friderici, General. Memorandum, October 15, 1940. This doument was top secret and only four copies were made. It was written by General Friderici, Deputy General of the Wehrmacht in Bohemia and Moravia. The document was found among the captured files of the O.K.W. (Germam Army General Staff). This document was initialed "K" and "J" on the first page on the left-hand side. These were the initials of Keitel and Jodl. This document was entered into evidence at the Nuremberg trials. Document 862-PS, and it is Exhibit USA 313.

Littlejohn, David. Foreign Legions of Third Reich (1994).


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Created: 5:21 AM 12/6/2005
Last updated: 8:16 PM 10/29/2011