Slovakia during World War II

In 1938 the Sudetenland was allocated to Germany by the Munich Dictat, the Vienna Arbitrage allocated the southern parts of Slovakia to Hungary, Poland claimed smaller parts of northern Slovakia, and Slovakia and Sub-Carpathian Ukraine acquired autonomy in a delimited Czechoslovakia. However this situation was short-lived. Under Hitler’s pressure, on 14 March 1939, the autonomous Parliament proclaimed the independent Slovak State headed by Jozef Tiso. It was soon re-named the Slovak Republic.

The new state’s foreign policy and economy was heavily dependent on Nazi Germany, which also limited its domestic policy. This totalitarian regime was dependent on the government of one political party, one ideology and the principle of one leader. On the other hand, the outbreak of war aided the growth of the economy. New cultural, scientific and education institutions, such as today’s Slovak Academy of Science and the Slovak Technical University, were established. Thanks to the humanity of officials and judges, the regime’s opponents were punished only moderately until the autumn of 1944.

However, intense hatred was targeted especially against the Jews. After various forms of increasing discrimination, approximately 70,000 Jews were transported to the German concentration camps where the vast majority of them died.

Resistance against fascism grew in Slovakia and abroad. The émigré movement was concentrated around Milan Hodža, who designed the picture of a federative Central Europe. However, the foreign resistance movement in the west was overruled by Edward Beneš’ group in London, and communists held sway in Moscow. Both units of foreign resistance movements were supported by the armed forces: the first by the Czechoslovak foreign army in the west and the second by the Czechoslovak foreign army in the Soviet Union. Even in Slovakia, two illegal resistance movement streams – civil and communist – were operational. The communist movement was better organised; it was also supported by Soviet commanders who were parachuted behind enemy lines.

The anti-fascist resistance against German Nazism and the fascist regime peaked at home in the Slovak National Uprising of August 1944. Rebel soldiers and partisans managed to resist the German army for two months in one of the largest actions at the rear of the German armies during the course of World War II. The Uprising, whose centre was in Banská Bystrica, also restored the principle of the co-existence of two brotherly nations and with the equal status of Slovakia. The foundations of the new public administration headed by the Slovak National Council as the Parliament and the Corp of Representatives as the executive body were also established.