Czech Republic–Slovakia relations - Wikipedia
Czechoslovakia: Czechoslovakia, former country in central Europe Prague Spring: aftermathThe deterioration of relations between Czechoslovakia and the . And one popular myth - perpetuated by the BBC's own QI quiz show - is But Slovakia has Poland and the Czech Republic as its neighbours. relations between Canadian and of a truncated Czecho-Slovakia after.
And later we will also examine the split. My first question is: And there was also a break between and I think that generally speaking this union was successful. Of course nothing is perfect, and in many areas the Slovaks felt discriminated against in certain ways.
But generally speaking, today Slovak historians recognise that during the turbulent 20th century, those 74 years were better than their lot before It meant that roughly one-third of key posts in the federal government were reserved for Slovaks. Because back in their country, the Slovaks who had gone off to Prague were viewed as kind of traitors — people who are not really representing Slovak interests.
My view is that is was impossible really for two fully conscious nations, as the Czechs and Slovaks were in the 20th century, to live together permanently in one state.
All multi-national states fall apart eventually. And Czechoslovakia was no exception, because if you have two nations living together permanently as one state, then they must be joined by some kind of idea to keep them together.
In the 19th century, they were united by the notion of language proximity.
Once it became obvious that language proximity was not enough, there was no other idea to hold these two peoples together. So that was the problem — to find an idea behind the Czechoslovak state.
To this day some people even think the country still exists. That name must have been useful to broadcast to the world the existence of this state? To this day people mix up Czechs and Czechoslovaks.
Which of course makes the Slovaks furious. Czechoslovakia was a neologism. He insisted they were not part of the Czech lands, and never would be. And that meant that the outside world was really confused. They were viewed as traitors. That sounds like a nationalistic sentiment Most Czechs and Slovaks were talking about a common state. But they understood that in a completely different way. For the Czechs, a common state meant one state.
Which is why in Czech orthography, Czechoslovakia is spelt as one word. But in Slovakia, it was viewed as a common state in the sense of a union of two semi-independent states. Like the old deceased Austro-Hungaria was. And that is not a question of orthography, but a matter of conception. The Slovak high officials in Prague, and especially Slovak ministers, usually considered themselves not as high officials of the Czechoslovak state but rather as some kind of Slovak envoys to the federal government.
Needless to say that was wrong. Because the state could not exist with such a system. Which is why many Slovaks then came to view such officials as selling out to the Czechs.
She was a director of the Historical Museum, which was part of the National Museum untilin Prague. It was in Lobkowicz Palace and was then returned to the Lobkowicz family, and now there is a gallery there. And my wife Magdalena was once asked: She was a director of one part of it, and a public official in the Czechoslovak state.
Did some feel that they had split the country, willingly, and gone over to the enemy? InCzechoslovakia would have been split up anyway. In fact, an independent Slovakia under German protection was a side-effect of the destruction of Czechoslovakia as such. Because it was in the interests of the Germans to have different policies towards the Slovaks and the Czechs.
Because otherwise they would be occupied anyway, and their situation would be much worse. The wartime Slovak Republic — despite the fact that it was fully dependent on Germany, and that its sovereignty was limited and had to partake in the war against Poland and later the Soviet Union — did play a role in the idea of Slovak statehood.
Because for the first time in their history, they had their own state — albeit a highly problematic one, of course. So they realised that they could live separately, which was not a clear idea before the war.
Many Slovaks had been afraid to have an independent state because they worried it would be too small, with a strong Hungarian minority population, and so an alliance with the Czech was needed to make them stronger. Additionally, the fact that Slovakia was independent, even if only on paper, it ended up having a protective role for the country. Life there under the Nazis, and the restrictions there were much milder than under the direct occupation which existed in the Czech lands.
For example there was not a single political execution in Slovakia until So the regime was relatively mild; economically, it was prosperous. So in the memory of the war generation — though certainly not in the memory of all Slovaks — the Nazi occupation had quite a different meaning than it had for the Czechs.
Because presumably in the build-up to World War II, such small countries were stuck in a Catch no-win situation of having to either ally themselves with the Nazis or with the Soviets. Because this was all decided by the big powers and not by the nations themselves.
But that was not in the interest of the Soviet Union. We know today that some Slovak politicians — and not only communists — were proposing something like that. But the Soviets were not interested in such a solution. Because if you can have an independent communist Slovakia, then why not have an independent communist Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus and so on? So this was of no use to the Soviets.
Additionally, in Stalin still needed the West to see him as someone they could trust. There is evidence to support both viewpoints. But it was definitely not an option because the Allies had the policy that whatever had happened under the Nazis is null and void. Czechoslovakia to The establishment of the republic When the new country of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed on Oct.
Masaryk was chosen as president on November 14, while he was still in the United States; he did not arrive in Prague until December. Courtesy of the National Gallery, Prague The first task of the new state, to establish its borders, was undertaken at the Paris Peace Conferencewhere the historical frontiers separating Bohemia and Moravia from Germany and Austria were approved, with minor rectifications, in favour of the new republic.
Several disputes soon surfaced, however. The political spokesmen of the Germans in Bohemia and Moravia advocated cession of the area known as the Sudetenland to Germany or Austria, but, because neither Germany nor Austria was in a position to intervene with armed troops, the Czechs, backed by the Allies, occupied without much bloodshed the seditious German-speaking provinces.
The delineation of the Slovak boundary was another serious problem, as there was no recognized linguistic frontier between the Hungarian and Slovak populations in the south. Since none of the successive Hungarian governments was prepared to give up what they considered ancient Magyar lands, the new frontier had to be redrawn by the force of arms. With Allied help, however, the Czech military asserted itself in Slovakia as well as in the new province of Subcarpathian Ruthenia comprising the mostly Slavic northeastern portion of prewar Hungaryand those two ex-Hungarian provinces were attached to Czechoslovakia.
A dispute over the duchy of Teschen strained relations with Polandwhich claimed the territory on ethnic grounds more than half the inhabitants were Poles. Czechoslovakia desired it for historical reasons and because it was a coal-rich area, through which ran an important railway link to Slovakia. The duchy was partitioned between the two countries inwith Czechoslovakia receiving the larger, economically valuable western portion.
The second task of the new government, to secure the loyalty of its approximately 15 million citizens, proved onerous as well. About 15 percent of the people were Slovaks; they were a valuable asset to the Czechs, who made up about half the population.
Czechs and Slovaks: long divorced but still close | Radio Prague
Together, these two linguistically close groups constituted a healthy majority in the cobbled-together state. However, the Czechs and Slovaks had vastly different experiences to bring to the process of state building.
The Czech intellectual elite could look back at a thousand years of state historyfirst as a principality and then as a kingdom, while Slovakia had never existed as a separate geopolitical unit. The Czechs also were better educated and considerably more urbanized, industrialized, and secularized than the Slovaks, who had suffered from Magyarization efforts under Hungarian rule, particularly the lack of Slovak-language schooling above the elementary level.
Consolidation of internal affairs proceeded slowly while the government worked to replace the wartime economy with a new system. A relatively far-reaching land reform program was carried out: In addition, the network of railroads and highways had to be adjusted to the new shape of the republic, which stretched from the German-speaking Cheb German: Eger region in western Bohemia to the Ukrainian Carpathians in the east. In the chaotic conditions prevailing in central Europe after the armistice, a parliamentary election appeared to be impossible.
The Czech and Slovak leaders agreed among themselves on the composition of a constituent assembly, which excluded Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians, and Poles. The assembly adopted a new, democratic constitution, modeled largely on that of the French Third Republicin February Supreme power was vested in a bicameral National Assembly. Its two houses, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, had the right to elect, in a joint session, the president of the republic for a term of seven years.
The cabinet was made responsible to the assembly.
The most resolute opposition to the new constitution came from both German nationalist parties, which called for increased autonomy or the right to be incorporated into Germany, and the newly constituted Communist Party, whose chief aim at least until was the destruction of the bourgeois republic and the establishment of a communist dictatorship.
Although the Germans issued protests against the constitution, they participated in parliamentary and other elections. In two German parties, the Agrarians and the Christian Socialists, joined the government majority, thus breaking a deadlock. Disagreement with the trend toward centralism was the main source of dissatisfaction among the Slovak Populistsa clerical party headed by Andrej Hlinka.
After the separation of the communiststhe Social Democracy yielded primacy to the Czech Agrarians, or Republicans, as the latter party was officially renamed.
Foreign relations were largely determined by wartime agreements. Czechoslovakia adhered loyally to the League of Nations. France was the only major power that concluded an alliance with Czechoslovakia January Czech anticlerical feeling precluded the negotiation of a concordat with the papacy untilwhen an agreement settled the most serious disputes between church and state.
Ultimately, it was Germany that most strongly influenced the course of Czechoslovak foreign affairs. Nevertheless, the relations between Czechoslovakia and Germany improved slightly after the Locarno Pact of The crisis of German nationalism When the impact of the Great Depression reached Czechoslovakia soon afterthe highly industrialized German-speaking districts were hit more severely than the rest of the country.
Professing loyalty to the democratic system, he called for recognition of the German minority as an autonomous body.
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In Henlein changed the name of his movement to the Sudeten German Party Sudetendeutsche Partei; SdP so that the group could take part in the parliamentary election May The SdP captured nearly two-thirds of the Sudeten German vote and became a political force second only to the Czech Agrarians. A tense interlude of little more than two years followed the landslide victory of the SdP.
A military assistance treaty with the Soviet Union in enhanced the false sense of national security. The program of the Czechoslovak Communist Party was determined not only by this treaty but also by the general reorientation of the Comintern, which now urged cooperation with antifascist forces in popular fronts.
Meanwhile, Hitler embarked on his program of eastward expansion. As early as Nov. Two weeks later Henlein, anticipating that Czechoslovakia would be defeated militarily within a few months, offered Hitler the SdP as an instrument to break up the country from the inside.
As the international crisis deepened, Czechoslovak politics became further polarized. The political right, led by the Agrarians, worked to win the support of the Sudeten Germans; the political left was prepared to cooperate with the Soviet Union. The political crisis culminated in September Armed with information supplied by Lord Runciman, the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at Obersalzberg, where he assured Hitler that the German objectives could be achieved without fighting.
But Hitler wanted war against Czechoslovakia, and he rejected the British plan when Chamberlain visited him for the second time, at Bad Godesberg. For several days Europe stood on the verge of war; Czechoslovakia announced general mobilization, which was followed in France and Britain with partial call-ups.
In the end the appeasers won the day. In the resulting Munich agreementthe Prague government was forced to relinquish to Germany all frontier districts with populations that were 50 percent or more German by October Shortly after the Munich verdict, Poland sent troops to annex the Teschen region. By the Vienna Award Nov.
By all these amputations Czechoslovakia lost about one-third of its population, and the country was rendered defenseless. As the country lost its German, Polish, and Hungarian minorities, the Czechs reluctantly agreed to change the centralistic constitution into a federalist one. Subcarpathian Ruthenia was also granted autonomous status. A cumbersome system composed of three autonomous units the Czech Lands, Slovakia, and Ruthenia was introduced late in the fall.
Under German pressure the complicated party system was changed drastically. In Slovakia the Populists absorbed all the other political groups. On the following day, Bohemia and Moravia were occupied and proclaimed a protectorate of the German Third Reichwhile Slovakia became a nominally independent state under Tiso as president.
Although under German control and forced to participate in the German attack on the Soviet Union with a token military force, Slovakia was able to retain a certain degree of independence in internal matters. For some two years the Czech protectorate kept the semblance of an autonomous body, but in September Reinhard Heydrichthe head of German secret policereplaced Neurath as Reich protector and inaugurated a reign of terror.
After the assassination, the Nazis proclaimed martial lawexecuted hundreds of Czechs without trial, and destroyed the village of Lidice near Prague. Within a few weeks, the entire Czech underground network was wiped out. Martial law ultimately was lifted only because the Germans needed Czech workers to maintain productivity in the armaments industry.
Consignment of young people for work in Germany continued without much resistance until the collapse of the Nazi regime.
In Slovakia in late August a popular uprising, planned by officers of the Slovak army, broke out following clashes between German troops and Slovak partisans under Soviet commanders.
In contrast with the Warsaw Uprisingwhich also took place that August, the Soviets were directly supporting the Slovak rebels. The Nazis crushed the uprising at the end of October, before Soviet troops were able to cross the Carpathians. Nevertheless, the advance of the Red Army through Slovakia—several months before the Western Allies were able to advance closer to the Czech border—became of decisive importance. A program of postwar reconstruction was worked out under decisive communist influence.
On May 5 an uprising against the German troops concentrated in central Bohemia started in Prague. Appeals for Allied help were largely ignored. Eisenhowerdid not advance to Prague. It was believed that his intention was to restore in Czechoslovakia the liberal democratic regime that had collapsed under Nazi assault in In particular, the Czechoslovak state was to be more ethnically homogeneous: The country was to remain a republic whose president would retain considerable constitutional and executive power; a government based on the electoral performance of select political parties would run the country by means of a professional civil servicewhile the judiciary would enforce laws passed by parliament—the National Assembly.
Subsequently, two additional parties were permitted in Slovakia, but too late for the election in The vice premier was Gottwald, and the leaders of the other political parties also held vice premierships.
On May 26,the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won a great victory in the general election, polling 2, votes— Gottwald became premier, and the communists took control of most of the key ministries, including interior, information, agriculture, and finance. Although the political parties formed a coalition called the National Front, collaboration between the communists and noncommunists was difficult from the beginning.
While all parties agreed that economic recovery should remain the priority, and while a two-year plan was launched to carry it out, they began to differ as to the means to be employed. The noncommunists wanted no further nationalizations or land confiscations, no special taxation of the rich, raises in pay for the civil service, and, above all, economic aid from the United States by way of the Marshall Plan.
The conflict sharpened in the summer of when the government first accepted Marshall Plan aid but then rejected it because of pressure from the Soviet Union.
Although the noncommunists blocked communist policies within the government throughoutthey had no common strategy regarding the next election—only a common desire to defeat the communists decisively. The communistson the other hand, envisioned gaining an absolute majority in the next election with the help of the Social Democrats.
The tension between the two factions developed into a crisis over the question of who was to control the police. The communist interior minister objected to the appointment of noncommunist officials for senior police posts.
In protest, most of the noncommunist ministers resigned on Feb.