Author Topic: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic  (Read 927 times)

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Offline <k>

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The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« on: April 08, 2018, 12:53:54 AM »
To understand the First Slovak Republic, it is first necessary to recall how Czechoslovakia arose from the ruins of Austria-Hungary. Below you see a map of Austria-Hungary in 1910, showing its many ethnicities. The map was evidently compiled some years ago, as it groups Croat, Serbs and Bosnians together.

Offline <k>

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 12:55:11 AM »
At the end of the First World War, four empires fell apart; Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The various ethnic groups of these huge states scrambled to occupy as much territory as they could for their newly independent countries. They were supported in this aim by the Allied Powers of Britain, France and the USA, who wanted to smash the power of Germany and Austria-Hungary forever. Out of this maelstrom there emerged, amongst others, the new states of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and what eventually became Yugoslavia. Austria-Hungary was split asunder, and Hungary lost much of its former territory to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Serbia. Germany lost a vast swath of territory to Poland, which separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany. The former German city of Danzig was also separated from Germany and became a Free City under the protection of the League of Nations. These changes to the map of Europe were largely created by the force of arms but later ratified by the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, which the victorious British and French imposed on Austria-Hungary and Germany.

Those Austrians who were ethnically German considered that a rump Austria would not be viable, so they aimed to merge with Germany. Such a union was expressly forbidden by the Versailles Treaty, but the desire for union remained strong among many Austrians and also some German. Though the Allied Powers expressed the right of nations to self-determination, many ethnic Germans and Hungarians ended up as minorities in the new states and felt unfairly treated. The new state of Czechoslovakia in particular contained a complex mixture of ethnicities, but the Allied Powers believed that the country would not be viable as a state if it were divided among the nationalities.

The independence of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed on 28 October 1918 by the Czechoslovak National Council in Prague. Point 10 of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points stated: "The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development."

The boundaries of the country and the organization of its government were established in the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920. Tomáš Garrigue, leader of the Provisional Czechoslovak Government, was elected the country's first president in 1920. He was re-elected in 1925 and 1929, and served as president until 14 December 1935, when he was succeeded by Edvard Beneš.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 12:56:55 AM »
The constitution identified the "Czechoslovak nation" as the creator and principal constituent of the Czechoslovak state and established Czech and Slovak as official languages. National minorities were assured special protection; in districts where they constituted 20% of the population, minority ethnic groups were granted full freedom to use their language in everyday life.

The official census of 1930 provided a demographic breakdown of the country, but it notably grouped Czechs and Slovaks together as “Czechoslovaks”. Many Slovaks, in particular, believed that the idea of a Czechoslovak was an artificial concept. However, the grouping together of Czech and Slovaks as Czechoslovaks was used to obscure the problematic fact that there were more indigenous ethnic Germans in the country than Slovaks.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 12:59:52 AM »
Despite this, the country remained a relatively stable parliamentary democracy. It was however rather centralised, as the assemblies of the minority ethnic regions were not allowed a great amount of autonomy, which was resented by some of the ethnic minorities. Below you see the administrative divisions of Czechoslovakia from 1928 to 1938. The Czechs mainly lived in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. The Ruthenians, of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, would nowadays be labelled as ethnic Ukrainians.

Initially, many Slovaks simply wanted more autonomy within Czechoslovakia, since Slovakia on its own would not have been considered a particularly viable state by some.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 01:05:42 AM »
Here you see the linguistic groupings of Czechoslovakia in 1930. It is rather a patchwork quilt. Various politicians in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland were keen to expand their borders, since some of their ethnic kin lived within Czechoslovakia, so this was a dangerous time for the country, which generally tried to ally itself with friendly France and Britain.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 01:09:20 AM »
Below is a map of how Europe looked by 1923, showing Czechoslovakia, as it remained until 1938. Those forum members who are old enough to remember Czechoslovakia of 1945 to 1992 will notice that it was considerably larger in those days. I suspect they also know why that was so, but in any case I shall explain it later in this topic.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2018, 01:16:50 AM »






Above you see some of the Czechoslovak coinage of the day.

The images are taken from: Currency of Czechoslovakia 1918-1992.



Below you see the country's lesser coat of arms that appeared on the obverse of the coins. It shows the Slovak double cross superimposed on the lion of Bohemia.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2018, 01:23:03 AM »
The Great Depression began in 1929, lingering into the 1930s. The hard economic times that ensued created political problems throughout Europe and the rest of the world.



From Wikipedia:

Czechoslovakia's economy was already very uneven. Most of its industry was located in Bohemia and Moravia, while most of Slovakia's economy came from agriculture. In Carpatho-Ukraine, the situation was even worse, with basically no industry at all. National disputes arose due to the fact that the more numerous Czechs dominated the central government and other national institutions, all of which had their seats in the Bohemian capital Prague. The Slovak middle class had been extremely small in 1919 because Hungarians, Germans and Jews had previously filled most administrative, professional and commercial positions in, and as a result, the Czechs had to be posted to the more backward Slovakia to take up the administrative and professional posts. The position of the Jewish community, especially in Slovakia was ambiguous and, increasingly, a significant part looked towards Zionism.

Due to Czechoslovakia's centralized political structure, nationalism arose in the non-Czech nationalities, and several parties and movements were formed with the aim of broader political autonomy, like the Sudeten German Party led by Konrad Henlein and the Hlinka's Slovak People's Party led by Andrej Hlinka.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2018, 02:25:08 PM »
In January 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Within six months he had turned Germany into a one-party state. He aimed first of all to unite all his ethnic Germans into a single state. This meant regaining territory that Germany had lost after World War 1. He also aimed to “eliminate” the Jews from Germany and then to push east and reconquer the Slav lands that he believed should belong to Germany, turning Slavs into “slave peoples” and ultimately destroying the Soviet Union and communism.

As part of his tactics, Hitler secretly financed the Sudeten German Party (SGP) of Czechoslovakia, which had been formed in 1933 by Konrad Henlein. The Sudetenland is the historical German name for the outlying areas of former Czechoslovakia that were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. "Sudeten" is the German name for the Sudetes mountains, which run along the northern Czech border and Lower Silesia (now in Poland), although the Sudetenland encompassed areas well beyond those mountains.

After the general elections of 19 May 1935, the SGP became the second largest party in parliament. It won 44 seats in the Chamber, beaten only by the Agrarian Party with 45, and 23 in the Senate, the same number as the Agrarian Party. However, the ruling coalition did not invite the SGP into government.

 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 04:58:03 PM by <k> »

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2018, 02:25:53 PM »

Konrad Henlein



The Anschluss in March 1938, when Germany annexed Austria, caused much excitement in the Sudetenland. On 28 March 1938, Henlein secretly visited Berlin to meet Hitler, where it was agreed that Henlein would make demands for autonomy for the Sudetenland that would provide the pretext for a German invasion. Hitler told Henlein to make demands that the Czechoslovak government could never accept, while also subtly promoting the message that ethnic Germans and Czechs could not co-exist in the same country. Hitler wanted the main story in the world media to be that of Czech "oppression" of the Sudeten Germans. This would make Czechoslovakia appear weak and unstable, and hence unworthy of support by France and Britain.

On 24 April 1938, at a party congress in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia (now Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic), Henlein announced the 8-point Karlsbad programme for autonomy for the Sudetenland while insisting that he was still loyal to Czechoslovakia. His apparent moderation masked a sinister purpose, namely to make Czechoslovakia appear intransigent in refusing to grant autonomy for the Sudetenland, thus "forcing" Germany to invade. Czechoslovakia was an unitary state, and Czech public opinion was consistently hostile to plans for federalism in Czechoslovakia. The Karlsbad programme set off the crisis that led to the Munich Agreement in September.  Henlein's speech in Karlsbad received extensive newspaper coverage all over the world, and it raised acute tensions between Berlin and Prague when the German government declared its support for the Karlsbad programme.

Starting on 12 May 1938, Henlein visited London to press his case for autonomy, and impressed almost everyone he met as an apparently reasonable, mild-mannered man full of genial charm, who was simply asking for autonomy for his people. On 25 May, Lord Halifax privately told Commonwealth officials that Czechoslovakia in its present form was untenable, as the ethnic Germans and Czechs simply could not get along, and that he favored autonomy for the Sudetenland as the best case scenario, but he favored allowing Germany to annex the Sudetenland if Henlein could not reach an agreement with Prime Minister Hodža.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2018, 07:05:09 PM »
In May 1938 Hitler was already planning for war with Czechoslovakia, and he had decided on October 1st of that year. He wanted to test the German armed forces and begin his push towards the East. In the following months, he escalated his war of words against Czechoslovakia. In early September 1938, President Beneš announced the "Fourth Plan" for constitutional changes to make Czechoslovakia into a federation. This did not meet all of the demands of the Karlsbad programme but would grant the Sudetenland autonomy. Henlein announced on 7 September 1938 that he was breaking off all contact with the Czechoslovak government, saying he was not interested in compromise.

On 12 September 1938, in his war-like speech at the Nuremberg Party Rally, Hitler dropped the demand for mere autonomy for the Sudetenland and formally demanded that the Sudetenland join Germany. From 12 September 1938 onward, Henlein helped organise numerous terrorist attacks and two coup attempts. This attempted uprising was quickly suppressed by Czechoslovak forces, whereafter Henlein fled to Germany, only to start numerous intrusions into Czechoslovak territory.

Meanwhile the British and French tried to save the peace of Europe. The British had already decided that Czechoslovakia was a lost cause and that it was inevitable that the Sudetenland would become German. Neither was France prepared to  fight a major war over the issue. Prime Minister Chamberlain flew to Germany and eventually received Hitler's agreement that he would accept mere autonomy for the Sudetenland, after the Czechoslovaks agreed to hold a plebiscite (referendum). However, the volatile Hitler, desperate to have his planned war, quickly changed his mind and accused the Czechoslovaks of stalling and insincerity.

Czechoslovakia began mobilising its armed forces, but on 24th September, Hitler demanded that the Czechoslovaks accept his Sudetenland ultimatum by 14:00 on 28th September, otherwise he would take it by force. Eventually he postponed this to 1st October, due to Prime Minister Chamberlain's intervention. On 25 September, Czechoslovakia agreed to the conditions previously agreed upon by Britain, France, and Germany. The next day, however, Hitler added new demands, insisting that the claims of Czechoslovakia's other ethnic minorities also be satisfied. Chamberlain hurriedly arranged a meeting with Mussolini, Hitler, and Daladier (the French prime minister) for 29 September, and on 30 September 1938 they signed the Munich Agreement.

It was agreed that the German army would complete the occupation of the Sudetenland by 10 October, and an international commission would decide the future of other disputed areas. Czechoslovakia had not been invited to the meeting and was informed by Britain and France that it could either resist Nazi Germany alone or submit to the prescribed annexations. The Czechoslovak government, realizing the hopelessness of fighting the Nazis alone, reluctantly capitulated (30 September) and agreed to abide by the agreement. The settlement gave Germany the Sudetenland starting 10 October, and de facto control over the rest of Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler promised to go no further.

Hitler gained much of Czechoslovakia's industrial wealth and its famed arms factories without a fight. When he examined Czechoslovakia's fortifications on 1st October, he told Goebbels, "We would have shed much blood". Current opinion is that, with the help of Britain and France, Germany would have lost a war against Czechoslovakia, and the Second World War would have been avoided.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2018, 09:09:17 PM »

Jozef Tiso



The Second Czechoslovak Republic existed for 169 days, from 30 September 1938 to 15 March 1939. By 10 October 1938 the Nazis had completed their occupation of the Sudetenland and incorporated it into the German Reich. The Munich Agreement had resulted in about 38% of the combined area of Bohemia and Moravia being transferred to Germany, along with some 3.2 million German and 750,000 Czech inhabitants.

The political system of the country was also in chaos. Following the resignation of Edvard Beneš on October 5, General Syrový had acted as President until Emil Hácha was chosen as President on November 30, 1938. The Communist Party was dissolved, although its members were allowed to remain in Parliament. Tough censorship was introduced, and an Enabling Act was also introduced, which allowed the government to rule without parliament.

The greatly weakened Czechoslovak Republic was forced to grant major concessions to the non-Czechs. On 6 October 1938, Jozef Tiso, the leader of the Slovak People's Party, the largest party in Slovakia, declared autonomy for Slovakia (some other parties in Slovakia supported this). The next day, he became Prime Minister of the Slovak Autonomous Region. The Czechoslovak government accepted this result, and the only common ministries now remaining were those of National Defence, Foreign Affairs and Finances. As part of the deal, the country officially adopted the new name of Czecho-Slovakia. Similarly, the two major factions in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, the Russophiles and Ukrainophiles, agreed on the establishment of an autonomous government, which was constituted on 8 October 1938. The pro-Ukrainian faction, led by Avhustyn Voloshyn, gained control of the local government and Subcarpathian Ruthenia was renamed Carpatho-Ukraine.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2018, 09:51:34 PM »
Part of the Munich Agreement had stipulated that the remaining borders of the rump Czechoslovakia should be negotiated by the interested parties. The First Vienna Award was a treaty signed on November 2, 1938, as a result of the First Vienna Arbitration. It was presided over by Germany and Italy, who sought a non-violent way to enforce the territorial claims of the Kingdom of Hungary and to revise the Treaty of Trianon of 1920. By this time, Britain and France had accepted that Czechoslovakia was in the German sphere of influence, so they did not try to influence the proceedings.

The First Vienna Award separated largely Magyar-populated territories in southern Slovakia and southern Carpathian-Ukraine from Czechoslovakia and awarded them to Hungary. Hungary thus regained some of the territories in present-day Slovakia and Ukraine lost in the Treaty of Trianon in the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. Hitler was happy to spread the blame for the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, and he also hoped thereby to gain Hungary as an ally.

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2018, 10:15:17 PM »
As prime minister and minister of the interior of the autonomous Slovak government, Jozef Tiso had extensive powers. In October–December 1938, his government did not share power with any other Slovak public body, because the autonomous parliament was not elected until mid-December of 1938. During this period, Tiso forbade the activities of all political parties, except those that agreed to join the governing coalition "voluntarily" and the two parties representing minority populations, the "German Party" and the "Unified Hungarian Party". The Slovak People's Party then organized rigged parliamentary elections.

Parliamentary elections were held in Slovakia on 18 December 1938. The campaign contained strong anti-Czech and anti-Jewish propaganda. Voters were presented with a United List of 63 candidates, of whom 47 were members of the Slovak People's Party, four were from the former Agrarian Party, two from the German Party, one from the Hungarian minority and the remaining nine were members of former parties. The United List won 97.5% of the (rigged) vote. Josef Tiso used the results for the reconstruction of the autonomous government, thus weakening the influence of the other former parties which had "voluntarily" joined the Slovak People's Party. The first session of the new Diet of the Slovak Land was held on 18 January 1939.

For the time being, Slovakia was still a constituent part of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, or "Czecho-Slovakia".

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Re: The History and Coinage of the First Slovak Republic
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2018, 11:15:07 PM »
When Hitler had demanded the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, he had calculated that Czechoslovakia would not agree to such an unreasonable demand and would instead go to war. Hitler had expected to win this war and to conquer the whole of Czechoslovakia. He could then launch an attack on Poland or the Soviet Union. Instead, with the urging of Britain and France, Czechoslovakia had ceded the Sudetenland to Germany. Hitler was privately furious.

Hitler now turned his attention to Poland, the Polish Corridor, and Danzig. He wanted the return of his ethnic Germans. However, he was still determined to conquer the remainder of Czechoslovakia. In the meantime, the Nazis were covertly funding various groups in Czechoslovakia, in order to stir up ethnic sentiments against Prague.

In January 1939, negotiations between Germany and Poland broke down. Hitler scheduled an invasion of Bohemia and Moravia for the morning of 15 March. In the interim, he negotiated with the Slovak People's Party and with the Kingdom of Hungary and its representatives for the Hungarian minority in Slovakia to prepare the dismemberment of the Second Czechoslovak Republic before the invasion.

In March 1939, Czecho-Slovakian President Emil Hácha decided to clamp down on these nationalist elements. He sent Czech military units to occupy Slovakia and forced Tiso out of office on 9 March. On 13 March Hitler invited Jozef Tiso to Berlin and offered him the option of proclaiming the Slovak state and seceding from Czecho-Slovakia. In such a case, Hitler said, Germany would be Slovakia's protector and would not allow the Hungarians to press on Slovakia any additional territorial demands. If the Slovaks declined, Germany would occupy Bohemia and Moravia and disinterest himself in Slovakia's fate—in effect, leaving the Slovaks to the mercies of the Hungarians and the Poles. Tiso told Hitler he would have to consult the Slovak parliament about the issue. On 14 March, the Slovak parliament convened and heard Tiso's report on his discussion with Hitler. On hearing that any delay in declaring independence would result in Slovakia being divided between Hungary and Germany, Parliament unanimously declared Slovak independence, and 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 Third Reich to take over the protection of the new state. The request was readily accepted.