|Czech Republic Table of Contents
On March 14, 1939, Slovakia declared its independence, causing itself the Slovak Republic. Monsignor Tiso was elected president of this new republic. A clerical nationalist, Tiso opposed the Nazification of Slovak society and hoped instead to establish Slovakia as a nationalist, Christian, corporative state. His plan conflicted with that of Slovak radicals who were organized into the paramilitary Hlinka Guards. The latter cooperated closely with the Nazi-oriented German minority led by Franz Karmasin. Radicals dominated the Slovak government. Vojtech Tuka, recently released from prison, became prime minister; his associate, Ferdinand Durcansky, was named foreign minister. Alexander Mach, head of the Hlinka Guards, was propaganda minister. German "advisory missions" were appointed to all Slovak ministries, and German troops were stationed in Slovakia beginning March 15, 1939.
The conflict between Tiso and the radicals resulted in the Salzburg Compromise, concluded between Slovakia and the Reich in July 1940. The compromise called for dual command by the Slovak Populist Party and the Hlinka Guards. The Reich appointed storm trooper leader Manfred von Killinger as the German representative in Slovakia. While Tiso successfully restructured the Slovak Populist Party in harmony with Christian corporative principles, Tuka and Mach radicalized Slovak policy toward the Jews (130,000 in the 1930 census). In September 1941, the Slovak government enacted a "Jewish code," providing a legal foundation for property expropriation, internment, and deportation. In 1942 the Slovak government reached an agreement with Germany on the deportation of Jews. The same year, when most of the deportations occurred, approximately 68,000 Slovak Jews were sent out of Slovakia to German-run concentration camps. Many Jews escaped deportation under a provision that allowed Tiso to exempt Jews whose services were considered an economic necessity.
Tiso's power was strengthened in October 1942, when the Slovak Diet proclaimed him leader of the state and Slovak Populist Party, giving him rights of intervention in all affairs of state. The HG was effectively subordinated to party control. The new German representative, Hans Elard Ludin, concentrated his energies on war production. German banks acquired a controlling interest in all Slovak industries. With the aid of German investments and technical advice, Slovakia experienced a considerable economic boom, especially in the armaments industry, which had been controlled by the German government since December 1939. To some extent, Slovakia served as a showcase for Hitler's new order.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress