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DOCUMENTS - Part Two: Frontiers of Hungary - Chapter II. Proposals and Remarks to the Subcommittee on Territorial Problems

Document 10

Secret T Document 384

October, 1943


Four possible settlements may be envisaged for the Slovak problem: union with Poland, union with Hungary, independence, or restoration of Czechoslovakia under some sort of decentralized constitution structure.


For years there have been Polish pretensions to Slovakia, resting on vague historical arguments which in reality apply only to the district of Spi. There were only 7,000 Poles in Slovakia according to the census of 1930. The Poles assert, for example, that some dialects in northern Slovakia differ very little from the local Polish dialect spoken across the Polish frontier. There is also a Polish contention that Polish Catholi- cism, strong in its support of the Vatican and never called into question like Czech Hussitism, is more akin to the Slovak spirit than is the Czech spirit.

Back if the Polish pretension, however, has been the desire to establish a common frontier with Hungary, for purposes of alliance and defense, as was demonstrated in the period of the partition of Czechoslo- vakia from September 1938 to March 1939, when Poland encouraged the separatist movement in Slovakia.

There is no evidence of any real desire whatsoever on the part of the Slovak people for a connection with Poland, though there has been agitation on the part of irresponsible propagandists at times for such a union in order to frighten the Czechoslovak Government into conces- sions. The economic conditions of Slovakia are unfavorable to its incorporation into Poland. While Poland is an agricultural country with a substantial industrial development, Slovakia is overwhelmingly agricultural in character. Commerce between Poland and Slovakia has never been of significance. Union of Poland and Slovakia, moreover, might serve to stifle the incipient industrial development of Slovakia.


Union with Hungary is another possible alternative solution which the Magyars within Slovakia and Hungary have desired ever since the separation in 1918. It is extremely doubtful, however, that more than a very few Magyarone Slovaks have desired to return to Hungary since 1918, after the experience of several centuries of Magyar rule. Before 1918 economic relations between the Slovak region and the central areas of the unitary Hungarian kingdom were close; the possibility has been suggested more than once that more Slovaks would be prepared to accept some kind of federal arrangement with Hungary, under which Slovakia would form an economic unity with Hungary but would enjoy cultural autonomy. On the other hand, it may be pointed out that no responsible Slovak representatives, even those of the Slovak Populist Party, ever advocated reunion with Hungary; even under the "autono- mous" and "independent" governments of Slovakia--despite the general orientation of the regime--Slovak troops have twice fought against Hungarian invasions.


A third possible alternative envisages complete independence for Slovakia. Complete independence was never on the program of any of the Slovak parties, including the Slovak Populist Party, until it was proclaimed by the extreme elements of the Slovak Populist Party on March 14, 1939. It should be remembered, however, that at the time that "independence" was proclaimed, the state was placed under the "protection" of National Socialist Germany.

The experience of the Slovaks under the "independent" regime of Father Tiso and Dr. Tuka may not be conducive to further developments in that direction. Moreover, there is every evidence that complete independence is quite impracticable. It is extremely doubtful that an independent state would be either politically or economically viable.


A final alternative is the reincorporation of Slovakia in a restored Czechoslovak Republic, under some kind of decentralized administrative and legislative regime.

While the Czechs and Slovaks had their difficulties under the Republic because of mistakes on the part of both these related Slavic peoples, and on account of the impossibility of developing a federal, state structure in the period between 1918 and 1938, the major difficulties appeared to be in process of solution by 1927, when an administrative reform was instituted. Under this reform Slovakia became one of four provinces--the others being Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia, and Ruthenia. Slovakia had a provincial president and vice-president, and an assembly, with a small executive committee. The provincial assembly or diet had authority over economic and administra- tive affairs, questions of public health, provincial social, educational and communications questions, and the imposition of taxes concerning these matters.

Today, there are four Slovaks in the Czechoslovak Government at London, which is studying various projects for decentralization within the restored Republic. In its first proclamation in 1939, the Czechoslo- vak National Committee declared: "In the spirit of Masaryk and tefánik, in the spirit of the founders and the martyrs of our nation, we enter the struggle united. Recognizing no difference of party, class or any other kind, we are determined to fight to the end and to assure a free, democratic Czechoslovak Republic, inspired by the spirit of justice for all its nationalities. We wish to have a republic socially just, founded on equal rights and equal duties for all its citizens. As regards the new organization of the State, the relationship of free Czechs to free Slovaks, the majority of free Czechs and the majority of free Slovaks will decide in democratic form and brotherly understanding, inspired by the principles of equality in rights and duties."

The United States of America, Great Britain and France have never recognized the destruction of Czechoslovakia or the independenoe of Slovakia. The Soviet Union, however, did recognize the independent State of Slovakia. All the members of the United Nations, including the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China, have recognized the existence ofthe Czechoslovak Government in London and are committed to the restoration of Czechoslovakia as a state.

Despite the participation of Slovaks in the Czechoslovak Governmen- t-in-exile, there is some opposition among Slovaks living abroad to the program of the Government. This opposition centers around the personalities of Dr. Milan Hoda, former Prime Minister, and Dr. tefan Osusk, former Czechoslovak Minister to France. Hoda seems to favor a definite statement from the Governrnent favoring autonomy for Slovakia within a restored Republic of Czechoslovakia. President Bene and the Government refuse to commit themselves to any specific program on the ground that the internal constitutional structure of the Republic must be decided by the people at home after the war. Some Slovaks fear, however, that the electorate might then be manipulated in favor of a centralist form of Government, even though autonomy might be preferred by a majority in Slovakia.


Box 65


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