The Slovak Republic (1939-1945) was recognized by more than twenty-five states. But its independence was greatly limited by its strong, economic, military and political dependence on Germany. The political regime of the Slovak state was an authoritarian dictatorship with one party and ideology. Fascist groups, led by Vojtech Tuka, the Prime Minister, supported by organizations of a German minority in Slovakia fought for power and influence in the country. In suppressing the opposition, the regime proceeded very slowly in comparison with the neighbouring states.

Map of Slovakia in 1939-1945:
Map of Slovakia in 1939-1945

However, this was not true when it came to the Jewish population. The government seized all their property, their civil and human rights. They were sent to concentration camps and from March 1942, they transported to German occupied parts in the East 57,628 Jews from which only few hundreds lived through. From 13,500 transported in period 1944-5 died more than 10,000. Even though the Slovak Republic declared itself to be a Christian state and Tiso was himself a priest, this genocide was not prevented despite the protests of the Church and the Vatican.

Slovakia took part in the war to a lesser extent than the surrounding countries. The prosperity generated by the war abolished unemployment and supplies for the inhabitants were, in wartime conditions, satisfactory. Despite this, from its very beginning, a strong opposition developed against the totalitarian regime.

At home many “illegal” groups were active. As they did during the First World War, many Slovaks joined Czecho-Slovak army in the Soviet Union. The members of the Slovak army joined the Soviet army in such large numbers that the Germans had to withdraw the Slovak divisions from the Eastern front. By the end of the war there were more Slovaks fighting with the Allies than there were on the German side.

By the end of 1943, the many resistance groups formed illegal Slovak National Council. In cooperation with the Czechoslovak government in exile in London (Edvard Beneš), some capable fighters in the Slovak army prepared an uprising. In the summer of 1944 the partisan groups increased, namely in the mountain areas. The government in Bratislava could not handle the situation and Slovakia was occupied by German troops. On 29 August 1944, the “illegal” military command in Banská Bystrica issued the order to start the uprising.

The Slovak National Uprising belongs to the largest armed resistance activities, which took place on the “German” territory during the World War II. Within two months, nearly sixty thousand soldiers and about eighteen thousand guerrillas were defending a compact region in Central Slovakia against German troops.

All of the legislative and governmental power in the territory controlled by the insurgents was assumed by the Slovak National Council and life in the insurgent villages was organized by national committees. A rebel radio and press were also active together with various political parties and trade unions.

According to the original plan, the German army should have been attacked from behind in order to break the Carpathian front and open the way into the Danube basin for the Soviet army. But this did not happen. By the end of October, the Germans conquered Banská Bystrica. Part of the rebel army was captured and part of it withdrew and joined the partisans. Their generals Ján Golian and Rudolf Viest, died in German captivity. Slovakia was liberated by fierce fighting by the Soviet, Czecho-Slovak and Rumanian armies in May 1945.

After Winston Churchill became the British prime minister he signed the official recognition of the Beneš foreign government, which in the summer of 1941 was confirmed by the Soviet Union. The end of war was close. On 6th of October in 1944 the Red Army as well as her Czechoslovak Army Corps entered the Slovak territory. On 4th of April in 1945 German troops were displaced from Bratislava and most of the Slovak territory was reclaimed from Germans.

President Edvard Beneš came to Košice on 3rd of April. On 5th of April new government appointed by Beneš, proclaimed the program known as Košice’s government program.

The 1944 uprising represents one of the key events of modern Slovak history. Even though people of different ideas and interest took part in it, a basic idea was common to all of them – to fight against the inhuman system introduced to Europe by Hitler. The uprising also strengthened the national consciousness of the Slovaks. Before this event, Slovakia had been mostly an object of alien interests. But, during the uprising, Slovakia took its own fate into its own hands. The uprising also inhibited the return to the pre-war Prague centralism. It supported the idea of a Czechoslovakia in which the Czechs and Slovaks would live as equal nations.