These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.



The Uprising

    
 
 Courtesy: Museum of the City of Bratislava

While Beneš's radio broadcasts hailed a violent uprising as the only way for Slovaks to avoid "defeated-nation" status, anti-Nazi partisans poured into the country from the Soviet Union and France. It remains difficult to assess to what degree they gained sympathy from the population. According to Kirschbaum, Slovak military and police forces, demoralized by the Nazis' sinking fortunes, largely refused to engage the partisans in battle.

By spring 1944, Slovakia had became the occasional target of Allied bombing runs; the Allies offered to stop bombing if Slovakia destroyed its bridges to hamper the Germany army's retreat from the USSR. Tiso, governing amid chaos, again threw his lot with the Nazis. On August 29, with partisan activity mounting, Tiso called in the German army to crush the partisan movement.

This triggered what has become known as the Slovak National Uprising. A 60,000-strong Czechoslovak army, organized by Beneš from London, poured into the nation to engage the Germans. Partisans, mostly from France under Russian guidance, totaled 18,000. In addition, thousands of Slovaks - precisely how many is not known - joined the effort.

The uprising lasted two months, impressive given how poorly supplied and sketchily organized it was. In the end, a well-armed German force of 35,000 stormed into the country, overwhelming the rebels at their strong point, Banská Bystrica, on October 27. The Germans disarmed the Czechoslovak army and captured its leaders. But the partisan forces survived, and continued their efforts until war's end. At the beginning of 1945, 13,500 partisans still roamed the countryside, harassing the Nazis and relaying intelligence on them to the Allies.

The Uprising amounted to a military defeat, but it did manage to tie up a fraction of the German army as the war entered its endgame. Most important, it discredited the Nazi-tainted national government, and established the Slovak populace, rightly or wrongly, as anti-fascist. The catch, however, was that in the eyes of the Allies, Slovakia was a Nazi construct that would soon cease to exist as an independent state. Because of lobbying by Beneš and the pro-Nazi bent of the Slovak government, it was a foregone conclusion that the nation would be once more integrated into Czechoslovakia after the war.

Tiso and his government fled to Austria on April 1, 1945. After the war, both he and Tuka were tried and hanged.


These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2003.

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