Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War

By John O. Crane; Sylvia E. Crane | Go to book overview
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9 Summer Turmoil (1938)

Summer is usually associated with holiday expeditions, but not in Czechoslovakia this summer of 1938, which witnessed Hitler's aggressive maneuvers across the border. The summer months of June and July were replete with divisive activity in both Sudetenland and Slovakia. Hostile activity by the Polish government increased, posing rising threats to the Prague government. The disruptive domestic outbreaks cut the ground from under President Eduard Beneš and Prime Minister Milan Hodža in their negotiations with the dissidents.

Bratislava was the scene on June 5, 1938, of the Slovak People's Party Jubilee celebration of the Pittsburgh Agreement which had set forth guarantees of equal rights for Slovaks, then joining the new Czechoslovak State. This was followed the next day by a demonstration twice as large, organized by the Slovak Agrarians. Both were attended by an American Slovak delegation that declared, "National, political, cultural, and economic interests can best be developed within the Republic." They spoke as "friends of the Czechoslovak Republic," but insisted upon the "application and fulfillment of the terms of the Pittsburgh Agreement," to wit, self-government by their own officials, Slovak as the official language in their administration and schools, Slovak soldiers to serve only within the province, and a provincial diet to approve national laws affecting them, such as finance. The national assembly at Prague would have jurisdiction over constitutional questions, foreign affairs, and national defense. Prime Minister Hodža, a Slovak himself, emphasized national unity in the face of foreign threats. He welcomed Slovak support of the besieged state to preserve the republic. Even Father Andrej Hlinka's


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