Grand Duchy of Slovakia
Veľkovojvodstvo Slovenska (sk)
Großherzogtum Slowakei (de)
Component of Greater Austria
Flag Coat of arms
Nad Tatrou sa blýska
The Slovak Grand Duchy after its proclamation in 1918
Capital Bratislava
Languages Slovak, German, Hungarian
Government Constitutional monarchy, personal union with the House of Habsburg
Grand Duke
 •  1918–1922 Karol I
 •  1922–1941 Otto I
Prime Minister
 •  1918–1928 Andrej Hlinka (first)
 •  1939–1941 Vojtech Tuka (last)
Historical era Interwar period
 •  Grand Duchy proclaimed 29 October 1918
 •  1918 Imperial Manifesto 16 October 1918
 •  National Uprising 29 August 1941
 •  Dissolution of Greater Austria 13 March 1941
Currency Schilling (S)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen
First Czechoslovak Republic
Today part of Flag of Czechoslovakia.svg Czechoslovakia

The Grand Duchy of Slovakia (Slovak: Veľkovojvodstvo Slovenska) otherwise known as the Slovak State (Slovak: Slovenský štát) was a autonomous state within the United States of Greater Austria which existed between 29 October 1918 and 13 March 1941. It controlled the majority of the territory of present-day Slovakia, but without its current southern and eastern parts, which then formed part of Hungary. The grand duchy bordered Galicia, Bohemia and Moravia, German-Austria and Hungary.

It is consider the first Slovak state by modern historians. Proclaiming independence from the Kingdom of Hungary as an equal component of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 29 October 1918. When Emperor Karl I recognised the state the following day, Hungary terminated its union with Austria on 31 October.

With the dissolution of Greater Austria following World War II, the Slovak lands merged with Bohemia and Moravia to form Czechoslovakia.

History[edit | edit source]

Hungarians had ruled the territory of modern Slovakia since 10th century. During the revolution of 1848–49, the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor, hoping for independence from the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy, but they failed to achieve their aim. Thereafter relations between the the two nationalities deteriorated. At the beginning of the 20th century, growing democratization of political and social life threatened to overwhelm the monarchy. The call for universal suffrage became the main rallying cry. In the Kingdom of Hungary, only 5 percent of inhabitants could vote. Slovaks saw in the trend towards representative democracy a possibility of easing ethnic oppression and a break-through into renewed political activity. The Slovaks achieved some results. One of the greatest of these occurred with the election success in 1906, when, despite continued oppression, seven Slovaks managed to get seats in the Assembly. This success alarmed the government, and increased what was regarded by Slovaks as its oppressive measures. Magyarization achieved its climax with a new education act known as the Apponyi Act, named after education minister Count Albert Apponyi.

The new act stipulated that the teaching of the Hungarian language, as one of the subjects, must be included in the curriculum of non-state owned four years elementary schools in the frame-work of the compulsory schooling, as a condition for the non-state owned schools to receive state-financing. Non-government organizations such as the Upper Hungary Magyar Educational Society supported Magyarization at a local level. The idea of Slovak autonomy became part of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's plan of federalization of the monarchy, developed with help of the Slovak journalist and politician Milan Hodža.

After the outbreak of the World War Hungarian authorities increased harassment of Slovaks, which hindered the nationalist campaign among the inhabitants of the Slovak lands. Despite stringent censorship, news of moves abroad towards the establishment of a Czech-Slovak state got through to Slovakia and met with much satisfaction. In the turbulent final year of the war, sporadic protest actions took place in Slovakia—politicians held a secret meeting at Liptószentmiklós / Liptovský Mikuláš on 1 May 1918. In October 1918, Emperor Karl issued a proclamation that gave nationalities of the Austrian half of the monarchy equal standing. Hungarian aristocrats still believed they could subdue other nationalities and would not allow their half be altered.

As part of the peace terms Austria-Hungary signed the Minority Treaties which forced Hungarians to accept some form of autonomy. On 14 July 1919 the Slovak National Council at Martin acceded to the 1918 proclamation the following day the Hungarian parliament terminated the union with Austria. The new state set up a parliamentary democratic government and proclaimed that it remained loyal to Emperor Karl. As a result of the counter-attack of the Hungarian Red Army in May–June, 1919, the National Council lost control of central and eastern parts of present Slovakia, where a puppet short-lived Slovak Soviet Republic with capital in Prešov was established. However, Hungarian reactionaries stopped its offensive, later the troops were withdrawn on the intervention of the provisional government in Vienna.

In 1920 the Constitutional Assembly set the southern border of Slovakia according to the 1910 census. This census had been manipulated by the ruling Hungarian bureaucracy and was done to appease the Hungarians for other territorial losses they incurred at the Assembly. In the period between the world war, the Vienaa government attempted to industrialize Slovakia. These efforts did not meet with success, partially due to the Great Depression, the worldwide economic slump of the 1930s. Slovak resentment over perceived economic and political domination by Vienna led to increasing dissatisfaction with the federation and growing support for ideas of independence.

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