The Slovak National Uprising (Slovak: Slovenské národné povstanie, abbreviated SNP) or 1944 Uprising was an armed insurrection organized by the Slovak resistance movement during World War II. This resistance movement was represented mainly by the members of the Democratic Party, but also by social democrats and Communists, albeit on a smaller scale. It was launched on 29 August 1944 from Banská Bystrica in an attempt to resist German troops that had occupied Slovak territory and to overthrow the collaborationist government of Jozef Tiso. Although the resistance was largely defeated by German forces, guerrilla operations continued until the Soviet Army, Czechoslovak Army and Romanian Army liberated Fascist Slovakia in 1945.
In the post-war period, many political entities, mainly the Communists, attempted to "hijack" the uprising to their credit. The Stalinist regime in Czechoslovakia presented the Uprising as an event initiated and governed by Communist forces. Slovak ultranationalists, on the other hand, claim that the uprising was a plot against the Slovak nation, as one of its main objectives was to oust the regime of the puppet Slovak state and reestablish Czechoslovakia, in which Slovaks were dominated by Czechs. In fact, many factions fought in the uprising, the largest of which were units of the Slovak Army, Democratic resistance and Communist partisans, and international forces. Given this factionalization, the Uprising did not have unambiguous popular support. Yet the participants and supporters of the Uprising represented every religion, class, age, and anti-Nazi political faction of the Slovak nation.
|Slovak National Uprising|
|Part of World War II|
Convoy of Slovak insurgent army vehicles near Kelemeš (today part of Prešov)
Soviet Air Force|
US Army Air Force
|Commanders and leaders|
Ján Golian †|
Rudolf Viest †
|40,000, later increased to 83,000||18,000 initially, later increased to 78,000|
|Casualties and losses|
|4200 killed, 5,000 wounded, 300 captives||12,000 KIA and murdered in reprisals|
Edvard Beneš, leader of the Czechoslovak government in exile in London, initiated preparations for a possible revolt in 1943 when he contacted dissident elements of the Slovak Army. In December 1943, various groups that would be involved in the uprising—the government in exile, Czechoslovak democrats and Communists, and the Slovak army—formed the underground Slovak National Council, and signed the so-called "Christmas Treaty", a joint declaration to recognize Beneš' authority and to recreate Czechoslovakia after the war. The council was responsible for creating the preparatory phase of the uprising.
In March 1944, Slovak army Lieutenant Colonel Ján Golian took charge of the preparations. Conspirators stockpiled money, ammunition and other supplies in military bases in central and eastern Slovakia. The rebelling forces called themselves Czechoslovak Forces of the Interior and the First Czechoslovak Army. Approximately 3,200 Slovak soldiers deserted and joined partisan groups or the Soviet Army. In April 1944, Slovak Jews Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler escaped from Auschwitz and published a detailed report about the operation of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
In summer 1944, the partisans intensified their war against German occupation forces, mainly in the mountains of north-central Slovakia. In July, Soviet troops in Poland began to advance towards Slovakia. By August 1944, Soviet troops were at Krosno, Poland, within 40 kilometres (25 mi) of the northeastern Slovak border.
Two heavily armed divisions of the Slovak Army, together with the entire eastern Slovak Air Force, were deliberately relocated to Prešov in north-eastern Slovakia in the summer of 1944 to execute one of two planned options to begin the uprising. The two options were:
Colonel Viliam Talský was the chief of staff of the two divisions. He had agreed in advance with the insurrection's army leadership and the uprising planning committee of the Slovak National Council to execute either of these two plans, depending on the circumstances. On 23 August 1944, Romania, initially Slovakia's ally, changed sides in favor of the Allies. On 28 August 1944 in Martin, a group of Communist partisans under Soviet direction killed 24 German soldiers returning from Romania. The next day, German troops began to occupy Slovakia to put down the rebellion. German arrangements for the occupation were completed a few weeks earlier.
At 19:00 hours on 29 August 1944, Slovak Defence Minister General Ferdinand Čatloš announced on state radio that Germany had occupied Slovakia. At 20:00, Golian sent the coded message to all units to begin the uprising. But instead of adhering to the agreed plan, on 30 August Colonel Talský and the entire eastern Slovak Air Force flew to a prearranged landing zone in Poland to join the Soviet Army, and abandoned the two divisions at Prešov. The two divisions, left in chaos and without leadership, were quickly disarmed on the afternoon of 30 August without a single shot. Consequently, the uprising commenced prematurely and lost a crucial component of their plan, as well as the two most heavily armed divisions.
Accounts of the exact numbers of combatants vary. At first, the rebel Slovak partisan forces consisted of an estimated 18,000 soldiers. The total increased to 47,000 after mobilization on 9 September 1944, and later to 60,000, plus 18,000 partisans from over 30 countries. The Slovak Insurgent Air Force had a small number of mostly obsolete planes.
In addition to Slovak forces (First Czechoslovak Army in Slovakia), the combatants included various other groups: escaped French prisoners of war, Soviet partisans, and Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operatives. The Slovak side had to use mostly biplanes and improvised armored trains to fight against the better equipped German weapons. In addition to Soviet aid, United States B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, escorted by North American P-51B Mustang's landed at Tri Duby airfield on 7 October 1944 and brought supplies and OSS agents, headed by a naval officer, Lieutenant James Holt Green. They also took out 15 Allied pilots shot down over Slovakia and five French partisans.
After the uprising started, Czechoslovak officials in exile discussed the possibility of bringing in Czechoslovak units deployed on the Eastern Front with the Soviet Army. Two such units were brought in. On 15–17 September 1944, the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Fighter Regiment landed at Zolná airfield near Zvolen with 21 Lavochkin La-5 fighters. Later the 2nd Czechoslovak Parachute Brigade was transferred from the Carpathians, arriving 25 September to 15 October.
Rebels began the uprising on August 29 at 8:00 p.m. under the command of Ján Golian. They entered Banská Bystrica in the morning of August 30 and made it their headquarters. German troops disarmed the Eastern Slovak Army on August 31. Many of the soldiers were sent to camps in Germany while others escaped and joined the Soviet-controlled partisans or returned home. On September 5 Ján Golian became the commander of all the rebel forces in Slovakia and was given the rank of General. Slovak forces in central Slovakia mobilized 47,000 men. His first analysis of the situation predicted that insurgents could resist German attacks for about two weeks.
Guards at the three main labor camps, Sereď, Nováky, and Vyhne, fled at the beginning of the uprising and most Jewish prisoners left. About 1,600 to 2,000 Jews fought as partisans, ten percent of the total insurgent force. Fifteen percent of Jewish partisans were killed. Many Jewish partisans hid their religious affiliation due to antisemitism in the partisan movement.
By September 10 the rebels had gained control of large areas of central and eastern Slovakia, including two airfields, which were used by the Soviet Air Force to fly in equipment.
The pro-German government of Tiso remained in power in Bratislava. Germany moved 40,000 SS soldiers under Gottlob Berger to suppress the uprising, which detained and disarmed two Slovak divisions and 20,000 soldiers that had been supposed to secure the mountain passes to help the Red Army. Beneš had met with Stalin and Molotov in Moscow in December 1943 to secure Soviet support for the uprising, but Soviet premier Joseph Stalin and the Soviet military command Stavka failed to deliver the needed support on time to the insurgent army and even blocked Western offers of military aid, as they had done only a few weeks earlier during the Warsaw uprising. Meanwhile, General Konev and the Soviet partisan headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine, continued to undermine the Slovak insurgent army by ordering partisan groups operating in forward positions in Slovakia to conduct operations independently of the Slovak insurgent army and avoid coordination. The Soviet-led partisans even demanded and took desperately needed weapons and munitions that had been stored for the Slovak uprising. The vast majority of Soviet airdrops of weapons over insurgent-held territory in Eastern and Northern Slovakia were quickly confiscated by Soviet partisans and little ended up in the hands of the much stronger and better trained Slovak insurrectional army.
On September 8, the Red Army began an offensive on the Dukla Pass on the Slovak-Polish border and tried to fight through the Carpathian Mountains to penetrate into Slovakia. This poorly planned and late action resulted in tremendous casualties on both sides and became bogged down for nearly two months.
Beneš, the Soviet partisans, and various Slovak factions began to argue among themselves, each seeking operational control. Despite repeated efforts, General Golian could not persuade the different sides to coordinate their efforts. General Rudolf Viest flew in and took command on October 7, with Golian becoming his second-in-command. Viest could not control the situation when political rivalries resurfaced in the face of military failure.
The uprising also coincided with the stalling of the Soviet summer offensive, the failure of the Warsaw Uprising, and other troubles on the side of the Western allies. The Red Army and its Czechoslovak allies failed to quickly penetrate the Dukla Pass despite fierce fighting between September 8 and October 28; they suffered 85,000 casualties (21,000 dead). The Czechoslovak government in exile failed to convince Western allies to ignore Stalin's obstructionism and send more supplies to the area.
On September 17 two B-17 Flying Fortresses flew in the OSS mission of Lieutenant James Holt-Green. The SOE team of Major John Sehmer followed the next day on its way to Hungary. Their reports confirmed the suspicions of Western Allies that the situation of the uprising was worsening.
On September 19, German command replaced SS-Obergruppenführer Berger, who had been in charge of the troops fighting the Uprising, with General Höfle. By that time Germans had 48,000 soldiers; they consisted of eight German divisions, including four from the Waffen-SS and one pro-Nazi Slovak formation.
On October 1 the rebel army was renamed the 1st Czechoslovak Army in Slovakia, in order to symbolize the beginning of the Czech-Slovak reunification that would be recognized by the Allied forces.
A major German counteroffensive began on October 17–18 when 35,000 German troops entered the country from Hungary, which had been under German military occupation since 19 March 1944. Stalin demanded that his advancing Second Ukrainian Front led by General Malinovsky be immediately diverted from Eastern Slovakia to Budapest. The western advance of Soviet forces came to a sudden halt in late October 1944, when Stalin's interests focused on Hungary, Austria and Poland rather than Slovakia or the Czech lands. By the end of October, Axis forces (six German divisions and one pro-Nazi Slovak unit) had taken back most of the territory from the insurgents and encircled the fighting groups. Battles cost at least 10,000 casualties on both sides.
Insurgents had to evacuate Banská Bystrica on October 27 just prior to the German takeover. SOE and OSS agents retreated to the mountains alongside the thousands of others fleeing the German advance. The rebels prepared to change their strategy to that of guerrilla warfare. On October 28, Viest sent London a message that said the organized resistance had ended. On October 30, General Höfle and President Tiso celebrated in Banská Bystrica and awarded medals to German soldiers for their part in the suppression of the uprising.
Nonetheless, partisans and the remains of the regular forces continued their efforts in the mountains. In retaliation, Einsatzgruppe H and the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions executed many Slovaks suspected of aiding the rebels as well as Jews who had avoided deportation until then, and destroyed 93 villages on suspicion of collaboration. Several villages were burned to the ground and all their inhabitants were murdered, as in Ostrý Grúň and Kľak (January 21, 1945) or Kalište (March 18, 1945). A later estimate of the death toll was 5,304 and authorities discovered 211 mass graves that resulted from those atrocities. The largest executions occurred in Kremnička (747 killed, mostly Jews and Roma) and Nemecká (900 killed).)
On November 3, the Germans captured Golian and Viest in Pohronský Bukovec; they later interrogated and executed them.
SOE and OSS teams eventually united and sent a message in which they requested immediate assistance. Germans surrounded both groups on December 25 and captured them. Some of the men were summarily executed. Germans took the rest to Mauthausen concentration camp where they were tortured and executed.
The German victory only postponed the eventual downfall of the pro-Nazi regime. Six months later, the Red Army had overrun Axis troops in Czechoslovakia. By December 1944 Romanian and Soviet troops had driven German troops out of southern Slovakia in the Battle of Budapest. On January 19, 1945, the Red Army took Bardejov, Svidník, Prešov and Košice in Eastern Slovakia. On March 3–5 they had taken over northwest Slovakia. On March 25 they entered Banská Bystrica and on April 4 marched into Bratislava.
The main military objectives were not achieved due to the bad timing of the uprising and lack of cooperation by Soviet partisans. This undermined the plans of the insurrectional Slovak army. The guerrilla struggle, however, tied up significant German forces that could otherwise have reinforced the Wehrmacht on the eastern front against the advancing 1st Ukrainian Front to the north and south of Slovakia. Nevertheless, much of Slovakia was left devastated by the Uprising and the German counter-offensive and occupation.
The 8 cm minomet vz. 36 (mortar model 36) was a medium mortar designed by the Škoda Works during the Thirties. Intended as standard medium infantry mortar for the Czechoslovak Army all available weapons were impressed into service by the German Army when they occupied Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939 and the Slovaks seized approximately one hundred fifty when they declared independence from Czechoslovakia at the same time. Slovak weapons saw combat in the Slovak-Hungarian War, the invasion of Poland, the opening months of Operation Barbarossa and the Slovak National Uprising.Armored train Hurban
The Armored train Hurban was an armored train used during World War II, during the Slovak National Uprising. The Hurban was constructed on September 25, 1944 in the Railway Manufactory in Zvolen, Slovakia, and was the last armored train used in the Slovak National Uprising. A replica is displayed as a monument in a park next to the castle in Zvolen, and an original preserved machine gun carriage is at the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica.Einsatzgruppe H
Einsatzgruppe H was one of the Einsatzgruppen, the paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany. A special task force of more than 700 soldiers, it was created at the end of August 1944 to deport or murder the remaining Jews in Slovakia following the German suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. During its seven-month existence, Einsatzgruppe H collaborated closely with the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions and arrested 18,937 people, of whom at least 2,257 were murdered; thousands of others were deported to Nazi concentration camps (primarily Auschwitz). The victims included Jews, Romani people, actual or suspected Slovak partisans, and real or perceived political opponents. One of its component units, Einsatzkommando 14, committed the two largest massacres in the history of Slovakia, at Kremnička and Nemecká.František Fajtl
Lieutenant General František Fajtl (20 August 1912 – 4 October 2006) was a Czech fighter pilot of World War II. He was a British Royal Air Force (RAF) squadron and wing commander and led a group of Czechoslovak fighter pilots who formed an air regiment under Soviet Air Force command, supporting the Slovak National Uprising in 1944. He was dismissed from the Czechoslovakian Air Force and was held in prison for a year and a half without a trial after the Communists came to power in 1948, and was only fully rehabilitated after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. He wrote many autobiographical books about his wartime experiences, and was an inspiration for the 2001 film Tmavomodrý svět (Dark Blue World).Hlinka Guard
The Hlinka Guard (Slovak: Hlinkova garda; German: Hlinka-Garde; abbreviated as HG) was the militia maintained by the Slovak People's Party in the period from 1938 to 1945; it was named after Andrej Hlinka.The Hlinka Guard was preceded by the Rodobrana (Home Defense/Nation's Defense) organization, which existed from 1923 to 1927, when the Czechoslovak authorities ordered its dissolution. During the crisis caused by Hitler's demand for the Sudetenland (in the summer of 1938), the Hlinka Guard emerged spontaneously, and on October 8 of that year, a week after Hitler's demand had been accepted at the Munich conference, the guard was officially set up, with Karol Sidor (1901–1953) as its first commander.
The Hlinka Guard was known for its participation in the Holocaust in Slovakia; its members appropriated Jewish property and rounded up Jews for deportation in 1942. Under one of the Beneš decrees, No. 16/1945 Coll., membership of the Hlinka Guard was punishable by 5 to 20 years' imprisonment.Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions
The Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions or Flying Squads of the Hlinka Guard (Slovak: Pohotovostné oddiely Hlinkovej gardy, POHG) were Slovak paramilitary formations set up to counter the August 1944 Slovak National Uprising. They are best known for the role they played in murdering Jews, Romani people, and actual or suspected Slovak partisans in conjunction with Einsatzgruppe H, especially for their participation in the Kremnička massacre.Ján Golian
Ján Golian (January 26, 1906, Dombóvár, Hungary – 1945, Flossenbürg concentration camp, Germany) was a Slovak Brigadier General who became famous as one of the main organizers and the commander of the insurrectionist 1st Czechoslovak Army in Slovakia during the Slovak National Uprising against the Nazis.Kalište (Slovakia)
Kalište (Hungarian: Kallós) was a former village in the Banská Bystrica district in the Slovak Republic. It was destroyed by the Nazis during the Slovak National Uprising in Second World War. Its remains are now managed by the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising.Kremnička and Nemecká massacres
The Kremnička and Nemecká massacres were a series of massacres committed between 5 November 1944 and 19 February 1945 in Kremnička and Nemecká, Slovakia by the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions and Einsatzkommando 14 following the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. During the uprising, many Jews fled to Banská Bystrica, a partisan stronghold; when the town fell, Jews, actual or suspected Slovak partisans, and Romani people captured during roundups were temporarily held in the town's jail. The victims were then trucked to the murder sites at Kremnička and Nemecká, where they were shot. The majority of the 747 people shot at Kremnička were Jewish. Exact figures are not known for the Nemecká massacres, because the bodies were burned, but historians estimate a death toll of around 900, of whom most of the known victims were Jewish or Romani.Most SNP
Most SNP ("Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising"), commonly referred to as Most Slovenského národného povstania or the UFO Bridge, and named Nový most ("New Bridge") from 1993 to 2012, is a road bridge over the Danube in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It is the world's longest bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane.
Nový most is an asymmetrical cable-stayed bridge with a main span length of 303 m (994 ft), a total length of 430.8 m (1,413 ft), a width of 21 m (69 ft), and a weight of 537 t (592 short tons). Its steel construction is suspended from steel cables, connected on the Petržalka side to two pillars. There are four lanes for motor traffic on the upper level and lanes for bicycles and pedestrians on the lower level.Nemčice
Nemčice (Hungarian: Nemcsicz, Nyitranémeti) is a municipality in the Topoľčany District of the Nitra Region, Slovakia. In 2011 it had 977 inhabitants.During World War II, the village was a site of mass killings of Jews and Roma. On September 11, 1944, 53 people were executed. The massacre was performed by German troops who had occupied Slovakia since August 29, 1944, when Slovak National Uprising began.Public holidays in Slovakia
National holidays in Slovakia
See also Remembrance days in Slovakia.Rudolf Viest
Rudolf Viest (24 September 1890, Revúca, Gömör és Kis-Hont County, Kingdom of Hungary, – 1945 ?, Flossenbürg concentration camp ?, Germany) was a Slovak military leader, member of the Czechoslovak government in exile, member of the Slovak National Council and the commander of the 1st Czechoslovak army during the Slovak National Uprising. He was the Slovak with the highest military function and the only Slovak general during the interwar period in the first Czechoslovak Republic.SNP Square (Banská Bystrica)
Slovak National Uprising Square (Námestie Slovenského národného povstania), or SNP Square (Námestie SNP) is an area in central Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, named after the insurgency of 1944. It has been the hub of the city's life and a prestigious address for more than 600 years. During the 20th century, the square saw periodic mass gatherings celebrating first national independence, then the defeat of the uprising after which it is now named, and finally the memory of the event. Dotted by cafés, restaurants, and small stores, it is a popular place for the locals to linger, and a tourist attraction notable for its historical buildings, and visual appeal. The whole square is a free public WiFi hotspot.Sliač Airport
Sliač Airport (IATA: SLD, ICAO: LZSL) or, historically, Letisko Tri Duby (literally, "The Three Oaks Airport") is an international airport in central Slovakia situated between the towns of Zvolen and Banská Bystrica and near the spa town of Sliač. The airport has one runway which is 2,400 m long (18/36). The airport is used by the military as well as commercially for civilian flights.Slovak Insurgent Air Force
The Slovak Insurgent Air Force (in Slovak: Slovenské povstalecké letectvo) was an Allied air unit which fought against Axis forces in Slovakia and participated in Slovak National Uprising in August-October 1944.Slovak Republic (1939–1945)
The (First) Slovak Republic (Slovak: [Prvá] Slovenská republika), otherwise known as the Slovak State (Slovenský štát), was a client state of Nazi Germany which existed between 14 March 1939 and 4 April 1945. It controlled the majority of the territory of present-day Slovakia but without its current southern and eastern parts, which had been ceded to Hungary in 1938. The Republic bordered Germany, constituent parts of "Großdeutschland", the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland – and subsequently the General Government (German-occupied remnant of Poland) – along with independent Hungary.
Germany recognized the Slovak State, as did several other states, including Croatia, El Salvador, Estonia, Italy, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Manchukuo, Romania, the Soviet Union, Spain, Switzerland, and the Vatican City. The majority of the Allies of World War II never recognized the existence of the Slovak Republic. The Soviet Union nullified its recognition after Slovakia joined the invasion of the USSR in 1941.Tančík vz. 33
The Tančík vz. 33 (literal translation "Tankette model 33") was a Czechoslovak-designed tankette used mainly by Slovakia during World War II. Seventy-four were built. The Germans seized forty when they occupied Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939; there is no record of their use. The Slovak Republic inherited thirty at the same time when it declared independence from Czechoslovakia. In Slovak service it only saw combat during the Slovak National Uprising.
|Camps and prisons|
|Massacres and roundups|