Slovak in Slovakia


A statue of Napoleon

Slovak people are descendants of the Slavs who inhabited the region in 5th-6th century A.D. and of the Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians who settled in Slovakia throughout history. In the 9th century, Slovakia became part of the Moravian Empire, under whose rulers Christianity was introduced. From the Magyar conquest of Slovakia early in the 10th century until 1918, Slovakia was part of Hungary and then Austro-Hungary. In 1918, Czechoslovak Republic was created by the union of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and Slovak people began their first historical period under democratic rule and international recognition as a nation. In 1938, under a fascist government, Slovakia briefly became an independent country. After the liberation from fascism by the Soviet Red Army in 1945, Czechoslovakia became part of the Eastern Block, with the Communist party taking power and creating a totalitarian socialist system. In November 1989, under the influence of popular revolutions in other Eastern European countries, Communism was defeated in what came to be known as the Velvet Revolution. In 1993, in the atmosphere of new political freedom, Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic to become an independent country. Presently, Slovakia is living through a period of democratization and economic transformation. In 2004, the country is due to enter the European Union.

The two videos on this page are a personal account of two critical points in Slovak history: the creation of the independent Slovak fascist state in 1938 and the end of the Second World War in 1945. Most notably, they illustrate an age-old Slovak problem that springs from a history of cultural colonization: the question of what it means to be a “true” Slovak.

The image: a statue of Napoleon commemorates a treaty between Napoleon and Austria-Hungary signed in Bratislava in 1805, by which Austria-Hungary ceded to France all her Italian and Adriatic provinces.