First Vienna Award: Wikis


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The partition of Czechoslovakia. First Vienna Award in red

The First Vienna Award was the result of the First Vienna Arbitration, which took place at Vienna's Belvedere Palace on November 2, 1938. The Arbitration and Award were direct consequences of the Munich Agreement (September 30, 1938).

By the First Vienna Award, arbiters from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sought a non-violent way to enforce the territorial claims of Hungary, in revision of the Treaty of Trianon of 1920. Nazi Germany was by then well into her own revision of the Versailles Treaty, with her request for a plebiscite in the Saar Region (13 January 1935), remilitarization of the Rhineland (7 March 1936) and Anschluss with Austria (12 March 1938).

The First Vienna Award separated largely Magyar-populated territories in southern Slovakia and southern Carpathian Rus from Czechoslovakia and awarded them to Hungary. Hungary thus regained some of the territories in present-day Slovakia and Ukraine that she had lost by the Treaty of Trianon in the post-World War I dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In mid-March 1939, Adolf Hitler gave Hungary permission to occupy the rest of Carpathian Rus, north up to the Polish border, thus creating a common Hungarian-Polish border. This was not a historic Polish-Hungarian Border as prior to the end of the first world war and the Treaty of Trianon and the Treaty of Saint Germain, the Carpathian region of the former Kingdom of Hungary (Transleithania) in the Austro-Hungarian empire was bordered to the north by the province of Galicia which in turn was part of Cisleithania, the Imperial Austrian or Hapsburg controlled part of the dual monarchy. Six months later, in September 1939, the Polish government and part of its military would escape to Hungary and Romania, and from there to France and French-mandated Syria to carry on the war against Hitler's Germany.

After World War II, the 1947 Treaty of Paris declared the Vienna Award null and void.



Before the negotiations

The award, rendered in favor of Hungary, was one of the consequences of the Munich Agreement. However, it's important to emphasize that the award had nothing to do with the goals of the Munich Agreement; whilst the latter intended to change the status of Czech territories, the award was a worldwide favoured correction of the Trianon borders which less than 20 years ago had not consider neither 1000-year-old status quo nor ethnic maps in favor of newly created states (e.g. Czecho-Slovakia). This is the reason that although together with the Munich Agreement, it was part of Germany's plan for the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, supposedly a supporter of panslavism, did not make any strong move against this act. Hungary openly planned to reannex the former Hungarian territories of the earlier Upper Hungary with a Hungarian majority, the southern territory Slovakia and the Subcarpathian Rus. A third player was Poland, with an authoritarian regime led by Józef Beck; Poland and Hungary found common interest in laying claim to parts of Slovakia. However Hungary, with its army almost completely disarmed by the Treaty of Trianon, feared the consequences of a military conflict with a well-armed Czechoslovakia. As Horthy put it on October 16, 1938, "A Hungarian military intervention would be a disaster for Hungary, because the Czechoslovak army has currently the best arms in Europe and Budapest is only five minutes from the border for Czechoslovak aircraft. They would neutralize me before I could get up from my bed." As for Poland, Adolf Hitler had other plans (see History of Poland: World War II).

Since Hungary did not want a military conflict, she tried to get the desired territories through diplomacy. Hitler, having no interest in breaking up the status quo in the Carpathian basin, promised all things to all parties. As early as November 1937, Hitler had promised Hungary an unspecified portion of Czechoslovakia; at the same time, Hitler assured Czechoslovakia that no modification on borders would be carried out. At the beginning of 1938, representatives of Hungary and of Hungarian and German political parties in Czechoslovakia worked for its disintegration. On February 11, 1938, they made an agreement in Budapest that "Czechoslovakia must be broken up." On April 17–18, 1938, Count János Eszterházy, a leader of the Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia, presented in Warsaw, Poland, a plan drawn up by the Hungarian government which aimed at breaking up Czechoslovakia and incorporating territory of Slovakia back into Hungary. Miklós Kozma, palatine to Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy, would openly admit a year later, on April 12, 1939 — after the Vienna Award — that "the demands of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries were only tactics directed at implementing a strategic goal — the restoration of the Kingdom of Hungary occupying the entire Carpathian Basin."

On September 30, 1938, the Munich Agreement was concluded regarding the German population in Czechoslovakia. Following pressures from Poland and Hungary, the agreement received supplementary protocols. Proposed from the Italian side, the clause of the Munich Agreement requested Czechoslovakia to resolve territorial disputes with Hungary and Poland with substantial Hungarian and Polish minorities within three month through bilateral negotiations; otherwise matters would be resolved by the four signatories to the Munich Agreement (Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom). The principle of four powers handling all important issues in Europe was however deeply resented by Poland, leading to annexation Zaolzie (801,5 km², with a predominantly Polish population) already on October 1, pursuant to demands made on Czechoslovakia as early as September 21. The negotiations required by the Munich Agreement began only on October 25, 1938. As a result of them, on December 1 Poland received further territories, this time in northern Slovakia, comprising 226 km², with 4,280 inhabitants, less than 0.3% of whom were Poles.

Following the early-October occupation of frontier regions of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia by Germany pursuant to the Munich Agreement, the Czechoslovak territories of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus received autonomy within Czechoslovakia on October 6 and October 11, respectively. In November 1938, Subcarpathian Rus was unofficially renamed "Carpathian Ukraine" aka "Carpatho-Ukraine" by the new pro-Ukrainian government of Avhustin Voloshyn.

Main negotiations

Invoking the negotiation provisions of the Munich Agreement, Hungary on October 1 demanded that Czechoslovakia begin negotiations. Under international pressure, and facing diversionist activities by specially trained groups of Hungarian partisans sent mainly to the frontier regions, Czechoslovakia agreed to begin negotiations, which took place between October 9 and October 13, 1938, in Komárno on the Slovak northern bank of the Danube River, just on the border of Hungary.

The Czechoslovak delegation was led by the Prime Minister of the Slovak Nazi puppet state, Jozef Tiso, and included Ferdinand Durčanský, Minister of Justice in the Slovak cabinet, and General Rudolf Viest. The Prague Government (the central government of Czechoslovakia) was represented by Dr. Ivan Krno, Political Director of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Autonomous Subcarpathian Rus was mainly represented by I. Párkányi, Subcarpathian minister without portfolio. The Hungarian delegation was led by Foreign Minister Kálmán Kánya and Minister of Education Pál Teleki. The Czechoslovak (mostly Slovak) delegation was inexperienced and unprepared, because the puppet regime had many other internal problems to solve. The Hungarian delegation, on the other hand, comprised experienced individuals, and its government had had an opportunity on October 8 to discuss the negotiations in advance.

The basic difference between the arguments of the two parties was that the Hungarians presented the 1910 census figures (as had Germany during the Munich Conference) while Czechoslovakia presented the latest, 1930 figures, contested the validity of the 1910 census, and later also presented figures from Hungarian censuses before 1900.

One of the chief reasons for the discrepancies between the ethnic proportions as indicated in the 1910 Hungarian and the 1930 Czechoslovak censuses was the large number of individuals of mixed origins, or Slovak-Hungarian bilinguals, who could declare themselves with equal ease as either Slovaks or Hungarians, and decided to go for the side where they were not harassed. Another reason for a large difference in the two censuses was that both states preferred to fill public administration positions with members of the state-forming nation, whose loyalty to the state was not questioned. This implied that a large number of former Hungarian civil servants and intellectuals were driven out of Czechoslovakia after the Treaty of Trianon, and the same tendency could have been observed after the First Vienna Award, this time to the detriment of the Slovak civil servants. According to 'official' Hungarian statistics 107,000 Hungarians had to escape from their home between 1918–1924 (10% of the total Hungarian population of Czechoslovakia)

Agreeing to a Hungarian request for two border-crossing towns, the Czechoslovak delegation offered Hungary the railway town of Slovenské Nové Mesto (until 1918 a suburb of the Hungarian town of Sátoraljaújhely) as well as the town of Šahy (Hungarian: Ipolyság). Both were occupied by Hungary on October 12.

At the beginning of the negotiations, Hungary demanded southern Slovak and Subcarpathian territories up to and including the line defined by Devín (Hungarian: Dévény) - Bratislava (Pozsony) - Nitra (Nyitra) - Tlmače (Garamtolmács) - Levice (Léva) - Lučenec (Losonc) - Rimavská Sobota (Rimaszombat) - Jelšava (Jolsva) - Rožňava (Rozsnyó) - Košice (Kassa) - Trebišov (Tőketerebes) - Pavlovce (Pálócz) - Uzhhorod (Slovak: Užhorod, Hungarian: Ungvár) - Mukacheve (Mukačevo, Munkács) - Vinogradiv (Nagyszőlős). In 1930, the Slovak portion of this territory (12,124 km², about 85% of the total) comprised 550,000 Magyars and 432,000 Slovaks (according to the 1930 census), and held 23% of the total population of Slovakia. The Hungarians further demanded a plebiscite in the remaining territory of Slovakia, in which Slovaks would declare whether they wanted to be incorporated into Hungary.

The Czechoslovak delegation, for its part, offered Hungary the creation of an autonomous Hungarian territory within Slovakia. Kánya characterized the proposal as a "joke". Czechoslovakia then offered the cession of Great Rye Island (Slovak: Žitný ostrov, Hungarian: Csallóköz, 1838 km², with 105,418 inhabitants of whom an overwhelming majority were Hungarians), the creation of a free port in the town of Komárno, and a population exchange in the remaining frontier regions. Since Hungary turned down this offer as well, on October 13 the Czechoslovak delegation proposed another solution, under which there would remain as many Slovaks and Rusyns in Hungary as Magyars in Czechoslovakia. This proposal involved Czechoslovakia keeping the main towns of the region: Levice (Léva), Košice (Kassa), and Uzhhorod (Ungvár). This offer was unacceptable to Hungary. In this aspect, it was not clear why Rusyns, a would-be minority in both countries, counted as Slovaks in the Slovak proposal. On the evening of October 13, after consultations in Budapest, Kánya declared that the negotiations as failed, and asked the four signatories of the Munich Agreement to be the adjudicator. As United Kingdom and France have decided not to undertake any decision, the adjudicators became Joachim von Ribbentrop German Foreign Minister and Galeazzo Ciano Italian Foreign Minister. There are unfortunately no public documents from Entente powers why the border agreement was "ignored".

After the negotiations

On October 5, 1938, Germany had decided internally that "for military reasons a common Hungarian-Polish frontier was undesirable", and that "it was [in Germany's] military interest that Slovakia should not be separated from the Czechoslovak union but should remain with Czechoslovakia under strong German influence."

On October 13, the day the negotiations deadlocked, Hungary conducted a partial mobilization and, shortly after, Czechoslovakia declared martial law in her frontier region. Hungary sent delegations both to Italy and to Germany. Count Csáky went to Rome, and Italy began preparing a four-power conference similar to the one that had produced the Munich Agreement. On October 16 the Hungarian emissary in Germany, Kálmán Darányi, told Hitler that Hungary was ready to fight. Hitler demonstrated that Hungary had lied to him in claiming that the Slovaks and Rusyns desired union with Hungary at all costs, and said that if Hungary started a conflict, nobody would help her. He advised Hungary to continue the negotiations and to observe the ethnic principle. Hitler also indicated that Hungary would not receive the (largely German) town of Bratislava, because Germans did not want to live as a minority under Hungary. As a result of this conversation, Ribbentrop, in cooperation with Hungary and in the presence of Czechoslovak (more exactly, Czech) Foreign Minister František Chvalkovský, substituted for the Hungarian proposal a new frontier line, the "Ribbentrop line". This kept closer to the ethnic principle but actually differed little from the Hungarian proposal. During the drawing of his line, Ribbentrop contacted Italy and told her to drop the plans for a four-power conference, because Germany preferred to act "behind the scenes".

Back in Prague, the Czechoslovak foreign minister recommended accepting the Ribbentrop line. On October 19, however, the Slovak representatives Tiso and Ďurčanský met with Ribbentrop in Munich and managed to persuade him to assign Košice (with 75% Hungarian majority in 1910) to Czechoslovakia and to accept the principle that there should remain as many Slovaks and Rusyns in Hungary as Magyars in Czechoslovakia. A few days later, Ribbentrop revealed to be quite hostile to the Hungarians. As Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano saw it, "The truth is that he intends to protect Czechoslovakia as far as he can and sacrifice the ambitions, even the legitimate ambitions, of Hungary".

After October 17, activities around Subcarpathian Rus intensified. Poland proposed a partition of Subcarpathian Rus among Hungary, Poland and Romania. Romania, staunch ally of Czechoslovakia against Hungary, rebuffed the proposal, even offering military support for Czechoslovakia in Subcarpathia. Hungary, in turn, attempted to persuade the Carpathorusyn representatives to become part of Hungary. Since a common Polish-Hungarian frontier, which would arise by a Hungarian annexation of Subcarpathian Rus, had been a long-time dream of both Poland and Hungary, Poland was moving troops toward that frontier for support. However, since a common Polish-Hungarian frontier would mean a minor flanking of Germany, Germany was willing to countenance such a common frontier only if Poland made compensation by giving up the Danzig corridor to East Prussia. Poland refused the German proposal. On October 20, the Rusyns produced a resolution more or less in favor of a plebiscite concerning the entirety of Carpathorus becoming part of Hungary. Five days later Subcarpathian Prime Minister Andriy Borody was placed under arrest in Prague, and Subcarpathian Foreign Minister Avhustyn Voloshyn was appointed prime minister in his stead. He was willing to consider the cession only of ethnically Hungarian territories to Hungary, and rejected the idea of a plebiscite.

Resumed negotiations

In the meantime, negotiations between Czechoslovakia and Hungary resumed via diplomatic channels. As a result of the Slovak visit to Munich on October 19, Czechoslovakia made her "Third Territorial Offer" on October 22: she offered to cede Hungary 9,606 km² in southern Slovakia plus 1,694 km² in Subcarpathian Rus; Czechoslovakia would retain Bratislava, Nitra and Košice. Hungary turned down the proposal and demanded that the territories offered by Czechoslovakia be immediately occupied by Hungary, that there be a plebiscite in the disputed territory, and that Subcarpathia "decide her own future". Hungary also warned that if Czechoslovakia refused this proposal, Hungary would demand arbitration (Italo-German in Western Slovakia, Italo-German-Polish in Eastern Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus). Czechoslovakia rejected the demands, but agreed to arbitrate. Both parties hoped that Germany would support their demands. Meanwhile Britain and France announced a lack of interest in arbitration, but remained ready to participate in a four-power conference if such should arise.

Before the arbitration

Czechoslovakia, however, underestimated Hungary's influence with Italy. Hungary managed to persuade Italy that the powerful German influence exercised through Czechoslovakia could be eliminated by a strong Hungary, which would support Italy. Consequently on October 27, in Rome, Italian Foreign Minister Ciano persuaded Ribbentrop — who meanwhile had changed his mind and now supported a four-power conference — that German-Italian arbitration was a good idea as it would be a major move against Franco-British influence. After long hesitation, Ribbentrop was also persuaded that the award should go beyond the ethnic principle, and should above all give Hungary the important Czechoslovak towns of Košice (Kassa), Uzhhorod (Ungvár) and Mukachevo (Munkács). Giving up the last two Carpathorusyn towns, however, meant that Carpatho-Ruthenia would be deprived of her economic centers and could not survive. Of course, Czechoslovakia did not know about this change in Ribbentrop's attitude, and the Slovak leaders' confidence in a favorable German decision was instrumental in bringing them to accept arbitration.

On October 29, 1938, Czechoslovakia and Hungary officially asked Germany and Italy to arbitrate, and declared in advance that they would abide by the results.



The award was rendered in Vienna by the foreign ministers of Germany (Joachim von Ribbentrop) and Italy (Galeazzo Ciano). The Hungarian delegation was led by Foreign Minister Kálmán Kánya, accompanied by Minister of Education Pál Teleki. The Czechoslovak delegation was led by Foreign Minister František Chvalkovský and by Ivan Krno. Important members of the Czechoslovak delegation included representatives of Subcarpathian Rus — Prime Minister Avhustyn Voloshyn — and of Slovakia: Prime Minister Jozef Tiso and Minister of Justice Ferdinand Ďurčanský. Hermann Göring was also present.


The arbitration began in the Belvedere Palace, in Vienna, at noon on November 2, 1938. The Czechoslovak and Hungarian delegations were allowed to present their arguments. Chvalkovský was brief and left the task of presenting the Czechoslovak case to Minister Krno. Ribbentrop then prevented Slovak Prime Minister Tiso and Subcarpathian Prime Minister Voloshyn from officially stating their views. As Ribbentrop explained, Tiso and Voloshyn participated in the bilateral negotiations as members of the Czechoslovakian delegation, so they could not be considered third parties.

The two arbiters, Ribbentrop and Ciano, continued their conversations with the delegates at lunch and then retired to a separate room, where they argued over a map. Ciano sought to shift the new frontier north; Ribbentrop sought to shift it in the opposite direction. The Italian foreign minister prevailed. When the award was announced around 7 p.m., the Czechoslovak delegation was so shocked that Jozef Tiso actually had to be talked by Ribbentrop and Chvalkovský into signing the document.

Provisions of the award

Czechoslovakia was obliged to surrender the territories in southern Slovakia and southern Subcarpathia south of the line (and inclusive of the towns of) Senec (Szenc) - Galanta (Galánta) - Vráble (Verebély)- Levice (Léva) - Lučenec (Losonc) - Rimavská Sobota (Rimaszombat) - Jelšava (Jolsva) - Rožnava (Rozsnyó) - Košice (Kassa) - Michaľany (Szentmihályfalva) - Veľké Kapušany (Nagykapos) - Uzhhorod (Ungvár) - Mukachevo (Munkács)- to the border with Romania. Thus Czechoslovakia retained the western Slovak towns of Bratislava and Nitra, while Hungary recovered the three disputed eastern towns as well as four others in the central area.

These territories came to 11,927 km² (10,390 of them in what is as of 2004 present-day Slovakia, the rest in Carpathian Ruthenia) with approximately 1,060,000 inhabitants.

. Area (km²) Population Hungarian Slovak
Population Ratio (%) Population Ratio (%)
Czechslovak census (1930) 11 927 852 332 506 208 59 290 107 34
Hungarian census (1941) 869 299 751 944 84,1 85 392 9,8

According to Slovak sources 67,000 Hungarians, according to Hungarian sources, 70,000 remained in the non-annexed part of Slovakia.

Slovak sources declare that although, analogously to the Munich Agreement, the award was supposed to have ceded territories that, according to the 1910 census, had more than 50% Magyars, in reality the award was contrary even to that old census in several regions, especially in the areas of rural Košice, Bratislava, Nové Zámky, Vráble, Hurbanovo and Jelšava. If the Czechoslovak census is taken for basis: Slovaks constituted the majority in 182 communities out of the 779 ceded, and were 60% in the ceded town of Košice and 73% in the ceded district of Vráble.

Hungarian sources however state Košice (Kassa) had 75% Hungarian majority, Bratislava itself had a German 41% relative majority, Hungarian population was 40% while Slovakian 14% in 1910, and Nové Zámky had 91% Hungarians.

Slovakia lost 21% of its territory, 20% of its industry, over 30% of its arable land, 27% of its power stations, 28% of its extractable iron ore, over 50% of its vineyards, 35% of its swine and 930 km of railway tracks. Eastern Slovakia lost its central town, Košice. Eastern Slovakia and many towns in southern Slovakia lost their railway connections to the rest of the world, because their only railway lines ran through the annexed territories and the border was closed. Carpathian Ruthenia was deprived of its two principal towns, Uzhhorod and Munkachevo, and of all of its fertile lands. We have to add that this border adjustment was in any case not comparable to the Treaty of Trianon, and from the Hungarian side, the resources of cities and the railroads were reconnected.

In addition, the award stated that "both parties accept the arbitral award as the final frontier adjustment".


The award was, of course, unfavorable to Slovakia and Carpatho-Ukraine. The fact that the rest of Slovakia remained a separate entity enabled Germany to gain control over this strategic territory in central Europe and later to play Hungary and Slovakia off against each other, with both trying to gain German approval.

Aftermath of the Vienna Award

Shortly after the award had been announced, János Eszterházy, a leader of Hungarian minority in Slovakia, proposed that Hungary return to Slovakia 1000 km² of the territory that Hungary had received (more precisely, predominantly Slovak lands in the districts of Šurany (Nagysurány) and Palárikovo (Tótmegyer) in order to ensure long-term peaceful coexistence between the two nations. His proposal was ignored in Budapest.

The ceded territories were occupied by Hungarian honvéds (Magyar Királyi Honvédség) between November 5 and 10, 1938. On November 11, Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy solemnly entered the principal town, Košice (Kassa). By that time 15,000 Czechs and Slovaks (the Czechs settled there after 1919) had left the town; 15,000 more would do so before the month was out, leaving perhaps 12,000 Slovaks and virtually no Czechs.

The recovered Upper Hungary territories were incorporated into Hungary on November 12, 1938, by act of the Hungarian Parliament. Following the ancient counties of the Kingdom of Hungary, the occupied territory was divided into two new counties with seats in Nové Zámky and Levice, while some lands became part of other Hungarian counties.

As the frontier established by the award had been set on a large-scale map, Hungary was able to shift the actual frontier even farther North during the delimitation process. Czechoslovakia did not protest, because its government was terrified of another arbitration.

Under pressure from Hitler, Slovakia on March 14, 1939, declared her total independence. Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. Two days earlier, Hitler had informed Hungary that she was allowed to occupy the rest of Carpathorus within 24 hours, but that she was to keep her hands off the remainder of Slovakia, which Hitler wanted to turn into a strategically located German ally, especially for his planned invasion of Poland. On March 14–15, what remained of Carpathorus declared its independence, and shortly after, between March 15 and 18, "Carpatho-Ukraine" was occupied by Hungary. From Carpatho-Ukraine, Hungary on March 15 occupied a small part of Slovakia. Seeing no substantial reaction, Hungary on March 23 launched a larger attack on Eastern Slovakia. The plan was to "advance as far west as possible." After a short Slovak-Hungarian War (with several Hungarian air raids, e.g. March 24 on Spišská Nová Ves, Hungary was forced by Germany to stop and negotiate. As a result of the negotiations (March 27–April 4), Hungary received further territories in Eastern Slovakia (1,897 km²) with 69,630 inhabitants, almost exclusively Slovaks or Rusyns. This was a violation of the spirit of the Vienna Award. (The argument of the Hungarian government was that the Vienna award was an arbitration between Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the latter had ceased to exist a few days earlier.)

Life in the annexed territories

The Hungarian author K. Janics would write in 1994 that 90% of Hungarians in the annexed territories welcomed the annexation, but as early as the summer of 1939 the same Hungarians would have liked to secede from Hungary. In fact, their objection was not to Hungary as such but to the authoritarian regime of Miklós Horthy, which had ruled Hungary since 1920 and although the country had recovered somewhat since World War I, Czechoslovakia was generally more prosperous. As by the Treaty of Trianon the Hungarian economy was depressed, so in Hungary there were longer working hours, higher prices, lower pay, higher taxes, no collective bargaining, no unemployment benefits, almost no leaves of absence from work. The local population failed in most of their attempts to preserve the advantages of the Czechoslovak system, but did prevail on one count: both in the annexed territories and throughout Hungary, compulsory education was increased from 6 years to the Czechoslovak standard of 8.

In violation of the provisions of the award, Hungary imposed military dictatorship on the annexed territories (which were administered by the military) and failed to promote minorities. On the contrary, Slovak, Rusyn, Jewish, and to some extent also German citizens of the annexed territories were subjected to persecution. In particular, Hungarian gendarmes frequently committed violence against Slovaks. The best-known case occurred at Christmas 1938, when gendarmes fired at Slovaks leaving a church, merely because they had sung a Slovak national song during mass. Special military courts which sentenced resistance members to death or torture were nothing out of the ordinary. Looting of Slovak and Czech stores and properties in the annexed territories was commonplace. Many Slovak libraries and books were burned; thousands of Slovak and Czech employees — especially in the railways and public services — were dismissed; Slovak and Jewish trade licenses were revoked; priests unwilling to say mass in Hungarian were tortured. Most Slovak schools were closed (386 primary schools, 28 council schools ["burgher schools"] and 10 gymnasia); protestors were imprisoned, and 862 of 1,119 Slovak teachers were fired. Many of them were presumably among the 100,000 Slovaks and Czechs who fled or were expelled from the annexed territories. Deportations began with an order of November 5, 1938, from the Hungarian Chief of Staff that all Czech and Slovak colonists be expelled from the annexed territories. Only when the upset Slovak government ordered retaliatory measures against Magyars in Slovakia in November 1938, did Hungary start to negotiate. The result of all this was — as the Hungarian ambassador in Prague put it in February 1939 — that "emotional conflicts have arisen between the Slovaks and Hungarians that have never existed before".

In addition, the Hungarian authorities openly and deliberately called up mainly Slovaks, Romanians and Rusyns into the Second Hungarian Army, which was sent to the Soviet Union in 1942. This army was totally defeated at the Battle of the Don, with thousands of fatalities. In this connection, Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Kállay said on February 23, 1943: "Thank God the losses of the Hungarian Army did not to an appreciable extent touch the substance of the Magyar nation, because the [non-Magyar] nationalities have lost more lives".

After World War II

After the Soviet Army's occupation of the annexed territories, they — like the short-lived Slovak republic — immediately became part of Czechoslovakia again (see below: Nullification). After World War II, until 1948, the Hungarians were considered war criminals, except for those who had been underground resistance fighters against the Germans. However, the Allies did not allow a deportation of the Hungarians similar to that of Germans from the Czech lands, instead they invented another brutal idea: "exchange of ethnicity", in which 68,407 Magyars were resettled to Hungary in exchange for Slovaks resettled to Czechoslovakia. A further 31,780 Magyars were expelled because they had come to these territories only after the Vienna Award. Hungarians and Germans were forced to go through a Re-Slovakization process. Earlier, with a will to assimilate Hungarians in Czechoslovakia, some 44,000 Magyars, much as over 100,000 Slovaks, had been sent or deported to the depopulated Sudetenland for labor service. One or two years later, the Hungarians were allowed to return to southern Slovakia, and some 24,000 availed themselves of the opportunity. This brief lawless period ended with the 1948 Communist coup (see History of Czechoslovakia), following which the Hungarians — unlike the Germans — got back their Czechoslovak citizenship and all their rights, but not the property (see Benes decrees). In October 1948 the Czechoslovak parliament restored Czechoslovak citizenship to Hungarians who were resident in Slovakia on November 1, 1938, and who had not been convicted of crime. This latter provision excluded from restitution the Hungarian "war criminals", a category that embraced a large number of Hungarians; members of Hungarian cultural or social associations or of Hungarian political parties; people connected directly or indirectly with the Hungarian administration in the years 1938 to 1944.

Strategic role of the Hungarian-Polish border

From the Middle Ages well into the 18th century, Hungary and Poland had shared a historic common border, and the two peoples had always enjoyed good-neighborly relations. Following the Munich Agreement (September 30, 1938) the two countries, from common as well as their own special interests, had worked together to restore their historic common border.[1] A step toward their goal was realized with the First Vienna Award (November 2, 1938).

Until mid-March 1939, Germany had considered that "for military reasons a common Hungarian-Polish frontier was undesirable". Indeed Hitler, when in March 1939 authorizing Hungary to occupy the rest of Carpathorus, had warned Hungary not to touch the remainder of Slovakia. He meant to use Slovakia as a staging ground for his planned invasion of Poland. In March 1939 Hitler changed his mind about the common Hungarian-Polish frontier, and decided to betray Germany's ally, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, who had already in 1938 begun organizing Ukrainian military units in a sich outside Uzhhorod under German tutelage – a sich that Polish political and military authorities saw as a real and present danger to nearby southeastern Poland, with its largely Ukrainian population.[2] Hitler, however, was concerned that, if a Ukrainian army organized in Rus were to accompany German forces invading the Soviet Union, Ukrainian nationalists would insist on the establishment of an independent Ukraine; Hitler, who had plans for the natural and farming resources of the Ukraine, did not want to have to have to deal with an independent Ukrainian government.[3]

Hitler would soon have cause to regret his decision regarding the fate of Carpatho-Ukraine. In six months, during his 1939 invasion of Poland, the common Hungarian-Polish border would become of major importance when Admiral Horthy's government, on the ground of long-time friendship between Poles and Hungarians, declined, as a matter of Hungarian honor,[4] Hitler's request to transit German forces across Carpathian Rus into southeastern Poland to speed Poland's conquest. This in turn allowed the Polish government and tens of thousands of Polish military personnel to escape into neighboring Hungary and Romania, and from there to France and French-mandated Syria to carry on operations as the third-strongest Allied belligerent after Britain and France. Also, for a time Polish and British intelligence agents and couriers, including the famous Krystyna Skarbek, used Hungary's Carpathorus as a route across the Carpathian Mountains to and from Poland.[5]


While World War II was still in progress, the Allies had declared the Vienna Award null and void, because it was a direct result of the equally void Munich Agreement and was a violation of international law and of the September 30, 1938, agreement between Germany and Great Britain, requiring consultations with Britain and France before such an award. (This is dubious, as the latter parties showed no interest). This was confirmed in the peace treaty with Hungary (Treaty of Paris) signed February 10, 1947, whose Article 1 (4a) stated that "The decisions of the Vienna Award of November 2, 1938, are declared null and void." The Treaty went on to declare that the frontier between Hungary and Czechoslovakia was to be fixed along the former frontier between Hungary and Czechoslovakia as it existed on January 1, 1938 (except for three villages south of Bratislava, which were given to Czechoslovakia). The Soviet Union, seeking a border with Hungary, had "received" Subcarpathian Ruthenia from Czechoslovakia in June 1945. Neither the Vienna Act nor the nullification solved the problem of mixed ethnicities in southern Slovakia. Like so many nationality questions, the problem retreated into the twilight during the communist years as part of the Pax Sovietica; like all Eastern Bloc countries, Czechoslovakia and Hungary officially considered themselves "socialist brother countries," and differing political opinions on the matter were not encouraged by the authorities. The post-communist nationalist landscape has, however, seen the matter re-emerge.

See also


  1. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", East European Quarterly", vol. XXIII, no. 3 (September 1989), pp. 366-67, 370. Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki: tajna akcja polskiego wywiadu (The Carpathian Back Door: a Covert Polish Intelligence Operation), p. 11.
  2. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", p. 366.
  3. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", pp. 370-71.
  4. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", p. 370.
  5. ^ Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia," pp. 371–73;Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki (The Carpathian Back Door); and Edmund Charaszkiewicz, "Referat o działaniach dywersyjnych na Rusi Karpackiej" ("Report on Covert Operations in Carpathian Rus").


  • Deák, Ladislav, Hra o Slovensko (The play for the stake "Slovakia"), Slovak Academy of Sciences, 1991.
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  • Deák, Ladislav, Viedenská arbitráž 2. November 1938. Dokumenty, zv. 1 (20. September – 2. November 1938) (Vienna Arbitral of November 2, 1938: Documents, volume 1 [September 20 – November 2, 1938]), Matica slovenská, 2002.
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  • Jerzy Kupliński, "Polskie działania dywersyjne na Ukrainie Zakarpackiej w 1938 r." ("Polish 1938 Covert Operations in Transcarpathian Ukraine"), Wojskowy Przegląd Historyczny (Military Historical Review), no. 4, 1996.
  • Kronika Slovenska (Chronicle of Slovakia), vol. II, Fortuna Print Praha, 1999.
  • Józef Kasparek, "Poland's 1938 Covert Operations in Ruthenia", East European Quarterly", vol. XXIII, no. 3 (September 1989), pp. 365–73.
  • Józef Kasparek, Przepust karpacki: tajna akcja polskiego wywiadu (The Carpathian Back Door: a Covert Polish Intelligence Operation), Warszawa, Wydawnictwo Czasopism i Książek Technicznych SIGMA NOT, 1992, ISBN 83-85001-96-4.
  • Edmund Charaszkiewicz, "Referat o działaniach dywersyjnych na Rusi Karpackiej" ("Report on Covert Operations in Carpathian Rus"), in Zbiór dokumentów ppłk. Edmunda Charaszkiewicza (Collection of Documents by Lt. Col. Edmund Charaszkiewicz), opracowanie, wstęp i przypisy (edited, with introduction and notes by) Andrzej Grzywacz, Marcin Kwiecień, Grzegorz Mazur, Kraków, Księgarnia Akademicka, 2000, ISBN 83-7188-449-4, pp. 106–30.
  • Paweł Samuś, Kazimierz Badziak, Giennadij Matwiejew, Akcja "Łom": polskie działania dywersyjne na Rusi Zakarpackiej w świetle dokumentów Oddziału II Sztabu Głównego WP (Operation Crowbar: Polish Covert Operations in Transcarpathian Rus in Light of Documents of Section II of the Polish General Staff), Warsaw, Adiutor, 1998.
  • Tadeusz A. Olszański, "Akcja Łom" ("Operation Crowbar"), Płaj: Almanach Karpacki, no. 21 (jesień [autumn] 2000).
  • Dariusz Dąbrowski, "Rzeczpospolita Polska wobec kwestii Rusi Zakarpackiej (Podkarpackiej) 1938-1939" ("The Polish Republic and the Transcarpathian (Subcarpathian) Rus Question in 1938–39"), Europejskie Centrum Edukacyjne (European Educational Center), Toruń, 2007, ISBN 978-83-60738-04-7.

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