SASW Speakers’ Series: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Slovakia in 1939 – September 28, 2019

The Slovak American Society of Washington, D.C.
Friends of Slovakia present:

“Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Slovakia in 1939”

by Prof. Susan Mikula, Benedictine University

Saturday, September 28th, 2:00 pm

Arlington Central Library
Bluemont Room (2nd Floor)
1015 N Quincy Street, Arlington, VA

Admission is free, but RSVP is required by Thursday, September 26th to

The year 1939 was one of tremendous upheaval, culminating in the outbreak of World War II, which plunged first Europe and then the world into devastating conflict. Slovakia’s path during that year reflected much of that upheaval. The decision to declare independence in March of 1939 has remained one of the most controversial and contested events in Slovak history.

The events of 1939 did not arise in a vacuum; there were stresses and strains on Slovak-Czech relations (especially in the 1930’s) that were related to both structures and expectations arising out of the “wartime marriage” of Slovaks and Czechs. When the situation in Europe became especially precarious, with Hitler’s moves in 1938, the challenges intensified. By early 1939, the threats, primarily from Hitler but also from Hungarian goals, appeared to reduce the options facing the Slovaks. The rise of a new generation of leaders, who shared an intense nationalism, also contributed to the decision for independence. Once independence was declared, Slovaks in 1939 faced internal challenges – both philosophical and structural – and external pressures. The context within which the Slovak state was formed in 1939 inevitably shaped its existence and future.

Susan Mikula is Professor of History at Benedictine University. She teaches courses on 20th-Century Europe and Modern Russian History, and recently has developed courses on Immigration. She earned her Ph.D in East European and Russian History from Syracuse University. Her dissertation: “Milan Hodža and the Slovak National Movement, 1898-1918” began her specific focus on modern Czech and Slovak history. She has published a number of articles and book chapters focusing on Milan Hodža, including presentations and publications in Slovakia. She has also published and presented papers on Czech and Slovak relations in the inter-war period.

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