SASW Speakers’ Series – Borders on the Move: A Look at Southern Slovakia’s Tumultuous 20th Century

The SASW and Friends of Slovakia present:
Borders on the Move:  A Look at Southern Slovakia’s Tumultuous 20th Century
by Prof. Leslie M. Waters, Randolph-Macon College

Friday, June 15, 6:30 pm

Embassy of the Slovak Republic
3523 International Court, NW 
Washington, D.C.

Admission is free, but RSVP is required, by 11 pm, Tuesday, June 12, to

In 1938, Germany’s annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland marked the beginning of the First Republic’s dismemberment.  This act overshadowed another important event of that year that affected Slovakia more directly: the First Vienna Arbitration, which transferred the territory of southern Slovakia to Hungary, which had controlled the area prior to 1918.  In 1945, this transfer was reversed, as part of post-World War II Allied negotiations, leading to the Slovak-Hungarian population exchange of 1946-47.

In both cases, the local populations were forced to negotiate radically different political regimes and social contexts from what had come before.  When these changes of sovereignty took place, citizenship, laws, currency, bureaucrats, and even street names transformed literally overnight. How did the territory’s frequent changes in sovereignty affect the local population?  Why have so many different states wanted to control this area? What makes it unique? These questions and more will be addressed in this talk.

Leslie M. Waters is assistant professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.  Her work focuses on Central and Eastern European borderlands, a topic she became interested in while living in two Slovak border towns, Čadca and Komárno.  She is a former Fulbright fellow to Hungary and Slovakia, and is currently working on a book manuscript about border changes and forced migrations in southern Slovakia in the mid-20th century.

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