|President of Slovakia|
26 October 1939 – 3 April 1945
|Preceded by||Office created|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
13 October 1887|
|Died||18 April 1947
|Political party||Slovak People's Party|
|Profession||Politician, Cleric, Roman Catholic priest|
Jozef Tiso (13 October 1887 – 18 April 1947) was a Slovak Roman Catholic priest, politician of the Slovak People's Party. Between 1939 and 1945, Tiso was the head of the Slovak State, a satellite state of Nazi Germany. After the end of World War II, Tiso was convicted and hanged for treason.
Born in Bytča to Slovak parents in Austria-Hungary. The Bishop of Nitra, Imre Bende, offered Tiso a chance to study for the priesthood, and, in 1911, Tiso graduated from the prestigious Pázmáneum in Vienna. His early ministry was spent as an assistant priest in three parishes in today's Slovakia. After brief frontline service as a field curate in World War I, he was appointed as the Spiritual Director of the Nitra seminary by Bende's successor, Vilmos Batthyány. Tiso was also active at this time as a school teacher and journalist. His articles for the local paper would later be controversial because of their strong support for the Hungarian war cause.
With the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Tiso suddenly embraced politics as a career, at the same time declaring himself in public as a Slovak. Within a few weeks, he had joined the Slovak People's Party. From 1921 to 1923, he served as the secretary to the new Slovak bishop of Nitra, Karol Kmeťko. During the same period, political agitation earned Tiso two convictions for incitement, one of which resulted in a short incarceration. Displeased, Kmeťko dropped him as secretary in 1923, but retained him as a Professor of Theology. In 1924, Tiso left Nitra to become parish priest and then dean of Bánovce nad Bebravou. His dedication to this parish would become legendary, and he would remain its very active priest even during his presidency.
Tiso became one of the leaders of the Slovak People's Party (otherwise known as the Ľudáks), which had been founded by Father Andrej Hlinka in 1913, while Austria-Hungary still ruled Slovakia. The party's interwar platform demanded the autonomy of Slovakia within a Czechoslovak framework. After 1925, the Ľudáks were the largest party in Slovakia. They were one of two explicitly Slovak parties in Slovakia, the others either representing national minorities or structuring themselves as Czechoslovak. Although Tiso seemed destined in the late 1920s to soon succeed Hlinka, he spent the 1930s instead competing for Hlinka's mantle with party radicals, most notably Karol Sidor. When Hlinka died in 1938, Tiso quickly consolidated his control of the party, becoming its undisputed chairman in fall 1939.
Tiso first ran for parliament in 1920. Although the electoral results from his district were bright spots in what was otherwise a disappointing election for the Ľudáks, the party did not reward him with a legislative seat. Tiso, however, easily claimed one in the 1925 election, which also resulted in a breakthrough victory for the party. Until 1938, he was a fixture in the Czechoslovak parliament in Prague. From 1927 to 1929, in a failed attempt to integrate the Ľudáks into the Czechoslovak polity, he also served as the Czechoslovak Minister of Health and Physical Education.
The Slovak People's Party (SPP) had been founded in 1913 by a Catholic priest, Andrej Hlinka, and wanted Slovak autonomy. The extreme-nationalist lawyer Vojtech Tuka headed the party's radical wing, which moved steadily closer to National Socialism, complete with Hlinka Guard paramilitary.
In October 1938, Nazi Germany annexed and occupied the Sudetenland, the German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia. Afterwards, the Slovaks declared their autonomy within Czechoslovakia and Tiso, as leader of the Slovak People's Party, became premier of the autonomous Slovak region. In November 1938, Hungary, having never really accepted the separation of Slovakia from its control in 1918, took advantage of the situation and persuaded Germany and Italy to cede one third of Slovak territory to Hungary in the Vienna Award. In the same month, all Czech or Slovak political parties in Slovakia (except for the Communists) voluntarily joined forces and set up the "Party of Slovak National Unity", which created the basis for the future authoritarian regime in Slovakia. In January 1939, the Slovak government prohibited all parties apart from the Party of Slovak National Unity and two parties of minority populations, the "German Party" and the "Unified Hungarian Party".
As part of their aim to dismantle the remaining Czechoslovakian state, German representatives in February 1939 tried to persuade Tiso to declare Slovakia independent, but Tiso refused. Such attempts continued after Czech troops had occupied Slovakia and forced Tiso out of office on 9 March 1939.
In March 1939, Prague arrested Tiso for advocating independence. Hitler invited Tiso to Berlin, and offered assistance for Slovak nationhood. Hitler threatened him to immediately declare independence "under German protection" or Germany would allow Hungary (and partly Poland) to annex the remaining territory of Slovakia. Under these circumstances, Tiso spoke by phone to Emil Hácha, President of Czechoslovakia, and Karol Sidor, Prime Minister of Slovakia. Both agreed to convene the Slovak parliament the next day.
Tiso declared independence, and with German warships pointing their guns at the Slovakian Government offices, the Assembly agreed to ask Germany for "protection". On March 15, after coercing Hacha to ask for German protection, Germany occupied the Czech lands as well. After independence, Slovakia remained largely a German puppet state.
The small and predominantly Catholic and agricultural region became the Fascist Slovak Republic, a nominally independent Nazi puppet state, with Tiso as president and Tuka as Minister-President.
Head of independent Slovakia
Tiso served as the Prime Minister of independent Slovakia from 14 March 1939 until 26 October 1939. On 26 October he became President of Slovakia (separate from the Prime Ministerial office). On October 1, 1939 he officially became the president of the Slovak People's Party. After 1942, he was also styled Vodca ("Leader"), an imitation in the national language of Führer.
The Party under Tiso and Tuka's leadership aligned itself with Nazi policy on anti-Semitic legislation in Slovakia. The main act was the Jewish Code, under which Jews in Slovakia could not own any real estate or luxury goods, were excluded from public office and free occupations, could not participate in sport or cultural events, were excluded from secondary schools and universities, and were required to wear the star of David in public. Tiso himself had anti-Semitic views (as some of his own letters from the end of World War II suggest). In general, opinions differ widely on his role in the Jewish deportations from Slovakia, and it is known that he did not completely adhere to the Nazi line. His power was limited and until now there is no proof that he signed deportations of Jews to concentration camps even though the Slovak Parliament accepted a bill (May 1942) deciding the deportation of the Jews. Mark Mazower wrote that, as with the Nazis' other main allies, Petain, Mussolini, and Horthy - Tiso did not share the racist hardline on Jews held by Hitler and radicals within his own government, but held a more traditional, conservative antisemitism. His regime was nonetheless highly antisemitic.
On 28 July 1940, Hitler instructed Tiso and Tuka to impose antisemitic laws. SS Officer Dieter Wisliceny was dispatched to act as an adviser on Jewish issues. In February 1942, the regime agreed to begin deportations of Jews and Slovakia became the first Nazi ally to agree to deportations. The Nazis had asked for 20,000 young able-bodied Jews. Tiso hoped that compliance would aid in the return of 120,000 Slovak workers from Germany. Later in 1942, amid Vatican protests as news of the fate of the deportees filtered back, and the German advance into Russia was halted, Slovakia became the first of Hitler's puppet states to shut down the deportations.
"By the end of June 1942, some 52,000 Slovak Jews had been deported, mainly to Auschwitz and to their death. Then, however, the deportations slowed to a standstill. The intervention of the Vatican, followed by the bribing of Slovak officials upon the initiative of a group of local Jews ["Working Group"] did eventually play a role ... That bribing the Slovaks contributed to a halt in the deportations for two years is most likely ...".
Knowledge of the conditions at Auchwitz began to spread. Mazower wrote: "When the Vatican protested, the government responded with defiance: 'There is no foreign intervention which would stop us on the road to the liberation of Slovakia from Jewry', insisted President Tiso". Distressing scenes at railway yards of deportees being beaten by Hlinka guards had spurred community protest, including from leading churchmen such as Bishop Pavol Jantausch. The Vatican called in the Slovak ambassador twice to enquire what was happening in Slovakia. These interventions, wrote Evans, "caused Tiso, who after all was still a priest in holy orders, to have second thoughts about the programme". Burzio and others reported to Tiso that the Germans were murdering the deported Jews. Tiso hesitated and then refused to deport Slovakia's 24,000 remaining Jews. According to Mazower "Church pressure and public anger resulted in perhaps 20,000 Jews being granted exemptions, effectively bringing the deportations there to an end".
The deportations were stopped - despite heavy opposition from Germany, which demanded their resumption - in October 1942 by Slovaks, when it became clear that Nazi Germany had not "only" abused the Slovakian Jews as forced labour workers but had also executed many of them in death camps, and when public protests arose as well as pressure from the Holy See to stop the deportations of Jewish civilians. Slovakia became the first state in the Nazi sphere to stop deportations of Jews, but some 58,000 Jews (75% of Slovak Jewry) had already suffered deportation, mostly to Auschwitz, of whom only a minority survived. Between October 1942 and October 1944, an independent Slovakia even served as a safe last resort for Jews suffering persecution in Nazi-occupied neighbouring countries such as annexed Austria, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland and occupied Ukraine.
When in 1943 rumours of further deportations emerged, the Papal Nuncio in Istanbul, Msgr. Angelo Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) and Burzio helped galvanize the Holy See into intervening in vigorous terms. On April 7, 1943, Burzio challenged Tuka, over the extermination of Slovak Jews. The Vatican condemned the renewal of the deportations on 5 May and the Slovakian episcopate issued a pastoral letter condemning totalitarianism and antisemitism on 8 May 1943. "Tuka", wrote Evans, was "forced to backtrack by public protests, especially from the Church, which by this time had been convinced of the fate that awaited the deportees. Pressure from the Germans, including a direct confrontation between Hitler and Tiso on 22 April 1943, remained without effect."
In August 1944, the Slovak National Uprising rose against the Tiso regime. German troops were sent to quell the rebellion and with them came security police charged with rounding up Slovakia's remaining Jews. Burzio begged Tiso directly to at least spare Catholic Jews from transportation and delivered an admonition from the Pope: "the injustice wrought by his government is harmful to the prestige of his country and enemies will exploit it to discredit clergy and the Church the world over." Tiso ordered the deporation of the nation's remaining Jews, who were sent to the Concentration Camps - most to Auchwitz.
Jewish deportations were resumed by German occupation authorities in October 1944 after the Soviet army reached the Slovak border and the Slovak National Uprising took place. Although the Germans allowed Tiso to remain in office, under their occupation his presidency was relegated to a mostly titular role as Slovakia lost whatever de facto independence it still had. During the 1944–1945 German occupation, another 13,500 Jews were deported and 5,000 imprisoned. Some were murdered in Slovakia itself, in particular at Kremnicka and Nemecka.
Tiso lost all remnants of power when the Soviet Army conquered the last parts of western Slovakia in April 1945. He was sentenced for "state treason, treason of the Slovak National Uprising and collaboration with Nazism". On 15 April 1947, the National court (Národný súd) sentenced him to death. President Edvard Beneš declined to grant a reprieve, despite Tiso's popularity among the Slovaks and the threat of a rift between the Czech-dominated government and the Slovak minority. Wearing his clerical outfit, Msgr. Jozef Tiso was hanged in Bratislava on 18 April 1947. The Czechoslovak government buried him secretly to avoid having his grave become a shrine.
- Donald L. Niewyk, Francis R. Nicosia (2000). The Columbia guide to the Holocaust. Columbia University Press. p. 252. ISBN 0-231-11200-9.
- David Crowe (2007-08-01). Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-465-00253-5.
- Robin H. E. Shepherd (2000-09-02). Czechoslovakia: The Velvet Revolution and Beyond. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-312-23068-5.
- Archbishop prays for Tiso Mass honouring nationalist leader 'private act,' says church
- Calling Al-Qaeda Fascist Doesn't Make It So
- There are "various attempts by nationalist elements to rehabilitate wartime nationalistic leader Jozef Tiso, his ideas and regime." The Stephen Roth Institute
- For Tiso's early years, see Ivan Kamenec, Tragédia politika, kňaza a človeka (dr. Jozef Tiso 1887–1947) (Bratislava: Archa, 1998), 17–42; Milan S. Ďurica, Jozef Tiso 1887–1947: Životopisný profil (Bratislava: Lúč, 2006), 19–96.
- For Tiso's interwar political career, see James Ramon Felak, "At the Price of the Republic": Hlinka's Slovak People's Party, 1929–1938,(Pittsburg: U. of Pittsburgh P., c1994); Miroslav Fabricius and Ladislav Suško, eds., Jozef Tiso: Prejavy a články, zv. 1 (1913–1938) (Bratislava: AEP, 2002).
- The Churches and the Deportation and Persecution of Jews in Slovakia; by Livia Rothkirchen; Vad Yashem.
- Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p.395
- Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Co; London; p. 476
- Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; p.393
- Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; p.394
- Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p.396
- "The Holocaust in Slovakia". Ushmm.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; p.395
- Friedländer, S. "Nazi Germany and The Jews 1933–1945". Harper Perennial, 2009. p. 306.
- Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; p.396
- Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p. 396–397
- Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p.397
- Pedro Ramet, Religion and Nationalism in Soviet and East European Politics, Duke University Press, p. 274
- "Slovak Priest Dies on Rope," Charleston Daily Mail 18 April 1947, p1
- James Mace Ward, Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013).
- The Tiso plaque controversy
- Slovak Jews fear campaign to make fascism respectable
- Jozef Tiso - Slovak statehood at the bitter price of allegiance to Nazi Germany