Milan Hodža

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Milan Hodža
Hodza.jpg
Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia
In office
5 November 1935 – 22 September 1938
Preceded by Jan Malypetr
Succeeded by Jan Syrový
Acting President of Czechoslovakia
In office
14 December 1935 – 18 December 1935
Preceded by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Succeeded by Edvard Beneš
Personal details
Born (1878-02-01)1 February 1878
Sučany, Turóc County, Kingdom of Hungary
(now Slovakia)
Died 27 June 1944(1944-06-27) (aged 66)
Clearwater, Florida, United States
Political party Slovak National Party, Agrarian Party of Czechoslovakia
Religion Lutheran

Milan Hodža (1 February 1878, Sučany, Turóc County, Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Slovakia) – 27 June 1944, Clearwater, Florida, United States) was a prominent Slovak politician and journalist, serving from 1935 to 1938 as the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia.[1] As a proponent of regional integration, he was famous for his attempts to establish a democratic federation of Central European states.

His son was Fedor Hodža (a politician) and he was the nephew of Michal Miloslav Hodža (a politician and poet).

Major positions held[edit]

  • deputy to the parliament of the Kingdom of Hungary (1905–1910)
  • vice-chairman of the Slovak National Party (1906-1914?)
  • representative of the Czechoslovak government in Hungary (1918–1919)
  • state secretary of the Ministry of Interior (1919)
  • deputy to the parliament of Czechoslovakia (1918–1938)
  • leading member of the Czechoslovak Agrarian Party in Slovakia (1918–1938)
  • Minister for the Unification of Laws and the Organisation of Administration (1919–1920 and 1926–1929)
  • Minister of Agriculture (1922–1926 and 1932–1935)
  • Minister of Education (1926–1929)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (1935–1936)
  • Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia (1935–1938)
  • chairman of the Slovak National Council in Paris (1939–1940)

Life[edit]

Before 1918[edit]

Proposed map of federal United States of Greater Austria and the major ethnic groups of Austria-Hungary

Milan Hodža was born in the Lutheran parish of Sučany, in the Turóc County of the Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Slovakia). He studied at gymnasiums (high-schools) in Banská Bystrica (1888-1890), Sopron (1890-1894) and in Sibiu (present-day Romania), where he passed in 1896 graduation exams and at universities in Budapest and Vienna. He started his career of a journalist in Budapest, in 1897. He edited and founded the newspaper Slovenský denník (1900–1901) and the weekly Slovenský týždenník (1903–1914). From 1916 to 1918, he was editor of the Austrian press office in Vienna.

As a member of the Slovak National Party - at that time the only Slovak party in Austria-Hungary - he became the ideological leader and founder of Slovak agrarianism. Since the Slovak National Party did not endorse his agrarian program, he decided to create his own political party, but World War I prevented him from this. Later, he also became an important representative of the Czechoslovak and international agrarian movement between the two world wars: He founded and was a member of the presidium of the International Agrarian Bureau - an institution of European agrarian parties.

Milan Hodža was a close aide of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the successor to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones, since the 1910 elections. He proposed to him a very precise plan of turning the Kingdom of Hungary into a federative monarchy (including a separate Slovak state). The Archduke hoped that federalization would strengthen the ties between the oppressed non-Magyar nations and the monarchy, but his initiative was strongly opposed by the Hungarian political elite.

During World War I, Milan Hodža was involved in the preparations of the creation of Czecho-Slovakia. He was a member of the 1918-1919 Slovak National Council and was a signatory of the Declaration of the Slovak Nation, by which the Slovaks officially joined the newly created state of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

1918 - 1938[edit]

After World War I, he became the leader of the Czechoslovak Agrarian Party in Slovakia and as such gained considerable influence over Czechoslovakia's policy in all spheres – he influenced the process of land reform, the passing of bills on agrarian tolls, enforced syndicalization, administrative reforms, and the structure and policy of the government. In 1936-1937 he attempted to launch a project of bringing together Czechoslovakia, Austria, Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia based on preferential duties - a step towards the unprecedented economic integration of the region. Instead, Hodža's government had to accept the Munich Agreement in 1938 and he was forced to resign under pressure.

Since 1921, Milan Hodža was also professor of modern history at the Comenius University in Bratislava. In the interwar period, he helped found many Slovak newspapers and magazines and had a strong political and ideological influence on them. His political papers were published in the book Články, reči, štúdie 1-6 (1930–1934; Articles, Speeches, Studies).

In the 1920s, he was a Czechoslovakist (considered the Czechs and Slovaks to form one nation), which enabled him to reach high posts in Prague. Nevertheless he had frequent conflicts with Czech politicians, because he was trying to take into account the specific needs of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia, which was unusual at that time. Moreover, he planned the creation of a block of anti-Centrist (i.e. anti-Prague) Slovak parties. He somewhat changed his views later - in 1938 he acknowledged the full sovereignty of the Slovaks as a separate nation and in the summer of that year (i.e. before Slovakia's autonomy was proclaimed in the autumn) he included in the programme of his government his personal project of changes in the structure of centralist Czechoslovakia - it was a combination of federal, autonomist and self-administrative ideas.

1938 - 1944[edit]

After the Munich Agreement in late 1938, he lived in exile in Switzerland, France (1939), Great Britain (1940) and since 1941 in the US. During World War II, he was the co-author of a memorandum on the situation of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia (October 1939), in which he re-iterated his project of 1938. In November 1939, he established the 1939 Slovak National Council in Paris as the supreme body of Slovak resistance. The Slovak National Council merged with the Czech National Council to form the Czecho-Slovak National Council in January 1940. This organization (including its Czech members) competed with the government-in-exile led by Edvard Beneš (a strong Czechoslovakist) in London. Both exile groups were in permanent conflict. When Paris was conquered by the Germans, the British security forces took the members of the Czecho-Slovak National Council into custody which was an accomplishment of spies working for the Beneš group. Hodža capitulated and he accepted a second-rate post in Beneš's State Council in November 1940. He did not participate in the activities of the State Council however, and fled to the US in 1941. In the US, he developed a project for a Central European Federation (published as the book Federation in Central Europe, 1942). Although his plan received attention from American intellectuals and the Department of State officials, his plan could not materialize due to the beginning of the Cold War.

Milan Hodža held high Czechoslovak, French, Romanian, Yugoslavian and Polish awards. On 27 June 2002 the remains of Milan Hodža were reburied in the National Cemetery in Martin, in his native Slovakia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Milan Hodža at osobnosti.sk (in Slovak)

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Edvard Beneš
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia
1935–1936
Succeeded by
Kamil Krofta
Preceded by
Jan Malypetr
Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia
1935–1938
Succeeded by
Jan Syrový