Anton Štefánek

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Anton Štefánek
Anton Štefánek.jpg
Member of the Revolutionary Assembly
In office
1918–1920
Deputy of the Czechoslovak National Assembly
In office
1925–1935
Minister for the unification of laws and organisation of information
In office
1929–1929
Senator of the Senate of Czechoslovakia
In office
1935–1939
Professor of Applied Sociology, Comenius University
In office
1937–1945
Rector of Comenius University
In office
1945–1949
Personal details
Born(1877-04-15)15 April 1877
Veľké Leváre, Kingdom of Hungary
Died29 April 1964(1964-04-29) (aged 87)
Žiar nad Hronom, Czechoslovakia

Anton Štefánek (15 April 1877 – 29 April 1964[1]) was a Slovak politician and sociologist who was involved in the campaign for Czech and Slovak unity and independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was an important promoter of the concept of Czechoslovakism and served for 14 years in the Czechoslovak National Assembly and the Senate of Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and 1930s. He also pursued an academic career at Comenius University in Bratislava, culminating in his serving as rector of the university for several years after the Second World War. He was forced into retirement a year after the Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948.

Early life and political career[edit]

Štefánek was born in Veľké Leváre what was then the Kingdom of Hungary and is now in western Slovakia. Educated in Vienna, he began a career in political journalism with the publication Hlas (The Voice), edited by Vavro Šrobár. He later edited Slovenský týždenník and Slovenský denník with Milan Hodža.[2] Initially a member of the Slovak National Party, he dedicated himself to agrarian issues and worked with Šrobár and Pavol Blaho to promote Czech and Slovak unity and raise the cultural and political awareness of Slovak peasants in their towns and villages.[3]

He lived in Prague for most of the First World War and was involved with the Maffie, an underground operation of the Czechoslovak National Council in the Czech and Slovak lands. After the war he joined the Revolutionary National Assembly and worked to organise Slovak schools following the establishment of Czechoslovakia. He represented the Republican Party of Farmers and Peasants in the Czechoslovak National Assembly as a deputy between 1925 and 1935 and subsequently as a senator from 1935 to 1939. He became a member of the Republican Executive Committee in 1925 and served in 1929 as the Czechoslovak minister of education and culture and also as minister for the unification of laws.[2]

Academic career[edit]

In 1937 Štefánek became professor of applied sociology at the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava.[4] In his academic career Štefánek was a follower of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the sociologist and philosopher who went on to be the founder and first President of Czechoslovakia. Štefánek promoted Czechoslovakism and specialised in identifying the differences between the Czech and Slovak peoples.[5] He participated in the anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, in which Šrobár was also involved, before becoming rector of the university in 1945. He was forced for political reasons to retire in 1949, a year after the Communist Party seized power. He died in relative obscurity in 1964 in Žiar nad Hronom, "unjustly forgotten" as Eduard Nižňanský puts it.[4] He was posthumously awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in 1992 by post-Communist Czechoslovakia.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nižňanský, Eduard (1993). Kto bol kto za I. ČSR. Q111. p. 176. ISBN 9788085401271.
  2. ^ a b Miller, Daniel (1999). Forging Political Compromise: Antonín Svehla and the Czechoslovak Republican Party, 1918–1933. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-8229-7728-5.
  3. ^ Miller, p. 34
  4. ^ a b Nižňanský, p. 179
  5. ^ Václavík, David (31 March 2015). "Searching and Finding: A History of the Slovak Study of Religion". In Bubik, Tomaš; Hoffmann, Henryk. Studying Religions with the Iron Curtain Closed and Opened: The Academic Study of Religion in Eastern Europe. BRILL. p. 60. ISBN 978-90-04-29278-9.
  6. ^ "Život Václava Havla" (in Slovak). Khihova Václava Havla. Retrieved 18 September 2015.