Martin Declaration

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Martin Declaratian
Created 30 October 1918
Location Turčiansky Svätý Martin
Author(s) Slovak National Council
Signatories Karol Medvecký
Matúš Dula
Purpose To announce and explain separation of Slovakia from the Kingdom of Hungary and unification with the Czech lands
Memorial plaque to the Declaration of the Slovak Nation in Martin, Slovakia

The Martin Declaration (Slovak: Martinská deklarácia) is the name usually given to the Declaration of the Slovak Nation (Slovak: Deklarácia slovenského národa) that was proclaimed in the town of Turčiansky Svätý Martin (now Martin, Slovakia) on 30 October 1918. The declaration was effectively a declaration of independence from the Kingdom of Hungary (within the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and presaged Slovakia's unification with the Czech lands as part of the new state of Czechoslovakia.[1]

Slovak separatist ambitions were largely suspended during World War I, when the leading Slovak nationalist party – the Slovak National Party (SNP) – proclaimed its loyalty to the empire. The final months of the war saw a gradual disintegration of the empire, leading to the SNP deciding to resume its drive for a separate Slovak state. Its chairman, Matúš Dula, chose Martin – a centre for Slovak cultural and political life since the 19th century – as the venue for a general meeting of the party.[1]

On the morning of 30 October 1918, 108 delegates attended the meeting in the Tatra Bank in Martin and elected a twelve-member Slovak National Council, drawn mainly from the Slovak National Party.[1] In the afternoon, the newly constituted council issued the declaration and sent it to Prague.[2] The declaration announced: "The Slovak Nation is a part of the Czecho-Slovak Nation, united in language and in the history of its culture",[1] and declared that only the Slovak National Council, and not the Hungarian government or any other authority, was authorised to speak for the Slovak nation.[3]

The declaration came two days after the declaration of Czechoslovak independence by the Czech National Committee in Prague. The Slovaks acted independently as news of the Czech declaration had not reached Martin by the time of the Slovak declaration. The council attempted to take control of Slovakia but was thwarted by a Hungarian military intervention which seized Martin on 15 November. Czech troops soon took the town and the new government in Prague appointed Vavro Šrobár as minister for Slovakia.[1]

Although some Slovak representatives argued for autonomy for Slovakia and for the country to have its own devolved assembly,[2] this was rejected by the Czechoslovak government; Šrobár dissolved the Slovak National Council in January 1919.[1] The delegates at Turčiansky Svätý Martin had not defined exactly what they meant by the "Czecho-Slovak Nation" but seem to have had in mind a definition that upheld the distinct national identity and individuality of the Slovak people. Instead of the Slovaks being equal partners in what Edvard Beneš, the foreign minister of the Provisional Czechoslovak government, had previously declared would be a Swiss-style federated state, they found themselves being relegated to the status of a national minority.[4] Thereafter, Slovakia was governed as part of the centralised Czechoslovak state that had been established by the Czechoslovak National Assembly in Prague.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mametey, Victor S. (2000). "Martin Declaration". In Frucht, Richard C. Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe: From the Congress of Vienna to the Fall of Communism. Garland Pub. p. 483. ISBN 978-0-8153-0092-2.
  2. ^ a b Špiesz, Anton; Bolchazy, Ladislaus J. (2006). Illustrated Slovak History: A Struggle for Sovereignty in Central Europe. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers. pp. 191–3. ISBN 978-0-86516-426-0.
  3. ^ Krajčovičová, Natália (2011). "Slovakia in Czechoslovakia, 1918–1938". In Teich, Mikuláš; Kováč, Dušan; Brown, Martin D. Slovakia in History. Cambridge University Press. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-139-49494-6.
  4. ^ Kirschbaum, Stanislav J. (1996). A History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-312-16125-5.