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After Hitler, Before Stalin

Catholics, Communists, and Democrats in Slovakia, 1945–1948

James Ramon Felak

Publication Year: 2009

This book examines the crucial postwar period in Slovakia, following Nazi occupation and ending with the Communist coup of February 1948. Centering his work around the major political role of the Catholic Church and its leaders, James Ramon Felak offers a fascinating study of the interrelationship of Slovak Catholics, Democrats, and Communists. He provides an in-depth examination of Communist policies toward Catholics and their strategies to court Catholic voters, and he chronicles the variety of political stances Catholics maintained during Slovakia's political turmoil. Felak opens by providing a background on pre-war and wartime Slovak politics, notably the rise of Slovak Catholic nationalism and Slovakia's alignment with Nazi Germany during World War II. He then describes the union formed in the famed “April Agreement” of 1946 between the Democratic Party and Catholics that guaranteed a landslide victory for the Democrats and insured a position for Catholics in the new regime. Felak views other major political events of the period, including: the 1947 Czechoslovak war crimes trial of Father Jozef Tiso; education policy; the treatment of the Hungarian minority; the trumped-up “anti-state conspiracy” movement led by police in the Fall of 1947; and the subsequent Communist putsch. Through extensive research in Slovak national archives, including those of the Democratic and Communist parties, After Hitler, Before Stalin assembles a comprehensive study of the predominant political forces and events of this tumultuous period and the complex motivations behind them.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Front Cover

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xv

This book is the result of an attempt to combine a number of my interests—Catholicism, Communism, East Central Europe, political parties, and the fateful times immediately after the Second World War. It is the most thorough study to date in the English language on Slovakia during the three crucial years from the end of the Second World War to the Communist takeover ...

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1. Setting the Stage: From Liberation to the April Agreement

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pp. 1-46

The spring of 1945 brought significant changes to Slovakia. The Slovak Republic, the wartime regime that represented history’s first Slovak state ever, collapsed along with its patron and ally, Nazi Germany. The Soviet Red Army drove the German military out of Slovak territory and ultimately, with the help of American forces, out of the Czech lands as well, leaving Czechoslovakia ...

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2. Bringing Home the Lion: The Democratic Party's Electoral Victory

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pp. 47-85

The April Agreement represented a watershed in postwar Slovak politics. It had profound implications for relations between Slovakia’s Catholics and the DS, between the KSS and the DS, between the KSS and the Catholic Church, and between the Czech lands and Slovakia. The agreement all but guaranteed a DS victory in the May 1946 elections, while at the same time exposing the party as never before to Communist attempts to have it labeled as ...

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3. Dealing with the Past: The Trial of Jozef Tiso

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pp. 86-124

The trial, conviction, and execution of Jozef Tiso was a central event in postwar Slovakia, and one which had the effect of mobilizing and energizing forces across the Slovak political and social spectrum. The KSS had a strong interest in condemning Tiso, and with him the wartime regime, as a means of forcing the DS into a no-win situation. The Democrats could ...

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4. Conspiracies: Plots against the State and the Democrats

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pp. 125-168

The period from Tiso’s execution through the autumn of 1947 saw the most aggressive and comprehensive assault on the DS and its leading Catholics to date. The Communists thwarted an attempt by the DS to remove Daxner from the court, thereby quashing a Democratic initiative aimed at restoring that party’s standing among Catholics in the wake of Tiso’s hanging. ...

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5. Continuing Crisis: From the October Putsch to the February Coup

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pp. 169-204

Late autumn and winter 1947–48 were bookended by two attempted Communist coups—the first in Slovakia in late October, the second in Prague in late February. Between these two events, the DS experienced a decline of its authority in Slovakia, intensifying internal strife, and the abrogation of the April Agreement. It had to face Communist challenges on the ...


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pp. 205-242

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 243-248


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pp. 249-261

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780822971221
E-ISBN-10: 0822971224
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822961376
Print-ISBN-10: 0822961377

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2009