“To Work–To Sacrifice–To Die”: The Cult of Military Martyrs and its Manifestation in Slovakia during the years 1938–1945
Slovak Academy of Sciences, Institute of Social Sciences of Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences
Hungarian Historical Review Volume 11 Issue 1 (2022):205-234 DOI 10.38145/2022.1.205
The Slovak Republic of 1939–1945 was established on the doorstep of the deadliest war in history. It almost immediately became an active participant in the war as an ally of Nazi Germany. Moreover, already in March 1939, Slovakia, just after its foundation, found itself in a military conflict with Hungary. These facts were naturally reflected in all spheres of society, including urban spaces. This study aims to analyze interventions in the public spaces of Slovak towns related to a cult of martyrs. There was strong need to justify the new Slovak Republic’s participation in the war. This need became increasingly pressing, especially after the invasion of the Soviet Union, which met with the disapproval of the majority of the population. I therefore ask how the regime responded to this. I am especially interested in following questions: how were public spaces transformed change in an effort to build a martyr cult before and after the attack on the Soviet Union? Were there significant interventions in connection with this event (the declaration of war against the USSR)? Had the symbol of a martyr or a soldier changed, and if so, how? The study is organized chronologically. I analyze interventions in public spaces during the so-called Little War in March 1939, at the moment of entry into the war against Poland in September 1939, and at the moment of entry into the war against the USSR in June 1941. I examine interventions on architecture-material level which involved the renaming streets and the creation of memorials. I also focus on perceptions of the street as a “stage” for military parades or ceremonies in the course of which soldiers were awarded decorations.
Keywords: interventions, military, nation, politics, public space, Slovak Republic 1939–1945