Until the end of the First World War, Slovakia belonged to the Hungarian half of the Habsburg Monarchy. After 1918, it became a part of the Czechoslovak Republic. Following the Munich agreement of September 1938, Slovakia declared autonomy. A single-party regime came to power, with Jozef Tiso as prime minister. In November 1938, the country lost much of its southern territories to Hungary. At Germany’s instigation, the Slovak Parliament proclaimed independence on 14 March 1939, but remained bound to Germany by a “Protection Agreement”. In the fall of 1939 Jozef Tiso became president of Slovakia. Internally, Slovakia retained a considerable degree of autonomy, especially in its anti-Jewish policy. Slovakia served Germany as a concentration area before the Wehrmacht’s assault on Poland and joined Hitler’s war on the Soviet Union in 1941 as well. The rise and activities of underground groups in Slovakia in 1944 led to the country’s occupation by the German army and immediate break out of an anti-German (and anti-Regime) Slovak National Uprising on 29 August 1944. The uprising was suppressed in late October 1944. Occupied Slovakia was gradually liberated from Germans by the Red Army which entered and advanced on Slovakia from the east. With the Germans leaving the Slovak capital Bratislava in April 1945, the Slovak administration ceased to exist and Slovakia became a part of Czechoslovakia once more. In 1993, the separation of the Czech and Slovak Republics made Slovakia an independent state.

According to the census, Slovakia had a total population of 3,324,111 people in 1930. 136,000 of them were Jews whose assimilation by Slovak society was tenuous. Many had declared Jewish nationality. There was also a strong Zionist movement while others gravitated towards Hungarian culture. Slovak Jews who lived in the southern part of the country, which was taken over by Hungary in 1938, later shared the fate of Hungarian Jewry (by not having received Hungarian citizenship, they were actually the first ones to be deported or included in the Labour Battalions). There were 89,000 Jews left in independent Slovakia. The Slovak government engaged in the confiscation of Jewish property and adopted various anti-Jewish laws from the spring of 1939 to September 1941. These laws were thereupon aggregated and reinforced from September 1941 into a so called Jewish Code emulating the German Nuremberg Laws in legalising the discrimination against Jews. The confiscation of Jewish property and discrimination of Jews led to the total pauperization of the Jewish population. In order to get rid of tens of thousands socially dependent Jews, the Slovak government first started to set up labour camps for Jews and then negotiated deportations of Jews from Slovakia into territory controlled by Nazi Germany. On 25 March 1942, the Slovak government started to deport the Slovak Jews to ghettos and death camps in occupied Poland. From March to late October 1942, about 58,000 Jews were deported there and the majority of them were murdered. About 20,000 Jews were excluded from deportation (among them the inmates of labour camps), and about 5,000 fled from Slovakia or went into hiding. In 1944 about 2,000 Jews took part in the Slovak National Uprising (some of them in Jewish units). After the collapse of the uprising, an additional 13,000 Jews were deported to German concentration camps. Overall, about 25,000 Slovak Jews survived the war whereas approximately 105,000 Slovakian Jews, including those in areas annexed by Hungary, perished in the Holocaust.

Archival Situation

The state archives of Slovakia are subordinate to the Department of Archives and Registers of the Interior ministry. Documents of nationwide significance are stored in the Slovak National Archive. Documents of local importance are stored in the regional state archives. In late 2015 the system of state archives in Slovakia was reorganized. From 1 November 2015 there are 8 regional State archives (e.g. State archive in Bratislava) with 29 smaller branch archives operating now under the name “workplace Archive“ (e.g. State archive in Bratislava, workplace Archive Modra). There is one specialized state archive which operates under the name Spiš Archive in Levoča (formerly the State archive in Levoča). There are no specifically Jewish archival institutions in Slovakia with the exception of the Museum of Jewish Culture (a department of the Slovak National Museum) in Bratislava.

EHRI Research (Summary)

EHRI was able to establish that documents concerning the Second World War and the Holocaust can be found in the Slovak National Archive, regional state archives, but also in the Military History Archive, Nationʼs Memory Institute Archive, Holocaust Documentation Center and in the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica.

Holocaust-relevant sources on Slovakia have been identified by EHRI in institutions outside of the country, such as Beit Theresienstadt or the Jewish Museum in Prague, but also the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which holds selected records from the Slovak National Archive and regional state archives, Slovak armed forces as well as numerous oral history interviews. Furthermore, Yad Vashem possesses a number of collections which are relevant to Holocaust-research on Slovakia. The Political Archive of the German Foreign Office and the Bundesarchiv also hold Holocaust-relevant records on Slovakia, for instance on the SD Slowakei.