The Slovak Republic (Slovak: Slovenská republika) was a client state of Nazi Germany which existed between March 14, 1939 and April 4, 1945. It controlled the majority of the territory of present-day the Slovak Socialist Republic, the constituent state of Czechoslovakia, but without its current southern and eastern parts, which then formed part of Hungary. The Slovak Republic bordered Nazi Germany, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland, and subsequently the General Government (German-occupied remnant of Poland), and Hungary.
In 1918, the Slovak Land and the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Carpathian Ruthenia formed a common state, Czechoslovakia, with the borders confirmed by the Treaty of Saint Germain and Treaty of Trianon. In the peace following the World War, Czechoslovakia emerged as a sovereign European state. It provided what were at the time rather extensive rights to its minorities and remained the only democracy in this part of Europe in the interwar period.
During the Interwar period, democratic Czechoslovakia was allied with France, and also with Romania and Serbia (Little Entente); however, the Locarno Treaties of 1925 left East European security open. Both Czechs and Slovaks enjoyed a period of relative prosperity. Not only was there progress in the development of the country's economy, but in culture and in educational opportunities as well. Yet the Great Depression caused a sharp economic downturn, followed by political disruption and insecurity in Europe.
Thereafter Czechoslovakia came under continuous pressure from the revanchist governments of Germany and Hungary. Eventually this led to the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which allowed Nazi Germany to partially dismember the country by occupying what was called the Sudetenland, a region with a German-speaking majority and bordering Germany and Austria. The Slovak Land lost its southern territories to Hungary under the Vienna Award.In November 1938, all Czech or Slovak political parties in the Slovak Land (except for the Communists) voluntarily joined forces and set up the "Party of Slovak National Unity", which created the basis for the future authoritarian regime in Slovakia. In January 1939, the Slovak government prohibited all parties apart from the Party of Slovak National Unity and two parties of minority populations, the German Party and the Unified Hungarian Party.
The dismantlement of Czechoslovakia by the Third Reich regime pressured the Slovak Land to become an independent state. In February 12, 1939, the Premier of Slovak autonomous region, Ferdinand Ďurčanský, convened the Diet of the Slovak Land to declare the independence of the Slovak State. The chairman of Slovak People’s Party and also a Roman Catholic priest, Monsignor Jozef Tiso, was elected first State President of the Slovak Republic.Germany quickly offered the “political and military protections” for the newly established state. The governments of the Slovak Republic and the Third Reich then signed the Treaty on the Protective Relationship between Germany and the Slovak State that partially subordinated the Slovak Republic's foreign, military, and economic policy to that of Germany.
Although under the shadow of stronger and more powerful Germany, Tiso and Ďurčanský struggled to establish an independent political system in the Slovak Land and to reduce German influences over the Slovak Republic's domestic affairs as less as possible. As being both State Premier and Foreign Minister, Ďurčanský attempted to form an alliance with Salazar regime in Portugal and formed a diplomatic relations with Holy See to strengthen the Catholic authoritarian regime of Slovak Republic.
The political struggle within Slovak People’s Party was unavoidable. The moderate and conservative faction under President Jozef Tiso wanted to create a specific authoritarian and religious State of Estates. On other side, more extreme and radical faction under Minister of War Vojtech Tuka, were strong antisemites and wanted to remove all Czechs to create a radically fascist state (Slovak National Socialism) based on blood and soil principles and collectivization.
Vojtech Tuka died under mysterious circumstances on December 21, 1939, possibly murdered by the Slovak intelligence agents directed by Ďurčanský that strongly loyal and supportive toward Tiso and the moderate faction. With Tuka’s death, Slovak radical national socialists quickly weakened and left the greater space for the Catholic traditionalists to consolidate their power in the Slovak Land.