Slovakian Army

    Because of the fear of having a war with Germany, an International conference was held by France and Great Britain where a decision was made to allow Germany the right to annex the borderline region composed of 50% of "volksdeutsche" (ethnic Germans). In 1938, Germany in a bloodless takeover invaded the western part of Czechoslovakia. First claiming the borderline region known as the "Sudetenland" where three million ethnic-Germans lived. The western part of Czechoslovakia after the government abdicated was named by the Germans as the protectorate state of Bohemia-Moravia.

    The eastern part of Czechoslovakia was the separatist country of Slovakia, which has always desired autonomy from their Czech neighbors. In March 1939, with German military support the Slovakian Puppet State was formed.

    Slovakia was governed under Premier Monsignor Jozef Tiso who set up his own para-military militia called the "Hlinka Guards," modeled on Germany's SA Storm Troopers. Slovakia had its own military composed of former members of the Czechoslovakian Army, which included Volksdeutsche personnel. Eager to prove its willingness to serve on the German side, Slovakia formed two combat mobile groups, organized around the 1st and 3rd Slovak Infantry Divisions.

    In September 1939, these mobile groups were used during the German invasion of Poland, claiming territory that was theirs.
    By June 1941, Slovakia was one of the first foreign countries to provide military support in Operation Barbarossa in what the Germans called the crusade against Bolshevism. The Slovakian Army Corps, which had the 1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions, crossed into the Soviet Union and began operations in southern Russia. About 42,000 Slovakians were sent to the Eastern Front. Almost immediately the Slovakian Army Corps fell behind the German mobile forces crossing the vast Russian landscape. As a result a fast mobile brigade was formed, capable of keeping fast pace with the Germans. This independent brigade was placed permanently under German 17th Army Command, which was part of Army Group South.

    Slovakian Army Stamps

    Slovakian Army Stamps

    On July 28, 1943 three semi-postal stamps were issued to commemorate the Slovakian Army, which participated in the crusade against Bolshevism. The surtax was used to benefite the Army

    Slovakian Schnelle Division

    By August 1941, the rest of the corps was brought home for refitting. The Slovaks created two new divisions, a 10,000 strong mechanized "Slowakische Schnelle Division" (Slovakian Swift Division) and a security division of 6000 men. The Schnelle Division was formed from personnel of the 1st Infantry Division and from members of the brigade and was under the command of Gustav Malar.
    In September 1941, the Schnelle Division was placed under German command and sent to the Ukrainian front near Kiev. The Schnelle Division, which the majority was of German Volkdeustche personnel, was in the Mius River where it fought hard against the Russians during the winter of 1941-42.

    In late 1942, the 31st Artillery Regiment of the Slovakian Security Division was transferred to the Schnelle Division. In January 1943, the command of the division was changed and assigned to Lt. Gen. Jurech. The division along side the German SS Wiking Division took part in the capture of Rostov, there it advanced into the Kuban region with the 1st German Panzer Army. It helped to cover the retreat of German troops from the Caucasus Region after Stalingrad, and was nearly cut-off near Krasnodar.

    They were airlifted to the Crimean region, leaving their heavy equipment behind. Command of the division once again changed and placed under Lt. Gen. Elmir Lendvay.

    The Schnelle Division was sent to the front lines near the region of Melitopol, where the division was caught by a massive Russian formation that broke through the German lines. While surrounded, 2000 men of the division deserted to the Russian side. After a constant defensive struggle, the remnants of the division managed to escape. On 2 August 1943, the remnants of the division was pulled out and refitted to form a new unit.

    By 1943 the division was re-organized as the 1. Slowakische Infanterie Division and was used for coastal duties near the Crimean region. Morale with the troops began to deteriorate and men were lost due to desertions. Meanwhile a Security division was used for rear actions against partisans. The security division remained serving at the Ukrainian front.

    Slovakian government suggested sending troops to the Balkans or Western Europe, but were turn down by the Germans. They then asked withdrawing to Slovakia, but the Germans again refused. When a Russian offensive broke through their coastal lines the Slovakians became unreliable and barely held on to their defensive positions.

    In 1944, they were pulled out from the front and sent back to Slovakia were they were disarmed and converted into construction brigades. Meanwhile two new divisions were formed and used for defensive purposes in the Carpathians. A third division was being formed in central Slovakia when a Partisan uprising movement initiated in August 1944. However the Germans were able to disarmed the field divisions. Many of the soldiers deserted their post and joined the partisans who were being helped by an allied Czechoslovakian Airborne Brigade flown in by the Russians. In February 1945, the puppet government of Tiso amounted to only one loyal infantry regiment composed of Hlinka Guards, a flak regiment and an artillery battery.

    Slovakian Postal History

    The Slovakian postal administration had free franking service for their own military personnel. Special field cards were issued and used by military personnel. All military mail was examined and censored by Slovakian and German military authorities.

    On 28 July 1943, the Slovakian postal administration issued three stamps honoring volunteers fighting in Russia. In October 1940, agreements with Germany permitted Feldpost usage to be sent to and from Slovakia for mail weighing up to 250gms. In November 1942, Feldpost parcel stamps were provided to Slovakian servicemen, however a 20Rpf payment was required for packages weighing from 250 to 1000gms. The contents were check by the Slovakian postal authorities. A label carrying an inspection certificate was attached to the package. Deceased and wounded volunteers received free parcel delivery for packages weighting up to 15Kgs.
    All mail was subject for censorship, some commercial mail carried the "Nc" marking. The Nc marking stands for "Nemacka Censura" (German Censor). The other censor marking is the most common "Ag," which means that mail was censored in the Vienna foreign letter examining office.

    Slovakian Feldpost

    Slovakian Field Post

    On top shows two Slovakian field post cards mailed by soldiers in the Schnell Division. Notice the Slovakian Coat-of-Arms shield printed in the center. The double ring circular dated cancel with the words "Pol. Posta" (Field Post) was applied.
    Both field cards have been censored notice the red inscriptions.

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