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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.