Czechs and Slovaks Rate Key Events in Domestic Modern History

(stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, June 11 (TASR) – The Slovak National Uprising in 1944, the creation of a sovereign Slovak Republic in 1993 and the 1989 Velvet Revolution are the key events in Slovakia’s modern history as chosen by the people of the country in a recent survey.

Only the Velvet Revolution was chosen by both Slovaks and Czechs, who also took part in the survey. The other two events mentioned by Czechs were the period of the first Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938) and the creation of a sovereign Czech Republic in 1993.

To the question regarding the most influential events, regardless of their positive or negative connotations, 49 percent of the Slovak respondents chose the Velvet Revolution as their answer, followed by the creation of an independent Slovak Republic. Third place went to Slovakia joining the EU in 2004, Zora Butorova from the Institute for Public Affairs told TASR.

Both the Slovak and the Czech public named the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia as the ‘darkest’ moment in their shared history. “August 1968 is a traumatic moment in both societies, but it’s viewed in a slightly more negative way among the Czechs,” said Paulina Tabery of the Centre for Public Opinion Research.

Other negative historical moments include the period when Vladimir Meciar was Slovak prime minister (1994-1998) and the installation of the communist regime in February 1948. For the Czechs, however, these events include the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in WWII and the signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938.

Another part of the survey touched upon the most significant people from Czechoslovak history. The names of Slovak politicians Milan Rastislav Stefanik (influential in the setting up of Czechoslovakia), Alexander Dubcek (leading figure in the Prague Spring of 1968) and the first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk were the most commonly mentioned in the Slovak half of the survey. Among the Czech respondents, Masaryk came first, with Jan Palach (who set himself on fire in Prague in protest against the 1968 invasion) and Vaclav Havel (a leading dissident under communism and Czechoslovak president after the Velvet Revolution) also featuring heavily.

Vladimir Meciar, Vasil Bilak (who signed the letter inviting the Warsaw Pact countries to invade Czechoslovakia in 1968) and leader of the wartime fascist Slovak republic Jozef Tiso are considered to be negative historical figure among the Slovak public. Bilak also made it into the first trio in the Czech part of the survey. The other two negative figures were communist leaders Klement Gottwald and Gustav Husak.

The survey was conducted by the Slovak Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Sociology in collaboration with the Institute for Public Affairs, the Centre for Public Opinion Research and the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Sociology. The results were obtained from 1,012 Slovak respondents above the age of 18 and 1,061 respondents above the age of 15 in the Czech Republic.