Portal:Slovakia

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Slovakia (/slˈvækiə, -ˈvɑːk-/ (listen); Slovak: Slovensko [ˈslɔʋenskɔ] (listen)), officially the Slovak Republic (Slovak: Slovenská republika [ˈslɔʋenskaː ˈrepublika] (listen)), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to the southwest, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia's mostly mountainous territory spans about 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi), with a population of over 5.4 million. The capital and largest city is Bratislava, while the second largest city is Košice.

The Slavs arrived in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the seventh century, they played a significant role in the creation of Samo's Empire. In the ninth century, they established the Principality of Nitra, which was later conquered by the Principality of Moravia to establish Great Moravia. In the tenth century, after the dissolution of Great Moravia, the territory was integrated into the Principality of Hungary, which would then become the Kingdom of Hungary in 1000. In 1241 and 1242, after the Mongol invasion of Europe, much of the territory was destroyed. The area was recovered largely thanks to Béla IV of Hungary, who also settled Germans, leading them to become an important ethnic group in the area, especially in what are today parts of central and eastern Slovakia.

After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the state of Czechoslovakia was established. It was the only country in central and eastern Europe to remain a democracy during the interwar period. Nevertheless, local fascist parties gradually came to power in the Slovak lands, and the first Slovak Republic existed during World War II as a partially-recognised client state of Nazi Germany. At the end of World War II, Czechoslovakia was re-established as an independent country. After a coup in 1948, Czechoslovakia came under communist administration, and became a part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. Attempts to liberalise communism in Czechoslovakia culminated in the Prague Spring, which was crushed by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. In 1989, the Velvet Revolution peacefully ended the Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. Slovakia became an independent state on 1 January 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia, sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce. (Full article...)

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Rudolf "Rudi" Vrba (born Walter Rosenberg; 11 September 1924 – 27 March 2006) was a Slovak-Jewish biochemist who, as a teenager in 1942, was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. He became known for having escaped from the camp in April 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, and for having co-written a detailed report about the mass murder that was taking place there. Distribution of the report by George Mantello in Switzerland is credited with having halted the mass deportation of Hungary's Jews to Auschwitz in July 1944, saving more than 200,000 lives. After the war Vrba trained as a biochemist, working mostly in England and Canada.

Vrba and fellow escapee Alfréd Wetzler fled Auschwitz three weeks after German forces invaded Hungary and shortly before the SS began mass deportations of Hungary's Jewish population to the camp. The information the men dictated to Jewish officials when they arrived in Slovakia on 24 April 1944, which included that new arrivals in Auschwitz were being gassed and not "resettled" as the Germans maintained, became known as the Vrba–Wetzler report. When the War Refugee Board published it with considerable delay in November 1944, the New York Herald Tribune described it as "the most shocking document ever issued by a United States government agency". While it confirmed material in earlier reports from Polish and other escapees, the historian Miroslav Kárný wrote that it was unique in its "unflinching detail". (Full article...)

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