No saint : Jozef Tiso, 1887-1947 / James Mace Ward.
This thesis is a political and intellectual biography of Jozef Tiso, the priest-president of the pro-German Slovak Republic, 1939-1945. Tiso was the only Roman Catholic priest except for the pope to head a modern state, an extraordinary accomplishment for the Church's struggle against the heritage of the Enlightenment and its control of public life. Tiso's politics also epitomized a European trend away from multicultural empires towards homogenous nation-states—in his case, from Austria-Hungary, to Czechoslovakia, to independent Slovakia. This last step drew Tiso into alliance with Adolf Hitler and into involvement with the destruction of Slovak Jewry. In 1945, Slovakia reverted to Czechoslovakia, which hanged Tiso as a collaborator two years later. Since then, memories of him have often taken the forms of polarized symbols: war criminal or saint. After 1989, this conflict over memory helped to bring about the second dissolution of Czechoslovakia.I argue that Tiso was a “Christian-National Socialist,” or a cross between a Christian Social and a generic national socialist. As a Christian Social, Tiso pursued a profound social transformation that based its moral legitimacy not only on the primacy of God but also on notions of progress. Over time, the agent for achieving this transformation changed for Tiso from the Christian community to the Slovak nation. This shift played out against the increasing internationalization of local politics, a development that helped to make him president. As a politician, Tiso often subordinated his Church's interests to those of his party and state. Despite the Vatican's objections, he not only supported Slovakia's 1942 handover of some 58,000 Jews to Germany but also probably helped to initiate the action. His complicity in this war crime is a major cause for the polar interpretations of him, which serve as surrogate debates in Slovak society over the importance of human rights in relation to Catholicism and Slovak nationalism.Documentation for this thesis includes Tiso's presidential papers and postwar trial record, Czechoslovak police reports, German and Hungarian diplomatic correspondence, Church records, and Central European press. These materials were gathered from over twenty national and regional archives in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and the United States.
Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:20:00
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