Book Review: Thoughts on the Breakup of a Country

WE HAVE LEARNT … that small nations do not have a chance in the big league. … We Slovaks have a powerful brother in the Czech nation, whose language is similar to ours, whose life and fate are parallel to ours, and it is for these reasons that the siblings are embracing each other.” In the “Martin Declaration,” published in 1918 -just a few months before the Austro-Hungarian Empire formally collapsed with the signing of the armistice at the end of World War I – the Slovak National Council was clear about which way to turn. Given a choice between continued Hungarian rule, which was being fiercely advocated by the truncated government in Budapest, and some kind of union with the Czechs, even the council’s most strongly nationalist members were turning toward Prague. And, taking ethnicity to the most basic mathematical level from the Czech point of view, it was only a union with Slovakia that could turn the Sudeten Germans into a comfortably small minority. Even in 1921, ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia formed almost a quarter of the total population.