Carpathian Ukraine

Template:Infobox former country/autocat
Карпатська Україна
Karpats’ka Ukrayina
Unrecognized state

Flag Coat of arms
"Ще не вмерла України"  (Ukrainian)
"Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy"
"Ukraine's glory has not perished"
Ще не вмерла України  (Ukrainian)
Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy
Ukraine's glory has not perished
Map of Carpatho-Ukraine in 1939.
Capital Khust
Languages Ukrainian
Government Republic
President Avgustyn Voloshyn
Prime Minister Julian Révaý
Historical era Interwar period
 -  Independence March 15, 1939
 -  Annexed March 16 1939
Area 13,352 km² (5,155 sq mi)
Today part of  Ukraine

Carpatho-Ukraine (Ukrainian: Карпатська Україна, Karpats’ka Ukrayina) was an autonomous region within Czechoslovakia from late 1938 to March 15, 1939. It declared itself an independent republic on March 15, 1939, but was returned to Hungary between March 15 and March 16, 1939, remaining under Hungarian control until the Nazi occupation of Hungary in 1944.


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For early history, see Carpathian Ruthenia.

Soon after the implementation of the Munich Agreement of 29 September 1938 (by which Czechoslovakia lost much of its border region to Nazi Germany) Carpathian Ruthenia and Slovakia declared their autonomy within Czechoslovakia, which Prague accepted. The autonomous Carpathian Ruthenia (officially known as Subcarpathian Ruthenia until then) changed its name to "Carpatho-Ukraine" soon afterwards, in November 1938.

In November 1938, under the First Vienna Award, which resulted from the Munich agreement, Nazi Germany and Italy prevailed on Czechoslovakia to cede the southern third of Slovakia and southern Carpatho-Ukraine to Hungary.

Proclamation of Independence

Slovak and Ukrainian demands for independence grew after Czechoslovakia's central government was forced to give up Sudetenland to Germany according to the Munich agreement of September 29, 1938.

In late September 1938, Hungary had supported Nazi Germany by mobilizing between 200,000 and 350,000 ill-trained and ill-equipped men on the Slovak and Ukrainian borders, ready to invade Czechoslovakia in case of war between Germany and Czechoslovakia. After Munich the Hungarians had remained poised threateningly on the Slovak border. They reportedly had artillery ammunition for only 36 hours of operations, and were clearly engaged in a bluff, but it was a bluff the Germans had encouraged, and one that they would have been obliged to support militarily if the much larger, better trained and better equipped Czechoslovak Army chose to fight. The Czechoslovak army had built 2,000 small concrete emplacements along the border in places where rivers did not serve as natural obstacles.

On demand of the regions leaders demanding autonomy on 11 October 1938 Subcarpathian Ruthenia revived its self-government.[1]

The Hungarian Minister of the Interior, Miklós Kozma, had been born in Carpatho-Ukraine, and in mid-1938 his ministry armed the Rongyos Garda ('Ragged Guard'), which began to infiltrate guerillas into southern Slovakia and Subcarpathia (ethnic Rusyn territory). The situation was now verging on open war, which might set the whole of Europe ablaze again. From the German and Italian point of view, this would be premature, so they pressured the Hungarian and the Czechoslovak governments to accept their joint Arbitration of Vienna. On November 2, 1938, this found largely in favor of the Hungarians and obliged the Prague government to cede 11,833 km² of Slovakia and Carpatho-Ukraine to Hungary. Not only did this transfer the homes of about 590,000 Hungarians to Hungary, but 290,000 Slovaks and 37,000 Ukrainians as well. In addition, it cost Slovakia its second-largest city, Košice, and left the capital, Bratislava, vulnerable to further Hungarian pressure.

As a consequence, the Slovak end of the Czechoslovak Army had to be reorganized. It had been forced to cede its natural defensive positions on the Danube River almost the entire belt of fortifications along the Hungarian border and several major depots.

The Arbitration of Vienna fully satisfied nobody, and there followed 22 border clashes between November 2, 1938 and January 12, 1939, during which five Czechoslovaks were killed and six were wounded. The Slovak national militia Hlinka Guard participated in these clashes. The ineffectiveness of the Prague government in protecting their interests stirred Slovak and Ukrainian nationalism further. On November 8, 1938, the Slovak National Unity Party got 97.5% of the Slovak votes, and a one-party state was instituted. Slovak autonomy was formalized by the Prague parliament on November 19, and to symbolize this new Slovak assertiveness, the country's name was then altered to Czecho-Slovakia. Carpatho-Ukraine, was also given autonomy.

Slovak and Ukrainian nationalism grew more intense, and on March 10, there were demonstrations by the Hlinka Guard and Volksdeutsche, demanding their independence from Czecho-Slovakia.

In the evening of March 13, Jozef Tiso (the Slovak leader) and Ďurčanský met German leader Adolf Hitler, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Generals Walther von Brauchitsch and Wilhelm Keitel in Berlin. Hitler made it absolutely clear that either Slovakia declared independence immediately and associated itself with the Reich, or he would let the Hungarians, who were reported by Ribbentrop to be massing on the border, take the country over. In fact, encouraged by the Germans, the Hungarians were largely massing on the adjacent Ukrainian border.

During the afternoon and night of March 14, the Slovak people proclaimed their independence from Czecho-Slovakia, and at 5:00 a.m. on March 15, 1939, Hitler declared that the unrest in Czecho-Slovakia was a threat to the German security, and sent his troops into Bohemia and Moravia, meeting virtually no resistance.

Following the Slovak proclamation of independence on March 14 and the Nazis' seizure of Czech lands on March 15, Carpatho-Ukraine declared its independence as the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine, with the Reverend Avgustyn Voloshyn (Авґустин Волошин) as head of state.

"The First Constitutional Law of Carpatho-Ukraine" of March 15, 1939 defined the new status of the country as follows:

  1. Carpatho-Ukraine is an independent state.
  2. The name of the state is: Carpatho-Ukraine.
  3. Carpatho-Ukraine is a republic, headed by a president elected by the Sojm of Carpatho-Ukraine.
  4. The state language of Carpatho-Ukraine is the Ukrainian language.
  5. The colors of the national flag of the Carpatho-Ukraine are blue and yellow, blue on top and yellow on the bottom.
  6. The state emblem of Carpatho-Ukraine is as follows: a bear on a red field on the sinister side, four blue and three yellow stripes on the dexter side, as well as the trident of Saint Volodymyr the Great.
  7. The national anthem of Carpatho-Ukraine is "Sche ne vmerla Ukraina" ("Ukraine has not perished").
  8. This act comes valid immediately after its promulgation.

The proclaimed Carpatho-Ukrainian government was headed by President Avgustyn Ivanovych Voloshyn, Prime Minister Yulian Révaý, Minister of Defence Stepan Klochurak, and Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Perevuznyk. The head of the Sojm was Avhustyn Shtephan, his deputies were Fedir Révaý and Stepan Rosokha.

The Slovak declaration of independence caused law and order to break down immediately. On the same day, Hungary had learned that the Germans would not object to a Hungarian takeover of Carpatho-Ukraine.

Hungarian invasion

The Carpatho-Ukrainian declaration of independence was taken as the cue for the Hungarians to demand that the Czech government evacuate its troops and civil servants from the area of the Carpathians immediately. The Czech government did not respond, and instead ordered its troops to attack the city of Mukačevo (previously ceded to the Hungarians on November 2, 1938) on the morning of March 14, 1939.

The available Hungarian forces consisted of an infantry regiment, two cavalry regiments, three infantry battalions on bicycles, one motorized battalion, two border guard battalions, one artillery battalion and two armored trains. These forces were counting for more than two World War II divisions. They were supported by Fiat CR.32 fighter planes amounting to one regiment.

The Hungarian Border Guard units stationed around Mukačevo, after throwing back the attacking Czechs on March 14, 1939, pressed forward in turn, and took the town of Orhegyalja.

On March 15, 1939 the Hungarian Army regular troops invaded Carpatho-Ukraine and by the nightfall reached Szolyva. The Carpatho-Ukrainian irregular troops, the Carpathian Sich, without additional support, were quickly routed. Czech resistance in Carpatho-Ukraine was negligible, and the advancing Hungarian troops did not have to face a well-organized and centralized resistance. The Hungarian Army also had the advantage of the Vienna Award, which made it possible for the Hungarians to take possession of the area where the Czechs built their permanent fortifications against Hungary.

On March 16, 1939, Hungary formally annexed the territory. Prime Minister Yulian Révaý had resisted the Hungarians until then.

In the night to March 17, the last Czechoslovak troops left Khust and retreated to Romanian borders. Together with them, the one-day president of Carpatho-Ukraine, Voloshyn, emigrated to Romania.

The Hungarian Army continued their advance, pushing forward at top speed, and reached the Polish border on March 17. Sich volunteers who came from the province of Galicia and captured by Hungarians were handed over to Polish soldiers and were executed in a few days. The last resistance in the Carpathian mountains was taken out on March 18.

The invasion campaign was a success, but it also proved that the Hungarian Army was not yet ready for full war. The handicaps imposed by the Trianon Treaty were clearly visible, but the morale and nationalist spirit of the soldiers and the civilian populations were high, which also are important to build a strong national army.

World War II and the aftermath

During the German occupation of Hungary in 1944, almost the entire Jewish population was deported; few survived the Holocaust. When the Soviet Army crossed the pre-1938 borders of Czechoslovakia in the fall 1944, the delegation of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, led by minister František Němec, arrived to Khust to establish the provisional Czechoslovak administration, according to the treaties between the Soviet and Czechoslovak government from the same year. However, just after few weeks, for reasons that are still not clear, the Red Army and NKVD started to obstruct the delegation's work and finally the puppet "National Committee of Transcarpatho-Ukraine" was set up in Mukachevo under the protection of Red Army. On November 26 this committee, led by Ivan Turyanitsa (a Rusyn who deserted from Czechoslovak army) proclaimed the "will of Ukrainian people" to separate from Czechoslovakia and join the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. After two months of conflicts and useless negotiations the Czechoslovak government delegation departed Khust on February 1, 1945, left Carpatho-Ukraine under the Soviet control.

On June 29, 1945, a treaty was signed under pressure of USSR between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, ceding Carpatho-Ruthenia officially to the Soviet Union. In 1946 the area was forced to became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as the Zakarpattia Oblast (Transcarpathian Oblast).

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, it became part of independent Ukraine as Zakarpattia Oblast.


The Soim of Carpatho-Ukraine was established on February 12, 1939 by the Czechoslovakian constitutional act of November 22, 1938. It consisted of 32 representatives with 29 Ukrainians and 3 three of national minorities. There was only a single session of the parliament that took place on March 15, 1939 in Khust. At the session the parliament approved the proclamation of the sovereignty of Carpatho-Ukraine, adopted its Constitution, elected the president, and confirmed the new government of Julian Revai. The head of the Soim became Augustin Štefan with his deputies, Fedir Revai and Stepan Rosokha. The presidium of the Soim emigrated out of the country following the invasion of Carpatho-Ukraine by the Hungarian Armed Forces.

See also


  • Axworthy, Mark W.A. Axis Slovakia - Hitler's Slavic Wedge, 1938-1945, Bayside, N.Y. : Axis Europa Books, 2002, ISBN 1-891227-41-6
  • Niehorster, Dr. Leo W.G. The Royal Hungarian Army 1920-1945 Volume 1, New York : Axis Europa Books, 1998, ISBN 1-891227-19-X
  • (German) Ganzer, Christian Die Karpato-Ukraine 1938/39: Spielball im internationalen Interessenkonflikt am Vorabend des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Hamburg 2001 (Die Ostreihe - Neue Folge, Heft 12).
  • (German) Kotowski, Albert S. "Ukrainisches Piemont"? Die Karpartenukraine am Vorabend des Zweiten Weltkrieges, in Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 49 (2001), Heft 1. S. 67-95.
  • Magosci, Paul R. ISBN 0-674-80579-8
  • (Ukrainian) Rosokha, Stepan Parliament of Carpatho-Ukraine (Coйм Карпатськoї України), Ukrainian National Publishing Co., Ltd. for Culture and Knowledge 1949 (Культура й ocвiтa).
  • Shandor, Vincent Carpatho-Ukraine in the Twentieth Century: A Political and Legal History, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press for the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1997. ISBN 0-916458-86-5
  • Winch, Michael Republic for a day: An eye-witness account of the Carpatho-Ukraine incident, London 1939.


External links

  • "World Academy of Rusyn culture", [1], in English
  • Carpatho-Ukraine from "Encyclopedia of Ukraine"
  • Reuters, 24 December 2005
  • "The Greatness and the Tragedy of Carpathian Ukraine", in Ukrainian.


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