In august 1944 an armed rebellion occurred in Slovakia allegedly against the Germans, the Fascism an for the restoration of Czecho–Slovakia. At that time there were no German troops in Slovakia, there was no Fascism to speak of, and those Slovaks who genuinely desired the restoration of Czecho–Slovakia were very few in numbers. Yet the rebellion was initially quite successful and it spread over more than a half of Slovak territory.

The real motives behind this uprising were the rapid advance of the Red Army and the approaching defeat of Germany. The revolt errupted at the same time as the capitulation of Rumania (23rd August), Finland (2nd September) and Bulgaria (5th September). But while these countries in changing sides retained their national independence, the perpetrators of the Slovak uprising – the Czech–leaing politi–cians, army officers and Communists – took an unheard of and unprecedented step: they foolishly renounced their national birthright and took up arms to fight against their own state.

In the summer of 1944 the military organisers of the revolt approached the Russians with an off er to open the Carpathian passes to the Red Army and to enable them an unimpeded and rapid advance to the very gates of Vienna. But the Russians refused to commit themselves to this proposal, or to any coordinated action with the Slovaks. Instead they dropped several groups of trained partisans over Central Slovakia. These partisans were soon joined by the local dissidents and various refugees from the German POW–camps. In mid–August 1944 there were some 2 000 partisans roaming the montainous terrain of Central Slovakia. Since there were no German troops in Slovakia, the partisans directed their querilla activities against the unarmed indigeneous German population and the represen–tatives of Slovak state administration. Their acts of Sabotage involted the destruction of bridges, tunnels, railways and other objects of military importance. Since these object were unprotected and unguarded, there was no risk or danger involted and no heroism required for these missions.

These actions inevitably brought along swift retaliations and on 29th August 1944 Gen. Ferdinand Čatloš announced over the radio that the Slovak Government had called the German army to help to restore law and order. On the following day Col. Ján Golian, one of the military organisers of the revolt, issued an order for a generál rising.

The revolt caught its military and political organisers unprepared. As a result the two well–equipped divisions in Lastern Slovakia did not join the uprising and were disarmed by the Germans. Likewise the military garrisons in West Slovakia failed to join in. Thus the revolt did not spread over the whole country, but was localised to the mountains regions of Central Slovakia.

The military leaders had initially some 10 000 soldiers at their disposal. By military conscription their number later increased to 60 000. There was no lack of light arms and ammunition, but heavy weapons and aircraft were in short supply. In addition to these regulär troops of the „Czechoslovak army", there were also armed irregulars, the partisans, whose number eventually reached about 12 000 men.

This motley band of fighters lacked a credible purpose, thoughtful strategy and above all an able and unified leadership. It was directed from three centres: London, Moscow and Banská Bystrica, each centre pursuing its own interest.

The German troops, invited to restore law and order, set about liquidating the rebellion in their efficient and ruthless manner and succeeded in their task in less tham two months. In spite of at least threefold numerical superiority and an excellent defensive terrain the insurgents displayed a rather disappointing will to fight. Banská Bystrica, the stratégie and political centre of the revolt, feil on 27th October. That was the end of an organised resistance. The army units were either captured or scattered, the partisans – their numbers much reduced by desertion and flight – retreated to into the monutains.

The revolt was ill–conceived and hence doomed to failure. It failed largely because of its untimely štart, confused leadership and lack of populär appeal. Yet it was a very costly failure: it had cost Slovakia some 20 000 dead, immense material losses and irreparable losses in terms of human suffering and national humiliation. It was not the affair of the Slovak people, it was its black day, dies ater.

In BIELIK, Peter – MULÍK, Peter [eds.]: Dies ater. Nešťastný deň 29. august. Bratislava : Lúč, 1994. s. 183-184. ISBN 80-7114-127-5.