Monsignor Jozef Tiso Th. D. (October 13, 1887–April 18, 1947) was a Slovak politician of the SPP, Roman Catholic priest who became a deputy of the Czechoslovak parliament, a member of the Czechoslovak government, and finally the President of the WWII Slovak Republic from 1939-1945, which was a puppet state of Nazi Germany. After the end of World War II, Tiso was hanged by Czechoslovak authorities.
When World War I broke out, he served as a chaplain in the Royal Hungarian Army. In 1915 he became the Spiritual Director of the Theological Seminary of Nitra, and a teacher at the Piarist High School in the same town, and when Czechoslovakia became independent upon the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, Tiso joined the Slovak People's Party. From 1921 to 1924 he served as the secretary of the bishop and teacher at the Seminary of Divinity at Nitra. In 1924 he became the dean and parish priest of the town of Bánovce nad Bebravou. After several unsuccessful runs for office, he won a seat in the Czechoslovak Parliament in 1925.
Even during his presidency, Tiso continued to work actively as the parish priest of the town of Bánovce nad Bebravou (from 1924 to 1945). From 1925 to 1939 he served as a deputy in the Czechoslovak parliament in Prague, and from 1927 to 1929 as a member of the Czechoslovak government - the Minister of Health and Sports, and 6 October to 28 November 1938 again as Czechoslovak Minister for Slovak Affairs.
Adolf Hitler's Germany annexed the Sudetenland (the German part of Czechoslovakia) and the Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš fled the country in October 1938. During the chaos which resulted, the Slovaks (who had lacked any form of autonomy within Czechoslovakia) declared their autonomy within Czechoslovakia and Tiso, as leader of the Slovak People's Party, became (until March 9, 1939) the premier of the autonomous Slovak region. Hungary, having never really accepted the separation of Slovakia from its control in 1918, took advantage of the situation and managed to persuade Germany and Italy to force Slovakia to let Hungarian troops occupy one third of Slovak territory in November 1938, by the so-called Vienna Award (Vienna Arbitration).
In the light of this situation, all Czech or Slovak political parties in Slovakia (except for the Communists) voluntarily joined forces and set up the "Hlinka's Slovak People's Party - Party of Slovak National Unity" in November 1938, which created the basis for the future authoritarian regime in Slovakia. (The same happened in the Czech part of the country two weeks later for Czech parties.) In January 1939, the Slovak government officially prohibited all parties apart from the Party of Slovak National Unity, the "Deutsche Partei" (a party of Germans in Slovakia) and the "Unified Hungarian Party" (a party of Hungarians in Slovakia).
From February 1939, representatives of Germany - planning to occupy the Czech part and basically not interested in Slovakia - started to officially persuade Slovak politicians to declare the independence of Slovakia. On March 9, 1939, Czech troops occupied Slovakia and Tiso lost his post of Prime Minister. On March 13, 1939, Adolf Hitler lost his patience. He invited Tiso - as the deposed prime minister - to Berlin, and personally forced him to immediately (as he said "in a flash") declare the independence of Slovakia under German "protection", otherwise Germany would allow Hungary (and partly Poland) to annex the remaining territory of Slovakia. Under these circumstances, Tiso spoke by phone to the Czechoslovak president Emil Hácha and to the then Prime Minister of Slovakia, Karol Sidor, and they agreed to convene the Slovak parliament the next day and let it decide. On March 14, the Slovak parliament unanimously declared the independence of Slovakia, and on March 15, Germany invaded the remaining Czech lands - exactly according to German plans.
Tiso served as the Prime Minister of independent Slovakia from March 14 1939 until October 26, 1939. On October 26 he became President of Slovakia (separate from the Prime Ministerial office). On October 1 1939 he officially became the president of the Slovak People's Party. According to the pro-Nazi nationalist fashion, from 1942 he was self-styled Vodca "Leader", an imitation in the national language of Führer (compare in that article).
The deportations of Jews from Slovakia started in March 1942, but were stopped - despite heavy opposition from Germany, which demanded their resumption - in October 1942 by Slovaks, when it became clear that Nazi Germany had not "only" abused the Slovakian Jews as forced labour workers but had also executed many of them in death camps, and when public protests arose as well as pressure from the Holy See to stop the deportations of Jewish civilians. Slovakia became the first state in the Nazi sphere to stop deportations of Jews, but some 58,000 Jews (75% of Slovak Jewry) had already suffered deportation, mostly to Auschwitz, of whom only a minority survived. Between October 1942 and October 1944, an independent Slovakia even served as a safe last resort for Jews suffering persecution in Nazi-occupied neighbouring countries such as annexed Austria, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland and occupied Ukraine.
Jewish deportations were resumed by German occupation authorities in October 1944 after the Soviet army reached the Slovak border and the Slovak National Uprising took place. As a result of the Uprising and the approach of the Soviet forces, Nazi Germany decided to occupy all of Slovakia and the country lost its independence and saw the deportation of Jews resumed again after two years. During the 1944-1945 German occupation, another 13,500 Jews were deported and 5,000 imprisoned.
Tiso lost power when the Soviet Army conquered the last parts of western Slovakia in April 1945. He faced a charge of "internal treason, treason of the Slovak National Uprising and collaboration with Nazism". On April 15, 1947, the National court (Národný súd) sentenced him to death. President Edvard Beneš declined to grant a reprieve, despite Tiso's popularity among the Slovaks and the threat of a rift between the Czech-dominated government and the Slovak minority. Wearing his clerical outfit, Msgr. Jozef Tiso was hanged in Bratislava on April 18, 1947. The Czech government buried him secretly to avoid having his grave become a shrine.