Thursday, March 20, 2014

When and where WWII started

It is universally accepted that World War II began Sept. 1, 1939, with Hitler’s Wehrmacht attacking the Polish Republic (Rzeczpospolita Polska). However, the actual shooting war, with Hitler’s blessing, began nearly six months earlier when the modern, superbly equipped army of one of Hitler’s satellites, Hungary, attacked a newly established democratic state, Carpathian Ukraine, a Ukrainian land which after World War I became a part of Czechoslovakian Republic, often referred to as the most democratic state in Europe.

    Following the infamous Munich agreement, Czechoslovakia was forced to surrender to Germany the German-populated Sudetenland, which resulted in the hastening of the breakup of the heretofore one republic in three autonomous entities. Soon thereafter, the Germans occupied the territory, which they named “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,” while the Slovaks (Oct. 6, 1938) and Ukrainians (Oct. 11, 1938) had formed autonomous states which eventually (March 14, 1938) became independent. Hitler had allowed “Independent” Slovakia to exist, but he long before had agreed to the occupation of Carpatho-Ukraine by the Hungarians.

    It is interesting to note the comparison of events in March 1938 and in March 2014, both involving Ukraine.

    Immediately upon the declaration of independence of Carpatho-Ukraine, the Hungarian government issued an ultimatum demanding that the government of Carpatho-Ukraine stop anti-Hungarian propaganda (no such
propaganda had been conducted), release Hungarian political prisoners (there were none) and arm the Hungarians residing in Carpatho-Ukraine. The first two demands were without basis in fact. When the third demand was rejected, the Hungarian army invaded. The defense of the newly proclaimed Ukrainian state depended on the 5,000 poorly armed members of the hastily formed Carpathian Sitch. Within days, the Hungarian army, assisted by well-trained and armed saboteurs sent ahead, had occupied most of the important strategic points in the state, in spite of the heroic efforts of the young and militarily inexperienced defenders, many of whom were killed in battles, and others taken prisoners (many summarily executed).

    Partisan battles continued until mid-April.

    From an international point of view, the Carpatho-Ukrainian-Hungarian battles were the first battles of WWII, for the Czechs surrendered their state to Hitler without firing a shot.

    The territory of the 1938-1939 Carpatho-Ukraine is now the “Zakarpatska” (Transcarpathian) oblast of Ukraine, which Ukrainians call “Sribna Zemlya” (silver land). It, together with the rest of Ukraine, is now defending itself against “modern-day Hitler”
Putin, who makes outlandish and withoutbasis-in-fact accusations of persecutions of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine, and other anti-Ukrainian propaganda, in preparation for an attack on Ukraine.

                                                        • • •

    The solemn commemoration of the Taras Shevchenko bicentennial will be held at the ECOSOC Chamber of the Organization of United Nations in New York City on March 27. The elaborate program will include remarks from
U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, President of the U.N. 68th General Session H.E. John

W. Ashe, and other dignitaries.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

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