A Switzerland of the East? Debates on national projections and structural policies in the Slovak Carpathians in the 20th century

Triggered by the political changes after the First World War, the territorial design of the Slovak nation idea took place after 1918. Supported by an initially small elite, this process was about stabilization and demarcation within the newly founded Czechoslovakia. At the same time, corresponding concepts were soon combined with specific questions about the center-periphery relationships as well as the social and economic living conditions in the regions. Special attention received the Slovak mountain areas, which Slovak politicians portrayed as centers of the national movement and at the same time as places of structural neglect by the Czechoslovak central state. It was increasingly about the importance of mountain areas in the overall state structure.

After the cuts in 1939 and 1945, the debates continued. Influenced by territorial losses and the hegemony of National Socialist Germany, the newly founded Slovak state relied on infrastructure projects and changes in mountain agriculture during World War II. After 1948, the communist regime in the re-established Czechoslovakia planned a comprehensive modernization concept: industrialization and collectivization were intended to change not only the social structures, but also the natural conditions in the Slovak Carpathians.

The aim of the contribution is to analyze various structural policy concepts for the development of mountain regions. It is important to ask not only about the objectives and consequences of these approaches, but also about the effects on the classification of the Slovak Carpathian Mountains within the state context. The contribution combines questions of territoriality and state planning with approaches to environmental history.