(b. 18 Oct. 1887, d. 18 Apr. 1947).
President of the Slovak Republic 1939–45 Born in Vel'ká Bytca, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1910. After World War I he became interested in politics. He became an influential figure in the Slovak People's Party, which demanded Slovak autonomy within Czechoslovakia. He was briefly Minister of Health in a coalition government 1927–9. Tiso became leader of his party in 1938 and, under German pressure, proclaimed Slovakia an independent republic on 14 March 1939, with himself as President. He established a ‘Christian Socialist’ state and gave considerable prominence to the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, he refused to become a Nazi puppet and, due to its unpopularity, suspended the deportation of Jews to Nazi concentration camps. Thus, although he was a collaborator, it is arguable that Slovakia would have fared worse under direct occupation. He was arrested in hiding in May 1945, and hanged for high treason.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).