The Republic of Czechoslovakia - And Slovakia Today

As part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia between the wars, the area which is now Slovakia shared the fate of the nation.  In the late 1930s, Hitler campaigned for parts of the country occupied by "ethnic Germans" to be ceded to Germany.  The republic planned border fortifications and resistance, but without help from Western powers stood little chance of resisting whatever Hitler had in mind.  In 1938 and 1939, neighboring Hungary and Austria (already annexed by the Reich) carved areas of Czechoslovakian territory along the borders and took control of them.  The larger area in the west came under German control, on German terms in a "negotiation,", and the beautiful medieval city of Prague and the many areas rich in resources and factories useful to the war effort was spared bombing and military destruction.

Near the end of the war, as German museum staff realized that bombing and invasion of their country were likely, the many museums' collections were crated and sent by the trainload to hiding places in the mountains of Bavaria and the Austrian alps.  Another location was Castle Nikolsburg, north of Bratislava, in Czechoslovakia.  Soviet forces liberated from the east, and the western powers liberated the area Hitler had called the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The Allies' armed forces unit known as the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives recovered art there.  With all the political confusion and shortages of necessities, it was inevitable that people who found (or stole) art would sell it or use it a barter.

Nikolsburg Castle, west of Slovakia, one of the secret art repositories discovered after the war,

Press & Scholarly