Hoover Library & Archives Acquire A Major Slovak Collection: The Karol Sidor Books And Papers

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
A hand-painted name day card for Karol Sidor from Slovak refugees in Austria for the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Sidor’s patron saint, November 4, 1950

Above: A hand-painted name day card for Karol Sidor from Slovak refugees in Austria for the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Sidor’s patron saint, November 4, 1950

 

Karol Sidor and his family in the Vatican, a. 1953
Karol Sidor and his family in the Vatican, a. 1953

Karol Sidor (1901−53) was a Slovak politician, writer, and, in 1939−45, ambassador to the Holy See of the first Slovak republic, a client state of Nazi Germany created after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.  Sidor was associated with the Slovak People’s Party of the Reverend Andrej Hlinka, the Roman Catholic priest and founder of the Slovak national movement and the organizer and first commander of the paramilitary Hlinka Guard.  He died in exile in Montreal, Canada.

The Karol Sidor Papers are an important resource for the study of interwar Czechoslovak politics, the wartime Slovak state, and postwar Slovak emigration to North America.  Especially valuable are the letters of Sidor’s mentor, Andrej Hlinka,  whom Sidor had known since before World War I, having served as his altar boy in childhood.  Documents from the time of Sidor’s residence in the Vatican provide evidence of his discreet independence from his government in Bratislava, particularly as it became clear that Hitler’s Germany would lose the war.  In addition to Karol Sidor’s own papers, the collection includes the diaries, notes, and book manuscripts of his sons, Andrej and Karol Jr.

The acquisition of the Sidor Papers was made possible with the help of Professor James Krapfl of McGill University in Montreal.  Krapfl, a frequent visitor to Hoover Library & Archives when he was a PhD student at the University of California at Berkeley, found the Sidor papers with the help of a flea market World War II memorabilia dealer and eBay.  Krapfl’s fascinating account of his archival acquisition adventure and a detailed inventory of his find have been added to the collection.

The Karol Sidor Papers are Hoover’s second major archival collection pertaining to the World War II−era Slovak republic.  The first one, acquired more than sixty years ago, was the 1944−45 diary of Štefan Tiso, the prime minister, president of the Supreme Court, and minister of foreign affairs and justice of the first Slovak state.  Štefan Tiso was a relative of Reverend Jozef Tiso, the wartime president of the country.

Maciej Siekierski

siekierski [at] stanford.edu