The face of Eastern Europe was turning sinister by the day.
The face of Eastern Europe was turning sinister by the day.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – English News From Radio Budapest – March 21, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

As the storm clouds rapidly gathered in Europe, the situation in the East was quickly developing into a hotspot.

The question of Hungarian occupation of Subcarpathia, on the heels of a declaration of Independence as Carpatho-Ukraine on March 15th and the swift takeover by Hungary, much to the annoyance of the Czechs, Russians, Poles and Germans. Hungary had claimed the area as rightfully theirs since the 1800s. But from the beginning of the 20th century had been administered by the Czechs. The question of autonomy had been raised for the 20 years since the end of World War 1.

After independence was finally declared, Hungary made its move, but the takeover was not without violence. Czech forces attempted to quash the occupation and, under the influence of Berlin, sent troops to end the occupation. But the Hungarian forces prevailed and Carpatho-Ukraine officially became part of Hungary and achieved the level of autonomy which wasn’t promised by either the Czechs or the Russians. It stayed that way until Hungary was occupied by Germany in 1944 and then absorbed by the Soviets after the war, declaring all of the area part of the Soviet Ukraine.

On March 21st 1939, Hungarian Radio broadcast a news report via its English Service, describing the takeover and justification for absorbing Carpatho-Ukraine into the Hungarian fold.

Here is that newscast – it’s difficult to hear in places, as it’s a shortwave broadcast and the signal goes in and out. But it’s an important even, and part of a little-known series of incidents leading up to the outbreak of War in Europe.

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