World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Vignette (road tax)
Vignette is a form of road pricing imposed on vehicles in addition to the compulsory road tax, based on a period of time the vehicle may use the road, instead of road tolls that are based on distance travelled. Vignettes are used in several European countries; the term originated in France in the 1950s, although vignettes there were not linked to motorway use and no longer exist. Vignettes are used in Austria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Slovakia and Switzerland. In most of these countries a small, coloured sticker is affixed to a vehicle windscreen, but in Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia these have been superseded by electronic vignettes. In Moldova and Romania, vignettes are required for the use of any road, in Bulgaria are required for the use of any road outside urban areas. In the other countries, vignettes are required only for the use of expressways. Prices for an annual vignette for passenger cars range from € 30 depending on country. In all countries except Switzerland, short-period vignettes are sold for visiting or transiting vehicles.
In Switzerland, visiting foreign motorists must buy an annual vignette to use the country's motorways. Vignettes can be obtained at border crossings, gas stations and other outlets. Improperly used or lost vignettes are not refunded. Vignette stickers are constructed in such a way that detaching and re-attaching them is impossible without destruction, ensuring that they cannot be used on more than one vehicle. Road traffic is monitored by roadside cameras, vignettes are verified by state officials, such as border guards and national police. Hefty cash fines are charged to travelers using public roads without a valid and properly affixed vignette. Additional tolls are levied for passing through certain motorway tunnels and bridges; the Eurovignette Directive introduced in the European Union in 1993 governs road tolls for trucks of minimum 12 metric tonnes. An international agreement, based on Article 8 of the Eurovignette Directive, signed in 1994 by Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands established a common system of vignettes within the Eurovignette framework.
Sweden signed a protocol to acceded to the agreement in 1997, while Germany denounced the agreement in 2017. Since 1997, vignettes are required for all vehicles of up to 3.5 tonnes, driving on motorways and expressways under federal administration. Vignettes are overseen by the police and toll-sheriff employees of the federal motorway administration. A €240 fine with an additional obligatory payment of a substitute toll are charged to travelers without a valid vignette, unpaid fines lead to penalties between €300 and €3,000. Furthermore, the vehicle may be confiscated from foreigners to guarantee payment of the penalty. Additional tolls are charged for certain motorway sections where tollgates and video tolling systems are installed. Several sections require drivers to buy electronic toll cards. Vignettes for vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes were replaced with electronic distance-based highway-toll GO-Boxes on January 1, 2004. Vignettes are required for all vehicles driving on all public roads, with the exception of streets in cities and villages.
Vignettes are valid from the time they are purchased, while some types can be marked to start from a future date. They can be obtained in Bulgaria at most gas stations, at border crossings, or online using a credit card. Cash fines from €150 to €1,500 are charged to drivers without a valid vignette; the vignette sticker was replaced by e-vignette on 1 January 2019, an e-toll system is to be introduced in August 2019 for vehicles heavier than 3.5 tonnes. Vignettes are required for the use of expressways by all vehicles of up to 3.5 tonnes. Cash fines for not displaying a valid vignette affixed on a car's windshield range from €80 to €200. Vignettes for heavier vehicles were replaced with electronic toll collection in 2007. Motorways and expressways are a toll-free road network for all lighter vehicles; the Eurovignette system for trucks was abolished in August 2003. A distance-based toll charge was introduced from 1 January 2005 for vehicles of over 12 tonnes, operated by the Toll Collect company.
As of 1 March 2007, all drivers are required to purchase an emission sticker when passing through "environment zones" in several cities and municipalities. Many such places have enacted "green zones" disallowing entrance to vehicles with higher particle emissions. Travellers passing through these areas with an inappropriate vehicle or without the appropriate sticker are charged a €80 fine. Vignettes are required for all travelers using expressways. Physical toll stickers were replaced with electronic vignettes and video tolling on 1 January 2008, the only physical item the purchaser receives is a control coupon. Motorway usage entitlement is verified by roadside cameras based on license plate numbers, drivers of vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes without a valid vignette are charged with cash fines between €50 and €200. Vignettes are obligatory for personal motor vehicles registered abroad, driving on public roads, are available for purchase at border customs posts and offices. Foreign drivers without a valid vignette are charged with cash fines between €125 and €375.
Heavier vehicles use existing tax rates, with commercial vehicle drivers paying a single-entry tax and a distance-based charge. Montenegro used Ecological-tax vignettes until 31 December 2011. Driving on public roads is now toll-free, with the exception of passing through
First Czechoslovak Republic
The First Czechoslovak Republic was the Czechoslovak state that existed from 1918 to 1938. The state was called Czechoslovakia, it was composed of Bohemia, Czech Silesia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia. After 1933, Czechoslovakia remained the only functioning democracy in Central Europe. Under pressure from its Sudeten German minority, supported by neighbouring Nazi Germany, Czechoslovakia was forced to cede its Sudetenland region to Germany on 1 October 1938 as part of the Munich Agreement, it ceded southern parts of Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia to Hungary and the Zaolzie region in Silesia to Poland. This, in effect, ended the First Czechoslovak Republic, it was replaced by the Second Czechoslovak Republic, which lasted less than half a year before Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. The independence of Czechoslovakia was proclaimed on 28 October 1918 by the Czechoslovak National Council in Prague. Several ethnic groups and territories with different historical and economic traditions were obliged be blended into a new state structure.
The origin of the First Republic lies in Point 10 of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points: "The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development." The full boundaries of the country and the organization of its government was established in the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk had been recognized by World War I Allies as the leader of the Provisional Czechoslovak Government, in 1920 he was elected the country's first president, he was re-elected in 1925 and 1929, serving as President until 14 December 1935 when he resigned due to poor health. He was succeeded by Edvard Beneš. Following the Anschluss of Nazi Germany and Austria in March 1938, the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's next target for annexation was Czechoslovakia, his pretext was the privations suffered by ethnic German populations living in Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, known collectively as the Sudetenland.
Their incorporation into Nazi Germany would leave the rest of Czechoslovakia powerless to resist subsequent occupation. To a large extent, Czechoslovak democracy was held together by the country's first president, Tomáš Masaryk; as the principal founding father of the republic, Masaryk was regarded similar to the way George Washington is regarded in the United States. Such universal respect enabled Masaryk to overcome irresolvable political problems. Masaryk is still regarded as the symbol of Czechoslovak democracy; the Constitution of 1920 approved the provisional constitution of 1918 in its basic features. The Czechoslovak state was conceived as a parliamentary democracy, guided by the National Assembly, consisting of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, whose members were to be elected on the basis of universal suffrage; the National Assembly was responsible for legislative initiative and was given supervisory control over the executive and judiciary as well. Every seven years it elected the president and confirmed the cabinet appointed by him.
Executive power was to be shared by the cabinet. The reality differed somewhat from this ideal, during the strong presidencies of Masaryk and his successor, Beneš; the constitution of 1920 provided for the central government to have a high degree of control over local government. From 1928 and 1940, Czechoslovakia was divided into the four "lands". Although in 1927 assemblies were provided for Bohemia and Ruthenia, their jurisdiction was limited to adjusting laws and regulations of the central government to local needs; the central government appointed one third of the members of these assemblies. The constitution identified the "Czechoslovak nation" as the creator and principal constituent of the Czechoslovak state and established Czech and Slovak as official languages; the concept of the Czechoslovak nation was necessary in order to justify the establishment of Czechoslovakia towards the world, because otherwise the statistical majority of the Czechs as compared to Germans would have been rather weak, there would have been more Germans in the state than Slovaks.
National minorities were assured special protection. The operation of the new Czechoslovak government was distinguished by stability. Responsible for this were the well-organized political parties that emerged as the real centers of power. Excluding the period from March 1926 to November 1929, when the coalition did not hold, a coalition of five Czechoslovak parties constituted the backbone of the government: Republican Party of Agricultural and Smallholder People, Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party, Czechoslovak National Social Party, Czechoslovak People's Party, Czechoslovak National Democratic Party; the leaders of these parties became known as the "Pětka". The Pětka was headed by Antonín Švehla, who held the office of prime minister for most of the 1920s and designed a pattern of coalition politics that survived until 1938; the coalition's policy was expressed in the slogan "We have agreed that we will agree." German parties participated in the government in the beginning of 1926. Hungarian p
A rest area is a public facility, located next to a large thoroughfare such as a highway, expressway, or freeway, at which drivers and passengers can rest, eat, or refuel without exiting onto secondary roads. Other names include: motorway service area, travel plaza, rest stop, service area, service station and service area, service plaza, lay-by, service centre. Facilities may include park-like areas, fuel stations, public toilets, water fountains and dump and fill stations for recreational vehicles. A rest area with limited to no public facilities is scenic area, or scenic overlook. Along some highways and roads are rest stops known as wayside parks, roadside parks, or picnic areas; the most basic rest areas have no facilities: they consist of an exit from the highway that leads to a roadway with paved shoulders, where drivers can rest, look at their maps or nearby scenery, or use cell phones. The standards and upkeep of rest areas facilities vary by jurisdiction. Rest areas have parking areas allotted for cars, buses, tractor-trailer trucks, recreational vehicles.
Many government-run rest areas tend to be located in remote and rural areas where there are no fast food nor full-service restaurants, gas stations, motels, or other traveler services nearby. The locations of these remote rest areas are marked by signs on the highway. Driving information is available at these locations, such as posted maps and other local information, along with restrooms; some rest areas have visitor information centers or highway patrol or state trooper stations with staff on duty. There might be drinking fountains, vending machines, pay telephones, a gas station, a restaurant, or a convenience store at a rest area; some rest areas provide free coffee for travelers, paid for by donations from travelers and/or donations from local businesses, civic groups, churches. Some states provide Wi-Fi access at their state-owned rest areas or are considering doing so, including California, Florida Oregon and Washington, among others. Many rest areas have picnic areas. Rest areas tend to have traveler information in the form of so-called "exit guides", which contain basic maps and advertisements for local motels and nearby tourist attractions.
Privatized commercial rest areas may take a form of a truck stop complete with a filling station, arcade video games, recreation center and laundry facilities, fast food restaurant, cafeteria, or food court all under one roof adjacent to the freeway. Some offer business services, such as ATMs, fax machines, office cubicles, Internet access; some rest areas have the reputations of being unsafe with regard to crime at night, since they are situated in remote or rural areas. California's current policy is to maintain existing public rest areas but no longer build new ones, due to the cost and difficulty of keeping them safe, although many California rest stops now feature highway patrol quarters; some of this reputation may be exaggerated, since the advent in recent years of improved lighting and security cameras in many rest stops. Rest stops continue to warn visitors of possible theft and advise those who park to keep vehicle doors locked. In Malaysia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, rest areas have prayer rooms for Muslims travelling more than 90 kilometres.
In Iran it is called Esterāhatgāh meaning the rest rest place. In Malaysia, an overhead bridge restaurant, or overhead restaurant, is a special rest area with restaurants above the expressway. Unlike typical laybys and RSAs, which are only accessible in one-way direction only, an overhead restaurant is accessible from both directions of the expressway. In Japan, there are two grades of rest areas on Japan's tollways; these are part of the tollway system, allowing a person to stop without exiting the tollway, as exiting and reentering the tollway would lead to a higher overall toll for the trip. They are named after the "Motorway Services" offered in Britain; the larger rest area is called a "Service Area", or an SA. SAs are very large facilities with parking for hundreds of cars and many busses - offering toilets, smoking areas, convenience stores, pet relief areas, regional souvenir shops, a gas station, sometimes tourist attractions, such as a ferris wheel or a view of a famous location, they are spaced about one hour apart on the system, a planned stop for tour buses.
Two Service Areas have a motel. The other grade of rest stop is a "Parking Area", or a PA. PAs are much smaller, spaced 20 minutes apart on the system. Besides a small parking lot and drink vending machines are the only consistent amenities offered, while some larger parking areas have small shops, local goods, a gas station - but are much smaller than their larger Service Area counterparts; the precursor to the tollway rest areas were public and private "Road stations" along any trunk road - places to rest and shop for local goods on the traditional road system. Popular rural roads that lead to remote tourist locations still have popular road stations, but with the rise of the tollway system popular routes have been bypassed, leading to the decline or closure to once popular road stations all over Japan. In South Korea, a rest area includes a park and sells regional specialties. Korean rest areas are big and clean. Cellphone charging is free and WiFi is available in
Traffic signs or road signs are signs erected at the side of or above roads to give instructions or provide information to road users. The earliest signs were simple wooden or stone milestones. Signs with directional arms were introduced, for example, the fingerposts in the United Kingdom and their wooden counterparts in Saxony. With traffic volumes increasing since the 1930s, many countries have adopted pictorial signs or otherwise simplified and standardized their signs to overcome language barriers, enhance traffic safety; such pictorial signs use symbols in place of words and are based on international protocols. Such signs were first developed in Europe, have been adopted by most countries to varying degrees. Various international conventions have helped to achieve a degree of uniformity in Traffic Signing in various countries. Traffic signs can be grouped into several types. For example, Annexe 1 of the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, which on 30 June 2004 had 52 signatory countries, defines eight categories of signs: A.
Danger warning signs B. Priority signs C. Prohibitory or restrictive signs D. Mandatory signs E. Special regulation signs F. Information, facilities, or service signs G. Direction, position, or indication signs H. Additional panelsIn the United States, Ireland and New Zealand signs are categorized as follows: Regulatory signs Warning signs Guide signs Street name signs Route marker signs Expressway signs Freeway signs Welcome signs Informational signs Recreation and cultural interest signs Emergency management signs Temporary traffic control signs School signs Railroad and light rail signs Bicycle signsIn the United States, the categories and graphic standards for traffic signs and pavement markings are defined in the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the standard. A rather informal distinction among the directional signs is the one between advance directional signs, interchange directional signs, reassurance signs. Advance directional signs appear at a certain distance from the interchange, giving information for each direction.
A number of countries do not give information for the road ahead, only for the directions left and right. Advance directional signs enable drivers to take precautions for the exit, they do not appear on lesser roads, but are posted on expressways and motorways, as drivers would be missing exits without them. While each nation has its own system, the first approach sign for a motorway exit is placed at least 1,000 metres from the actual interchange. After that sign, one or two additional advance directional signs follow before the actual interchange itself; the earliest road signs were milestones, giving direction. In the Middle Ages, multidirectional signs at intersections became common, giving directions to cities and towns. In 1686, the first known Traffic Regulation Act in Europe is established by King Peter II of Portugal; this act foresees the placement of priority signs in the narrowest streets of Lisbon, stating which traffic should back up to give way. One of these signs still exists in the neighborhood of Alfama.
The first modern road signs erected on a wide scale were designed for riders of high or "ordinary" bicycles in the late 1870s and early 1880s. These machines were fast and their nature made them difficult to control, moreover their riders travelled considerable distances and preferred to tour on unfamiliar roads. For such riders, cycling organizations began to erect signs that warned of potential hazards ahead, rather than giving distance or directions to places, thereby contributing the sign type that defines "modern" traffic signs; the development of automobiles encouraged more complex signage systems using more than just text-based notices. One of the first modern-day road sign systems was devised by the Italian Touring Club in 1895. By 1900, a Congress of the International League of Touring Organizations in Paris was considering proposals for standardization of road signage. In 1903 the British government introduced four "national" signs based on shape, but the basic patterns of most traffic signs were set at the 1908 International Road Congress in Paris.
In 1909, nine European governments agreed on the use of four pictorial symbols, indicating "bump", "curve", "intersection", "grade-level railroad crossing". The intensive work on international road signs that took place between 1926 and 1949 led to the development of the European road sign system. Both Britain and the United States developed their own road signage systems, both of which were adopted or modified by many other nations in their respective spheres of influence; the UK adopted a version of the European road signs in 1964 and, over past decades, North American signage began using some symbols and graphics mixed in with English. Over the years, change was gradual. Pre-industrial signs were stone or wood, but with the development of Darby's method of smelting iron using coke, painted cast iron became favoured in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Cast iron continued to be used until the mid-20th century, but it was displaced by aluminium or other materials and processes, such as vitreous enamelled and/or pressed malleable iron, or steel.
Since 1945 most signs have been made from sheet aluminium with adhesive plastic coatings. Befo
Slovak Republic (1939–1945)
The Slovak Republic, otherwise known as the Slovak State, was a client state of Nazi Germany which existed between 14 March 1939 and 4 April 1945. It controlled the majority of the territory of present-day Slovakia but without its current southern and eastern parts, ceded to Hungary in 1938; the Republic bordered Germany, constituent parts of "Großdeutschland", the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Poland – and subsequently the General Government – along with independent Hungary. Germany recognized the Slovak State, as did several other states, including Croatia, El Salvador, Italy, Japan, Manchukuo, the Soviet Union, Spain and the Vatican City; the majority of the Allies of World War II never recognized the existence of the Slovak Republic. The Soviet Union nullified its recognition after Slovakia joined the invasion of the USSR in 1941; the official name of the country was the Slovak State from 14 March to 21 July 1939, the Slovak Republic from 21 July 1939 to its end in April 1945. The country is referred to as the First Slovak Republic to distinguish it from the contemporary Slovak Republic, not considered its legal successor state.
The name "Slovak State" was used colloquially, but the term "First Slovak Republic" was used in encyclopaedias written during Communist rule. After the Munich Agreement, Slovakia gained autonomy inside Czecho-Slovakia and lost its southern territories to Hungary under the First Vienna Award; as the Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler was preparing a mobilisation into Czech territory and creation of his Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, he had various plans for Slovakia. German officials were misinformed by the Hungarians that the Slovaks wanted to join Hungary. Germany decided to make Slovakia a separate puppet state under the influence of Germany, a potential strategic base for German attacks on Poland and other regions. On 13 March 1939, Hitler invited Monsignor Jozef Tiso, to Berlin and urged him to proclaim Slovakia's independence. Hitler added that, if Tiso did not consent, he would have no interest in Slovakia's fate and would leave it to the territorial claims of Hungary and Poland. During the meeting, Joachim von Ribbentrop passed on a report claiming that Hungarian troops were approaching the Slovak borders.
Tiso refused to make such a decision himself, after which he was allowed by Hitler to organise a meeting of the Slovak parliament which would approve Slovakia's independence. On 14 March, the Slovak parliament convened and heard Tiso's report on his discussion with Hitler as well as on a possible declaration of independence; some of the deputies were skeptical of making such a move, among other reasons due to the fact that some worried that the Slovak state would be too small and with a strong Hungarian minority. The debate was brought to a head when Franz Karmasin, leader of the German minority in Slovakia, said that any delay in declaring independence would result in Slovakia being divided between Hungary and Germany. Under these circumstances, Parliament unanimously declared Slovak independence, thus creating the first Slovak state in history. Jozef Tiso was appointed the first Prime Minister of the new republic; the next day, Tiso sent a telegram asking the Reich to take over the protection of the newly minted state.
The request was accepted. On 23 March 1939, having occupied Carpatho-Ukraine, attacked from there, the newly established Slovak Republic was forced to cede 1,697 square kilometres of territory with about 70,000 people to Hungary before the onset of World War II. Slovakia was the only Axis nation other than Germany to take part in the Polish Campaign. With the impending German invasion of Poland planned for September 1939, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht requested the assistance of Slovakia. Although the Slovak military was only six months old, it formed a small mobile combat group consisting of a number of infantry and artillery battalions. Two combat groups were created for the campaign in Poland for use alongside the Germans; the first group was a brigade-sized formation that consisted of six infantry battalions, two artillery battalions, a company of combat engineers, all commanded by Antonín Pulanich. The second group was a mobile formation that consisted of two battalions of combined cavalry and motorcycle recon troops along with nine motorised artillery batteries, all commanded by Gustav Malár.
The two groups reported to the headquarters of the 3rd Slovak Infantry Divisions. The two combat groups fought while pushing through the Nowy Sącz and Dukla Mountain Passes, advancing towards Dębica and Tarnów in the region of southern Poland; the Slovak military participated in the war on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union. The Slovak Expeditionary Army Group of about 45,000 entered the Soviet Union shortly after the German attack; this army lacked logistic and transportation support, so a much smaller unit, the Slovak Mobile Command, was formed from units selected from this force. The Slovak Mobile Command was attached to the German 17th Army and shortly thereafter given over to direct German command, the Slovaks lacking the command infra
Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with chilly winters. Prague has been a political and economic centre of central Europe complete with a rich history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV, it was an important city to its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era. Prague is home to a number of well-known cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe.
Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites; the city has more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe. Prague is classified as an "Alpha −" global city according to GaWC studies and ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016, its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination and as of 2017, the city receives more than 8.5 million international visitors annually. Prague is the fourth most visited European city after London and Rome. During the thousand years of its existence, the city grew from a settlement stretching from Prague Castle in the north to the fort of Vyšehrad in the south, becoming the capital of a modern European country, the Czech Republic, a member state of the European Union.
The region was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. A Jewish chronicler David Solomon Ganz, citing Cyriacus Spangenberg, claimed that the city was founded as Boihaem in c. 1306 BC by an ancient king, Boyya. Around the fifth and fourth century BC, a Celts tribe appeared in the area establishing settlements including an oppidum in Závist, a present-day suburb of Prague, naming the region of Bohemia, which means "home of the Boii people". In the last century BC, the Celts were driven away by Germanic tribes, leading some to place the seat of the Marcomanni king, Maroboduus, in southern Prague in the suburb now called Závist. Around the area where present-day Prague stands, the 2nd century map drawn by Ptolemaios mentioned a Germanic city called Casurgis. In the late 5th century AD, during the great Migration Period following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes living in Bohemia moved westwards and in the 6th century, the Slavic tribes settled the Central Bohemian Region.
In the following three centuries, the Czech tribes built several fortified settlements in the area, most notably in the Šárka valley and Levý Hradec. The construction of what came to be known as Prague Castle began near the end of the 9th century, growing a fortified settlement that existed on the site since the year 800; the first masonry under Prague Castle dates from the year 885 at the latest. The other prominent Prague fort, the Přemyslid fort Vyšehrad, was founded in the 10th century, some 70 years than Prague Castle. Prague Castle is dominated by the cathedral, which began construction in 1344, but wasn't completed until the 20th century; the legendary origins of Prague attribute its foundation to the 8th century Czech duchess and prophetess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. Legend says that Libuše came out on a rocky cliff high above the Vltava and prophesied: "I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars." She ordered a town called Praha to be built on the site.
The region became the seat of the dukes, kings of Bohemia. Under Holy Roman Emperor Otto II the area became a bishopric in 973; until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz. Prague was an important seat for trading where merchants from all of Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Hispano-Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub; the Old New Synagogue of 1270 still stands in the city. Prague was once home to an important slave market. At the site of the ford in the Vltava river, King Vladislaus I had the first bridge built in 1170, the Judith Bridge, named in honour of his wife Judith of Thuringia; this bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1342, but some of the original foundation stones of that bridge remain in the river. It was named the Charles Bridge. In 1257, under King Ottokar II, Malá Strana was founded in Prague on the site of an older village in what would become the Hradčany area; this was the district of the German people, who had the right to administer the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg rights.
The new district was on the bank opposite of the Staré Město, which had borough status and was bordered by a line of walls and fortifications. Prague flourished dur