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Milan Rastislav Štefánik Issue number
Date of issue
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Milan Rastislav Štefánik (21st July, 1880 – 4th May, 1919) – scientist, diplomat, soldier and politician. Having graduated in 1904 from Charles University in Prague, with a doctorate in philosophy and astronomy, the following November Štefánik left for Paris. By April 1905 he was working at the Meudon observatory. In 1912 Štefánik became a French citizen and at this time became involved in diplomatic activities on behalf of France. Here he combined scientific work with charm to advance France’s power-politics around the globe and, in recognition of his contribution, he was decorated with the Legion of Honour. At the start of the Great War, he became a pilot in the French army and having successfully fought on the Serbian front and in France, he was made a General in the French army. Returning to Paris in 1915, Štefánik met T. G. Masaryk and E. Beneš who were laying the foundations for an independent Czechoslovakia, resulting in the foundation of the Czech and Slovak National Council. As a well connected soldier and diplomat, his missions in France, Italy, Russia and America were to unite Slovaks for a free and independent Czechoslovak State. When the Czechoslovak government, led by T. G. Masaryk, was established in 1918, Štefánik was appointed Minister of Defence. The following year he boarded a plane in Rome, bound for his native Slovakia. Inexplicably the plane crashed shortly before it was due to land in Bratislava. His tragic and untimely death never gave him the chance to see the fruits of his lifetime’s work for a free and independent Czechoslovakia. Anton Hrnko Ph.D. Miniature sheet of 8 stamps

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