Prior to the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Slovakia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Empire was formed in 1867 under Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, combining the power of Hapsburg-led Austria with that of Hungary. The Empire also included Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Slovakia, as well as part of what are now Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Read more about Franz-Joseph and the formation of the dual monarchy here.
Katarina was born in Slovakia's capital, Bratislava. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Bratislava was home to a flourishing music scene and innovative scientific community.
After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the First World War, the nation of Czechoslovakia was formed. The 1918 proclamation of independence combined the historic regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia into the first Czechoslovak Republic under president Tomáš Garrirgue Masaryk.
Read about Slovakia's involvement in World War One here.
In 1938, England, France, Italy, and Germany signed the Munich Agreement. This Agreement ceded the Sudetenland to Germany. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, a key figure in the negotiations, believed appeasing Adolf Hitler’s territorial ambitions was the most logical way to avoid another large-scale war. Read more about Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement here. The agreement was negotiated among Europe’s major powers without any Czechoslovakian representative- today’s Czechs and Slovakians often refer to the agreement as "the Munich dictate" or the "Munich betrayal". Read a transcript of the original text here.
The Sudetenland was of immense strategic importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defenses were situated there. As a result, the Agreement left Czechoslovakia vulnerable to German military power. On the 15th March 1939, Germany violated the Munich Agreement, invading and occupying the remaining provinces of the rump Czechoslovak state. To solidify this, Hitler proclaimed the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from Prague Castle on the day of the invasion. Read a translation of the Protectorate here.
For an overview of Slovakia's history, investigate this timeline.