Countries don’t last forever. Whether it be decades or centuries, the life of no country is guaranteed. Yet there are a few states in the 20th century that barely survived a day. I’m thinking specifically of three nations noted below which each had the briefest of life spans. This post tells their stories.
Bessarabia, 14 – 16 January 1918
The Rumcherod was an anti-Bolshevik organ of Soviet power in the South-Western Ukraine and the Moldovia area that functioned for about a year from May 1917–May 1918. After being expelled from a Soviet committee by the Bolsheviks, and following a loss by the Russians in their fight with the Romanians that saw a retreat of Russian forces from the region, the Rumcherod proclaimed itself the supreme power in Bessarabia. Despite its name suggesting that it is situated in the Middle East, Bessarabia is actually about where today’s Moldova sits.
The fleeing Russian commander allegedly requested the Romanian opponents for help, and on on 16 January, a Romanian division entered the region and the government was routed. Bessarabia under the Rumcherod technically lasted two or three days; the Rumcherod was dissolved in May.
Carpatho-Ukraine, 15 March 1938
Ruthenians, a minority group living in today’s Slovakia and Ukraine, and which may be a Ukrainian sub-ethnic group, made increasingly loud demands for independence from Czechoslovakia in the late 1930s. Tensions grew as the country gave up Sudetenland to Germany in September 1938, and when the Slovaks proclaimed independence in March 1939, Hitler invaded the country on the grounds that internal instability posed a danger to Germany. Following Slovakia’s (formal) declaration of independence and Adolf Hitler’s occupation of Bohemia and Moravia, the Ruthenian people declared independence on March 15th and established the “Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine.”
As chaos broke out, the Hungarians, who had been in tense negotiations with Czechoslovakia and explicitly supporting Hitler’s actions, took the opportunity to occupy the region that same day, and they advanced into the new republic without meeting any organized resistance. On March 16, Hungary formally annexed the territory. (On March 23, the Hungarians and the Slovaks fought a brief war over additional territory, some attacks being launched from the recently acquired Carpatho-Ukraine territory.)
Republic of Benin, 19 – 20 September 1967
The short-lived Republic of Benin, in Nigeria’s coastal Bight of Benin, was named after its capital Benin City. As the rebel forces took the city during the Biafra War in Nigeria and established a military administrator. As Nigerian forces invaded, the Republic of Benin was unilaterally declared by the administrator who established himself as governor of the new republic. Nigerian forces invaded the next day and the republic was terminated. It was never recognised, not even by its “parent” country of Biafra, mainly because of the brevity of its existence. Most of the government officials fled with, or followed, Biafran troops.
The history of the country was previously noted on this blog here.
Those are the three “one day” states I know of — anyone with additional information, please share with us in the comments!