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Milan Rastislav ©tefánik
Slovak-French Issue
Catalogue Number:  293
Stamp Design:  Jozef Balá¾ and Martin Èinovský
Stamp Engraving:  Martin Èinovský
Date of Issue:  May 3, 2003
Printing:  Postal Stationery Printing House, Prague, Czech Republic
Print Technology:  Recess printing from flat plates
Size of Impression:  30.0 mm x 23.0 mm
Print Run:  550,000 pieces
FDC Design:  Jozef Balá¾
FDC Engraving:  Juraj Vitek
Cancellation Design:  Jozef Balá¾
FDC Printing:  TAB, Ltd., Bratislava
FDC Print Technology:  Recess printing from flat plates
FDC Print Run:  6,000

Milan Rastislav ©tefánik (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 ©tefánik left for Paris. By April 1905 he was working at the Meudon observatory. In 1912 ©tefánik 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 stan 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, ©tefánik met T. G. Masaryk and E. Bene¹ who were Iaying 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, ©tefánik 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.

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