A scientist, adventurer, polyglot, diplomat, a war hero and nation-builder, Milan Rastislav Štefánik’s inspirational life story reads like a Slovak Indiana Jones.
A ceremony to pay tribute to Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880-1919) has been held on June 20th in the presence of Mr Marek Estok the ambassador of the Slovakia Republik, Eric Fournier the Mayor of Chamonix and mountain professionals. It was held at the foot of the Stefanik stele in front of the VALLOT Observatory
Milan Rastislav Štefánik was probably one of the most significant personalities in Slovak history because of his great contribution to the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic. He was its only minister of war and a worldwide recognized scientist/astronomer.
Born in 1880 in Košariská, a village near Brezová pod Bradlom, he left Slovakia as a young man to study in Prague and then in Paris with professor Pierre C Janssen. He directed activities in the Meudon observatory and at the astronomical observatory situated on the top of Mont Blanc that he climbed six times. He made many scientific expeditions across the globe, visiting Africa, South America, Russia, Central Asia, and the South Pacific.
He was one of the pioneers of military aviation, joining the French army at the outbreak of World War I (Slovakia was at the time part of German-allied Austro-Hungary) and, in a stellar career, rose from corporal to brigadier-general.
Along with the Czech statesmen Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Edvard Beneš, Štefánik was part of the lead team who drove to the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia at the end of the war. It was not just his diplomatic skills which helped bring about this achievement but also the role he played in forming and leading the Czechoslovak Legions which fought on the Entente side in the latter stages of the war. He died on the crash of his plane near Bratislava on May 4th 1919.
During this event, fully consistent with the tribute to General and astronomer Milan Rastislav Stefanik, Eric FOURNIER formally announced the joint application of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc and the CREA (Center for Research on Altitude Ecosystems) to acquire the VALLOT Observatory.