THE NEW head of the National Memory Institute (ÚPN), a state body charged with illuminating the nation's dark communist and fascist past, is to be a nominee of the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS), the Sme daily reported.
Citing "unofficial information", the newspaper claimed that the ruling coalition had agreed that the post of chairman of the board of trustees of the ÚPN would go to the SNS, which had tapped Anton Malacký, Peter Bielik and Arpád Tarnóczy as candidates. Nominations could be submitted until August 25.
Tarnóczy, a former MP for the ruling coalition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), in 1997 helped to unveil a memorial plaque to Jozef Kirschbaum, head of the academic wing of the Hlinka Guard in fascist WWII Slovakia, and the 1939-1945 Slovak state's ambassador to Switzerland.
Among the ÚPN's duties is exploring the secret files of the ŠtB communist secret police, as well as the dynamics of the fascist Slovak state, including exposing the names of people who profited from the confiscated assets of the 70,000 Slovak Jews sent to the gas chambers.
The founding director of the ÚPN, former dissident Ján Langoš, was killed in a car accident shortly before June elections. Langoš was an uncompromising proponent of exposing the country's past, and the work of his Institute brought him into frequent conflict especially with former communists.
Jaroslav Franek, the spokesman of the Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia, said that Kirschbaum, who emigrated to Canada after the war, had been one of the authors of the Holocaust in Slovakia.
"Nominating such a person [Tarnóczy] would be a gross insult to everything that Ján Langoš stood for," Franek said.
- Tom Nicholson