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Holocaust and racial violence victims remembered

POLITICIANS and members of the public gathered in front of the Jewish Memorial in Bratislava to commemorate the Day of the Victims of the Holocaust and Racial Violence on September 9.

Slovakia commemorates the victims on the anniversary of the day in 1941 when the wartime fascist government of the Slovak State issued a decree on the legal status of Jews, known as the Jewish Code. Drawn up according to the Nazi model, it included some of the toughest legal measures aimed against Jews in Europe.

The Holocaust was one of the biggest tragedies to affect mankind, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič said in his speech, the TASR newswire wrote. It sent out a strong message that we have to be alert and ready to prevent any demonstration of intolerance, he said.

"It's important that we commemorate these events and remind everyone of them," said Gašparovič. He added that the Holocaust wasn't only a tragedy for the Jews, but also for the whole generation of the period.

Prime Minister Robert Fico told journalists that he came from an environment in which the events that took place during the wartime Slovak State (1939-45) were treated with sensitivity and always condemned. Fico also said he rejects making compromises about what happened at that time.

"(The Slovak State's) officials knew exactly what was being done to people, that they were being deported and murdered," Fico said. "They even knew that Slovaks who were trying to help Jews were being murdered."

Dozens of passers-by stopped to watch the ceremony, which was also attended by Slovak Parliamentary Vice-chairman Milan Hort (SDKÚ), SDKÚ leader and former prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, Israeli Ambassador to Slovakia Zeev Boker, and representatives of the local Jewish community.

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