THE CENTRAL Association of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia has spoken out against the efforts to legally honour Andrej Hlinka, the priest who led the party that went on to lead the fascist Slovak State after his death.
The association reacted on October 3 to the draft bill to acknowledge the merits of the pre-Second World War Roman Catholic priest and politician in establishing Slovak statehood, the SITA newswire wrote. The bill was submitted by the nationalist Slovak National Party (SNS), a member of the ruling coalition.
The Jewish association said it sees Hlinka's name as a symbol of Slovak fascism from 1939 to 1945, even though he died before the Slovak State was established in 1939. It disagrees with the claim that Hlinka's name was misused by the Slovak State's leaders after his death, saying that dubbing the fascist paramilitary force the Hlinka Guard was a logical extension of Hlinka's politics and stances.
The group also said that Hlinka rejected the democratic principles of the first Czechoslovak Republic, which lasted from 1918 to 1939, and spoke with admiration about Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
About 70,000 Jews were sent from Slovakia to concentration camps during the Slovak State.
A spokesperson of the Evangelic Church, Edita Sabolíková, also criticised the bill, the Pravda daily wrote. She said that Hlinka behaved outrageously to evangelists and thus he does not deserve to bear the title the Father of the Nation. Hlinka was a key figure in Slovak politics in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia. He was the leader of the Slovak People's Party, whose main aim was to achieve the autonomy of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia. His portrait is on the Slovak 1,000 crown bill.
8. Oct 2007 at 0:00 | From press reports