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ÚPN puts brakes on documentary about Jews

On November 28, the daily Sme published an article stating that the public broadcaster Czech Television was due to screen a documentary last week about the fate of the Jewish community in the Slovak town of Medzilaborce (today's Prešov region) during WWII, but had to take the program off the air because the broadcaster had failed to secure permission from Slovakia's Nation's Memory Institute (ÚPN).

According to the documentary's Slovak director, Kristina Vlachová, who made the film while still a ÚPN employee, the Institute is to blame for the problem, as it failed to pay two film companies for footage used in the documentary, which is called 'The Road of Hope'.

At the same time, there are suspicions that ÚPN director Ivan Petranský and the Catholic Church may well have objections over a scene in the film that shows an unidentified Slovak bishop giving the Nazi salute to Jozef Tiso, leader of the Slovak fascist wartime state (1939-45).

According to former director of the ÚPN documentation section Miroslav Lehký and the Jewish religious community, the bishop concerned is Ján Vojtaššák, whom the Catholic Church wants to beatify. The Vatican has already postponed this process once, however, due to the role the bishop played during the war.

The ÚPN denies that it has a problem with the footage, claiming that it wants to resolve the matter. Vice-chairman of the ÚPN governing council, Jan Ondráš, says that the delay is due to several administrative problems that have arisen since Vlachová left the Institute. Czech Television says that it still wants to broadcast the documentary and is ready to negotiate.

[The ÚPN gathers and archives documents related to the time of both the wartime state and the post-war Communist regime (1948-89).] TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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