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Letter to the Editor: "Tiso deserved his death by hanging"

I have just read the letter to the editor by Ivan Hudec, (Any relation to the current minister of Culture?), from Vol. 2, number 19, November 6-19, 1996, entitled "Why we "Slovaks prefer living in our own state over one with Czechs." I am forced to reply to this abomination in the form of a letter where Mr. Hudec claims to speak on behalf of the entire Slovak nation. I have no qualms with his preferences for an independent Slovak state, and on 1 January 1, 1993, I celebrated myself, with others around me, the birth of an independent country. However, his remarks regarding the so-called Slovak State of the clerical-fascists, led by Tiso during World War II, are an insult to the memory of the memory of the tens of thousands of Slovaks deported and murdered by the men whose memory Mr. Hudec declares "sacred."

In a brief letter, I cannot begin to quote all the historical references available to explain what the reality of the Slovak State was, but I can explain a number of facts which Mr. Hudec has chosen to ignore. In October 1938 the German Foreign Office began planning the final break-up of what remained of Czechoslovakia with future Slovak State Ministers. The Nazis planned to incorporate the remaining lands of Bohemia and Moravia, while allowing the Hungarians to take the sub-Carpathic Ukraine. They neither wanted the Hungarians to take all of Slovakia, as they had already taken one-third of present day Slovakia in 1938, nor did they wish to occupy all of this territory. A puppet state, like that formed in Croatia in 1941, served ideally the purpose of the Third Reich. An indication of the "independence" of the Slovak State is the fact, duly documented in the files of the German Foreign Office, that Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Minister, drafted the speech read by Tiso to the Slovak Parliament on March 14, 1939, declaring the "independence" of Slovakia.

The "independence" of the Slovak State is witnessed by the facts of its existence. By May 1945, the German debt to Slovakia was twice Slovakia's average annual budget, such was the economic exploitation of Slovakia. Over 120,00 Slovaks were sent to Germany to work in the Nazi war effort. The Slovaks were forced to provide 50,000 men to fight the Russians on the Eastern Front, allowed the German Army to occupy parts of Slovakia and in December 1940, Bratislava declared war on the United States and Great Britain! However, most important of all is the expropriation of property, then later the deportation and murder of Slovak citizens, most notably of Jewish origin, by Tiso and his Slovak State government. Within one month of the Slovak State's "independence," Tiso signed the first anti-Jewish laws. By September 1941, the Slovak State's legislative descriptions of a Jew were more comprehensive than those originally drawn up in the German's Nuremberg Laws.

During the course of the War, the Slovak State organized ghetto administration similar to those created by the Nazis and established forced labor camps such as those sat Sered, Novaky, and Vyhne. Though the Vatican representative in Bratislava sent a note of protestation to Tiso on March 25, 1942, on the next day he allowed the first deportations to the death camps in Poland. These deportations took place under the supervision of the State-supported Hlinka Guards, the State Gendarmerie and locally recruited SS contingents. For most of the period of deportation, the Slovaks agreed to pay 500 Reichmarks to the Nazi coffers per Jew deported, while a "state" like Croatia was able to negotiate just 30 Reichmarks. By the end of the war, 70,000 Jews had been deported to the death camps, of which 65,000 never returned. Such was the work of Tiso and the Slovak State so dear to Mr. Hudec.

To call Tiso a traitor is the least one can say of such an ignominious character from a very sad period of Slovak history whose memory should only be vilified. The celebration and advantages of today's independent Slovakia are real and desired, but have no relation to the fictive Nazi-puppet state ruled by Tiso. Tiso played his part to the utmost as an accomplice to murder and deserved his eventual death by hanging after the end of the war. Mr. Hudec may honor the memory of such a man, but can only be lying to himself, and blaspheming the memory of all those who lost their lives to the Nazi terror to claim that his mislead beliefs are typical of most Slovaks. Those Slovaks who lived through these events and with whom I have had the fortune of discussing this period tell me only of the suffering and hunger they endured whether at the hands of the Slovak State or later under direct Nazi rule. The Czech people, living under the Nazi ruled Bohemian and Moravian Procreate, suffered the same fate and conditions as those of the Slovaks under the Nazi puppet Slovak State. The only difference was that Tiso and his colleagues did much of the Nazi's despicable work in the name of an "independent" Slovakia. Mr. Hudec should be ashamed of himself to try glorifying such despicable murderers.

Finally, if Mr. Hudec still doubts what I have written above, he may check check the following well respected sources from which I gathered all the described historical facts: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer, Simon & Schuster, 1960, Chapter 13, The Destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg, Gallimard, 1988, Chapter 8; and Histoire des Pays Tcheques et Slovaque by Antoine Mares, Hatier, 1995, Chapter 16.

David Cohen, Bratislava

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