To the Editor:
It is urgent that all thinking teachers of history respond to this disaster perpetrated by Robert Letz and Matica Slovenská ("Matica Slovenská cancels history textbook," Vol. 2, No. 12, July 31-August 13). Let us ask some basic questions, and let us look at some well-known facts.
Question #1: Who, in national importance, is Robert Letz, to set himself up as the "Majority" of 1 in opposition to the "Minority" of 5 on the reviewing committee of 6??
Question #2: Ján Benko who stated "National History must have its pride." Does this man not know that national pride stems from truth and democracy based on human rights? Does he not know that citizens who become "patriots" do so through acceptance of democratic and truthful principals of good government and good education? Has he not learned over more than 45 years of Russian domination that patriots are not made; they become so through caring government programs based on allowing people's choices and education based on the same principals?
Question #3:Who, in this country, believes that the world was blind to developments here from 1918 to the present day? Can the people at the head of the educational system in Slovakia say that they are good patriots?? I say not.
The people at the head of the Educational Ministry are puppets of a system that has only pretended to die. It is very much alive. They believe in conditioning, not teaching or learning. Learned students come to their own conclusions about what has happened in the past and what is happening now. They do not need to be conditioned - we have a nation of very intelligent young people. I know. I teach them. These young people are our future and our leaders, and in my judgement, not soon enough.
Question #4:Who is the minister of education? Who, in that most important ministry of all ministries in any government, can't take a stand for the truth and democracy which stems from it? Is the year 1989 not yet finished?
Let's face some facts now
a) It is true that tens of thousands of Jews were ordered to concentration camps. It does not matter who ordered it, Tiso or someone else. This fact cannot be denied. The large number of synagogues all over the country, being desecrated for uses other than prayer, attests to the fact. Terezín stands as a physical document.
b) It is also true that "Slovakia" in any time since 1918, was a minor entity: population, size and economy decree this, and although autonomous today, it remains a minor state, along with many other small entities in Europe and elsewhere in the world. For it to pretend to greatness is at the present time, childish. History shows that many small states did indeed become "great" and Slovakia can learn from these, but it must learn.
c) Truth will always surface, maybe not now, maybe only years from now, but it will surface. It cannot be suppressed. Then the people who tried to suppress it will appear as historical fools, as history shows over and over again.
d) Slovakia is a country with great potential. Its greatest potential are the young people going through the educational system at the present time. The state is not the government. The state is the people. People have not become educated to this fact in the past, but it is time that this begins to happen, and it can only begin in our schools. I say, "show me your schools, and I will show you your state." Let's not muck it up, but let's improve it instead, along acceptable world standards. Remember, the world is watching us, and the whole world can't be wrong.
14. Aug 1996 at 0:00