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Slovakia commemorates sixtieth anniversary of massacres

ON the weekend of January 22 and 23 commemorations were held to mark the sixtieth anniversary of massacres at the villages of Ostrý Grún and Kľak. The massacres were carried out by a mixed German and Slovak counter-insurgency group called Edelweiss.

The massacres were reprisals for partisan attacks for partisan attacks in the latter stages of World War II.

Ladislav Nižnansky, a member of the Edelweiss group and allegedly the commander of the troops during the massacres, is currently on trial in Munich for his involvement.

He was previously sentenced to death in absentia by a Czechoslovak court in 1962, but his supporters claim the trial was fixed to embarrass the American and German authorities who supported Nižnansky as an emigrant.

Historians believe that the truth is to be found in US, Russian and German intelligence archives and have appealed for cooperation in clearing up the case.

For the first time a German representative, the deputy ambassador, laid a wreath at the memorial at the site of the massacres. It was the first time that Germany had been invited to participate.

Two survivors of the massacres, Anna Nováková and František Debnár, also attended the ceremonies.

Nováková lost her parents, two sisters and a brother in an attack and would have died herself if her sister had not shielded her from the bullets with her body.

She said that Nižnansky is now an old man whom she would not wish to suffer, but added, "I would like to hear the truth at last and to know who ordered this tragedy and made my life a misery."

Compiled by Roger Heyes from press reports
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