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Slovakia remembers village massacres

CEREMONIES commemorating the 60th anniversary of massacres at the villages of Ostrý Grúň and Kľak in Central Slovakia were held January 22 to 23. A mixed German and Slovak counter-insurgency group called Edelweiss carried out the massacres.

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

Ladislav Nižňanský, 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 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 for supporting Nižňanský 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 the attack and would have died herself if her sister had not shielded her from the bullets with her body.

She said that Nižňanský 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."

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