DOZENS of supporters of Slovakia's Nazi-backed Second World War puppet state gathered to mark the 69th anniversary of its founding at the grave of its president, Jozef Tiso, in Bratislava on March 14 and 15. In a familiar display of far-right sympathies, those attending - mostly young, shaven-headed men and pensioners - sang nationalist songs and listened to nationalist speeches. They included members of the far-right Slovenská Pospolitosť (Slovak Togetherness) civic organisation. About ten policemen monitored the situation at the cemetery on March 14, but no disturbances occurred, the SITA newswire wrote.
The gathering started with religious songs. A former student of Tiso's, Michal Števko, delivered a tribute to Tiso. He stressed in his eulogy that a year ago the former leader's spectacles and a cross belonging to him had been found in his grave.
Last year, Tiso's followers exhumed some of the remains from the grave and sent them for DNA analysis to confirm that it is indeed Tiso's body which lies at the site. There were rumours that after being executed, Tiso was first buried in the grave but later cremated. The results of the DNA tests have not yet been announced.
Also at the gathering, Michal Laššák of Slovenská Pospolitosť criticised the current government for not marking March 14 as the most significant day in the history of Slovaks.
On March 15, tens of Tiso supporters again marked the anniversary at the same spot. Slovenská Pospolitosť head Ivan Sýkora criticised Slovakia's membership in the European Union and NATO, which he said deprived Slovakia of its freedom.
"The occupier's rag [i.e. the EU flag], which constantly flies alongside the Slovak flag, announces that we Slovaks are not longer independent, that we have lost sovereignty," said Sýkora.
The first Slovak Republic was established on March 14, 1939 and lasted until 8 May 1945. Jozef Tiso, a priest, was appointed president of the state, a Nazi puppet. He was executed after the Second World War for collaboration and war crimes. Historians say that under Tiso, about 70,000 Slovak Jews were sent to concentration camps in two waves, in 1942 and 1944.
24. Mar 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports