Several hundred supporters of the Nazi-puppet government in Slovakia during World War II gathered at Hodžovo Square in Bratislava at 13:00 on March 14 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its establishment. The mostly young and shaved-head men dressed in black with uniforms resembling those of oppressive regimes, members of the Czech National Resistance, and a group of older people listened to nationalistic speeches and yelled nationalistic slogans, the SITA newswire wrote.
Dozens of riot policemen with dogs were deployed at the site of the gathering to ensure order at the far right-wing event.
Ivan Sýkora, the leader of the ultra-right civic association Slovenská Pospolitosť (SP), which was dissolved by the Interior Ministry last November, was the first to take to the microphone. He praised the existence of the wartime Slovak state and said it was founded in a democratic way. The former leader of the SP, Marián Kotleba, told the crowd that he was testing democracy and greeted them with an official salute used by the pro-Hitler Hlinka’s guards “On guard”. The police acted immediately and detained him which caused turmoil on the square.
Following this incident the head of the Old Town district of Bratislava, Andrej Petrek, cancelled the gathering but participants refused to leave the site and continued their speeches. The police started pushing them out of the square.
Sýkora of SP told SITA that Marián Kotleba was detained not because of the Nazi salute but because he criticized the government. The police accompanied participants of the dissipated rally who then marched across downtown Bratislava heading to the Martinský Cemetery, to a symbolic grave of Jozef Tiso, the president of the wartime Slovak state and an ally of Adolf Hitler.
The first Slovak Republic was established on March 14, 1939 and lasted until May 8, 1945. Tiso, a priest, was appointed president of the state as a Nazi puppet. He was executed after the 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.
About one hundred people also commemorated the anniversary in Čakajovce near western Slovakia’s Nitra in an event organised by the association Slovak Movement of Renewal. Its head, Róbert Švec, thanked President Tiso for “everything he had done for the nation and statehood,” the daily Sme wrote on its website.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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