A recently unveiled statue of “king” Svätopluk, who ruled much of the area of what is now Slovakia in the 9th century, should be removed from the courtyard of Bratislava Castle, the UM! civil association said on Tuesday, July 20, the TASR newswire reported. UM! has launched a campaign to bring about the removal.
The sculpture, which shows Svätopluk on horseback in full battle armour, was unveiled by the leaders of the previous governing coalition shortly before the elections in June that saw them lose power. UM! activists found their way into the closed castle grounds at night and wrapped the sculpture in a banner carting the slogans ‘Statue of Lies’ and ‘Don't Modify History’.
According to the association, it made the move on historical and aesthetic grounds. The activists also claim that the double-barred cross depicted on Svätopluk’s shield resembles the symbol of the Hlinka Guard wartime fascist paramilitary organisation, and therefore violates the criminal law concerning support and promotion of groups suppressing basic rights and freedoms. With this in mind they say they intend to take legal action, and vow to continue similar raids on the statue until it is removed.
Ladislav Vrtel, secretary of the Heraldic Commission of the Interior Ministry and author of Slovakia’s state emblems, has confirmed that the cross on the statue – which carries two horizontal bars of equal length, unlike the longer and shorter bars of the cross in Slovakia’s modern national emblem – is controversial. “It was used in 1938 and was modelled on a swastika in a circle – the emblem of Adolf Hitler’s [Nazi] party. All fascist organisations modelled their images on the German swastika. The equal-armed cross in a circle played the role of “the Slovak swastika,” said Vrtel, who is confident that it wasn’t used deliberately on the statue but was simply the result of a regrettable ignorance of historical facts and a lack of consultation with heraldic experts.
For more information on this story please see: Statue of Svätopluk unveiled in Bratislava
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
21. Jul 2010 at 10:00