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Slovakia remembers the Holocaust

THE WORLD should “never lose the proximity of people’s contacts when the suffering or threat to any person or nation lies in the heart of large-minded humanists who know that life is the most valuable [thing]”, said Prime Minister Robert Fico during an official remembrance of victims of the Holocaust and racial hatred which took place by the Holocaust Memorial in Bratislava on September 9, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

THE WORLD should “never lose the proximity of people’s contacts when the suffering or threat to any person or nation lies in the heart of large-minded humanists who know that life is the most valuable [thing]”, said Prime Minister Robert Fico during an official remembrance of victims of the Holocaust and racial hatred which took place by the Holocaust Memorial in Bratislava on September 9, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Together with Education Minister Dušan Čaplovič and representatives of the foreign embassies as well as of the Jewish community in Slovakia, they commemorated the Holocaust Remembrance Day which has been listed in Slovakia as an official day of remembrance since October 31, 2001.

Fico also highlighted the importance of Holocaust remembrance, adding that it also provides an opportunity for appeals for peaceful co-existence between nations, ethnic communities and religious groups today.

Parliament chose September 9 to remember the Holocaust, as well as to call on the public to fight against all forms of racism, intolerance, xenophobia, oppression and discrimination because that is the date on which the so-called Jewish Code was adopted in 1941. This law enabled state representatives to strip the civil rights of about 70,000 Slovak citizens and to deport them to Nazi concentration camps, the SITA newswire wrote.

On the same day several well-known figures from Slovak society, including actresses Katarína Hasprová and Božidara Turzonovová, read aloud the names of victims of the Holocaust from Slovakia in the historical building of the Slovak National Theatre (SNM). The entire programme was presented by actor Boris Farkaš and journalist Ľuba Lesná, the latter of whom came up with the idea to read the names of the murdered Jews.

Journalist Juraj Alner spoke about his own experience hiding from the Nazis during the war.
He added that several people, acquaintances as well as strangers, tried to help him and his family during their escape from deportation.

In addition to having their names read aloud, the victims of the Holocaust now have a new virtual memorial which was revealed at the Museum of Jewish Culture. It is composed of two parts: the projection of more than 81,000 names of identified Jewish victims on a TV screen, and a transparent block that also contains the names. Visitors will have the chance to add the name of a victim they know about, but which is missing from the memorial. There will be a book in which they can inscribe the name, TASR reported.

In addition to all these events, the Documentary Centre of the Holocaust and the Milan Šimečka Foundation premiered a documentary called We Saw It – The Voices of Those Who Survived. Presenting the lives of Slovak Jews in several phases, it starts with the years preceding the war after the establishment of the Slovak state, and then covers the war itself, detailing the deportations and life in the concentration camps, and ends with their liberation and return home.

The two organisations began preparing the documentary in the 1990s with a team of researchers who interviewed those who survived the Holocaust and managed to return to their homes after the Second World War.

The preparations were part of the international Oral History – The Destiny of Those Who Survived project, financed by Yale University, the authors told an audience during the premiere.

The Slovak Spectator will prepare more detailed stories about the events accompanying the official remembrance of the Holocaust in next week’s issue.

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