ON MAY 8 – the day celebrated as in Slovakia as the Victory over Fascism in Europe –downtown Bratislava changed into a battlefield, with the sound of gunfire, the sun being blocked by the smoke of grenades, and shouts in German and Russian filling the streets. The Slovak capital was taken back 68 years and saw – again – the battle for its liberation. A historical re-enactment in central Hviezdoslavovo Square and Jesenského Street recalled the end of the war.
For the fourth time – and for the second time in the historical centre – the Carpathia Military History Club re-enacted the liberation, this year under the banner “Bratislava 2013, Boje v meste 1945 (Fights in the City)”. Participants wore period uniforms and army equipment, the TASR newswire wrote. The liberation of the city about 740 Red Army soldiers their lives, along with about 470 German and Hungarian soldiers (who were occupying the city), and more than 100 local civilians. The organisers, co-operating with the city administration, tried to increase the event’s authenticity by sending an old, historical tram into the streets. It was stopped by German units together with soldiers from the Slovak fascist unit, the Hlinka Guard.
“When the main counter-attack of the Soviet units came, the German “defenders” retreated to the western parts of Bratislava,” Peter Velčický of the Carpathia club told spectators. The Red Army units successfully progressed along Jesenského Street and arrived at the old building of the Slovak National Theatre. Many dead soldiers lay on the ground, which was covered with spent ammunition cartridges. However, the fight did not end after the Soviet Army celebrating its success: a German surprise attack then took them by surprise, and German units sniped on them from an SND balcony.
“This part was inspired by a real event when the last fanatics hid in the building’s windows and tried to shoot mainly officers from there, to paralyse the army,” Velčický told TASR. The Soviet officer supposed to get a report from the commander of a front-line unit was shot. The Red Army then raided the building and killed the sniper(s).
“We have been preparing for the re-enactment for several months, but the script itself is made about a month in advance,” Velčický said. “In it, we have to fine-tune all the details, as there is a lot of technology and safety is most crucial for us,” he added. Visitors were able to see dozens of “performers”, as Carpathia collaborates with similar clubs from the Czech Republic and Hungary. Historical vehicles like the one used to transport anti-guerilla fighters, meant for smaller cargo and three soldiers, an ambulance vehicle and a yellow Wehrmacht vehicle could all be seen in the streets on May 8.
20. May 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská