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Vnuk will not receive prize on Velvet anniversary

Slovak historian František Vnuk will not receive the award for scientific contribution. Originally, an independent committee proposed him to get an award for his “scientific contribution to the anti-communist resistance”, as head of the Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN) Ondrej Krajňák argued. ÚPN planned to award Vnuk the prize during the celebrations of the anniversary of 1989 revolution which toppled the communist regime.

Slovak historian František Vnuk will not receive the award for scientific contribution. Originally, an independent committee proposed him to get an award for his “scientific contribution to the anti-communist resistance”, as head of the Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN) Ondrej Krajňák argued. ÚPN planned to award Vnuk the prize during the celebrations of the anniversary of 1989 revolution which toppled the communist regime.

The committee that proposed Vnuk for the award included six people – mostly experts and also the co-founder of ÚPN Marián Gula, according to the Sme daily. The daily wrote on November 14 that the head of the Slovak Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters Pavol Sečkár was enraged by the nomination and said he would protest against the awarding during the ceremony itself.

Vnuk wrote, among other things, that the result of the Slovak National Uprising [which revolted against German Nazi presence and influence in the Slovak state during the World War II] was “the humiliation of the nation and robbing it off its dignity”. He also deemed Jozef Tiso, the president of the war-time Slovak state, later hanged for his collaboration with Nazi Germany, “a martyr” and he trivialised the deportations of Jews during this period by claiming they had been missionaries of the “Hungarisation and had exceeded even the Hungarians themselves with their chauvinism”.

Expert historians were shocked not only by the person selected to get the prize but also by the wording. Roman Holec of the Slovak Academy of Sciences opined for Sme that “historical science, if it tries to remain science, cannot afford to glorify or demonise anyone and anything”.

Amid the controversy, the ÚPN decided not to award Vnuk, the institute’s spokesman Tibor Ujlacký told TASR newswire November 14, adding that the prize will not be awarded at all. Thus, the “Festival of Freedom” to take place on November 17 shall pass without any conflicts.

“I respect the reasons of the independent committee which filed the proposal to allocate the ÚPN prize for scientific contribution to František Vnuk – for his historical evaluation of the era of the communist regime,” Krajňák said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “However, as the mission of the Nation’s Memory Institute is an impartial evaluation of the whole period which lacked freedom, between 1939 and 1989, as one whole, I used my competence as the statutory and decided not to award this prize.”

(Source: Sme, TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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