THE 100TH anniversary of World War I was commemorated at the end of July in numerous countries, and in the Slovak city of Nitra, the event was marked with a memorial ceremony attended by city and Defence Ministry representatives at the military cemetery in Mlynárce, where the deceased soldiers are buried.
The graves are overseen by the Nitra City Administration of Graves with volunteer help from soldiers of the 12th mechanised battalion in Nitra and the anti-aircraft missile brigade. State Secretary of the Defence Ministry Miloš Koterec awarded them on July 28, on the occasion of the anniversary.
“Every war and all lives sacrificed are a living memento for the society that participated in such events,” Koterec said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
“It is the events of war that must be a warning for us so that the deployment of our soldiers is meaningful, and so that it doesn’t bring senseless fatalities,” he added.
The military cemetery in Nitra is directly connected to the Slovak armed forces, he added, and that is why active soldiers take care of it and create a link between the past and the present.
The Nitra-Mlynárce military cemetery was founded during WWI in 1914-1915. There are 427 soldiers of various nationalities and religions buried there, including Ottomans, Serbs, Croatians, Poles and Russians.
Nitra-based historian Štefan Košovan says the cemetery was located near a military barracks’ hospital. Soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army were treated there, but also enemies and captives who were injured or ill, many of whom died and were buried at this cemetery, Košovan explained.
The cemetery was originally well kept, but gradually became dilapidated until soldiers started looking after it. It even faces the potential threat of demolition, as a Slovak law states that graves without owners or for which no fees are being paid are subject to elimination.
Soldiers have been looking over the cemetery for about seven years. At that point, the idea was born to contact the city of Nitra and start making improvements to the site.
Štefan Husár, a non-commissioned officer of the anti-aircraft missile brigade, said that about 30 soldiers volunteer at the cemetery, tidying it up four times a year. In 2013, on the anniversary of Red Poppies – i.e. November 11 – direct descendants of Polish soldiers buried at the cemetery visited Mlynárce.
8. Sep 2014 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská