Slovakia commemorates Holocaust victims

COMMEMORATING the victims of the Holocaust is an important tool to suppress any signs leading towards its denial, Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on the occasion of the Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust and Racial Violence, which falls on September 9 in Slovakia.

COMMEMORATING the victims of the Holocaust is an important tool to suppress any signs leading towards its denial, Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on the occasion of the Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust and Racial Violence, which falls on September 9 in Slovakia.

On the same day in 1941 the so-called Jewish Code went into effect, which enabled the state to strip Slovak Jews of their civil rights and their property. Based on later regulation, all Jews older than six years of age had to wear a yellow star. The legislation cleared the way for the deportation of about 71,000 Jews to concentration camps in 1942 and 1944. Slovakia was the only country that paid 500 Reichmarks to Nazi Germany for every Jew that it deported.

“The message and memory of the Holocaust victims represent an urgent call also these days when in several parts of the world human rights are seriously violated by reason of discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity,” the ministry wrote in an official statement, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Also, the Interior Ministry stressed that the message of the events of the Holocaust is still relevant today, since it did not start with gas chambers, but with words about “parasites on the body of the nation that need to be eliminated”. Similar statements that dehumanise and condemn certain groups of people can be heard today, so “the events from 70 years ago should serve as a warning of where such rhetoric supported by racism and hate may lead”, the ministry said, as quoted by TASR.

Lucia Kollárová, spokesperson for the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Slovakia, said that the tragic events of the Holocaust left society with several social and ethical problems. On one hand, there are forces that seek to analyse what happened, find the reasons for the genocide, describe the past and keep the memory of the millions of victims alive.

“On the other hand, there are appreciable forces that try to relativize, doubt or even deny certain events,” Kollárová said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

She stressed that quite often people who are responsible for the tragedy and whose activities have been described as a crime by the courts are praised. Members of the Jewish community consider such celebrations an offence to the Holocaust victims.

Parliament made September 9 an official day of remembrance in October 2001. The day is meant not only to commemorate Holocaust victims, but also to call on the public to fight against all forms of racism, intolerance, xenophobia, oppression and discrimination.

Source: TASR, SITA

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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