Slovakia commemorates 74th anniversary of Jewish Code

SLOVAKIA commemorates the Day of the Victims of the Holocaust and of Racial Violence on September 9 when constitutional officials will lay wreaths and flowers at the Holocaust Memorial on Rybné Square in Bratislava.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

The government of war-time Slovakia issued a Regulation on the Legal Status of the Jews, known as the Jewish Code. It is a comprehensive set of laws that resulted in the social and economic degradation of the Jewish population on September 9, 1941 . The Jewish Code initiated a special legal regime for Jewish citizens that stripped them of their civil rights. The deportation of Jewish citizens to death camps followed a year later. The code, developed according to Nazi legislation on Jews, was one of the toughest anti-Jewish legal measures in Europe, the TASR newswire wrote.

The anniversary of the Victims of the Holocaust and of Racial Violence has been commemorated in Slovakia since 2000, the Holocaust Documentation Centre wrote in its report. It also pointed out that this day should stress mainly, but not only on, the victims; however, it is also crucial to openly talk about the then society, the deeds of Slovak ancestors, and their role in the wartime events. The legacy of these times is topical and relevant also for modern times. The flood of refugees to Europe  and their individual fates may be a kind of parallel to the tragedy which Jews faced more than 70 years ago, writes the centre that celebrates its tenth anniversary these days. Apart from domestic and international projects, it also runs the website that strives to inform on the nation’s past as connected with its Jewish citizens.

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A host of events have been prepared for and around this date in Slovakia. In Bratislava, the names of Holocaust victims will be read again  on September 9 at 18:00 in the P.O. Hviezdoslav City Theatre (DPOH) in Laurinská 2, from the so-called Book of the Dead.

A commemoration of Holocaust victims took place on September 8 in the town of Sereď (Trnava region), where a concentration and transit camp for Jews en route to camps elsewhere was established during WWII. Public representatives of the town, of Trnava Region (TTSK), the Jewish Cultural Museum and others laid wreaths at a memorial in the town park.

More than 10,000 Jews were deported from the concentration camp in Sereď between 1942-44. The Jewish Cultural Museum is preparing a museum in part of the camp that has been declared a national monument and is set to open next year.

Sereď is the only town in Slovakia where the buildings of labour and concentration camp were preserved. Originally it was a labour camp with carpentry, textile and other workshops. There were Jews concentrated there from then districts of Bratislava, Hlohovec, Malacky, Modra, Myjava, Nitra, Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Piešťany, Prievidza, Senica, Skalica, Topoľčany, Trenčín, Trnava and Zlaté Moravce.

After the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising in 1944, the camp became a concentration camp per se and was headed by war criminal, Alois Brunner, the right-hand man of Nazi ideologue Adolf Eichmann. At that time, the Jews that remained in Slovakia were concentrated in Sereď. The camp’s capacity was 1,200 people; however, up to 4,000 people were there at one time. Prisoners were subject to cruelty. The last transport left Sereď to Theresienstadt concentration camp (then Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, now the Czech Republic) on March 31, 1945. Sereď had had a strong Jewish community, the largest in Slovakia after Bratislava and Dunajská Streda.

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