Seminar about Tiso takes place in Nitra

Controversial historian invited to speak about Slovakia’s wartime president; Israeli Embassy condemns decision.

Martin Lacko - then still an ÚPN employee - at a commemorative meeting hailing Slovak independence and Jozef Tiso, in Žilina in 2013.  Martin Lacko - then still an ÚPN employee - at a commemorative meeting hailing Slovak independence and Jozef Tiso, in Žilina in 2013. (Source: TASR)

Seventy years have passed since Jozef Tiso, the Roman Catholic priest and president of the Nazi-allied wartime Slovak State, which sent tens of thousands of Slovak citizens to their deaths, was executed as a war criminal.

The Nitra Diocese and the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology of Comenius University in Bratislava have used the occasion to organise a seminar Tiso’s life and work, which takes place in Nitra on April 25. The bishop’s office has stated that it is their duty to talk about Tiso, since he was a priest for 37 years, the Sme daily reported.

But among the speakers at the conference is historian Martin Lacko, who was fired from the Nation’s Memory Institute last year and who currently works as an assistant to an MP for the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (ĽSNS), Natália Grausová. Renowned historians Ivan Kamenec and Dušan Kováč, who have published a number of scientific papers about Tiso, have not been invited, Sme noted.

“The topic is alright, and it needs to be discussed, but scientifically rather than from the position of his defenders,” Kováč told Sme. “The list of participants suggests that it will rather be the latter.”

The Israeli Embassy in Bratislava reacted to the news about the seminar by noting that the Tiso regime “cooperated willingly and enthusiastically with the murder of Slovak Jews” and condemned the organisers of the seminar, and in particular the participation of Comenius University.

“I am quite sure that honest people in Slovakia are appalled and that they understand the need to educate and enlighten the next generation of young Slovaks about the real character of Jozef Tiso and about the ugly and dangerous nature of anti-Semitism”, said Israeli Ambassador Zvi Aviner Vapni.

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