The actions of heroes fighting in the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) contain many important messages still relevant today.
This is how President Zuzana Čaputová addressed the crowds at the commemoration of the 76th anniversary of SNP in Banská Bystrica attended by many guests, including the three top representatives of Slovakia and some SNP participants.
All three top representatives stressed the importance of the SNP, which broke out on August 29, 1944, and was aimed against the Nazi regime, in Slovak history. They thanked the participants for their bravery.
SNP: the symbol of courage
“For me, SNP has always been linked with bravery,” the President said in her speech, reflecting back on life in 1944 when people realised they were living in a time when it seemed like human life had lost its value, and people were dying not only on the battlefield; every resistance was punished by death or prison. “Despite the risks we can’t fully imagine today, you found strength and determination and joined the fight against Nazism and Fascism.”
She also stressed that the SNP legacy shows us that civilisation's values need to be protected from the very beginning, when the first signs appear.
PM Igor Matovic (OĽaNO) thanked the SNP participants for their bravery and determination to pay for freedom with their own life.
“For me, SNP is courage; the symbol of Slovak courage we refused to sell out,” he told the audience, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding it was a resistance against people who said we were not equal.
He also stressed it is important to be aware of the evil hidden within us and fight against it so that it will not grow.
Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) also thanked the SNP participants and stressed the need to join forces to fight for higher goals, regardless of differences.
“Our goal is not only to remember SNP heroes, the values of democracy and civilisation's progress, but to confront the current threat of neo-Fascism and neo-Nazism, those spreading evil, hatred and refusing to live in the world without wars,” Kollár said, as quoted by TASR.
He also labelled SNP as the most important milestone in Slovakia’s history.
436 participants still alive
SNP helped Slovakia to become one of the winning countries in WWII. It is part of the country's modern history of the country that left us a message to live in peace and prevent the next generations from knowing the horrors of war, said 92-year-old Vladimír Strmeň, one of the last survivors of the uprising. Strmeň, a member of the unit fighting near Špania Dolina in Banská Bystrica Region, was also mentioned in Čaputová’s speech.
“The values we fought for in SNP are still valid today,” Strmeň said, as quoted by TASR. He also reminded of the fact that Slovakia was liberated by the Red Army, the Romanian army and the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps led by General Ludvík Svoboda.
Strmeň is still participating in discussions with students, talking about life during the war and stressing how important it is to live in peaceful times.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) granted commemorative medals to four war veterans on the occasion of the SNP anniversary. His department currently knows of 436 living participants of the SNP. Of them, 92 have the status of war veterans, TASR wrote.
Minor incident condemned
The celebrations in Banská Bystrica were disrupted by a small group of people who were protesting against the current government.
Head of the SNP Museum Stanislav Mičev called it a big shame and criticised the police for not acting properly to stop them from disturbing the event.
However, Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) said there was no reason for the police to step in, stressing everybody has the right to express their opinion.
“It is a shame people expressed their opinion in such a way here,” he said, as quoted by TASR.