World War I Memorial in Klenovec Mistakenly Considered Tribute to Nazism

A First World War memorial in Klenovec. (Photo by TASR)

Klenovec, July 8 (TASR) – A memorial dedicated to locals who fell in the First World War has been standing in the centre of the village of Klenovec (Banska Bystrica region) for 85 years. Yet some visitors consider a somewhat peculiar statue that is central to the memorial to be scandalous, as they regard it as a tribute to fascism or nazism.

Matej Sulek, a local from Klenovec, recalls how he accompanied an assembly from Bosnia and Herzegovina on their tour in the village during a folk festival a decade ago.

“They were interested in the history of our village and they also noticed this memorial to fallen heroes. It includes a statue waving a right arm, accidentally making it appear as if it is giving a Nazi salute. [The visitors] were shocked to see it and they asked me whether we were all fascists,” Sulek told TASR.

Apart from the peculiar gesture, the Bosnians were also confused about the dates 1939-1945 inscribed on the memorial. According to Sulek, these dates are in fact part of a plaque that was added to the memorial later to pay tribute to people who were killed in WWII.

“I eventually managed to convince them that the original memorial was older and it didn’t have anything to do with fascism,” said the man from Klenovec.

The structure, which apart from the waving figure features a dead man in the foreground, bears a relatively larger inscription: “More God’s grace than human wickedness!” Another text reads: “For perpetual memory of our natives fallen in the Great War, built from donations by the local group ‘Clubs of Hurt by War’. June 5, 1933.”

The memorial is also registered in the local chronicles of the Slovak Association of Anti-fascist Fighters. The documents state that the construction of the memorial cost 17,580 Czechoslovak crowns at the time and it featured the names of 190 war casualties from Klenovec. No further information on the origin of the memorial is available, however.