Vysny Komarnik, October 6 (TASR) – Prime Minister Igor Matovic and Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad (both OLaNO) commemorated the victims of WWII on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the Battle of the Dukla Pass at the Dukla memorial and in the town of Svidnik (Presov region) on Tuesday.
Official ceremonies to mark the event have been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. State and local government officials and members of the public came to pay honour to the victims individually, however.
“It’s very important to remember the people who fought for our freedom. We should never forget them, and that’s why we came here. I think that the coronavirus outbreak in a way symbolically emphasises the contrast between freedom and war, such as the current period in which we aren’t absolutely free, and a period when we weren’t free at all, as we had occupiers here. We can all the more jointly long for freedom, either freedom from occupiers like 76 years ago, or freedom from the virus and the situation that is in place here [at the moment],” stated Matovic.
Matovic wished good health to war veterans who weren’t able to come, so that he can meet them at Dukla next year.
According to Nad, this was a symbolic commemoration of a significant historical event. He’s pleased that people visit Dukla all year round. “This year the highest-ever number of tourists visited places in which our grandfathers fought for our freedom. I believe that we’ll manage to invest a little bit more money in this place in order to bring history to people, mainly young people, so that they can better understand it,” stated Nad.
The Battle of the Dukla Pass began on September 8, 1944 and was expected to last only a couple of days, but due to stiff opposition the Soviet forces weren’t able to reach the other side of the pass until October 6. The operation, which ended up lasting a total of 80 days, claimed over 70,000 casualties. Subsequently, one of the valleys in the pass came to be known as the Valley of Death.