Poprad, March 25 (TASR) – Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of the deportation of Jews from Slovakia during WWII, President Zuzana Caputova stated in Poprad (Presov region) on Friday that anti-Semitism hasn’t disappeared from society and the number of anti-Semitic incidents has actually been growing in recent years.
According to the head of state, Jewish places of prayer and reverence still need increased protection. “Anti-Semitism is also a denial of historical facts and trivialisation of crimes, for example in the form of a cynical justification of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine by so-called ‘denazification’,” she said.
At present, according to Caputova, the public can better imagine the events of 80 years ago because there is again a war beyond Slovakia’s border. “When our predecessors found themselves face to face with evil, they asked themselves a question of whether to look at it or stand up against it. Fortunately, today we risk significantly less than they did when we express a moral attitude. But our voice and our willingness to do the right thing should be all the stronger,” said the president.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korcok (an SaS nominee) condemned all forms of hatred in the name of which crimes were committed during World War II and the wartime fascist Slovak state (1939-45), TASR learnt from the ministry’s press department on Friday. This was part of a commemorative event to mark the 80th anniversary of the first deportation train of Jews to leave Slovakia. He also pointed to the parallel with the war in Ukraine and stressed that evil must be confronted while there is still time.
“The then victims, even after decades, remain a memento reminiscent of the tragedy that human failure and totalitarianism can cause. Therefore, I condemn all forms of hatred in whose crimes were committed during World War II and the Slovak state,” emphasised Korcok.
Friday’s 80th anniversary of the start of the deportation of Jews from Slovakia during WWII is a loud reminder of our duty to preserve peace, democracy and human rights, Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OLaNO) has stated, noting that 80 years ago, namely on the evening of March 25, 1942, the first transport carrying Slovak Jews set off from the railway station in Poprad bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. According to Heger, this was the start of the systematic extermination of a group of inhabitants simply because they had a different religion.
“This sad anniversary reminds us more loudly than ever, today, when a war is raging in a neighbouring state, how important it is to clearly reject manifestations of fascism, xenophobia, racism, as well as the principle of collective guilt,” said the prime minister.
The foundation stone of a future memorial to the victims of the Holocaust was tapped on Friday in the area of the former ammunition factory in the Patronka area of Bratislava.
This was part of a commemorative event to mark the 80th anniversary of the first transport of Jews from the wartime fascist Slovak state (1939-45).
Bratislava regional governor Juraj Droba, who participated in the event, said that the memorial will remind people of the sad history of the site during WWII and the fascist regime. “A centre for concentrating Jews was set up here, with 8,000 Jewish citizens being transported to the German concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau from there,” said Droba. Baruch Myers, the chief rabbi of the Jewish religious community, also praised the idea of a memorial.
Slovakia on Friday is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the deportation of Slovak Jews to concentration camps during WWII. Several commemorative events are taking place all over Slovakia on this occasion. President Zuzana Caputova will take part in an event in Poprad (Presov region), from where the first transport was dispatched.