September 10, 2014

Fico apologizes for Slovakia’s actions during Holocaust

On day commemorating 73 years since harsh anti-Jewish laws were imposed, prime minister speaks about ‘the mad ideals of fascism’

Bratislava, Sept. 9 (ČTK) — Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico apologized today for the persecution of Jews during World War II on the territory of then Nazi-sponsored Slovakia, at a meeting marking 73 years since the adoption of anti-Jew measures in Slovakia during the war.

“I am not able to tell you anything stronger or anything more personal, but that I express a sincere apology for all those who were such a failure. Only the descendants of those who suffered and died may forgive them,” Fico said.

In September 1941, the wartime Slovak Republic approved a decree based on which Jews were stripped of most of their political rights, and their ownership rights and freedom of movement were further restricted.

The adoption of the anti-Jew measures preceded the deportation of some 70,000 Jews from the territory of Slovakia to concentration camps. Since 2002, the day of the adoption of the Jewish code is a commemorative day in Slovakia on which the victims of extermination and racial violence are remembered.

“The Holocaust that victimized so many people in the name of the mad ideals of fascism brings an everlasting shame on those who participated in them. At the same time, it is a strong warning against it ever being repeated,” Fico said.

The event today was also attended by President Andrej Kiska and Speaker Pavol Paška.

Kiska told journalists it is necessary to point to the Holocaust now that the manifestations of racism are mounting in society.

Stanislav Zvolenský, chairman of the Slovak Confederation of Bishops, rejected in an interview for media the recent statements by a Slovak priest who tried to diminish the Holocaust terror.

During a church service in the north of Slovakia on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the anti-Nazi Slovak National Uprising during World War II, priest Emil Floriš said many Jews themselves were to blame for their deportations to concentration camps and warned Romas of a similar fate.

“Statements of this type are not appropriate for a priest. It is not right that they go unnoticed; it is necessary to dissociate oneself from them,” Zvolenský said.

He expressed regret at the persecution of Jews in Slovakia during the war, but refused to speak out against then-President and Catholic priest Jozef Tiso, whom a Czechoslovak court sentenced to death after the war.

The supporters of the wartime Slovakia are not represented in parliament at present. However, extremist leader Marian Kotleba, who does not conceal his sympathies for the 1939–45 Slovakia and Tiso, was elected head of the Banská Bystrica region in last year’s regional elections.

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