Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust and Racial Violence

In 1941, a set of anti-Jewish laws went into effect in the Nazi wartime satellite Slovak Republic on September 9. Every year on this day, Slovakia commemorates its Holocaust victims. In October 2001, the Slovak parliament voted to make September 9 the Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust and Racial Violence, to not only commemorate Holocaust victims, but also to call on citizens to become actively engaged in fighting racism, xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination.

The day was selected as the anniversary of the date when the so-called Jewish Code was enacted in 1941 (anniversary - 73years), which consisted of 270 laws that stripped citizens of Jewish ethnicity of their civil rights and property. Since then, some historians have pointed out that the Jewish Code was in some ways stricter than anti-Semitic laws under Nazi Germany at that time. In Slovakia was established three work camps – Sereď, Oremov Laz a Nováky. During the year, all Jews were concentrated in ghettos and collection camps in Vyhne, Žilina, Láb, Zohor and elsewhere. The code and the measures that followed paved the way for mass deportations of Jews. The legislation cleared the way for the deportation of about 71,000 Jews from Slovakia to concentration camps in October 1942 and in fall 1944. Slovakia was the only country that paid 500 Reichmarks to Nazi Germany for every Jew that it deported.

The main ceremony took place, in keeping with tradition, in Bratislava’s Rybné Square, where the city’s Neolog Synagogue once stood. Beside representatives of the Jewish community and the Catholic and Evangelical churches, Slovakia’s highest state officials and government representatives attended the event as well, to lay wreaths at the Holocaust Memorial on the square.

For Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia intercede General Bishop and Chairman of Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia Miloš Klátik, and also a General Inspector Imrich Lukáč. General Bishop in his speech pointed out that the Slovak lutherans and evangelical pastors disagreed with the laws and many Jewish fellow citizens helped save the lives of even their risked own lives. Stressed that „the Holocaust in his fullness of dread must be for us alert against any, even the most mildest form of racism and nationalism".

While local Rabbi Baruch Myers led a prayer for the victims at the ceremony, the Jewish community representative, Pavol Traubner, himself a Holocaust survivor, addressed the crowd in a speech, noting that people today need to remember the Holocaust, because similar threats continue to exist not only for the Jews, but for all the people in the world.

Edita Škodová, Secretary for Media and Communication,  | 12.9.2014

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Grafické spracovanie:Ladislav Menyhart