A special Memorial Train from Slovakia arrived at Auschwitz along a historical route commemorating the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the first group of Jewish women from Slovakia by the Nazis to Auschwitz. The ceremony at the Memorial Site was attended by Slovak Prime Minister, Iveta Radičová, Deputy Prime Minister, Jan Figel, and representatives of various denominations as well as a large group of young people. A particularly special guest was Edita Grosmanová, survivor of Auschwitz, who that time was sent to the camp.
The participants of the ceremony visited the grounds of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp and laid flowers at the Death Wall. An important part of the commemoration was a visit at the permanent exhibition, “The Tragedy of Slovak Jews”.
Referring to the importance of the memory of Auschwitz among the younger generation of Slovaks, who are frequent visitors to the Memorial Site, Slovak Prime Minister, Iveta Radičová, said, “The younger generation sets forth a very important question: what can we do to make this not happen again, so as to such atrocities will never be able to occur again? I gave them my advice: reject any manifest any violence, ignorance, conflict, aggression and hatred. Then we will push the hostility to the margins of society, and in the future, nothing so terrible will threaten us.”
Slovaks are one of the more numerous nationality groups that visit the Memorial Site. Last year they constituted 40 thousand of visitors, 33 thousand of whom were adolescents. Taking into account the percentage of visitors in relation to the population of the country, among the 111 countries whose citizens visited the Auschwitz Museum in 2011, Slovakia ranks third behind Poland and Israel.
See the video Transport of 999 Jewish Women from Poprad
The transport of 999 Jewish women from Poprad, Slovakia, to Auschwitz on 26 March 1942, which was directed by the Reich Security Main Office, was the first registered in the “Final Solution of the Jewish question”. In total, 27 thousand Slovak Jews were deported to Auschwitz, of which almost 10 thousand were children.
This topic was discussed in the English language publication, “The Tragedy of the Jews of Slovakia,” published in 2002 by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in collaboration with the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica.
Tragedy of Slovak Jews
Opened in 2002 (block 16, ground floor). The first part of the exhibition presents the genesis and course of the Holocaust in Slovakia, whose implementation was one of the main tasks of the internal policy of the ruling regime in this country at the time. Especially underlined are the turning points in the implementation of the extermination of Jews in Slovakia, such as: the adoption of the Jewish codex, the first deportations, labour camps and internment camps, the next wave of deportations and repression. The “final solution to the Jewish question” has also been shown in the Hungarian occupied regions of southern Slovakia.
The exhibition also shows the attitude of the Slovak population towards the persecution of the Jews, and a separate topic provides the story of the fate of Jews who were deported from Slovakia to KL Auschwitz. This section presents, inter alia, the successful escape of Slovak Jews and the significance of their relations as witnesses in informing the world of the extermination of Jews carried out at Auschwitz.
The authors of the exhibition have displayed nearly 700 photographs of people of Jewish origin, which were copied from the identity cards issued by the Jewish Centre in Bratislava. Through audio-visual means, visitors can also read through the accounts of former prisoners.