On 9 September 2020, Slovakia commemorates the Memorial Day for Victims of the Holocaust and of Racial Violence. Established in 2000 by the Slovak Parliament, the day marks the date in 1941 when the Slovak government issued a decree on the legal status of Jews, the so-called the Jewish Codex. The Codex led to deportations which resulted in the murder of approximately 70,000 Slovak Jews.
Each year the Slovak National Museum – Museum of Jewish Culture organizes an official commemorative event on the grounds of the central Holocaust Memorial in Bratislava, which is attended by the highest officials of the country. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event has unfortunately been cancelled this year. Individual tributes and visits to the memorial are still possible, however. The event hosted by the Holocaust Documentation Center in Bratislava – the reading of names of the victims of the Holocaust – will not take place this year either.
Nevertheless, many other events will continue to be held in towns throughout Slovakia, including commemorations, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, lectures, and cultural and educational events in schools, libraries, and institutions. A minute’s silence will be held in commemoration of the day in the National Council of the Slovak Republic (Parliament) and in schools.
The Holocaust Documentation Center co-organized an online international conference “Slovakia and the Holocaust: Histories and Legacies of a Model Nazi Ally” , which was live-streamed on Facebook on 8 September 2020.
On 8 September 2020 a remembrance ceremony at the memorial to the victims of the Holocaust was held in the town of Sereď, jointly organized by local and regional authorities.
The Sereď Holocaust Museum of the Slovak National Museum – Museum of Jewish Culture organized several events related to this Memorial Day as well as to the European Day of Jewish Culture and Heritage. On 6 and 8 September, music concerts of Bruno Walter Chamber Orchestra were performed in Sereď and Bratislava conducted by Jack Martin Händler.
The Sereď Holocaust Museum, situated on the site of the former labor and concentration camp in the town of Sereď, prepared an exhibition on anti-Jewish propaganda in wartime Slovak newspapers.
Another exhibition organized by the Slovak National Museum – Museum of Jewish Culture, “Football Under the Swastika: The Story of Leopold ‘Jim’ Šťastný,” opened on 8 September 2020 and shows the pernicious effects of Nazi ideology in football. The exhibition provides an opportunity to compare the development of organized football in Germany and Slovakia before and after the Nazis came to power. It captures the implementation of racial laws, from the gradual exclusion of “non-Aryans” from organized football to their deportation and murder. This tragic history is told through the story of one man, Leopold “Jim” Šťastný, who was one of the best football players in Slovakia during the interwar period. He survived persecution thanks to dedicated officials, players and fans. Eventually, Šťastný would have to give up his football career, but, unlike the closest members of his family, he would survive.
Slovakia has been an IHRA Member Country since 2005 and the Head of Delegation is Hana Kováčová, Director of the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic.