Eduard Nižňanský: Additions to the relationship between the Slovak majority and the Jewish minority in World War II

The position of helper or rescuer of Jews is only held by an “ordinary” Slovak man, who, ignoring the anti-Semitic policy of his own state, is trying to help his Jewish fellow citizen. In this regard he stands against his “own state”. The possible rescue of the Jewish people remained only on the decent Slovaks, who, irrespective to their ideological orientation or confession of faith, despite the occupation of Slovakia by Nazi military units after the suppression of the uprising, were willing to help Jews and thus risk their lives. In this regard, the fates of the anti-fascist rebels and that of the Jews often “overlapped” and they were very similar, too. The passiveness of the majority was therefore not only a result of the propaganda addressing the population and of the dosed terror (if a member of the majority in 1942 provided help to Jews, he was imprisoned in Ilava—but after the arrival of the Germans in 1944, those harbouring Jews were sentenced to death). The regime of the military Slovak State simply engaged the substantial part of the majority population in the crime against the Jewish community–starting from intellectuals, who could take over the places of the Jews, following by aryanizatorts and liquidators of companies, for whom the competition suddenly disappeared, and ending with elements from the lumpenproletariat, who could, after the deportations, plunder at the auctions of movables. The result of this policy was the „silent majority“—respectively, the passivity of the majority population. The disinterest of the majority population in the help to the Jewish community was certainly conditioned by the social context of the Holocaust and by the possibility of participating in the pauperization of the Jewish community to some extent—whether in terms of employment, obtaining a trade certificate, or (as for the lumpenproletariat) grabbing any kind of movable property. The regime of the Slovak State was thus buying the “silent majority“, respectively, the basis for silence was the share on the crime against the Jewish community. The consequence of these processes was the atomization of the majority population, resulting in the fact that we cannot see manifestations of positive collective responses (from certain social or maybe political groups). In the wartime Slovak Republic we can only find individual acts of help. More than 450 citizens of Slovakia were awarded for saving Jews from death by the title “The Righteous Among the Nations”. Collective manifestations of help are known only from the period of the Slovak National Uprising in autumn 1944, when the Czechoslovak Republic and political plurality were restored in some parts of the territory of Slovakia. At that time, the Slovak National Council abolished the entire anti-Semitic legislation (constitutional laws, laws, legal regulations and government decisions).