Slovakia: Villages burned by Nazis during WWII elect right-wing extremist today
In the Central Slovakian villages of Kľak and Ostrý Grúň, whose inhabitants were massacred during the Second World War, most people are now voting for right-wing extremist Marián Kotleba. The online edition of the Slovak newspaper Sme notes this fact in its commemoration of the massacre, which took place 69 years ago.
Kľak and Ostrý Grúň, where the anti-partisan Edelweiss commando murdered 148 civilians ranging from three months to 78 years old in January 1945, is located in the Banská Bystrica Region. Last November the provincial governor there became Kotleba, a right-wing radical leader who makes no secret of his sympathies for the wartime Slovak state, which was a satellite of Nazi Germany.
"Those who remember those days are dying out and our historical memories are failing us. Almost 70 years after the massacre, most voters in both villages voted for Marián Kotleba, who has called the (anti-Fascist) Slovak National Uprising a putsch, an act against Slovak statehood, and has called the partisans bandits," the daily reports.
"Young people who work elsewhere voted for [Kotleba]," explains Luboš Haring, who is the mayor of Kľak. Haring admits that "it definitely isn't good" that Kotleba won in those two villages in particular.
"That's democracy. People elected Kotleba," says 83-year-old Gizela Benčová, who was awaiting execution with everyone else back in January 1945 as a 14-year-old; she witnessed a partisan being tortured and was standing in front of the main machine gun to be executed when the order was changed at the last moment.
Sociologists believe Kotleba was mainly elected by people who are disappointed with politics to date and that they expect him to resolve poverty and problems in coexistence with the Romani minority. "Every extreme begins with simple solutions and the division of people into the good and the bad. If we don't stop this, the results could be really harmful," Pavol Feršo, head of the opposition party SDKU, said while recalling the massacre.
Jana Laššáková of the governing left-wing Směr party is the vice-chair of the Slovak parliament. Speaking on a visit to a monument to the victims of the massacre, she labeled Kotleba's election a warning sign that the grandchildren of those who rose up against Fascism are forgetting what their forebears did.
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