NEW YORK (Aug. 9)
Urgent and repeated appeals to the Canadian president of the World Slovak Congress and to the 500 delegates to the Congress’ convention last June, to condemn the pro-Nazi puppet regime in Slovakia which was headed by Josef Tiso during World War II, for its collaboration in the murder of 57,000 Slovak Jews, has failed to produce any results, according to officials of the National Holocaust Survivors Association and its Slovak Survivors Branch.
Marko Neuman, branch president, arranged a meeting with Stephen Roman of Toronto, president of the World Slovak Congress, during the Congress’ convention, which took place in a Manhattan hotel June 18-26, Other members of the Slovak branch who attended the convention were John Ranz of New York, Survivors Association chairman; Martin Zepletal, Slovak branch secretary; and Neuman.
Ranz and Neuman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in an interview, that they and Zepletal met for two hours with Roman on June 19 in his hotel suite and presented him with a memorandum which described in detail Hitler’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and the installation of Tiso as Slovakia’s puppet dictator.
In the memorandum, Roman was informed that the Tiso regime not only had handed over to the Nazis the 57,000 Slovak Jewish men, women and children, but also that the Tiso regime “even paid the Nazis” with money plundered from the Jewish victims “to get the assurance of the Nazis that these Jewish neighbors would never come back.”
ELEMENTS IN THE MEMORANDUM
Roman came to Canada from Slovakia as a boy before World War II, subsequently becoming a millionaire in the uranium trade. After the memorandum was handed to Roman, the Slovak Jewish survivors cited a passage in the memorandum, asking Roman, as “a prominent citizen and president of this Slovak Congress, to condemn the entire period of 1939-45, the period of Nazi ‘benevolence’ over Slovakia and their local rulers, as a sellout, as a betrayal of the true aspirations of the Slovak people.”
In the memorandum, a copy of which was made available to the JTA, Roman also was told that many of the Slovak “criminals” had fled to the United States and Canada after Nazi Germany collapsed, that some belonged to the World Slovak Congress, some in leading positions, and that “their bloody hands are shaking your hands.”
The memorandum also asked Roman whether he intended “to continue to shake your hands and smear some of that innocent blood on you?”
AN EVASIVE RESPONSE
Ranz told the JTA that the delegation felt Roman’s response to their appeal was clearly evasive. Ranz said Roman told the delegation that “only God” could judge Tiso’s actions as the puppet dictator of Slovakia. Despite the delegation’s heartfelt appeals, Ranz said, Roman would not repudiate the Tiso regime.
Ranz and Zepletal were nevertheless welcomed by Roman when they came as observers to the Congress and remained throughout its duration. Zepletal told the JTA, during the interview, that he spoke from the convention floor during question-and-answer periods, seeking to present the facts about the Tiso regime.
Zepletal told the convention sessions that the World Slovak Congress could not enter “the civilized, democratic world” until the Congress recognized the crimes of the Tiso regime and that there could be no reconciliation with Slovak Jewish survivors until the World Slovak Congress recognized the crimes of the Tiso regime and of Tiso’s collaborators. He said the delegates listened to his presentations with neither applause nor signs of hostility.
WHITEWASHING THE TISO REGIME
Ranz said the convention speakers included a number of college professors of Slovak descent, who discussed the Tiso regime, white-washing it. He cited, as an example, Signislav Kirshbaum, professor of political science at York University in Toronto.
Ranz said Kirshbaum, who had been present when Zepletal sought to present to the delegates “the true record” of the Tiso regime, depicted that regime as “a positive event” for the Slovak people, stressing, as did other featured speakers, the “economic prosperity and cultural achievements” during the Tiso period.
A copy of the memorandum to Roman was sent with a covering letter, dated June 22, signed by Ranz, to each of the 250 members of the Slovak Survivors Branch, reporting on the failed efforts to persuade Roman and the Congress delegates, to repudiate the Tiso regime.
In the letter, Ranz reported that “despite repeated declarations” by Roman during the two-hour meeting, about “his warm sentiments for the Jews, way back to his childhood, and his respect for our common ancestor, the patriarch Abraham, we could not obtain from Mr. Roman a clear condemnation of the Tiso-Nazi regime and its leaders.”
DISTURBED BY REACTIONS OF YOUNG SLOVAKS
Ranz said he had been particularly disturbed by the atmosphere prevailing during a Congress youth seminar, which took place for two-and-a-half days. Ranz said that about 100 young American-born Slovaks, mostly from the United States and a few from Canada, attended the youth seminar. He said they were 18 to 35 years old.
Ranz said he emerged from the youth sessions feeling he had been in the company of disciples of Tiso. He said the Slovak Jewish survivors were particularly concerned that the American-born children and youth of Slovak descent were not being told the truth of the Tiso period and growing up in total ignorance of what actually had taken place then.