Pavel Mestan and Alexander Rehák

Catholic Church of Slovakia involved in attempts to exculpate fascism

Rising apprehension has been expressed by democratic parts of Slovak society since November 1989, expressing indignation over an ever-growing propagation of fascism in Slovakia. Such activities consisted namely of

1) Efforts to whitewash the history of former wartime Slovakia

2) Discriminating and denouncing any disagreement, on the part of democratic- minded citizens, or members of resistance movement and people with secular philosophy of life.

3)Warfare was waged against antifascist resistance, and campaigns were launched to derogate everything related to the Slovak National Uprising (= SNU) on the one hand- presenting it as an abominable treason and conspiracy against the legitimate government. At the same time the ludaks (= former fascist party members, i.e. members of Hlinka´s Slovak People Party- HSLS) were glorified -on the other hand.. Monument of murdered victims in Kremnička, tombs of liberating army troops in Zvolen, and many other monuments have been moved away- Prešov, Banská Bystrica [1]

The campaign for revising the clerofascist period of Slovak history, including the inhumane crimes, the full collaboration with Nazi Germany, the damage caused to own people and to allies fighting Nazism, went on with increasing passion. All these efforts happened with an overt or mute backing of Catholic Church. No wonder: For Catholic Clericals the wartime Slovakia was a paradise. They controlled the whole political life, were deeply involved in the build up of the fascist regime coupled with fundamentalist Catholicism. Evidence of a profound infiltration of the whole administrative system of the fascist State by clergy are the following data. : The president of State who was at the same time head of the totalitarian almighty political party was a Catholic priest J. Tiso. Out of 63 members of parliament 16 were Catholic priests. Deputy chairman of the State Council was a Catholic bishop. Out of the 6 chairmen of territorial party organization of HSLS two were Catholic priests, out of 60 chairmen of regional party organizations 13 were Catholic priests. It was quite justified and deserved when the Slovak writer Dominik Tatarka properly gave the wartime Slovakia the nickname : "Priest -ruled republic"

Just a few examples of clerical support for idolizing the Slovak fascist State:

As soon as in the first years after the "velvet revolution" some circles of church dignitaries proclaimed support for the efforts of ludák (former Slovak fascist) groups from abroad to exculpate Tiso ( the former wartime Slovak president, executed as a war criminal)and his regime from their responsibility. To be precise :

Bishop Alojz Tkáč demanded the Czech nation to apologize for Tiso´s execution .[2] (author’s comment : why does he attack the “Czech” nation when the tribunal and all its members were Slovak?)

Cardinal Korec affirmed , that J. Tiso did not sign during six years of his presidency a single capital punishment. K. Zavacká (of Slovak Academy of Science) commented this saying:...No. president in this world is competent to sign or not to sign capital punishment. He may grant mercy , or not to do so. [3] What to add to it? Only to ask if Tiso did grant mercy to those 5,304 citizens , among whom were women, elderly and babies thrown into the burning flames alive , or to people whose corpses were found in 211 mass graves all over Slovakia. ( He didn’t, but decorated the perpetrators of these murders.). Certainly the murderers did not do any sinful act as concerns the Catholic doctrine. Namely a Catholic priest Albert Hadera blessed them, and after accomplishing the murders he gave them absolution in the lime-kiln of Rástocká waley , where the executions took place.( See also :Documents .”Mass graves of Nemecká” and D. Baranová-[4]

The chairman of bishops conference , bishop Rudolf Baláž claimed at a public press conference, that Tiso was" an exceptional and excellent personality ".When in April 1996 he was reproached that he was too stubborn- without realizing the consequences of his public proclamations for the public , msg R. Baláž objected saying that ."a bishop does not speak for himself , but for God" [5]No wander that some citizens consider such proclamations " a delusion and political cabaret "[6]

Sympathies in the name of all bishops with" civil initiatives" for celebrating Tiso were announced in a bishop conference letter ( signed by msg Peter Dubovský) At the same time it confirmed, that the bishops supported such initiatives , because Tiso was (purportedly) a faithful son of this nation and an excellent statesman ( Letter of bishops conference dated on May 15, 1996.-) [7]

All these ACTIVITIES seemed to ease , nevertheless recently they have again Reappeared and STRENGTHENED.

1.)The president of SR granted just not long ago the prestigious order of First Grade PRIBINA Cross, to the late Dr. JOZEF MIKUŠ. He was an active supporter of the fascist regime and an ally of Slovak war criminal Ferdinand Durcanský who was on the UN list of war criminals - Category number one. Dr. Mikuš was a diplomat and high state official in Tiso’s clerofascist regime ( several of his books idolizing fascism in the war-time Slovakia were published in the between time in Slovakia .)

2.)Books spreading lies about the resistance movement against fascism are regularly published in large editions. They are many a time written under the authorship of people having some links to former fascist regime, and/or to Catholic Church or directly by some high Catholic dignitaries. Why not? Even Jozef Tiso the president of fascist war-time Slovakia proclaimed that: “Catholicism and national socialism (= HITLER´S NAZISM ) have many things in common and they work hand- in -hand  in order to reform the world“(quoted: J. Tiso). [8]

Such books idolizing fascism are:

a.) Evidence of truth about Slovakia (Svedectvá pravdy o Slovensku volume I.)

b.) WAR criminal or a Saint. ( Vojnový zločinec alebo Svätec , Vol II)

c.) The silenced truth about Slovakia ( Zamlčaná Pravda o Slovensku)

d.) History of Slovakia and Slovaks THIRD EDITION written by the notorious “historian” a Catholic priest Milan Ďurica. The first edition was printed from FARE funds, smuggled in schools , but later had to be removed as a scandalous distortion of history ( The recently published third edition was printed in the Publishing house of religious literature “ Lúč” , and extolled in the Catholic periodical “Kultúra” (J. Rydlo ) [9]The ceremonial of launching this fascism idolizing book took place at the Catholic University in Bratislava.

e.) The third edition of book by J M. Kirschbaum , the closest co-laborator of war criminal Durcanský appeared too. ( The bleeding frontier= Krvácajúca hranica) published by top Cultural Institution of Slovakia – the Matica Slovenská. ( who have several times invited in Slovakia the collaborator J. Kirschbaum before)

f.) A luxury edition of collected speeches made by former fascist president J. Tiso was published and is available freely in bookshops.

One has to ask if in Germany it is allowed to publish books IDOLIZING ADOLF HITLER?

Two weeks before the parliamentary elections a pastoral letter was read in all churches advising whom to vote and whom not to vote. At that occasion a leaflet written by Bishop Sokol was distributed with a PRAYER for the Slovak “martyr priest JOZEF” (fascist president Jozef Tiso). In churches masses were celebrated for the “martyr”- fascist president J. Tiso . At one of such occasions bishop Sokol, who celebrated it , after terminating, called believers to the altar and distributed them a book written by fascist collaborator Sidor “ How the Slovak state begun”( Ako vznikol slovenský štát)[10]

At the ceremonial of unveiling the statue of Saint Cyril and Method in Komárno (organized by Matica Slovenská ) on July 12, 2003, some people clad in uniforms of former fascist HLINKA Guards paraded..(See enclosure ) The ceremony took place at personal participation of the nuncios of the Holy See and of several representatives of Church [11]

All that is closely linked with efforts TO MISINTERPRET THE JEWISH PROBLEM IN SLOVAKIA

In contemporary Slovakia attempts to strengthen Slovak identity by falsifying history are at work.

These are centered on revision of the Jewish question., along with some pressures to investigate in this context a much wider issue- i.e. that of the real nature of Slovak republic in 1939-1945

After November 1989 the Slovak right wing nationalists started to dig up the issue of Slovak World War II “independent” State and its president Dr. Jozef Tiso, and tried to link the ideology of that period with the contemporary “democracy”. The intention was to whitewash the Slovak fascism from its crimes.

An inseparable part of exculpating the regime of wartime Slovak State and its representatives from the accusation of being fascists- is the effort to do away especially with their responsibility for the suffering and the resulting holocaust of Slovak Jews.

Immediately after the death of Andrej Hlinka, the founder of HSĽS (= a clerical- nationalist party called Hlinka´s Slovak Peoples Party), his junior Catholic priest Dr. Jozef Tiso became leader of the party in 1938. The party turned into one of explicitly fascist orientation.

After Salzburg (in 1940 comment by author) the complete turn into fascism was accomplished.” - wrote in his memoirs the chief of the Slovak Propaganda Office Tido J. Gašpar.[12]

The same was stated also in the document – “Declaration of Slovak National Council” of September 1, 1944, which reads:“ all democratic and progressive parts of Slovak nation, which led a permanent struggle against the current fascist regime in Slovakia and against their Nazi allies have formed the Slovak National Council today, as the highest assembly of the Slovak resistance”[13]

The Slovak fascism was thus not only a propaganda slogan, but also a political reality.

The totalitarian regime persecuted not only political dissidents, but also those who did not stem from the same “tribal clan” (genus). The notion of “genus” in the People’s party’s (HSĽS) understanding was extremely close to the notion of “race”.

In that-time Slovak State, undesirable were - in conformity with Hitler’s example, above all the Jews, Romany, and also those who did not comply with the official People’s party (HSĽS)- (fascist) world-view.

After November 1989 the efforts of partisans to the “spotlessness” of wartime Slovakia (some politicians and the press )- struggling against accusations of Slovaks of nationalist attitudes, of fascism, and against its anti-Semitism, launched pressures for revising the opinion about the whole period of the Slovak fascism.

Demands were expressed to revise, to interpret and to judge the Slovak State, the Slovak fascism, the Jewish question and anti-Semitism once again anew. All that did not aim at clarifying the historical truth at all, but at a premeditated whitewashing the Slovak State from its fascist and anti-Semitic manifestations and crimes, to exculpate its political regime and representatives by all imaginable means.

In such circumstances the posthumous carriers of traditional fascist heritage set in motion and started to obscure the role played by Slovak State in war crimes and the participation of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy at the decisive rulings and criminal acts of the People’s party (HSĽS).

This false propaganda went on in the following direction defended by the proponents.


- denied the fact, that the regime of the Slovak State was a fascist type of dictatorship and its leaders were the representatives of the People’s party (HSĽS);

- affirmed, that the aim of the Slovak State was to save the Jews, not to exterminate them because tens of thousands Jews were saved;

- they proclaimed that the leader and president Dr. Jozef Tiso was not guilty of exposing Jews to death. Quite on the contrary, he was a defender of Jews and he remained in his presidential position on the request of Jewish representatives submitted to him through the Catholic clergy;

- they maintained that there was no fascism in Slovakia, it was rather a kind of “war-democracy”, namely with realistic limitations of democratic rights and freedoms due to the war, despite admitting some fascist and totalitarian features of regime, the Slovak State was allegedly a lesser evil than bolshevism, and Dr. Jozef Tiso was “a pattern of anti- communist fighter”;

- They affirmed that all provisions against the Jews were just a minor retribution for the evil committed before by Jews against the Slovak nation up to 1939, and that their only impact served the benefit of the Slovak people;

- They tried to prove, that the political system of the Slovak State was a kind of ideal Christian democracy, which prevailed over the failings of the capitalist liberalism as well as of totalitarian communism. It was thus an original and authentic ( = Christian) Slovak national socialism;

The - fascist (HSĽS), and the neo-fascist historical distortions represent an attempt of restoring the totalitarian regime with prominent religious traits and with a decisive influence of Church (especially of the Catholic Church). To show Dr Jozef Tiso in a new light resulting directly from that is a part of that strategy.

If the supporters of the former HSĽS (fascist party) succeed to whitewash Tiso from his build up  of the fascist regime and exculpate him from responsibility for crimes this regime had committed, the citizens themselves would possibly differently estimate the steps for a complete revitalizing the former Slovak State.

It would be easy to make of the thousands of members of the fascist militia of “Hlinka Guards” prominent vanguards among combatants against communism and fighters for democracy.

If the attempt to make from Dr. Jozef Tiso a leading personality of the anti-communist resistance is met with success, the still existing supporters of the Slovak fascism would be considered along with Tiso not only anti-communist dissidents, but also initiators of the anti-communist resistance.

Nationalist-clerical movements after November 1989 - disseminated a similar demagogy like in the issue of Slovak wartime democracy also in the context of the Jewish problem. Dr Tiso allegedly was bold enough to do something what “no other statesman in Europe dared to do – he was saving Jews, not exterminating them” [14]

Neo-anti-Semitism in Slovakia after November 1989 acquired some new shades.

If one tries to characterize the aforesaid efforts one can see in them the following features:

- Explanation of the nature of fascism and of fascist totality as a historical and natural event in the European development (similarly like the creation of soviet totality, another such regime came to being namely the Nazi – totality);

- Spreading views about the harmful role of Jewish plutocracy and of liberalism worldwide and in particular in Slovakia;

- Spreading new or old-style explanation of the Jewish problem in Slovakia in the spirit of HSĽS (-fascist) ideology, but also in the spirit of some new theories originating in Western countries;

- Systematic depicting the image of the main enemy of Slovaks in the past: the exploiting Jewish innkeeper

- Denying the so-called “lie of the century” – which means the very existence of the mass destruction of Jews during World War II., of the extermination- concentration- camps and of the gas chambers;

- Disseminating ideas about the ambitions of Jews to dominate the whole world by means of Free Masonry all over the world and particularly in Slovakia;

- To recruit young people, students, editors, etc. for the anti-Semitic ideology and fascism, which was met with some partial success especially thanks to several magazines, which in fact were systematically releasing fascist stuff. The anti-Semitic ideas disseminated by former People’s party (HSĽS)-fascists became now at least partially obsolete. That’s why new ideas had to be instilled in the minds of the youth, pronounced in a language closer to them and based on their own preferences for values, on the scope of their knowledge and background.

Emotions are evoked especially with believers by mystifying the motivations of political decisions made by Dr. Tiso ( with a “good Christian intention” – he had to decide as he did – any other on his place would do worse, etc..) They depict him nearly as a victim of the Nazi German pressure and of Slovak National Socialists. Intentionally they hide that Tiso highly acclaimed in his speeches the totalitarian regime and its suppressive methods. In the name of Christian religion he implemented cruel atrocities.

The aims of the former Peoples party-(fascist) activists who returned (either step by step or occasionally) to Slovakia , and were propagating their ideology, was to exculpate Dr. Tiso from accusations of his being an anti-Semite ( because he “did not sign any of the anti-Semitic laws” and rules..) and from being a Quisling and a trusted ally of Hitler till the end of war.

Namely if the leader is acquitted, exculpated are at the same time also the surviving servitors of fascism and their descendants.

If the Church dignitaries and the People’s party HSĽS (-fascist) members are acknowledged as fighters against communism since 1939 - or even before it, they are granted indemnity, they are entitled to get back all the belongings they had expropriated from Jews.

The “priest ruled” republic – as the Slovak writer Dominik Tatarka properly called the War-time Slovakia, will be in this way completely renewed.

Pavel Mešťan and Alexander Rehák

(information on authors:)

Prof. PhDr. Pavol MEŠŤAN , DrSc. (1946) –historian and politologue. Director of the Museum of Jewish culture in Bratislava, lecturer at the Faculty of philosophy, University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra. He is specialized on basics of Judaism and history of Jews in Slovakia and research in anti-Semitism

Prof. Alexander REHÁK, MD, DrSc (1918) is a former member of the World War II. liberating Czechoslovak army, which fought against the NAZI occupation. He became later professor of dermatology at Medical faculty of Bratislava. Main scope of professional interest: Pediatric dermatology, Histopathology and tumors of skin. After his retirement he acts as the international relations officer of a humanist association (Prometheus Society of Slovakia.)


1.        F.M.: Bojovník 40: 8 (6.4.1995)--Bojovník (8.5.1994

2.        K. Zavacká In: Pravda 19.10. 1993:

3.        ibidem

4.        D. Baranová In : Bojovník, 40: 4, 1995.

5.        Nové slovo 6:,43,13, 1996.

6.        J. Hruška In: Nové slovo 6: 47,11, 1996,

7.        Letter of Bishops Conference (List konferencie biskupov) 15. 5. 1996.In: Úsvit 3: 3, 1, 1997.

8.         Kovač In  Úsvit No 12/2002

9.        J. Rydlo In:Kultúra No. 11/2003

10.     M. Dubec In:Kultúra No.9/ 2003

11.     Maťašík In Nový Deň, July28, 2003

12.     Slovenské pohľady,. 1968, No. 9, p. 110.

13.     COL.: History of Slovak National Uprising (Dejiny Slovenského národného povstania) 1944, vol. 3 (Dokumenty), Bratislava, Pravda 1984, p. 376.

14.     COL.: The Slovak- nation- lover Dr.Jozef Tiso (1887-1947).( Slovenský rodoľub Dr. Jozef Tiso)Trenčín, Publishing Co Ivan  Štelcer 1992, p 125.


Towarzystwo Humanistyczne
Humanist Assciation