The Slovakian state create in March 1939 only granted full civic rights to inhabitants belonging to the ˝Slovakian ethnic group˝. From the first month of the existence of the new state ant! Jewish legislation restricted the legal situation of Slovakian Jewry, which made up some 4 X of the population. The Slovakian Jews earlier played an important role in economic and civil life. In certain intellectual professions, e.g. physicians, their proportion exceeded 5o %. This stratum rose into bourgeois civilisation at a higher rate than Slovak nationals, and their mother tongue and culture was almost entirely Hungarian. All this only increased the aniisemitism of the Slovak intelligentsia which was fighting for national determination. The representatives of the Catholic Church were everywhere to be found in the leadership of the new Slovak state and many leaders of the intellectual class were under their influence. The disenfranchisement of Jews was initiated by the Slovakian state itself. The ˝Codex Judaicum˝ issued on September 1, 1941, reflecting the spirit of the Nuremberg Laws put Slovakian Jewry outside the law. Their special designation, segregation and deportation started in 1942. ˝the news of the deportations reached Hungary, and in these years about 6-8000 Slovakian Jews found refuge in Hungary. The action launched by Margit Slachta (1884 Kassa - 1974 Buffalo) to rescue the Slovakian Jews is less known. Margit Slachta was a well-known personality of Hungarian public life between the two world wars. As early as 1919 she organized the Catholic Women´s Party, as candidate of which she was elected member of Parliament - the first wonan MP in Hungary - for 1920-22. 3 In 1923 she established the Society of Social Sisters which worked for the protection of children, women and families, fine was a conservative, legitimist politician, sensitive to social questions. As a committed Christian, she defied the spirit of the age, and faithful to the ideas of charity and fraternity rebelled against racism and inhumanity. Between 1945-48 she was elected MP again. Vet, she did not conform to the demands of the new era. She became gradually isolated, she was ousted from public life that was becoming more and more impatient, until finally she was driven to emigration. The news concerning the deportations in Slovakia prompted her to immediate action. At Easter 1942 she went to Pozsony (Bratislava) to see for herself if the news were true, and how she could help. Returning home, she bombarded the Church authorities and all influential personalities with letters and petitions. She urged a united, datermined position of the episcopacy ,in support of the persecutees. Unfortunately, her efforts remained without success, In the Spring of; 1942, 58,000 Slovakian Jews were hauted away to extermination camps. In the Spring of 1943 it came to the deportation of the remaining 25,000 Jews, mostly of Christian religion. Slachta again´tried to help. This time, she turned to the Pope, Pius XII, himself. It came to her knowledge that Francis Spell man, Cardinal Archbishop of New York, whom Slachta had known from the US, was going to spend a few days in Rome early March. Tre well-informed knew well that Spellman belonged to the narrow circle of the Pope´s confidants, Slachta therefore wished to gain access to the Pope through him. At the cost of many difficulties - through the intermediation of Regent Horthy´s wife - she managed to obtain a passport, and flew to Rome. Archbishop Spellman received her at once, and obtained a papal audience for her. Slachta informed Spellman, and later the Pope, of the Slovakian events orally and in writing as well. It was perhaps owing to this intervention that Pope Pius XII then instructed the seven Slovakian bishops to proceed personally at President Tiso, Prime Minister Tuka, cind Mach, Minister of Home Affairs, to protest against the deportation of the remaining Jews. He also ordered that in all churches in Slovakia a pastoral letter signed by the seven bishops be read, expounding why deportation was incompatible with Christianity. The deportation planned for 1943 did not take place. The above mentioned action by Margit Slachta must have played a role in the respite given to Slovakian Jewry. At the same time the changed situation of the war also had an effect in the same direction, perplexing the ˝zealous˝ leaders. We must refer also to the 50,000 dollar ˝ransom˝ which the Bratislava Rescue Committee, acting as a self-defence1 organization for Slovakian Jewry, paid to the SS, in the person of Dieter vcn Wisliczeny, in exchange for the suspension of the deportations. This amount - two dollars per person - reached Slovakia through international Jewish organizations. The remaining Slovakian Jewry which had won a breathing space, in the end met its fate in the Autumn of 1944. After the defeat of the Slovakian uprising deportations stcrted again in retaliation. More than 10,000 persons were transported to Auschwitz and other death camps. At that time, Slachta could no longer intervene on their behalf. When in Autumn 1944, all hell broke loose in Hungary also she tried again to help those in trouble. The social sisters under her direction turned her their houses and documents to the persecutees. They hid and rescued more than 1000 people. Permitted to live either in the ghettos or wretched housings outside the borders of the cities. Nearly every day it accourred that persons were taken to the concentrations camps though they possessed a legitimation. If they paid high bribery amounts, 50-100.000 Ks. they were set free again, but this procedure could be repeated whenever. The Finance Ministry employed 78 lawyers, with a salary of 900 Ks. but 10 days later all of them were arrested together with their family. The Jews had to wear yellow stars (Mogen David) of a diametre of 12 cms. From 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. no Jew was allowed to show in the streets. In innumerable cases Jews were cruelly beaten in the streets.
According to the law those who had converted to Christianism ˝on time˝ at least maintained their human liberty, though their property was also seized. They received a legitimation that they could not be put into a transport. However also here there was found a possibility to disregard the legal decree, by saying that the person was not ˝politically trustworthy˝. Towards the end of summer two waggons with insane people were sent off. Before the beginning of the deportations (in winter 1941) at a temparature of 30 centigrades below zero, the Jews were compelled to hand over even the smallest piece of fur they possessed and commissions visited every house, searching all presses and taking along everything they could. There were places where they emptied the whole house. The houses were expropriated. Every house was entrusted to an administrator a German or a Slovakian, who acted as he pleased. E.g. a housemaster who had been satisfied with his lodgings during 40 years, kicked out the house owner, an advocate, together with all his documents and other belongings. The administrators compelled the owners to sign a declaration that they had handed over their houses of their own accord. The Jews there suffered unspeakable pains and torments. The 20.000 people of Jewish origin, still living in Slovakia, a considerable part of whom are Christians, are also actually menaced by deportation and thus with complete destruction. Sanyo Mach, Minister of the Interior, deputy Prime Minister, and Commander in chief of the so called Hlinka guard, in a speech held at a meeting of the Hlinka Quard on February 8, 1943, announced that the 20.000 Jews still living in Slovakia would also be deported now, without any regard to whether they are baptized or not or possess anylegal document whatsoever. In its number of February 9, 1943, the ˝Grenzbote˝ quotes the following part of the abovementioned speech of Sanyo Mach, who also read Adolph Hitler´s letter of greeting to the Hlinka Guard. ˝Alle Juden mussen weg! Was das Judentum bedeutet, war uns immer klar und wird uns heute noch viel klarer. Eins unserer ersten Pflichten wird es daher sein, wenn wir 80 v.H. des Judentums beseitigt haben, auch mit den ubrigen fertig zu werden. Wir alle sehen, was diese 20.000 Juden, die wir noch hier haben, bedeuten. Mogen sie nun getauft oder ungetauft sein, eine solche oder jene Legitimation haben, alle verfolgen das gleiche Ziel. Aber es wird der Marz kommen und der April und es werden wieder Transporte gehen. Wir werden mit den Juden so verfahren, wie mit ihnen seinerzeit Stur oder Vajausky, Hlinka oder Razus verfuhren.˝ Since any resistance to the brutal terror of the Hlinka Guard is impossible, the situation of the 20.000 people, if no help arrives at the last moment, is desperate and hopeless. Already when the first 65-70.000 people were deported, a great many people committed suicide, killed their own families and terrible tragedies took place. Whoever could, tried to flee, but only very few succeeded, since the frontiers were strongly guarded and those who were caught were immediately deported. Now the same atrocities are beginning: on February 19th the internments started again, and the unfortunate people were caught and imprisoned in order to deport them. The flight towards the Hungarian border started again and happy are those who succeed in getting to Hungary. At present there are also arriving great numbers of small destituted children who do not know what happened to their parents. It is reported that approximately 500 small children are roaming about in Slovakia, without their parents, alone, forsaken. If help does not arrive without delay, another 20.000 people, Jews and Christians will perish! part of the above-mentioned speech of Sanyo Mach, who also read Adolph Hitler´s letter of greeting to the Hlinka Guard. ˝Alle Juden mussen weg! Was das Judentum bedeutet, war uns immer klar und wird uns heute noch viel klarer. Eins unserer ersten Pflichten wird es daher sein, wenn wir 80 v.H. des Judentums beseitigt haben, auch mit den ubrigen fertig zu werden. Wir alle sehen, was diese 20.000 Juden, die wir noch hier haben, bedeuten. Mogen sie nun getauft oder ungetauft sein, eine solche oder jene Legitimation haben, alle verfolgen das gleiche Ziel. Aber es wird der Marz kommen und der April und es werden wieder Transporte gehen. Wir werden mit den Juden so verfahren, wie mit ihnen seinerzeit Stur oder Vajausky, Hlinka oder Razus verfuhren.˝ Since any resistance to the brutal terror of the Hlinka Guard is impossible, the situation of the 20.000 people, if no help arrives at the last moment, is desperate and hopeless. Already when the first 65-70.000 people were deported, a great many people committed suicide, killed their own families and terrible tragedies took place. Whoever could, tried to flee, but only very few succeeded, since the frontiers were strongly guarded and those who were caught were immediately deported. Now the same atrocities are beginning: on February 19th the internments started again, and the unfortunate people were caught and imprisoned in order to deport them. The flight towards the Hungarian border started again and happy are those who succeed in getting to Hungary. At present there are also arriving great numbers of small destituted children who do not know what happened to their parents. It is reported that approximately 500 small children are roaming about in Slovakia, without their parents, alone, forsaken. If help does not arrive without delay, another 20.000 people, Jews and Christians will perish! His Excellency Spellman, D.D. Archbishop of New York New York Your Excellency; Fully appreciating that most important duties are making excessive demands on your time and in spite of my own unimportance, I am begging your interest in behalf of multitudes of people, subjects of great tragedies that have begun last year and are´ continuing at present. This terrible tragedy is disguised under the name of Slovakian Deportation. Last year 60.000 people perished, as its victims and 20.000 are awaiting the same fate now. In vain did the Church lift up her voice to save them, before the Germain powers moral rights have no waight. Therefore I am begging your Excellency to bring this S.O.S. cry to the notion of persons in authority in the United States earnestly pressing them to intervene with their influence and to rescue these unfortunate people from humiliations, tortures, slow or quick violent death. In reality not only the 20.000 are affected by these happenings, but also who are instumental in the carrying cut of the borders. The unbelievable brutality and cruelty, that surpasses all imagination, kills their souls. They die a spiritual death. Large numbers of Catholics are also lost because they are scalndalized seeing that these things may happen under the leadership of the Catholic Primeminister Tuka, a daily communicant, and President Tisso, a clergyman, without their being excommunicated. The churches are depopulated for the inhabitants of many villages abandon such religion and deny their faith. The events in conquered Slovakia makes our heart and soul ache because Slovakia had been the integral part of Hungary for a thousand years. We are worried lest the devastating movement might spread over the border into our country. The Hungary could not remain entirely immune from the damaging influence, nevertheless she withstands with estonishing moral strengbh, like a living devine miracle, the spiritual and intellectual storm that comes raging and devastating correct this from East to West. Slachta, following Christian teachings, took a stand against the barbarities. She belonged to the few about whom we could say they did their best to help their fellow human beings. The documents published here were written by Slachta in English. The first letter was written in Budapest, and the rest in Rome after the meeting with Spell man. The documents were put at our disposal through the courtesy of a social sister, Nona Mona. Notes 1/ The decree cf April 18, 1938, defined the term ˝Jew˝. On this basis Jews were considerec to be those of Jewish religion, plus those converts who converted to some Christian confession after October 30, 1918. This Slovakian decree defined the notion of ˝Jew˝ in a similar fashion with the first Hungarian anti-Jewish law. 2/ Vaadat Ezrah Vo-Hazalah Bo-Budapest. Der Bericht des Judischen Rettungs-kommitees aus Budapest. Submitted by Dr. Rezso Kasztner. 3/ Society of Social Sisters (1923-1948). Its clerical president was Bishop Count Janos Mikes, its president Margit Slachta. The Society established itself in five countries, and by the end of the thirties, had about 200 members. Their primary task was to provide committed and qualified social workers for the protection of children, women and families. 4/ Baron Dieter von Wisliczeny was a member of the Department RSHA IV B 4, dealing with Jewish matters. In the period under examination, he was the leader of the SS Sonderkommando in Pozsony (Bratislava). He was executed after the war in Czechoslovakia on account of the role he played in the deportation of Slovakian and Hungarian Jewry. 5/ Some 8,000 persons were transported to Auschwitz, the rest to Theresien-stadt and Bergen-Belsen. About 2,000 Jews remained illegally in Pozsony (Bratislava).
Francis SPELLMAN D.D.
Archbishop of New York
With the permission received here in Roma, I take the liberty to enclose the letter presented here in the Vatican to Monsgr D. Meglio, who is in charge of the Slovak cause. There is but little hope that the Italian gouvernement will consent and allow to Slovakien refugees to enter Italie. But even in this case to obtain the letter of the New York Bank, would mean much for the Italian Jewish charity organization, as they are helping the Croatien refugees who with the permission of the governement are already here. The president of the Italian organization is Mr.Lelio Vittorio Valobra Genova, Piazza Vittoria 4. He could not tell me the name of the New York bank, where the money is in deposit. But he assured me, that the Joint Distribution Commettee is well known. In connection of point 5. of my letter, I ask your Excellency to graciously procure for Mr Valobra this bankletter. I suppose that the Joint Distribution C. has a deposit for other coutries too. Oh it would be such a blessing if the Hungarian and Slovakian organization could have such letter of assurance too. If this is possible, please to interveen for the other countries too. To say a word of the Slovakian case: the Holy See made .the utmost in their interest. The plan of deportation is postponed until middle of April. May the merciful God allow that it would be cancelled definitly. I would be exceedingly grateful for one word from your Excellency wheather such a bankletter is possible or not. Hoping that your Excellency´s trip in the two other continents was satisfactory I ask your blessing, and remain Your humble daughter in Christ. Enclosure I. The destructions of the Jews forms one of the darkest passages in the history of the young Slovakian state, not only en account of its methods, but also because the Slovakian themselves are more the passive spectators rather than the active performers of these unheard-of events, except the leaders, with Mach and Tuka at their head who, however, are also only the means of a mightier power than they themselves. The data regarding the deportation cannot give even an approximative picture of its real meaning to a non-participant. It is necessary to complete the dull facts with some details. That high degree, of hatred which is necessary for the execution of such a plan or for even looking-on passively, was excited beforehand by a systematic propaganda. During a long period, the newspapers published a series of pictures and articles, apt to raise the greatest hatred. No means were too low in the service of instigating hatred,also by big placards. Day after day new decrees were issued, the basis of which was not formed by real necessity, but rather with the aim to humiliate and torment the Jewish population: such as the large yellow star marking them; the curfew to be inside by six o´clook; the compulsion to leave their lodgings and crowd into ghettos; later on the forbidding to move from one town to another; Christians were forbidden to enter the homes of Jewish families and vice-versa; in shops, and restaurants inscriptions were placed excluding them; decrees were issued forbidding intervention in Jewish affairs; they were excluded from legal rights, they were deprived from all possibilities of earning ther livelihood etc. It can be understood that after such a systematic preparation the mob could attack with sticks and iron rods the Jews, that they broke in to their shops and robbed them, even dragged defenseless people from their houses and were allowed to beat them half-dead, and later on could even deport and kill them. During the deportations a transport of 3,000 girls was gathered in the Patronka in Bratislava, where all their articles of value, keepsakes, provisions and clothes were taken away from them, and in order to prevent any communication with their relatives, the windows of the camp were boarded. They had to sign papers to remounce their articles of value. For two days they were left without food and if anyone committed suicide the others were made responsible for it. There is evidence that, as with the Croatian and Polish women, these girls were also carried to entertainment places behind the front of they were found ˝fit˝ for this purpose and placed at the disposal of the soldiers. In Poland there existed young girls, even among the rich, who got into such camps from which they could often only escape by obtaining a certificate from the physician, proving that they were syphilitic. It is feared that, after the Slovakian Jewish girls and women, it will be the turn of the Christians, for their excessive waste in men and women not only behind the front, but also in the work camps is known. This supposition is rendered still more plausible by the fact that after last year´s deportation in accordance with an official decree, all household empolyees had to submit to a medical examination. Sanitation in Slovakia is not on such a high level as to permit the supposition that under the present difficult circumstances the Slovakian government should have ordered it from a sanitarian point of view. Very reliable witnesses state that these girls carried to entertainment places at the front served whole companies, and after having become ˝useless˝ they were shot in groups. On examining these unfortunate corpses a physician stated that wild beasts could not, have handled them worse than the soldiers entertaining themselves. This physician - according to his statement - felt sick himself from the sight. He says that these unfortunate girls not only waited apathetically for their turn of the excution, but even asked for it. After the girls and the young men had been taken off separately, they took the remaining people along, regardless of their age, condition of health, culture. Healthy people, sick, old and dying people, new born babies, pregnant women were all separated from each other and placed in camps then loaded on to waggons.
Their documents were taken away, and they were marked by numbers. The waggons were seald. Eye witnesses saw the inhumane, even diabolical way of transportation. From these sealed waggons, sobbing and cries for help could be heard which accompanied the rattling of the wheels was ghostly. They were not allowed to take with them any victuals, medicines, or even the most necessary things for personal daily use. The strings of their only luggage, tied to their back, were out on entering the waggon. The ground of the waggon was filled with lime, which in want of the most primitive sanitary accomodation was slaked and the poisonous gas killed them, so that daily 10-15 corpses were thrown out of the waggons, by the attendants. One of the most heart-breaking transports was that of 5-17 years old children who lamenting, sobbing and crying together faced an unknown future. Beyond the border the deported people had to walk 20-30-40 kms and those unable to walk were shot. Trustworthy eye-witnesses tell us about the mass executions, where the people marched in columns of eight, among them mothers with babies, old men supported each others towards the trenches, where machine-guns fire put an end. to their misery. They were buried in masses, some of them still alive. News arrived of every kind of massacre: of people being slain, shot or gassed, etc. No humanitarian society, nit even the Red Cross was able to procure any news about them. The remainder tried to hide in woods and bushes, or escaped towards the Hungarian frontier. Those who had hoped that after these bloody and cruel days their life would be spared, were overcome by a new wave of terror following the speech of minister. Mach on February 8. 1943. His cry: ˝Away with all Jews˝ spread like fire all over this formally free, but in reality subjugated little state; in n the months of March and April all of them must be deported, which practically means their murder in various ways. On February 12th 1943. the internments in Bratislava began anew. Indiscribable panic broke out among the miserable people, numbering over 20.000, among them more than 10.000 Christians. The internments are not made by the police this time, but by members of the Klinka guard, who execute their commands with the greatest possible brutality. According to information some 500 children are roaming about in Slovakia, alone, destitute without parents or guardians. The misery of hiding and all the risks of escape towards the Hungarian frontier are beginning over again. According to Mach´s plan, two months hence no Jew may live in Slovakia. Without difference of religion all people fearing God must join in preventing the realisation of this devilish plan if we dont want the wrath of God to avenge with manifold punishment the destruction of many thousands of human beings incapable of self defence. Enclosure 2. In March 1942, the Slovakian government decreed the deportation of the whole Jewish population of the State which - according to the legal definition of the Jews - amounted to approximately 80-90.000 people. An agreement was concluded between the Slovakian and the German State, according to which Slovakia pays Germany 500 RM for each deported person, while all movable and inmovable property of the deported Jews passes over to the Slovakian State. Who were deported? In principle the deportation extended to every person of Jewish origin, if a special decree did not provide for their exemption. Who were exempted?
a./ Those who work for the state, such as e.g. physicians, veterinary surgeons, chemists, engineers, the leaders of agricultural undertakings etc. b./ Such persons as receive a personal exemption from the President of the State. cl Persons married to Christians, if married before September 10, 1941 and their descendants. 6.1 Persons who were baptized before March 14, 1939. e./ Jews of Hungarian and American citizenship. f./ Employees of the Jewish central office (Ustredna Zidov:). g./ Two rabbis. Besides these legal exceptions there was no other escape: infants, old people, pregnant women, sick people, criples, invalids, imbeciles, all were obliged to leave Slovakia.
The course of the deportations. The interments began on March 24, 1942. At first women between 17 and 35 years, some days later men from 16 to 50, and thereafter - with a few short intervals - all other categories were taken, from March 26. 1942 to the end of October 1942, one transport following the other, 65-70.000 people having been deported. From the notes of an eye-witness we find the following details: ˝March 24. Women from 17 to 35 taken and interned. March 25. Men from 17 to 45 interned. The internment of women continues too. People are being enclosed in different camps in Slovakia. March 26. 3C waggons crowded with young girls were sent towards the borders. At the frontier-station of Zvard the transport wad handed over to the SS. At present it is impossible to state the destination of the transport. (Galicia? Silesia?) March 27. 50 waggons filled with men have started towards Zilina, probably with Lublin as destination. On the same day 1000 young girls were deported to unknown destination. April 4. 8.000 people transported beyond the borders and 4.000 interned in Sered, Bratislava, Zilina, Poprad, Novaky. The interned people suffer from hunger, their provisions are being taken away. April 8. The city of Trnava is surrounded, all Jews up to 6o were taken away.˝ The deportations ceased from the end of October till present date. The places where the deported Jews were settled. At the Slovakian border the deported people were usually taken over by German SS-divisions or soldiers. The Slovakian Jews were settled in Galicia, Poland, East Upper Silesia, and the Ukraine: those able to work were employed partly in factories and military factories, the rest were placed in closed reservations, ghettos. The execution of the deportation. Families were separated, first young girls, later on young men and afterwards old people were also deported. Without previous warning people were taken away from their offices, their homes, sometimes from the street. Their internment took place under terrible circumstances; they were enclosed in camps where no communication with the outer world was possible and from where they were transported towards the frontiers without any food or drink. The documents and identity papers were taken away from the deported persons, they were not allowed to use their name, and were only numbered. Since all their articles of value had already been previously seized, they were only allowed to take with them most necessary objects for every day use, except medicines, up to a limit of 50 kilos. However, in most cases not even this luggage arrived. The situation of the deported Jews. According to reports, the major part of the 65-70.000 deported people are no longer alive. Most of them died as a result of physical privations, or through acts of violence. Out of the 65-70.000 there are only 3-4.000 whose identity number or address is known. Hardly any correspondence is possible with them and news from them arrive only very exceptionally.
Notes of an intelligent Slovakian woman who, after many months of persecutions unbelievable adversities and misery, succeeded to escape from deportation. The cruelties started in March 1942 when quite suddenly at night the young girls and childless women from 16 to 45 were taken away from their homes. They were carried off almost from the schooldesks and from the warm home of their parents. They were allowed to take with them only a small bundle, some warm clothes, a little food, with which their parents were able to provide them in the middle of the night. In fact, even these few things, such as a cover and warm sweater, as well as the wrist watch or ring which some of them possessed, were all taken away from them. It did occur not only in a single case that Slovakian policemen in the Bratislava camp of Patronka declined service, saying that they had children themselves and that the weeping of the parents broks their heart, and that childless poicemen should be sent there. No news have ever come about the first transports. In summer there came some open cards from the Ukraine to the Stavebne Drzstvo, where intelligent Jewish advocates, learned merchants and other people possessing a university degree did the hard work of masons. In these cards they wrote that all of them were no more than shadows through famine, that their clothes were completely in rags, and they entreated some food and old clothing. No eye remained dry on reading these lines. One postcard was more sad than the other. One transport started after the other: now already whole families were deported. However, or the frontier they were separated. The poorest and most religious people were the greatest heroes. They led their small children and no teansware in there eyes, but prayers on their lips. Some of the Christian housemasters or of their Christian neighbours ran after them and wanted to give them something, but they were threatened. No human feeling was tolerated. An old lady teacher of 78, an 80 years old merchant, sick people unable to walk, blind and invalid people were lifted into the waggons. Many of them died already en route. 40 people were crowded together in one nearly hermetically closed cattle waggon. In the concentration camp of Zilina, which had room for 1200 people, at times there were crowded together 2500 persons. The furniture was all taken away from the lodgings and sold at quite low prices in the destructed synagogue which had been transformed into an auction hall. Those who were allowed to remain there at the beginning, first with yellow, then with white legitimations, were also driven out of their homes andghts inm onth of the igal situation and civil tion exceeded than Slovak: Hungarian, hich was ic Church tate and many state itself, irit of the designation,ions found refuge to rescue perly as 1919 was 1920-22. or the legitimist she defiedity reted MP became ng more immediate herself if bombarded petitions.