Anti-Semitism in Slovakia in Post-War Years 1945 – 1948: A Period of “Common People’s Anti-Semitism”
Authors: Michal Šmigeľ
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The liberation of Czechoslovakia and the end of World War II did not mean the end of Jewish suffering in Slovakia, although several members of the Slovak Jewish minority virtually (and naively) expected it. On the contrary, a number of problems began, and the negative impacting of the post-war reality through their re-emergence in society was immediately activated. The post-war period as a period of social, political and moral crises was reflected in full, and the Jews faced hostility once again. Anti-Semitic unrest in Slovakia that broke out in the first days and months after World War II and was one of characteristic features of post-war development in Czechoslovakia, fit into the overall situation as existed on European territory.
The heuristic basis of the study includes archival materials from central Slovak National Archives in Bratislava and regional archives of the Slovak Republic. Besides these sources, Slovak and foreign scientific publications dedicated to given issues publicated in recent years have been used.
Methodologic base of the research involves principles of objectivism and historism that enable objective and factual approach towards analysis of researched issues, critical evaluation of sources (through analytic, progressive and comparative method, direct and indirect method) and summarisation of knowledge as a result of analysis of the summary of facts. It also allows depiction of facts in the course and context of historical situation.
Finally, the author notes, post-war anti-Semitism undoubtedly emerged or grew out of Holocaust and several years of anti-Jewish propaganda in Slovakia (1939 - 1945), immediate war as well as post-war experiences, although it is impossible to neglect also the older “traditional” anti-Jewish attitudes of Slovak population (already present in the time of the interwar Czechoslovakia and Hungarian period of History). As the main reasons of the growing anti-Semitism in Slovakia (1939 – 1945) we can consider the Jewish efforts to their reintegration into civil society and issues of rehabilitation and of property rights – concerning former Jewish property, which was still in the hands of the former “arizators”, citizens (of lower social classes as well) or under national administration (paradoxically, often as a reward for participating in the resistance) – closely related to them and delays in the issue of its restitution. After all, the inaction of state administration representatives, “benevolent” penalties and mostly vague attitude and inconsistent approach of political leaders of the Republic on the issue (support of Jewish organizations and Jewish refugees versus the issue of restitution, contradictory statements and expressions) did not contribute to the normalization of relations. An unmistakable feature of the tensions between Jewish and non-Jewish population was also the condition of the post-war society in Slovakia itself, not excluding the Jews. Anti-Semitic motives, which eventually resulted in many cases in racially motivated attacks were primarily purely personal or, rather, primarily economically and socially conditioned. Postwar common people’s antisemitism was also one of important factors influencing the decision of the major part of Slovak Jewish citizens to emigrate from the country. Under the influence of at that time still positive international situation and hidden (but active) support of Czechoslovak offices, the major part of the Jews left (mainly in 1948 and at the beginning of 1949) Slovakia, emigrating mainly to Israel and western countries, i.e. overseas.