Hlinka Guard

The Hlinka Guard (Slovak: Hlinkova garda; German: Hlinka-Garde; abbreviated as HG) was the militia maintained by the Slovak People's Party in the period from 1938 to 1945; it was named after Andrej Hlinka.[1]

The Hlinka Guard was preceded by the Rodobrana (Home Defense/Nation's Defense) organization, which existed from 1923 to 1927, when the Czechoslovak authorities ordered its dissolution. During the crisis caused by Hitler's demand for the Sudetenland (in the summer of 1938), the Hlinka Guard emerged spontaneously, and on October 8 of that year, a week after Hitler's demand had been accepted at the Munich conference, the guard was officially set up, with Karol Sidor (1901–1953) as its first commander.

The Hlinka Guard was known for its participation in the Holocaust in Slovakia; its members appropriated Jewish property and rounded up Jews for deportation in 1942. Under one of the Beneš decrees, No. 16/1945 Coll., membership of the Hlinka Guard was punishable by 5 to 20 years' imprisonment.

Hlinka Guard
Emblem of the Hlinka Guard
Emblem of the Hlinka Guard
Deportation of Jews from Slovakia, 1942

Hlinka Guardsmen force Slovak Jews onto Holocaust trains, 1942
Agency overview
Formed1938
Preceding agency
Dissolved1945
TypeParamilitary
Jurisdiction Slovak State
HeadquartersBratislava
Ministers responsible
  • Jozef Tiso, High Commander (1938–45)
  • Karol Sidor, Minister of Interior (1938–39)
  • Alexander Mach, Minister of Interior (1939–44)
  • Otomar Kubala, Minister of Interior (1944–45)
Parent agency Hlinka's Slovak People's Party (HSLS-SSNJ)
Flag of the Hlinka party (1938–1945) variant 2
The "autonomist flag", 1938–45 party flag of the Ludaks and their Organizations Hlinka Guard and Hlinka Youth

Duties

The guard was the Hlinka party's military arm for internal security, and it continued in that role under the autonomous government of Slovakia in federated Czecho-Slovakia. The Hlinka Guard were Slovakia's state police and most willingly helped Hitler with his plans. It operated against Jews, Czechs, Hungarians, the Left, and the opposition. By a decree issued on October 29, 1938, the Hlinka Guard was designated as the only body authorized to give its members paramilitary training, and it was this decree that established its formal status in the country. Hlinka guardsmen wore black uniforms and a cap shaped like a boat, with a woolen pompom on top, and they used the raised-arm salute. The official salute was "Na stráž!" ("On guard!").

Membership

Until March 14, 1939, when Slovakia declared its independence, the Hlinka Guard attracted recruits from all walks of life. On the following day, March 15, Alexander Mach became its commander, retaining the post up to the collapse of the pro-Nazi regime in Slovakia in 1945. Its functions were laid down in a series of government decrees: it was to be a paramilitary organization attached to the party, fostering love of country, providing paramilitary training, and safeguarding internal security. By assuming these tasks, the guard was meant to counterbalance the army and the police. In 1941 Hlinka Guard shock troops were trained in SS camps in Germany, and the SS attached an adviser to the guard. At this point many of the guardsmen who were of middle-class origin quit, and thenceforth the organization consisted of peasants and unskilled laborers, together with various doubtful elements. A social message was an integral part of the radical nationalism that it sought to impart.

Deportation of the Jews

Hlinka Guardsmen humiliate Lipa Baum
Hlinka Guardsmen publicly humiliate Lipa Baum during the deportation of Jews from Stropkov, 23 May 1942

In 1942, the Hlinka Guard headed the deportations of Slovak Jews to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz. The Guard would regularly make roundups of Jews in the spring and summer months. Deportation of the Jews by Hlinka Guards led to the confiscation of Jewish property (Arizácia majetku) while distributing some of that property to individual members of the Hlinka Guards. Over the course of time, the guardsmen prospered financially but their zeal for stolen wealth never abated.

Political competition

A small group called Náš Boj (Our Struggle), which operated under SS auspices, was the most radical element in the guard. Throughout its years of existence, the Hlinka Guard competed with the Hlinka party for primacy in ruling the country. After the anti-Nazi Slovak National Uprising in August 1944, the SS took over and shaped the Hlinka Guard to suit its own purposes. Special units of the guard (Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions – POHG) were employed against partisans and Jews.

Legacy

In the 2010s, the Hlinka Guard's uniforms made a reappearance in Slovakia as the preferred dress of far-right politician Marian Kotleba and his Our Slovakia party. Kotleba's group made minor alterations to the uniforms, as wearing the original uniforms remains illegal in Slovakia.[2]

Further reading

  • Jelinek, Yeshayahu (1971). "Storm-Troopers in Slovakia: The Rodobrana and the Hlinka Guard". Journal of Contemporary History. 6 (3): 97–119. doi:10.1177/002200947100600307. JSTOR 259881.
  • Hruboň, Anton (2010). 5. poľná rota Hlinkovej gardy [The Fifth Company of the Hlinka Guard] (PDF). Forum Historiae (in Slovak). Ružomberok: Historia nostra. ISBN 978-80-9700-80-2-4.
  • Sokolovič, Peter (2013). Hlinkova Garda 1938 – 1945 [Hlinka Guard 1938 – 1945] (PDF). Bratislava: Ústav pamäti národa. ISBN 978-80-89335-10-7.

References

  1. ^ Niewyk, Donald L. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust. United States: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231528788.
  2. ^ Walker, Shaun (14 February 2019). "How a Slovakian neo-Nazi got elected". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
Alexander Mach

Alexander Mach (11 October 1902 in Slovenský Meder (today Palárikovo) – 15 October 1980 in Bratislava) was a Slovak nationalist politician. Mach was associated with the far right wing of Slovak nationalism and became noted for his strong support of Nazism and Germany.

Einsatzgruppe H

Einsatzgruppe H was one of the Einsatzgruppen, the paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany. A special task force of more than 700 soldiers, it was created at the end of August 1944 to deport or murder the remaining Jews in Slovakia following the German suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. During its seven-month existence, Einsatzgruppe H collaborated closely with the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions and arrested 18,937 people, of whom at least 2,257 were murdered; thousands of others were deported to Nazi concentration camps (primarily Auschwitz). The victims included Jews, Romani people, actual or suspected Slovak partisans, and real or perceived political opponents. One of its component units, Einsatzkommando 14, committed the two largest massacres in the history of Slovakia, at Kremnička and Nemecká.

Freiwillige Schutzstaffel

Freiwillige Schutzstaffel ('Voluntary Protection Corps', abbreviated FS) was a paramilitary organization in the World War II Slovak Republic. FS was founded in late 1938. Modelled on the German Sturmabteilung (SA) and the Allgemeine SS, FS organized members of the German community in Slovakia. It functioned as the paramilitary wing of the German Party (DP). Walter Donath served as the national commander (Landesführer) of FS.Two government regulations issued in 1939 provided the legal cover for FS; decree no. 240 issued September 27, 1939 and decree no. 311 issued December 21, 1939. Through the latter decree the Slovak government recognized FS and the German Youth (DJ) as paramilitary organizations operating in the frame of the German Party. FS members were assigned to protect infrastructure (bridges, tunnels, railway stations) and persecuted deserters from the Polish front. FS also sent fighters to take part in the German war effort against Poland. Along with its Slovak counterpart, the Hlinka Guard, FS conducted attacks against the Jewish communities in Slovakia.As of March 1939 FS was organized into three Sturmbannen ('Strike Battalions'). The title of the commander of a Sturmbann was Sturmbannführer ('Strike Battalion Leader'). The geographic area covered by a Sturmbann corresponded to the territorial units of the German Party: Pressburg (Bratislava), Kremnitz-Deutsch Proben (Kremnica - Nemecké Pravno) and Zips. At this point FS had 4,604 members. At the time of its foundation FS membership was open to ethnic German males aged 18-35, who could provide proof of Aryan lineage three generations back. In June 1941 membership was opened up to party members up to the age of 50. The uniform of FS was largely identical to that of Allgemeine SS. Its symbol was an eagle carrying a shield with a swastika (the shield with swastika was the symbol of the German Party).On February 15, 1940 the number of Sturmbannen was increased to six;

I. - Pressburg (urban), Commander Hans Hofstäter, 3 companies

II. - Pressburg (rural), Commander Zoltan Absalon, 4 companies

III. - Kremnitz, Commander Jozef Jacklin, 7 companies

IV. - Deutsch Proben, Commander Ladislav Wässerle, 4 companies

V. - Oberzips, Commander Willi Kunzmann, 6 companies

VI. - Unterzips, Commander Hans Dolinsky, 4 companies.However, the six Sturmbannen did not cover all of the FS membership. In areas with small German populations, FS members adhered directly to the national headquarters of FS. At this point FS had 4,622 members. As of early 1941 FS membership stood at around 5,500, by October 1941 it stood at 6,810. FS was again reorganized on September 14, 1942 with the creation of a seventh Sturmbann in Považie. From that point onwards all FS members were included into a Sturmbann.FS participated, along with the Hlinka Guard, in the deportation of Jews from Slovakia in 1942.Not all FS members were in active military service, by late 1942 5,832 out of 7,646 FS members were in active service. And whilst membership in FS continued to increase throughout the war (7,818 in mid-1944), the percentage of FS members in active service declined (4,179 in mid-1944). The decline was a result of recruitment into Waffen-SS. In this process the German Party leadership gradually lost some of its influence over FS, as the organization became increasingly subordinated to SS. In 1943 Donath left his post as FS commander to fight on the Eastern Front. F. Klug, hitherto leader of the German Youth organization, was named the new FS commander.Again in 1944 FS participated in deportations of Jews from Slovakia.

Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions

The Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions or Flying Squads of the Hlinka Guard (Slovak: Pohotovostné oddiely Hlinkovej gardy, POHG) were Slovak paramilitary formations set up to counter the August 1944 Slovak National Uprising. They are best known for the role they played in murdering Jews, Romani people, and actual or suspected Slovak partisans in conjunction with Einsatzgruppe H, especially for their participation in the Kremnička massacre.

Jozef Tiso

Jozef Tiso (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈjɔzɛf ˈtisɔ]; 13 October 1887 –18 April 1947) was a Slovak politician and Roman Catholic priest who governed the Slovak Republic, a client state of Nazi Germany during World War II, from 1939 to 1945. After the war, he was executed in 1947 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bratislava.

Born in 1887 to Slovak parents in Bytča, then part of Austria-Hungary, Tiso studied several languages during his school career, including Hebrew and German. He was introduced to priesthood from an early age and helped combat local poverty and alcoholism in what is now Slovakia. He joined the Slovak People's Party (Slovenská ľudová strana) in 1918 and became party leader in 1938 following the death of Andrej Hlinka. When Nazi Germany seized Czechoslovakia in 1938, the German authorities founded the Slovak Republic out of Czechoslovakia, while the Czech portion became the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Tiso became the Republic's President in 1939.

Tiso collaborated with Germany in deportations of Jews, deporting many Slovak Jews to extermination and concentration camps in Germany, while some Jews in Slovakia were murdered outright. An anti-fascist partisan insurgency was waged against Tiso, culminating in the Slovak National Uprising in 1944, which was suppressed by German authorities with many of its leaders executed.

When the Soviet Red Army overran the last parts of western Slovakia in April 1945, Tiso fled to Austria and then Germany where American troops arrested him and then had him extradited back to the reformed Czechoslovakia, where he was convicted of treason against the state, treason against the uprising and collaboration, and then executed by hanging in 1947 and buried in Bratislava.

Kremnička and Nemecká massacres

The Kremnička and Nemecká massacres were a series of massacres committed between 5 November 1944 and 19 February 1945 in Kremnička and Nemecká, Slovakia by the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions and Einsatzkommando 14 following the suppression of the Slovak National Uprising. During the uprising, many Jews fled to Banská Bystrica, a partisan stronghold; when the town fell, Jews, actual or suspected Slovak partisans, and Romani people captured during roundups were temporarily held in the town's jail. The victims were then trucked to the murder sites at Kremnička and Nemecká, where they were shot. The majority of the 747 people shot at Kremnička were Jewish. Exact figures are not known for the Nemecká massacres, because the bodies were burned, but historians estimate a death toll of around 900, of whom most of the known victims were Jewish or Romani.

Milo Urban

Milo Urban (pseudonyms Ján Rovňan ml., Podbabjagurský) (24 August 1904 in Rabčice, Kingdom of Hungary – 10 March 1982 in Bratislava) was Slovak writer, translator, journalist and important representatives of modern Slovak literature. Urban is controversial figure because he served as an editor-in-chief of an official propagandist magazine of the Hlinka Guard Gardista in the era of the clerofascist Slovak State and was found guilty for collaboration by the court in 1948.

Nansenhjelpen

Nansenhjelpen (formally called Nansen Hjelp, variously called the Nansen Relief in English and Nansenhilfe in German) was a Norwegian humanitarian organization founded by Odd Nansen in 1936 to provide safe haven and assistance in Norway for Jewish refugees from areas in Europe under Nazi control. It was formally disbanded in 1945, but effectively ceased operations in late 1942, after all Jews in Norway had been deported, murdered, or had fled into Sweden.

Nemecká

Nemecká (German: Deutschendorf an der Gran) is a village and municipality in Brezno District, in the Banská Bystrica Region of central Slovakia. The name, which can be translated as "German village", suggests villagers, or part of them, being of German origin.

The first written mention of the village is from 1281. The villagers were mostly farmers and forest workers. Later, basic industries like limeworks, brickworks etc. developed in the area. From the 18th century on, many locals took part in door-to-door selling of laces, manufacturing of which also took place in the village.

The village was a site of German atrocitities during World War II aimed to suppress Slovak National Uprising. As many as 900 people were executed and their bodies burned in local lime kiln. The killings took 7 days (January 4–11, 1945). Responsible for the killings were members of German Einsatzkommando 14 led by Obersturmfuhrer Kurt Herbert Deffner and members of Slovak regime's Hlinka Guard led by captain Vojtech Kosovsky. The victims were participants of the uprising, their families and people from "proscribed races", i.e. Roma and Jews.

A monument commemorating the massacre was built after World War II with a small exhibition opened to visitors all year long.

Nováky

Nováky (Hungarian: Nyitranovák) is a town in the Prievidza District, Trenčín Region in western Slovakia. Nováky Power Plant, a thermal power plant is located near the town.

The town is one of the centres of brown coal mining in Slovakia.

Obrana národa

Obrana národa (ON) (English: Defence of the Nation) was a Czech resistance organization that fought against the German occupation from 1939 to 1945. It opposed Nazi rule in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The group was founded by General Josef Bílý in April 1939.

The Gestapo was able to seek out and destroy the group's leadership on three occasions (February 1940, May 1942 and June 1944), but each time the group was reorganized.

Ploština

Ploština was a small settlement situated near to Valašské Klobouky, Zlín District, Moravian Wallachia, today's Czech Republic. On April 19, 1945, at the end of World War II, it was burned and its people were massacred by Nazis in response to their support of the anti-Nazi resistance movement. The massacre was conducted by the German special SS unit Zur besonderen Verwendung-Kommando Nr. 31, led by Walter Pawlofski, and by the SS anti-partisan unit Josef consisting of members of Slovak Hlinka-Guard, whose headquarters was in Vizovice.

Twenty-four people were burned alive, three more people were executed, and one person was tortured to death during interrogation.

Rodobrana

Rodobrana (literally Home Defense/Nation's Defense) was a Slovak paramilitary organization of the Slovak People's Party. The organization existed, officially, from 1923 to 1927 in Czechoslovakia, when the authorities ordered its dissolution, though many of its members continued to function in other party organizations. It was a predecessor of the Hlinka Guard. According to Beneš decree No. 16/1945 Coll., membership of Rodobrana was punishable by 5-20 years of imprisonment, or life in prison in case of aggravated circumstances.

Sered

Sered or Sereď may refer to:

Sereď, a town in Slovakia

Sereď concentration camp in Sereď, a Nazi-era labour and transit camp run by the Hlinka Guard

Sered, a minor figure in the Bible.

Sereď concentration camp

Sereď concentration camp was a concentration camp built during World War II in the Slovak Republic. It was founded as a labor camp for the Jewish population in September 1941. In September 1944, it was transformed into a concentration camp operated by units of the SS.

Slovak Brotherhood

The Slovak Brotherhood or Slovenská pospolitosť is a civil society group in Slovakia. 'Slovenská' means "Slovak" ; 'pospolitosť' is a rather archaic word meaning "solidarity" or "community" or "togetherness". The group has been characterised as "extremist."Slovenská pospolitosť was formed in 1996 to bring together sections of the local far right population and place them under the leadership of more astute ideologues. The group has links to the International Third Position and has posted details of its activities on their websites. The movement has come under increasing pressure from the government of Slovakia in 2005, to the extent where the leading member Ján Kopunek has claimed that the Slovak police have been ordered to crush the group entirely. Since then, Marian Kotleba has been charged with hate crimes in absentia. Later, Kotleba was charged for finishing one of his speeches with "Na stráž!" the phrase used in the fascist Hlinka Guard. After that the charges were dropped as it "couldn't be proven that the phrase itself constitutes the promotion of fascism". However the American embassy in Bratislava characterised the group's activities as "commemorating the wartime fascist state and to spread messages of intolerance against ethnic and religious minorities."In 2006, Kotleba tried to transform the group into a political party (Slovak Togetherness - National Party). The party was dissolved by the Supreme Court because of its non-compliance with the Constitution (restriction of universal suffrage, replacement of the party system by the state of estates) as the first and yet only dissolved political party in the modern history of Slovakia. The group then continued to exist as a civil society. Also in this form it was temporarily banned by the Interior Ministry for "activities that incite hatred and national, racial, religious as well as political intolerance", but the Slovak Supreme Court reinstated the group, claiming that "the legal conditions for disbanding Slovenská Pospolitosť had not been met." The group resumes operation unhindered.In August 2009 the group led a march in protest at the local Roma community during which members threw rocks and bottles at police, resulting in over 30 arrests and seven injuries.They have been associated with the European National Front and support their ideas of European nationalist unity. They hosted a meeting for some affiliated groups in 2004.

Slovak People's Party

Hlinka's Slovak People's Party (Slovak: Hlinkova slovenská ľudová strana, HSĽS), also known as simply the Slovak People's Party (Slovenská ľudová strana, SĽS) or the Hlinka Party, was a right-wing conservative political party in Slovakia with strong Christian and nationalist orientation. Its members were called Ľudaks.

The party arose at a time when Slovakia was still part of Austria-Hungary and fought both for democratic freedoms and Slovak national rights, and against liberalism. After the formation of Czechoslovakia, the party preserved its conservative character, opposing ethnic Czechoslovakism and demanding Slovak autonomy. In the second half of the 1930s, the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe and the party's inability to achieve long-term political objectives caused a loss of faith in democracy and saw the party turn to more radical ideas. After a merger with other parties in November 1938 to form the Hlinka Slovak People's Party – Party of Slovak National Unity, it became the dominant party of World War II Slovakia. In addition to adoption of a totalitarian vision of the state, it included an openly pro-Nazi wing, which dominated Slovak policy between 1940 and 1942.

The party chairmen were the Slovak priests Andrej Hlinka (1913–38) and later Jozef Tiso (1939–45), and its main newspapers were Slovenské ľudové noviny (Slovak People's Newspaper, 1910–30), Slovák (The Slovak, 1919–45) and Slovenská pravda (The Slovak Truth, 1936–45).

The Holocaust in Slovakia

The Holocaust in Slovakia was the systematic dispossession, deportation, and murder of Jews in the Slovak State during World War II. Jews were blamed for Slovakia's territorial losses to Hungary and were targeted for discrimination and harassment, including the confiscation of property and businesses. The exclusion of Jews from the economy impoverished the community and caused social problems, which encouraged the government to conscript them for forced labor.

In 1941, the Slovak government negotiated with Nazi Germany for the mass deportation of Jews to German-occupied Poland. Between March and October 1942, 57,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp and the Lublin district of the General Government; only a few hundred survived. The persecution of Jews resumed after August 1944, when Germany invaded Slovakia and triggered the Slovak National Uprising. Another 13,500 Jews were deported and hundreds more were murdered in Slovakia by Einsatzgruppe H and the Hlinka Guard Emergency Divisions.

A total of 68,000 to 71,000 Slovak Jews were murdered, more than 80 percent of the prewar population. Survivors faced renewed antisemitism and difficulty regaining stolen property; most emigrated. Although the one-party postwar Communist regime banned discussion of the Holocaust, the ban was removed after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The participation of the Slovak State in the Holocaust remains a contentious issue in the country.

Camps and prisons
Massacres and roundups
Major perpetrators
Jewish Center
Rescuers
Aftermath
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