About sixty kilometres east of Bratislava lies a small town called Sered and there was between 1941 and 1945 a camp that was used as a transit camp for Slovak Jews. In 1941 and 1942, about 4500 Jews were deported in five transports to Poland. In the winter of 1944, a total of about 13 500 were deported to Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen and Theresienstadt. The camp was guarded by the notorious and paramilitary Hlinkaguard, who among other things had the task of gathering Slovakian Jews for further transport to some extermination camp in Eastern Europe. The camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on April 1, 1945.

Current status: Preserved with monument (2008).

Address: Kasarenska, 92601 Sered.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The former camp site is a military area and not accessible to visitors. It is also difficult to know what may be preserved. One reason why there is no museum may well be because one does not know what such an exhibition should look like, given the role of Slovakia during the war.

After the war, Slovakia’s alliance with Germany was silenced because there was a risk that this could lead to Slovakian neo-nationalist currents. The communist regime wanted to avoid this. Only after the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1992 did there be political opportunities to take on the history of the country during the war. For what became the Czech Republic, it was rather straightforward, more difficult for Slovakia. After Germany occupied the Sudety in October 1938, the fascist Hlinka party led by Jozef Tiso demanded an independent Slovakia. The German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 was fulfilled with Hitler’s consent.

Tiso introduced anti-Semitic laws and allowed Hitler to send representatives to Slovakia to coordinate the Jewish question. Tiso was an avid supporter of deporting the Jews from Slovakia and already in may 1941 Slovakia offered to deport about 120 000 Jews from Slovak territory to Germany for slave labor, but the interest of the Germans was at that time starved. At the end of 1941, the Germans in turn sent a request to Slovakia for about 20 000 Jews to be delivered for slave labor, but it was not until February 1942 that the issue was discussed. Slovaks were worried that the Jews who remained in Slovakia would be unproductive. Therefore, they again proposed that the Germans should accept all Slovak Jews. The Germans were just as interested in this, but a compromise was discussed that Slovakia would bear all the costs of the deportations of the Slovak Jews. Slovakia agreed to pay 5000 Reichsmark per deportee provided that the Jews were not deported back and that the Germans would not claim the Jewish property left in Slovakia.

Between March and October 1942, some 54 000 Slovak Jews were deported to Auschwitz, Majdanek and the Lubli Memorial. The property of the Jews was sold by the state at wreck prices or given away as a means of winning the sympathies of the people. But in October 1942, deportations were stopped after involvement of the Catholic Church and through a political raving game in which bribery was a means. The deportations resumed in 1944 in connection with the German occupation of Hungary.

Follow up in books: Gilbert, Martin: The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (1987).