No Monument Can Defeat Me.

Posted on April 27, 2013

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A bloody big monument.

A bloody big monument.

I failed miserably in my attempt to reach the Slavin on Thursday. Miserably. After being rudely awoken by the alarm of a drunkard at 7am, I figured I’d walk out to it already. Sidenote, if you are staying in a multi person dorm room, only set a stupidly loud trance alarm if you plan on getting up for it. The French guy in the room was a lot less forgiving than me. Anyway, good things came, and I wrote myself a list of streets to aim for in order to reach the Slavin.

It turns out I was right with about 70% of my journey the day before. That was a teeny bit frustrating, but I was also excited by the fact that 70% of my gut was correct, so theres something. After a few wrong turns here and there, I finally made it to the gates of the Slavin. Oh, the relief. Words do not describe. So what is this Slavin? Well, it is the monument and burial ground dedicated to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating the country from the German Wermacht at the end of World War 2. The thing is immensely tall, and takes all of the cues from good old Brutalist architecture. It opened in 1960.

I’m definitely not in a position to make an in depth analysis of Slovakian history and context. However, even a little glance at it shows this to be a little strange. The assumption is often made that the Czechs and the Slovaks are indistinguishable, and in oh so many ways they are. But it surprises me to see that Slovakia is tied much closer to Hungary historically, and Bratislava was indeed once upon a time the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary. The first Hungarian language newspaper was printed here. There is a lot of Hungarian history in this country. Another thing about the monument, is that Slovakia was fairly pro-Nazi during the war. Indeed, the Independent Slovak State at the time was their first in history, and wouldn’t have happened without the Germans. Slovakia also sold its Jews to the Germans, as opposed to being bullied into giving them up.

But once again, I’m only going on bits and pieces. Maybe the Slavin is a great example of how the Soviet Union forced history onto a people, to create a myth out of thin air. Or maybe I’m nitpicking. The history of Slovakia seems very interesting, I’d definitely like to learn more. However, its off to Villach today, to meet back up with the Wideman in anticipation of the return of Casey on Wednesday. Hrvatska Spomenik Tour 2013? I think so.

 

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