Your Excellency, Mr. Ambassador of the United States, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Moments ago, Ambassador Ronald Weiser handed me the medal from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance in Washington.
As one of only a few people still living who was in the Jewish Labor Camp in Nováky, and who was in the Nováky Group, I accept this medal first and foremost in a representative capacity. Had Juraj Spitzer’s death not taken him from our ranks, he would be standing here today instead of me as the organizer of the anti-Fascist opposition in the Nováky Camp and the head of its partisans’ unit.
The medal that I have just received also belongs to the 250 young boys and girls of the Nováky Camp, who, during the dramatic times of 1994 decided not to succumb to the passive fate of their already deported fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. They decided to stand up against Nazi evil and its local collaborators, holding a gun in their hands. The significance of the Nováky Group is all the more great, not only because of its self-rescuing nature, but also because of its place within the overall context of the anti-Fascist struggle in Slovakia. In addition, its activities fall within a regional framework of military operations undertaken by Jewish partisan groups in the former Soviet Union and in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, an unforgettable part of European Jewish anti-Fascist resistance.
Our partisan unit served as a striking force that was immediately placed in a strategically important position on the Batoviany front in the first days of the Slovak National Uprising. The placement on the Batiovany front was made all the more significant because it was based on an Army order, and is convincingly confirmed by the balance sheet of 12 dead, 11 wounded, and 5 missing Jewish fighters.
Other than Batoviany, our unit participated in the battles for Turciansky Svaty Martin, Gapli, and on other fronts. Within this context, it is especially important to remember the attempted crossing of the overflowing Hron River in March of 1945, when hundreds of fighters needing reinforcements were supplemented with Jewish boys under the command of Juraj Dukes, who is here today and who played, it can be said, a deciding role.
With great gratitude, the Nováky Group is recognized for having lost 38 of its members. Twenty-seven of its members received the highest honor—the Czechoslovak War Cross of 1939, nineteen of them in memoriam. Seventeen received the Medal for Bravery. All members received the Order of the Slovak National Uprising, and 3 members received the Soviet Medal for Suffering under Germany.
Allow me to express in the names of those members of the Nováky Group who are still living and scattered throughout the world, and in my own name, gratitude for this medal of recognition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, recognizing that the history of the Nováky Group will be a part of the story of Jewish resistance in the Museum in Washington. Special thanks are owed to His Excellency, Ambassador Ronald Weiser for hosting this celebration at the U.S. Embassy, since it could not take place as scheduled on September 11, 2001, in Washington.
May this medal, placed in the Museum of Jewish Culture in Bratislava, remind us of the determination, courage, and suffering of the Jewish victims of anti-Fascist resistance as a message and challenge for future generations.