Until the end of the First World War, Slovakia belonged to the Hungarian half of the Habsburg Monarchy. After 1918, it became a part of the Czechoslovak Republic. Following the Munich agreement of September 1938, Slovakia declared autonomy. A single-party regime came to power, with Jozef Tiso as prime minister. In November 1938, the country lost much of its southern territories to Hungary. At Germany’s instigation, the Slovak Parliament proclaimed independence on 14 March 1939, but remained bound to Germany by a “Protection Agreement”. In the fall of 1939 Jozef Tiso became president of Slovakia. Internally, Slovakia retained a considerable degree of autonomy, especially in its anti-Jewish policy. Slovakia served Germany as a concentration area before the Wehrmacht’s assault on Poland and joined Hitler’s war on the Soviet Union in 1941 as well. The rise and activities of underground groups in Slovakia in 1944 led to the country’s occupation by the German army and immediate break out of an anti-German (and anti-Regime) Slovak National Uprising on 29 August 1944. The uprising was suppressed in late October 1944. Occupied Slovakia was gradually liberated from Germans by the Red Army which entered and advanced on Slovakia from the east. With the Germans leaving the Slovak capital Bratislava in April 1945, the Slovak administration ceased to exist and Slovakia became a part of Czechoslovakia once more. In 1993, the separation of the Czech and Slovak Republics made Slovakia an independent state.
According to the census, Slovakia had a total population of 3,324,111 people in 1930. 136,000 of them were Jews whose assimilation by Slovak society was tenuous. Many had declared Jewish nationality. There was also a strong Zionist movement while others gravitated towards Hungarian culture. Slovak Jews who lived in the southern part of the country, which was taken over by Hungary in 1938, later shared the fate of Hungarian Jewry (by not having received Hungarian citizenship, they were actually the first ones to be deported or included in the Labour Battalions). There were 89,000 Jews left in independent Slovakia. The Slovak government engaged in the confiscation of Jewish property and adopted various anti-Jewish laws from the spring of 1939 to September 1941. These laws were thereupon aggregated and reinforced from September 1941 into a so called Jewish Code emulating the German Nuremberg Laws in legalising the discrimination against Jews. The confiscation of Jewish property and discrimination of Jews led to the total pauperization of the Jewish population. In order to get rid of tens of thousands socially dependent Jews, the Slovak government first started to set up labour camps for Jews and then negotiated deportations of Jews from Slovakia into territory controlled by Nazi Germany. On 25 March 1942, the Slovak government started to deport the Slovak Jews to ghettos and death camps in occupied Poland. From March to late October 1942, about 58,000 Jews were deported there and the majority of them were murdered. About 20,000 Jews were excluded from deportation (among them the inmates of labour camps), and about 5,000 fled from Slovakia or went into hiding. In 1944 about 2,000 Jews took part in the Slovak National Uprising (some of them in Jewish units). After the collapse of the uprising, an additional 13,000 Jews were deported to German concentration camps. Overall, about 25,000 Slovak Jews survived the war whereas approximately 105,000 Slovakian Jews, including those in areas annexed by Hungary, perished in the Holocaust.
The state archives of Slovakia are subordinate to the Department of Archives and Registers of the Interior ministry. Documents of nationwide significance are stored in the Slovak National Archive. Documents of local importance are stored in the regional state archives. In late 2015 the system of state archives in Slovakia was reorganized. From 1 November 2015 there are 8 regional State archives (e.g. State archive in Bratislava) with 29 smaller branch archives operating now under the name “workplace Archive“ (e.g. State archive in Bratislava, workplace Archive Modra). There is one specialized state archive which operates under the name Spiš Archive in Levoča (formerly the State archive in Levoča). There are no specifically Jewish archival institutions in Slovakia with the exception of the Museum of Jewish Culture (a department of the Slovak National Museum) in Bratislava.
EHRI was able to establish that documents concerning the Second World War and the Holocaust can be found in the Slovak National Archive, regional state archives, but also in the Military History Archive, Nationʼs Memory Institute Archive, Holocaust Documentation Center and in the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica.
Holocaust-relevant sources on Slovakia have been identified by EHRI in institutions outside of the country, such as Beit Theresienstadt or the Jewish Museum in Prague, but also the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which holds selected records from the Slovak National Archive and regional state archives, Slovak armed forces as well as numerous oral history interviews. Furthermore, Yad Vashem possesses a number of collections which are relevant to Holocaust-research on Slovakia. The Political Archive of the German Foreign Office and the Bundesarchiv also hold Holocaust-relevant records on Slovakia, for instance on the SD Slowakei.
A. EHRI approach to Slovakia: Pre-existing research, available archival guides, expert support
In the case of Slovakia, EHRI could rely on the general finding aids available at the archives in Slovakia itself. Third party surveys on Holocaust-relates sources, such as the ones carried out by USHMM, were very helpful as well.
B. Characteristics of Slovakia's archival system
Slovakia exhibits a centralized archival system in which the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak republic is in charge of the State archival system. The state archives are made up of the Slovak National Archive (Slovenský národný archív) in Bratislava as well as several regional State archives (Štátny archív v Bratislave, Štátny archív v Košiciach, Štátny archív v Prešove etc.) seated in county cities with their multiple branch archives (Workplace Archive) seated in district towns. Several other state archives and institutions have their own archival system and collections such as the Military History Archives (Vojenský historický archív), the Slovak National Museum Archive (Archív Slovenského národného múzea) and Archive of the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising (Múzeum Slovenského národného povstania). In terms of access to state archival system, EHRI benefited from the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Interior and the EHRI partner in Slovakia, the Holocaust Documentation Center. The access to other state-funded archives was organized individually. Besides the state-funded collection holding institutions, EHRI also identified and integrated into the EHRI portal data on collections of two NGOs: Nadácia Milana Šimečku (Milan Šimečka Foundation) and the Holocaust Documentation Center which is also the EHRI partner in Slovakia.
C. EHRI identification and description results in Slovakia
C.I. In Slovakia
In Slovakia, EHRI has identified several archival institutions which hold documents on Slovakia and the territory that was annexed by Hungary for the 1938-1945 period. For these institutions, EHRI has made over 150 top-level relevant archival descriptions available. In the Slovak National Archive, EHRI identified important fonds for the study of Slovakia’s Holocaust history, including the holdings of the Ministry of Interior, Central Economic Office, the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic, the Bureau of the Prime Minister´s Office of the Slovak Republic etc. These archival fonds cover the most important political decisions, administrative orders and reports issued by the Slovak authorities towards Jews and Roma in Slovakia in 1938-1945. In various regional state archives in Slovakia EHRI identified important archival fonds of Slovak and Hungarian state administration bodies and security forces active in the territory of Slovakia (1938-1945) and in the territories annexed by Hungary. EHRI also identified a significant number of Holocaust-relevant archival fonds created by retribution courts after 1945 (National Court, District People´s Courts, People´s Courts) all over Slovakia. In the Military History Archives EHRI identified documents concerning military decisions covering mainly military forced labour of Jews.
C.II. In other countries
EHRI identified Holocaust-relevant sources on Slovakia outside of the country in several institutions, such as Beit Theresienstadt or the Jewish Museum in Prague. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum holds selected records from the Slovak National Archive and regional state archives, Slovak armed forces as well as numerous oral history interviews. Yad Vashem possesses a number of collections that are relevant to Holocaust-research on Slovakia. The Political Archive of the German Foreign Office and the Bundesarchiv also hold Holocaust-relevant records on Slovakia, for instance on the SD Slowakei.