andrej hlinka 88.
(photo credit: )
Slovak Jewish communities rejected Wednesday what they called efforts by Slovak nationalists to glorify a controversial pre-World War II leader.
The Slovak parliament is debating a proposal by the nationalist Slovak National Party to honor Andrej Hlinka, a catholic priest and leader of the Slovak People's Party before the war, for his contribution to the creation of the independent Slovak state.
The vote is expected later this month.
But the Association of Slovakia's Jewish Communities condemned the "glorification" of Hlinka and the bill, which would declare him "the father of the nation" in a statement Wednesday.
"Andrej Hlinka rejected the democratic principles of Czechoslovakia and spoke with admiration about politicians such as Adolf Hitler and (Italy's fascist dictator) Benito Mussolini," the statement said.
"The Jewish community in Slovakia considers the name of Andrej Hlinka a symbol of Slovak fascism in the years of 1939-45," it said.
Slovakia was a Nazi puppet state during World War II. It sent over 70,000 of its Jews to Nazi concentration camps, where most of them perished.
Hlinka has been criticized for anti-Semitic and nationalistic views. During the 1930s he spoke in favor of broad Slovak autonomy within Czechoslovakia. He died on August 16, 1938, before the war began.
After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918, Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.