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Letters to Jozef Tiso, President of the Slovak State 1939-1945

Talk by Madeline Vadkerty

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Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews

“…From hour to hour, the most threatening news arrives from every corner of Slovakia about the most threatening measures and deportation of the destroyed, impoverished Jewish population to the former Poland and Russia. Please, I beg of you, Your Honor Mr. President, take steps and stop it… Dear Mr. President, they are sending us to a ready-made slaughter…” Jozef M. Bratislava, March 30, 1942

Between 1939 and 1944, thousands of ordinary people wrote to then President Jozef Tiso of the Slovak State about the so-called “Jewish question.” Some wanted mercy from anti-Jewish persecution, others coveted Jewish property. Why did these individuals write to Tiso? How did the President’s Office process the letters? What fates awaited the Jews who wrote to him? In her talk, Madeline Vadkerty will respond to these questions and describe her research at the Slovak National Archive. She will also read some letters to Tiso and discuss their outcomes, as well as discuss the fates of the letter writers. She will describe what the contents of the letters reveal about the scope and nature of anti-Jewish persecution in the Slovak wartime state.

Madeline Vadkerty is a Samuel P. Mandell Fellow in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program at Gratz College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she is pursuing her PhD. She is the author of the book published in March 2020 entitled Slovutný pán president: Listy Jozefovi Tisovi (Your Honor Mr. President: Letters to Jozef Tiso). She is from the United States, but is currently living in Bratislava in order to carry out her research. Her work has appeared in several Slovak and US journals and her book is currently in its second printing.

This event is organized by the Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews with support of Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association and cosponsored by the Leo Baeck Institute.