Slovak Studies Association

‘The Auschwitz Report’ (‘SPRÁVA’) Film–Free Viewing Jan. 28 only!

Register online at: The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance

Free screening tomorrow only, Jan. 28, 2021, (Int’l. Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 76th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz) 

Slovakia’s entry for Best International Feature Film for the 2021 Academy Awards and Golden Globes

After more than a year of meticulous planning, Auschwitz prisoners Alfred “Freddy” Wetzler and Valér Vrba set forth an escape plan in hopes of sharing detailed evidence about the deadly operations of the Nazis in the Camp. With the resilient aid of their fellow inmates, the pair of Jewish Slovak inmates embarks on a treacherous journey. Emaciated and hurt, they endure numerous obstacles along their way, but none greater than the realization they must convince a world unwilling to believe them that what they experienced was real.

Academy Award®-winning Writer/Director of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films, Richard Trank moderates a discussion with Director, Peter Bebjak and star Noel Czuczor (Freddy) following the screening.

Caution: Viewer discretion advised.


‘Ransacking Democracy’

The Slovak Studies Association, as well as our affiliate organization ASEEES (the Association for Slavic, E. European and Eurasian Studies), support the American Historical Association in their statement regarding the events of January 6, 2021 on Capitol Hill.

From the American Historical Association website: The AHA issued a statement condemning “the actions of those who, on January 6, stormed the United States Capitol, the seat of the nation’s legislature, the heart of its democratic form of governance.” The AHA deplores the “inflammatory rhetoric of all the political leaders who have refused to accept the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 election and thereby incited the mob.”

Approved by the AHA Council, January 8, 2021:

Everything has a history. What happened at the Capitol is part of a historical process. Over the past few years, cynical politicians have nurtured and manipulated for their own bigoted and self-interested purposes the sensibilities of the rioters. We deplore the inflammatory rhetoric of all the political leaders who have refused to accept the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 election and thereby incited the mob-and this on the day when the nation reported 3,865 COVID-19 deaths, the highest number reported in a single day since the pandemic began.

We note with dismay the iconography of the banners carried by the mob—the flag with the visage of the president emblazoned on it, as if loyalty were due an individual and not the rule of law, and the flag of the Confederacy, signaling violence and sedition. Not by coincidence, those people who attacked the Capitol have been described by the current president and his advisers as “great patriots” and “American patriots.” The rioters were neither.

A day that began with two significant “firsts”—the election of Georgia’s first African American senator and that state’s first Jewish senator—ended with Congress performing its duties according to the Constitution. Yet during the day we witnessed the unprecedented spectacle of a group of Americans desecrating the sacred space of the nation’s Capitol, and terrorizing everyone in it.

As historians, we call upon our fellow citizens and elected representatives to abide by the law and tell the truth. Our democracy demands nothing less of ourselves and of our leaders.”

For an updated list of the organizations that have cosigned this statement as well as to find a downloadable version of the statement, please visit the AHA’s website page, ‘Ransacking Democracy.’


Krúžok: Upcoming Presentations Online

Our new member Orel Beilinson, a doctoral candidate at Yale University, announces the program of Krúžok, a working group for early-career scholars studying the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe.  Presentation themes range across Central and Eastern Europe but include Czech/Slovak topics among them. 

Krúžok aims to…

  1. Encourage scholarly work on the history of the Habsburg Empire, the post-Ottoman Balkans, and the successor states.
  2. Provide a forum for presenting research in progress and receiving constructive feedback.
  3. Facilitate meaningful conversations about the state of the field.
  4. Develop a network of peers working on the region’s history across themes, countries, institutions, and oceans.

The December 17, 2020 online presentation schedule (as well as monthly presentations through June 2021) can be found at the following download link (thanks to the Czechoslovak Studies Association for alerting us!):


Member Spotlight: Interview with Kevin McNamara

As a means of highlighting the recent publications and scholarly work of current members, the SSA will post ‘Member Spotlight’ interviews at regular intervals.


Kevin McNamara

I am an Associate Scholar of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, and currently serve as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences, Washington, DC.  I am a former journalist and congressional aide.
<p class="has-medium-font-size" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><strong><em>What is your current research/work project?</em>  (Please include a link to any new publication.)<br><br></strong>I continue to write essays and book reviews about Central and Eastern Europe, the European Union, nation-states vs. transnationalism, empires vs. nationalism, and about sovereignty and national identity, using history, geography, and culture to shed light on international affairs.  One of my more recent articles was published in <em>The National Interest</em>: “From Brussels, with Love,” <em>The National Interest</em> (September/October 2019).  <a href="“How America's European Allies Got Stuck in a Foreign Policy Triangle.”" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Online: “How America's European Allies Got Stuck in a Foreign Policy Triangle.” </a> What is your current research/work project?  (Please include a link to any new publication.)

I continue to write essays and book reviews about Central and Eastern Europe, the European Union, nation-states vs. transnationalism, empires vs. nationalism, and about sovereignty and national identity, using history, geography, and culture to shed light on international affairs.  One of my more recent articles was published in The National Interest: “From Brussels, with Love,” The National Interest (September/October 2019).  Online: “How America’s European Allies Got Stuck in a Foreign Policy Triangle.”  

Please say a few words about any activities or projects you’re involved in that link academia with society at large (i.e., any digital/podcast projects, community lectures/publications, etc.)

I was interviewed about my book, Dreams of a Great Small Nation, by three Czech television news programs (CNN-Czechia, Česká Televise, and Seznam Zprávy); two Slovak news magazines (Tyzden and Slovenka); a Slovak news website (Aktuality.sk); two Czech newspapers (Hospodářské Noviny and Lidovky); and twice by Radio Prague.  

The book was excerpted in three American periodicals, Military History QuarterlyRussian Life, and Slovo: A Publication of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.  It was also excerpted in a journal in the Slovak Republic, Historická Revue.  Another excerpt will soon appear in a journal, elaborately named The Bulletin of the Laboratory of Ancient Technologies, published by Irkutsk National Research Technical University, Irkutsk, Russian Federation.

The book also inspired a museum exhibit, Guts & Glory: The War Train that Shaped a Nation, at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, IA, which ran from April 7, 2018 through December 31, 2018, and for which I served as the consultant.

Finally, it led to two dozen speaking engagements at venues like the Woodrow Wilson International for Scholars, Washington, DC; Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences, New York, NY; Embassy of the Slovak Republic, Washington, DC; Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, Pittsburgh, PA; Czech Center New York, NY; and World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, PA; National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Cedar Rapids, IA; and at overseas venues like the Slovak National Museum, Bratislava; and Masaryk University, Brno.  

What Slovakia-related book or article would you recommend to readers who wish to learn more about some of Slovakia’s most pressing issues?  

SSA faculty would probably have better answers to this question than I, but an undergraduate might profit by reading the following books, and in the following order:

  • The History of Slovakia: The Struggle for Survival, by Stanislav J. Kirschbaum.
  • The Slovak National Awakening: An Essay in the Intellectual History of East Central Europe, by Peter Brock.
  • Dreams of a Great Small Nation: The Mutinous Army that Threatened a Revolution, Destroyed an Empire, Founded a Republic, and Remade the Map of Europe, by Kevin J. McNamara.
  • National Conflict in Czechoslovakia: The Making and Remarking of a State, 1918-1987, by Carol Skalnik Leff.

What is your favorite place in Slovakia to visit and why?

I’ve been only twice, and the first time the U.S. State Department staff whisked me from venue to venue and – while I said much – I saw very little.  The second visit was a much-needed vacation, and I just wandered Bratislava. Bratislava is an overlooked gem, and I want to return to both the Slovak and Czech republics to explore the many other smaller cities and towns.  


Remembering Nov. 17, 1989

31 Years since the Collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia

Short video introducing the ‘Spytaj sa Vasich’ Project

The importance of preserving memory increases as we move further and further away from the lived experience of Communism in Czechoslovakia from 1948-1989. The ‘Spytaj sa Vasich’ Project aims to do just that and offers a collage of excerpts (written and video) to chronicle what it was like to live under, and eventually overthrow, the Communist regime.

Happy Czechoslovak Independence Day!

October 28, 1918

A couple of related happenings:

See the NY Chapter of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences tree-planting announcement


Perhaps appropriately on Czechoslovak Independence Day, Kosice’s downtown ‘Prior’ department store (today ‘Tesco’) is getting a cleaning! ‘Prior’ was established under Communism in the 1980s, it reportedly became one of the first ‘K-Mart’ stores after the regime change in 1989! Photo courtesy of Kosice noted tour guide, Milan Kolcun (via Facebook).

“The Battle of Dukla Pass”

by Bill Tarkulich

Presented by the Slovak American Society of Washington, DC (SASW)

Saturday, October 24th, 2:00 PM (EST)

This presentation provides a broad overview of the events that precipitated the attack, the battle itself, and its impact on the future of the country’s villages and people. The battle involved 1,350 tanks and 139,000 casualties, earning the site the name “The Valley of Death.” Yet here in the United States, it remains one of the least-known battles of the war.

To register in advance for this Zoom webinar, please visit: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_N5mCrw6URyCHmkwf5CdQ4A

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Please contact rsvp@dcslovaks.org if you have questions.

Bill Tarkulich is the grandson of Carpatho-Rusyn grandparents from the villages of Nová Sedlica and Zboj, in the far northeastern corner of Slovakia, on the borders of Poland and Ukraine. He has traveled throughout Slovakia, visiting and remaining in touch with many of his relatives, from Bratislava to the Ukrainian border. Bill travels throughout the United States, delivering presentations about the history of East Slovakia, and is the author of a website, iabsi.com, that helps people locate their ancestral villages in Slovakia. His current research interests are the daily life of ordinary people in Slovakia during the world wars and under communism. He holds university degrees in Electrical Engineering and Business Administration, and is retired.

ASEEES Virtual Convention, 2020

ASEEES 2020 Convention

Slovak-Themed Panels and Annual SSA Meeting

This year’s annual Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Convention promises to deliver a wealth of research findings from across the globe as a variety of scholars will present from their own time zones via Zoom!

Download (see below) a list of the Slovak-related panels to be presented online (not in person!) at the 2020 ASEEES Convention: Nov. 5-8 and Nov. 14-15. All times listed are EST.

Please note that the annual Slovak Studies Association meeting will be held on Friday, Nov. 6 from 6:30-8:30pm, ESTVirtual Convention Platform, Room 6.

‘TRANSLATION IS A DUEL’ Literárne informačné centrum

Read the interview with Peter Petro, who translated the Rivers of Babylon trilogy into English.

Petro studied at Comenius University in Bratislava before moving to Canada and continuing his studies at the University of British Columbia and the University of Alberta in Edmonton (Ph.D in Comparative Literature). He teaches Russian and Slavic literature at the University of British Columbia and holds the Chair of Modern European Studies.

The Association of the Slovak Writers’ Organisations awards the P. O. Hviezdoslav Prize each year to a translator of Slovak literature into a foreign language. In December last year, this prize was awarded to the literary scholar, PETER PETRO,  who lives in Canada. He was awarded the prize for his translations into English.

Exkluzívny film: ‘Spýtaj sa vašich 68’

On this 52nd anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, we encourage you to take a minute to watch (and share) this firsthand account in the form of a film: Spýtaj sa vašich 68.

View the trailer

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