SLOVAKIA, LOOKING FOR SIGNS
Being that last June was my first trip to Slovakia, I couldn't help but have these preconceived notions in my head about what I would find. Naturally, I thought of the many years of Slovakia being "Behind The Iron Curtain" and what effects there might be or signs that could still be visible. With that in mind, I was ever on the alert for anything that might still be remaining of the former Communists or Russian forces.
From the left, Dusan Korytar, Gilvo Geras, cousin Lubomir Tuchscher
12 June 1995, Institute of Physical Electronics, Piestany, Slovakia
My cousin, Lubomir Tuchscher, of Piestany picked me up at the Vienna airport and soon we passed through the border and entered the city of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Here, I thought, there surely would be something remaining. I wasn't sure, exactly, what I was looking for but I didn't want to miss it should it cross before my eyes. But I saw nothing. Oh sure there were the appartment buildings that seemed to be of a utilitarian type construction and just didn't seem to fit in the vista offered by the rest of the city, but other than that, nothing. Not a single red flag or any statue that I could recognize of Communist origin. I still hadn't mentioned anything to my cousin. Though we had messaged via interent E-mail for the previous three months, I had never mentioned my inner thoughts about this. Besides, I just didn't know to what degree any comments I might make would effect him. So I was being careful. I should have realized something was wrong with my suspicious mind when my cousin took me to the K-Mart & Little Ceasar's store there, but no I still continued to keep my eyes open.
We left Bratislava driving East towards the city of Senec. A few kilometers below Senec was my ultimate destination of Kralova pri Senci. It was in Kralova that my grandparents were married in 1905 and later that year immigrated to Chicago Heights, state of Illinois, U.S.A. Now driving through the countryside I just began to give up on seeing anything at all. What had happened? I mean they were here. Didn't they leave anything to show for all those years? Little did I suspect the truth.
It was late evening when we arrived in Kralova. There we were joined by Lubomir Tuchscher Jr., my cousins son. He had just graduated High School [their Gymaseum] and he had eight years of English instruction. Also, that evening I meet many other cousins and was filled with an overwelming sense of being home, among my long lost family. Or, perhaps, I was the one who has been lost. Anyway, in a very short time I felt totally at ease and I just had to ask my question. Since Lubo Jr. was so very good at English I decided to ask him my question. So I asked him to tell me where were the signs that the Communists were here and he, in his polite way, just said "We got rid of them.". Lubo had to repeat my question, in Slovak to his father and Lubo Sr. said, "The next day we smashed it all up.". The day after the Comminsts left, that is. Now I understood. For whatever reason, I had been looking for something that just wasn't there anymore. I blamed Hollywood and all those movies they have made. I was living among the people of Slovakia now and these people were not Communists, not Hollywood Communists, nor could they ever be anything than that which they were, Slovaks. So that was that, end of my search. Or so I thought. I let it go.
The next day, about noon, I began hearing loud music outside the home I was staying at. I commented to Lubo Jr. that someone had their car radio with the volume set all the way up. He looked at me in utter surprise and said, "Not a car radio, but the town speaker was on." Now I was confused. "Town speaker", what is he talking about? I got up and raced out to the mud room, put my shoes on and went outside to follow the music, with Lubo following close behind. There is was, up on a nearby concrete pole, a big 'ol loud speaker. Just the kind that Hollywood would have in it movies for propaganda. Now Lubo understood something and began to grin, he said, "Yes, those were from the Communists and they broadcast things to us, but we never listened. Now we use them for public anouncements and for music.".
I figured it very simply, that if there was something that the Slovaks could make use of, they kept it. If it was something that they had no use for, they smashed it. Gone were any statues or any other symbols that only a short time ago where there to reflect their unwanted hosts ideals. What stayed were speakers and appartment buildings.
I brought a sign from America, a Chicago Bulls T-Shirt. A gift for young Lubo. He wore that shirt for five straight days. So long, in fact, that I just had to ask him to take it off, for it was a fairly warm five days and it had begun to get a bit ripe. This, was in contrast to their very clean nature. Funny, how this sign was now so accepted. Perhaps a sign of things to come.
The Spirit Lives On
A visitor to Slovakia asks What Kind of People Are These Slovaks?
Castles and More
Back to Genealogical Research in Slovakia