Memorial plaque

Memorial plaque commemorating the soldiers from the Neolog community who fell in World War I
Bratislava, 1920s

This modest plaque from Bratislava’s Neolog synagogue features evocative patriotic lines from the Hungarian poet Mihály Vörösmarty’s 1836 Szózat (Appeal), followed by a listing in golden letters of local Jewish soldiers who fell on the battlefields of the First World War. Its design and message place it among other similar, simple pieces arising from a painful dilemma of commemoration. The sons and husbands of Jews in Slovakia had fought and died for the Monarchy as Hungarian Jews. Yet the state in which their community now lived depended on the collapse of the Monarchy, and its continued existence depended on securing its borders against the revisionist ambitions of the interwar Hungarian government. When the Jewish community in Budapest initiated a memorial project to create a Heroes’ Temple (Hősök Temploma) memorial to honor all fallen Jewish soldiers from the entire territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary, the Czechoslovak administration closely followed potential Slovak Jewish participation in the project, deeply suspicious of a project extending beyond Hungary’s Trianon borders. As Budapest Jewry sought to engage Neolog Jewish communities in Slovakia with the project, Slovak Jews pulled away. Rather than participate in the Budapest-based memorial, Jews in Slovakia chose to commemorate their dead locally: in their towns, and in their synagogues and cemeteries. Plaques such as this one allowed Jews in Slovakia to honor their war dead without incurring political stigma. [RKP]

Cast iron
Height: 80 cm, width: 25.5 cm
ŽM-D 1291 D-19

KLEIN-PEJŠOVÁ, Rebekah: "Abandon Your Role as Exponents of the Magyars": Contested Jewish Loyalty in Interwar (Czecho)Slovakia. In: Association for Jewish Studies Review, vol. 33, 2009, no. 2, pp. 341-362.

KLEIN-PEJŠOVÁ, Rebekah: Building Slovak Jewry: Communal Reorientation in Interwar Czechoslovakia, In: Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, vol. 30, 2012, no. 4, pp. 18-40.


Rudolf Reisner
photo: Albert Marenčin Archive


Julius Morberger
photo: Albert Marenčin Archive