Alex, Robert Fico and Dukla

Alex, Robert Fico and Dukla

Today is the 71st anniversary of the KDO (Carpathian Dukla Operations) one of the worst battles of WW2 and also known as the Battle of Dukla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Dukla_Pass). My town of Svidnik was rebuilt by the Russians after the war to commemorate it. The sheer number of casualties, both dead and wounded, is staggering. This is also a battle within living memory (the bus loads of old people in town today attest to that). Svidnik was utterly destroyed in WW1 during fighting between the Germans and the Russians, and then again in WW2.

As part of a school trip from the Gymnasium, my younger boy Alex went to the Dukla memorial, on the border of Poland and Slovakia, some 15 miles out of town. As this is such a major event for Slovakia, both the Prime Minister and President attended, along with survivors of the battle and the modern military from both Slovakia and Poland. The photo is of Alex at Dukla with the Prime Minister Robert Fico, who’s currently doing a damned good job sticking up for Slovakia’s rights in Europe. Alex doesn’t have a problem with confidence – he just walked right up and asked the PM for a photo.

Alex said he also spoke with an army nurse who’d attended the wounded during the battle. She’d saved 122 lives and was apparently covered in medals. After visiting the Dukla memorial, all parties then headed to the giant Soviet monument in the town.

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Gypsy wedding

Gypsy wedding

Saturday afternoon in the UNESCO town of Bardejov in Eastern Slovakia and the medieval square is packed with cars for a tuning competition, sexy young ladies in microskirts and microshorts and, in the 15th Century Gothic Basilica, a gypsy wedding. These Romany (as they prefer their minority to be known) are obviously extremely wealthy to have such a location for a wedding. Gypsy musicians can be seen playing the bride out.

The Basilica can be seen here – http://slovakia.travel/en/church-of-st-egidius-bardejov

Cicva castle – Elizabeth Bathory

Cicva castle – Elizabeth Bathory

Most people associate Cachtice castle with the Blood Countess, Alzbeta Bathory,  but in her youth she used to live closer to me. Cicva castle, between Lake Domasa and the town of Vranov, was where she was married.

Because she was a Hungarian noble, most foreigners believe she was Hungarian by birth. She was in fact from the territory now known as Slovakia.

Given that she believed the blood of virgins would help to keep her young and beautiful, she qualifies as the only real vampire of the Middle Ages – Vlad Tepes,  Dracula,  was just a sadist in comparison.