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Re: [S-R] Re: dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia

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  • nhasior@aol.com
    you know guys, forget i even posted the article. you get so darn caught up in the trees, you missed the whole forest. a Slovak soldier is getting honored
    Message 1 of 12 , Oct 5, 2005
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      you know guys, forget i even posted the article. you get so darn caught up
      in the trees, you missed the whole forest. a Slovak soldier is getting
      honored for his courage and service fighting for freedom and you dont even comment
      on that, only the moot question of copyright. i think that i have enough
      intelligence to understand what i can post and what i cannot post.
      plus, i though maybe someone researching his surname could consider possible
      connections, but i guess my vision is too elementary.
      noreen


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bill Tarkulich
      Hi Noreen, This is very interesting and suprising, and quite a coincidence to see this article. I have been corresponding with John Kenny for the past month.
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 5, 2005
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        Hi Noreen,

        This is very interesting and suprising, and quite a coincidence to see
        this article. I have been corresponding with John Kenny for the past
        month. In fact, given my interest, they were wondering if I could come to
        the ceremony, but alas, life gets in the way. They even sent me a scan of
        John Kulhan's "Order of the White Eagle", presented to him by president
        Soboda in 1947. I plan to post it when time allows.

        I plan to call John on his return from Dukla, thanks to his son-in-law.

        Dukla is a very interesting and tragic battle, which Westerners know very
        little about. Over 100,000 casulties (dead and wounded), yet the west
        never heard of the battle. I visited there during 2001, as it was so
        close to my ancestral homeland. What is written of the battle is
        primarily in Russian and Slovak, which makes it even less accessible to
        most westerners. So I began some web
        page(s)http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/Military_dukla_pass.htm and
        http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/military_history.htm to describe the
        battle in English. Mistakes are intrinsic in this work, since history is
        written by the victors and each side has an axe to grind. I prefer to
        listen to all sides and draw my own conclusions.

        I plan to interview John and perhaps write a more detailed accounting of
        the battle. Of course his son-in-law has written an account of John's
        life which should make for interesting reading.

        While this is not directly genealogy, I find that history and genealogy
        are commingled and should be examined mutually. Otherwise, people tell us
        facts and we have them out of context. I found that the vacuum of WWII
        knowledge about events in Slovakia to be too much for me to bear. I need
        to get to the people who lived them and lift that information for all to
        hear for future generations. Sounds noble, huh? Well, if we don't do it,
        it ain't gonna get done. These good folks do not have many years left.

        Thanks again,
        Bill







        > hello everyone,
        > A co worker showed me this article yesterday in the New York Journal News.
        > wanted to share it with the list. it was on the front page.
        > Noreen
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > -----------------------------------------------------
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > This is a printer friendly version of an article from the The Journal
        > News.
        > To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.
        >
        >
        >
        > Veteran honored for Eastern Front battle
        >
        > By ROBERT MARCHANT
        > THE JOURNAL NEWS
        > (Original Publication: October 3, 2005)
        >
        > Battle of Dukla Pass took heavy casualties
        >
        > When: Sept. 8 until the end of October 1944, with further Soviet advances
        > continuing through November
        >
        > Where: Southern Poland, Slovakia, eastern Ukraine
        >
        > Casualties: 84,000 Soviets, 54,000 Germans and 6,000 in the Czechoslovak
        > Army
        > Corps
        >
        > Result: Nazi troops forced out of Slovakia; Red Army poised to take Prague
        > in
        > May 1945.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Thursday is "Liberation Day" in the eastern European nation of Slovakia.
        >
        > There will be speeches, toasts, proclamations and, for an 84-year-old
        > veteran
        > from Eastchester, a particularly sweet moment.
        >
        > John (Jan) Kulhan was one of those liberators who helped turn the tide a
        > gainst the Third Reich and one of the handful of survivors of a ferocious
        > battle in
        > the fall of 1944 that drove the Nazis from his homeland. The Battle of
        > Dukla
        > Pass raged for a month between the Nazis and the Soviet Army and their
        > allies
        > in the region bordered by Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine known as the Dukla
        > Pass, a section of the northern Carpathian mountains.
        >
        > Kulhan, 83, a former Bronxville resident and retired engineer, will be
        > honored in a semi-official ceremony at the Military Museum in Suidnik,
        > Slovakia, his
        > native land. He was a young artillery and transport officer in the old
        > Czechoslovak army allied with the Soviets, and he is the last known
        > Slovakian to
        > have taken part in a battle that has a complex and enduring legacy in
        > eastern
        > Europe.
        >
        > "We wanted to create our own country. I was fighting for my own freedom.
        > It
        > didn't happen then; communism dominated everything," Kulhan recalled.
        >
        > But the fight gave Slovakia a sense of its destiny as an autonomous
        > nation,
        > which it finally became in 1993 after separating peacefully from the Czech
        > Republic. "When I was fighting, I was fighting for the idea that everybody
        > should
        > be free, not a slave," he said.
        >
        > His Czechoslovak army unit was pressed into service by the Germans against
        > the Soviets after the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia, but the unit later
        > switched sides and joined the fight against the German military machine.
        >
        > Kulhan can recall the 1944 battle with sharp details as his clear, gray
        > eyes
        > narrow with concentration — how German prisoners looked when they
        > finally
        > surrendered after a murderous artillery barrage, the sound of a mortar
        > shell on
        > its downward arc.
        >
        > He tells many stories of his past — how he saved the future president of
        > Czechoslovakia, Gen. Ludvik Svoboda, by pushing him out of a bunker that
        > was
        > targeted by Nazi artillery moments before it was destroyed, working with
        > American
        > intelligence agents after the war, sneaking out of Slovakia with his wife
        > and
        > children in a daring border-crossing to Austria.
        >
        > "He never got the recognition he deserved," said Kulhan's son-in-law,
        > Joseph
        > Kenney, a New Jersey immigration officer and an Army Reserve lieutenant
        > colonel. "When he turned against the Communists, they turned against him."
        >
        > At the ceremony on Thursday, Kulhan will be honored for the first time by
        > his
        > native Slovakia since it became an autonomous country.
        >
        > Kulhan came to this country in 1950 and became a proud American, an
        > admirer
        > of Ronald Reagan who can quote lines from his speeches. As for his native
        > land,
        > he said he hoped his part in the campaign of 1944 will bring greater
        > attention to the cause for which he fought.
        >
        > "I got enough medals. But I'd like recognition for the people who fought
        > and
        > died for Slovakian independence," he said.
        >
        > A father of five, he will be joined in his journey by his wife, Marta, to
        > whom he has been married for 59 years.
        >
        > There are still animosities and political fissures in Slovakia, much of it
        > stemming from the World War II era and its aftermath under Soviet
        > domination.
        >
        > "People were caught up in the maelstrom, and they had to make hard
        > choices,"
        > said Vladimir Baumgarten, a Florida scholar who has researched the battle
        > of
        > Dukla Pass and runs a cultural organization promoting Slovak-American
        > ties.
        > Speaking of the commemoration of the battle this week in which Kulhan will
        > be
        > honored, Baumgarten said, "Hopefully, it will be a healing catharsis. It
        > brings
        > together both sides of the Cold War."
        >
        > It will also be a moment of family pride. The old soldier's daughter,
        > Darline
        > Kulhan, was already bursting with pride before the trip started. "I got a
        > new
        > digital camera, and I'm going to take so many pictures," she said in her
        > Eastchester home. "He put it on the line for freedom, and to get this
        > recognition,
        > it will be a moment of joy."
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > To unsubscribe from this group, go to
        > http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank email to
        > SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • bettefriden@aol.com
        Thanks for your article. Some articles can be of help to some people. I enjoyed it. Thanks again. Bette [Non-text portions of this message have been
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 5, 2005
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          Thanks for your article. Some articles can be of help to some people. I
          enjoyed it.
          Thanks again.
          Bette


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Milan Huba
          I have relatives in Liptovska Luzna (Central Slovakia) that I visit just about every summer. One of their neighbors is an old-timer (a former WWII Slovakian
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 5, 2005
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            I have relatives in Liptovska Luzna (Central Slovakia) that I visit just
            about every summer. One of their neighbors is an old-timer (a former WWII
            Slovakian soldier) who likes to talk about his WWII experiences. Most of
            his stories were about the vicious fighting that took place in the mountains
            that immediately surround Luzna. One side of the battle were the Soviets
            with their Slovak allies (the partisans). On the other side were the
            Germans and their Slovak and Russian allies. The Russian soldiers that
            fought with the Germans were the Vlasov Guards and the Slovaks that fought
            with the Germans were the Hlinka Guards. Some of the very fiercest no-hold
            barred fighting was done by the Vlasov and the Hlinka guards. These two
            groups considered themselves to be more anti-Communists, rather than
            pro-German, and were fighting to save Slovakia and Europe from the Red Army
            onslaught. You can still find the remains of the destroyed military
            equipment lying about in the mountains.

            In Luzna there is a monument listing the names of all the soldiers from
            Luzna that were killed in the war. The monument was set up by the Communist
            government and as such it lists only the Luzna soldiers who died fighting on
            the side of Soviets. The soldiers who died fighting for their country with
            the Germans are not acknowledged and are only remembered in the hearts of
            their families.

            The point of this dialog is that many brave young Slovak soldiers fought on
            both sides of the war until the very end. The soldiers on both sides
            believed that they were fighting for a noble cause. However, only the
            soldiers that fought and died with the victors are acknowledged. The victors
            get to write the histories and built the monuments.

            This neighbor also told many stories about the Battle of Dukla pass.
            Finally, out of curiosity, last year I made the long trip from Luzna to the
            Eastern Slovakia and visited the battlefield area. The battlefield is very
            interesting, covering many, many square miles. It is littered with many
            almost intact German and Russian WWII tanks and field guns that remain along
            the roads and in the fields where they were abandoned. The area has been
            declared an outdoor museum.

            According to this neighbor, the Soviet soldiers at Dukla pass were all plied
            with vodka and then ordered to charge the German defenses. As they charged
            forward, they were being slaughtered by the Germans who were in strong
            defensive positions. During this charge, the Soviet soldiers were stumbling
            and crawling over piles of bodies of their dead comrades. The Germans
            finally pulled out of their defensive positions and retreated when they ran
            out on ammunition.

            After the Germans pulled out, the Soviets collected their bodies and dumped
            them like so much garbage into huge pits. Each of these pits (mass graves)
            contained the bodies of approximately 10,000 unidentified Soviet soldiers.
            In contrast, most of the German dead were buried in individual graves, each
            grave marked with the name, rank date of birth and date of death of the
            soldier. These German soldiers graves are still being maintained by the
            Germans.

            Milan Huba

            -----Original Message-----
            From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
            [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Bill Tarkulich
            Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2005 7:27 AM
            To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [S-R] dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia (John
            Kulhan)


            Hi Noreen,

            This is very interesting and suprising, and quite a coincidence to see
            this article. I have been corresponding with John Kenny for the past
            month. In fact, given my interest, they were wondering if I could come to
            the ceremony, but alas, life gets in the way. They even sent me a scan of
            John Kulhan's "Order of the White Eagle", presented to him by president
            Soboda in 1947. I plan to post it when time allows.

            I plan to call John on his return from Dukla, thanks to his son-in-law.

            Dukla is a very interesting and tragic battle, which Westerners know very
            little about. Over 100,000 casulties (dead and wounded), yet the west
            never heard of the battle. I visited there during 2001, as it was so
            close to my ancestral homeland. What is written of the battle is
            primarily in Russian and Slovak, which makes it even less accessible to
            most westerners. So I began some web
            page(s)http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/Military_dukla_pass.htm and
            http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/military_history.htm to describe the
            battle in English. Mistakes are intrinsic in this work, since history is
            written by the victors and each side has an axe to grind. I prefer to
            listen to all sides and draw my own conclusions.

            I plan to interview John and perhaps write a more detailed accounting of
            the battle. Of course his son-in-law has written an account of John's
            life which should make for interesting reading.

            While this is not directly genealogy, I find that history and genealogy
            are commingled and should be examined mutually. Otherwise, people tell us
            facts and we have them out of context. I found that the vacuum of WWII
            knowledge about events in Slovakia to be too much for me to bear. I need
            to get to the people who lived them and lift that information for all to
            hear for future generations. Sounds noble, huh? Well, if we don't do it,
            it ain't gonna get done. These good folks do not have many years left.

            Thanks again,
            Bill







            > hello everyone,
            > A co worker showed me this article yesterday in the New York Journal News.
            > wanted to share it with the list. it was on the front page.
            > Noreen
            > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
            ----
            > -----------------------------------------------------
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > This is a printer friendly version of an article from the The Journal
            > News.
            > To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.
            >
            >
            >
            > Veteran honored for Eastern Front battle
            >
            > By ROBERT MARCHANT
            > THE JOURNAL NEWS
            > (Original Publication: October 3, 2005)
            >
            > Battle of Dukla Pass took heavy casualties
            >
            > When: Sept. 8 until the end of October 1944, with further Soviet advances
            > continuing through November
            >
            > Where: Southern Poland, Slovakia, eastern Ukraine
            >
            > Casualties: 84,000 Soviets, 54,000 Germans and 6,000 in the Czechoslovak
            > Army
            > Corps
            >
            > Result: Nazi troops forced out of Slovakia; Red Army poised to take Prague
            > in
            > May 1945.
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > Thursday is "Liberation Day" in the eastern European nation of Slovakia.
            >
            > There will be speeches, toasts, proclamations and, for an 84-year-old
            > veteran
            > from Eastchester, a particularly sweet moment.
            >
            > John (Jan) Kulhan was one of those liberators who helped turn the tide a
            > gainst the Third Reich and one of the handful of survivors of a ferocious
            > battle in
            > the fall of 1944 that drove the Nazis from his homeland. The Battle of
            > Dukla
            > Pass raged for a month between the Nazis and the Soviet Army and their
            > allies
            > in the region bordered by Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine known as the Dukla
            > Pass, a section of the northern Carpathian mountains.
            >
            > Kulhan, 83, a former Bronxville resident and retired engineer, will be
            > honored in a semi-official ceremony at the Military Museum in Suidnik,
            > Slovakia, his
            > native land. He was a young artillery and transport officer in the old
            > Czechoslovak army allied with the Soviets, and he is the last known
            > Slovakian to
            > have taken part in a battle that has a complex and enduring legacy in
            > eastern
            > Europe.
            >
            > "We wanted to create our own country. I was fighting for my own freedom.
            > It
            > didn't happen then; communism dominated everything," Kulhan recalled.
            >
            > But the fight gave Slovakia a sense of its destiny as an autonomous
            > nation,
            > which it finally became in 1993 after separating peacefully from the Czech
            > Republic. "When I was fighting, I was fighting for the idea that everybody
            > should
            > be free, not a slave," he said.
            >
            > His Czechoslovak army unit was pressed into service by the Germans against
            > the Soviets after the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia, but the unit later
            > switched sides and joined the fight against the German military machine.
            >
            > Kulhan can recall the 1944 battle with sharp details as his clear, gray
            > eyes
            > narrow with concentration — how German prisoners looked when they
            > finally
            > surrendered after a murderous artillery barrage, the sound of a mortar
            > shell on
            > its downward arc.
            >
            > He tells many stories of his past — how he saved the future president of
            > Czechoslovakia, Gen. Ludvik Svoboda, by pushing him out of a bunker that
            > was
            > targeted by Nazi artillery moments before it was destroyed, working with
            > American
            > intelligence agents after the war, sneaking out of Slovakia with his wife
            > and
            > children in a daring border-crossing to Austria.
            >
            > "He never got the recognition he deserved," said Kulhan's son-in-law,
            > Joseph
            > Kenney, a New Jersey immigration officer and an Army Reserve lieutenant
            > colonel. "When he turned against the Communists, they turned against him."
            >
            > At the ceremony on Thursday, Kulhan will be honored for the first time by
            > his
            > native Slovakia since it became an autonomous country.
            >
            > Kulhan came to this country in 1950 and became a proud American, an
            > admirer
            > of Ronald Reagan who can quote lines from his speeches. As for his native
            > land,
            > he said he hoped his part in the campaign of 1944 will bring greater
            > attention to the cause for which he fought.
            >
            > "I got enough medals. But I'd like recognition for the people who fought
            > and
            > died for Slovakian independence," he said.
            >
            > A father of five, he will be joined in his journey by his wife, Marta, to
            > whom he has been married for 59 years.
            >
            > There are still animosities and political fissures in Slovakia, much of it
            > stemming from the World War II era and its aftermath under Soviet
            > domination.
            >
            > "People were caught up in the maelstrom, and they had to make hard
            > choices,"
            > said Vladimir Baumgarten, a Florida scholar who has researched the battle
            > of
            > Dukla Pass and runs a cultural organization promoting Slovak-American
            > ties.
            > Speaking of the commemoration of the battle this week in which Kulhan will
            > be
            > honored, Baumgarten said, "Hopefully, it will be a healing catharsis. It
            > brings
            > together both sides of the Cold War."
            >
            > It will also be a moment of family pride. The old soldier's daughter,
            > Darline
            > Kulhan, was already bursting with pride before the trip started. "I got a
            > new
            > digital camera, and I'm going to take so many pictures," she said in her
            > Eastchester home. "He put it on the line for freedom, and to get this
            > recognition,
            > it will be a moment of joy."
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, go to
            > http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank email to
            > SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            > Yahoo! Groups Links
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >




            To unsubscribe from this group, go to
            http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank email to
            SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            Yahoo! Groups Links
          • Bill Tarkulich
            Hello Milan, Before all these people are gone, you should really make it a point to ensure this man s story is at least captured and placed with the SNP Museum
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 6, 2005
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              Hello Milan,

              Before all these people are gone, you should really make it a point to
              ensure this man's story is at least captured and placed with the SNP
              Museum in Banska Bystrica. All first-person vantage points count in
              understanding what happened. Additionally, from a more selfish point of
              view, so too should your English rendering of these stories.

              By the way, there was considerable animosity between the German War Graves
              commission and the Czechoslovakia government. It is my understanding that
              the Germans were never permitted to maintain German graves during the
              Czecholslovak regime. It wasn't until the late 1990s that the Germans
              were allowed to enter, rehabilitate and maintain these graves. I
              photographed one just South of the Pass (
              http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/images/dukla/DK_German_Cemetery_Tarkulich.jpg
              sorry it was raining heavily.)

              I was also told that the Russians (and other Soviet block) returned later
              and repatriated their soldiers bodies. I have not been able to
              corroborate that. I am well aware of the Dukla memorial with graves of
              the "big cheese". I'm a bit uncertain what happened to the "ordinary
              guy." Do you know where any of the Soviet burials are in either Poland or
              Slovakia? I've not seen them documented anywhere.

              I never heard of the "Vlasov Guard". How in the world did they get behind
              enemy lines to begin with. Did they come to the party late in the War?

              Thanks for the information.

              Bill Tarkulich

              > I have relatives in Liptovska Luzna (Central Slovakia) that I visit just
              > about every summer. One of their neighbors is an old-timer (a former WWII
              > Slovakian soldier) who likes to talk about his WWII experiences. Most of
              > his stories were about the vicious fighting that took place in the
              > mountains
              > that immediately surround Luzna. One side of the battle were the Soviets
              > with their Slovak allies (the partisans). On the other side were the
              > Germans and their Slovak and Russian allies. The Russian soldiers that
              > fought with the Germans were the Vlasov Guards and the Slovaks that fought
              > with the Germans were the Hlinka Guards. Some of the very fiercest
              > no-hold
              > barred fighting was done by the Vlasov and the Hlinka guards. These two
              > groups considered themselves to be more anti-Communists, rather than
              > pro-German, and were fighting to save Slovakia and Europe from the Red
              > Army
              > onslaught. You can still find the remains of the destroyed military
              > equipment lying about in the mountains.
              >
              > In Luzna there is a monument listing the names of all the soldiers from
              > Luzna that were killed in the war. The monument was set up by the
              > Communist
              > government and as such it lists only the Luzna soldiers who died fighting
              > on
              > the side of Soviets. The soldiers who died fighting for their country
              > with
              > the Germans are not acknowledged and are only remembered in the hearts of
              > their families.
              >
              > The point of this dialog is that many brave young Slovak soldiers fought
              > on
              > both sides of the war until the very end. The soldiers on both sides
              > believed that they were fighting for a noble cause. However, only the
              > soldiers that fought and died with the victors are acknowledged. The
              > victors
              > get to write the histories and built the monuments.
              >
              > This neighbor also told many stories about the Battle of Dukla pass.
              > Finally, out of curiosity, last year I made the long trip from Luzna to
              > the
              > Eastern Slovakia and visited the battlefield area. The battlefield is very
              > interesting, covering many, many square miles. It is littered with many
              > almost intact German and Russian WWII tanks and field guns that remain
              > along
              > the roads and in the fields where they were abandoned. The area has been
              > declared an outdoor museum.
              >
              > According to this neighbor, the Soviet soldiers at Dukla pass were all
              > plied
              > with vodka and then ordered to charge the German defenses. As they
              > charged
              > forward, they were being slaughtered by the Germans who were in strong
              > defensive positions. During this charge, the Soviet soldiers were
              > stumbling
              > and crawling over piles of bodies of their dead comrades. The Germans
              > finally pulled out of their defensive positions and retreated when they
              > ran
              > out on ammunition.
              >
              > After the Germans pulled out, the Soviets collected their bodies and
              > dumped
              > them like so much garbage into huge pits. Each of these pits (mass
              > graves)
              > contained the bodies of approximately 10,000 unidentified Soviet soldiers.
              > In contrast, most of the German dead were buried in individual graves,
              > each
              > grave marked with the name, rank date of birth and date of death of the
              > soldier. These German soldiers graves are still being maintained by the
              > Germans.
              >
              > Milan Huba
              >
              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
              > [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Bill Tarkulich
              > Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2005 7:27 AM
              > To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: Re: [S-R] dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia (John
              > Kulhan)
              >
              >
              > Hi Noreen,
              >
              > This is very interesting and suprising, and quite a coincidence to see
              > this article. I have been corresponding with John Kenny for the past
              > month. In fact, given my interest, they were wondering if I could come to
              > the ceremony, but alas, life gets in the way. They even sent me a scan of
              > John Kulhan's "Order of the White Eagle", presented to him by president
              > Soboda in 1947. I plan to post it when time allows.
              >
              > I plan to call John on his return from Dukla, thanks to his son-in-law.
              >
              > Dukla is a very interesting and tragic battle, which Westerners know very
              > little about. Over 100,000 casulties (dead and wounded), yet the west
              > never heard of the battle. I visited there during 2001, as it was so
              > close to my ancestral homeland. What is written of the battle is
              > primarily in Russian and Slovak, which makes it even less accessible to
              > most westerners. So I began some web
              > page(s)http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/Military_dukla_pass.htm and
              > http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/military_history.htm to describe the
              > battle in English. Mistakes are intrinsic in this work, since history is
              > written by the victors and each side has an axe to grind. I prefer to
              > listen to all sides and draw my own conclusions.
              >
              > I plan to interview John and perhaps write a more detailed accounting of
              > the battle. Of course his son-in-law has written an account of John's
              > life which should make for interesting reading.
              >
              > While this is not directly genealogy, I find that history and genealogy
              > are commingled and should be examined mutually. Otherwise, people tell us
              > facts and we have them out of context. I found that the vacuum of WWII
              > knowledge about events in Slovakia to be too much for me to bear. I need
              > to get to the people who lived them and lift that information for all to
              > hear for future generations. Sounds noble, huh? Well, if we don't do it,
              > it ain't gonna get done. These good folks do not have many years left.
              >
              > Thanks again,
              > Bill
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >> hello everyone,
              >> A co worker showed me this article yesterday in the New York Journal
              >> News.
              >> wanted to share it with the list. it was on the front page.
              >> Noreen
              >> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
              > ----
              >> -----------------------------------------------------
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >> This is a printer friendly version of an article from the The Journal
              >> News.
              >> To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >> Veteran honored for Eastern Front battle
              >>
              >> By ROBERT MARCHANT
              >> THE JOURNAL NEWS
              >> (Original Publication: October 3, 2005)
              >>
              >> Battle of Dukla Pass took heavy casualties
              >>
              >> When: Sept. 8 until the end of October 1944, with further Soviet
              >> advances
              >> continuing through November
              >>
              >> Where: Southern Poland, Slovakia, eastern Ukraine
              >>
              >> Casualties: 84,000 Soviets, 54,000 Germans and 6,000 in the Czechoslovak
              >> Army
              >> Corps
              >>
              >> Result: Nazi troops forced out of Slovakia; Red Army poised to take
              >> Prague
              >> in
              >> May 1945.
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >> Thursday is "Liberation Day" in the eastern European nation of Slovakia.
              >>
              >> There will be speeches, toasts, proclamations and, for an 84-year-old
              >> veteran
              >> from Eastchester, a particularly sweet moment.
              >>
              >> John (Jan) Kulhan was one of those liberators who helped turn the tide a
              >> gainst the Third Reich and one of the handful of survivors of a
              >> ferocious
              >> battle in
              >> the fall of 1944 that drove the Nazis from his homeland. The Battle of
              >> Dukla
              >> Pass raged for a month between the Nazis and the Soviet Army and their
              >> allies
              >> in the region bordered by Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine known as the
              >> Dukla
              >> Pass, a section of the northern Carpathian mountains.
              >>
              >> Kulhan, 83, a former Bronxville resident and retired engineer, will be
              >> honored in a semi-official ceremony at the Military Museum in Suidnik,
              >> Slovakia, his
              >> native land. He was a young artillery and transport officer in the old
              >> Czechoslovak army allied with the Soviets, and he is the last known
              >> Slovakian to
              >> have taken part in a battle that has a complex and enduring legacy in
              >> eastern
              >> Europe.
              >>
              >> "We wanted to create our own country. I was fighting for my own freedom.
              >> It
              >> didn't happen then; communism dominated everything," Kulhan recalled.
              >>
              >> But the fight gave Slovakia a sense of its destiny as an autonomous
              >> nation,
              >> which it finally became in 1993 after separating peacefully from the
              >> Czech
              >> Republic. "When I was fighting, I was fighting for the idea that
              >> everybody
              >> should
              >> be free, not a slave," he said.
              >>
              >> His Czechoslovak army unit was pressed into service by the Germans
              >> against
              >> the Soviets after the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia, but the unit later
              >> switched sides and joined the fight against the German military machine.
              >>
              >> Kulhan can recall the 1944 battle with sharp details as his clear, gray
              >> eyes
              >> narrow with concentration — how German prisoners looked when they
              >> finally
              >> surrendered after a murderous artillery barrage, the sound of a mortar
              >> shell on
              >> its downward arc.
              >>
              >> He tells many stories of his past — how he saved the future president
              >> of
              >> Czechoslovakia, Gen. Ludvik Svoboda, by pushing him out of a bunker that
              >> was
              >> targeted by Nazi artillery moments before it was destroyed, working with
              >> American
              >> intelligence agents after the war, sneaking out of Slovakia with his
              >> wife
              >> and
              >> children in a daring border-crossing to Austria.
              >>
              >> "He never got the recognition he deserved," said Kulhan's son-in-law,
              >> Joseph
              >> Kenney, a New Jersey immigration officer and an Army Reserve lieutenant
              >> colonel. "When he turned against the Communists, they turned against
              >> him."
              >>
              >> At the ceremony on Thursday, Kulhan will be honored for the first time
              >> by
              >> his
              >> native Slovakia since it became an autonomous country.
              >>
              >> Kulhan came to this country in 1950 and became a proud American, an
              >> admirer
              >> of Ronald Reagan who can quote lines from his speeches. As for his
              >> native
              >> land,
              >> he said he hoped his part in the campaign of 1944 will bring greater
              >> attention to the cause for which he fought.
              >>
              >> "I got enough medals. But I'd like recognition for the people who fought
              >> and
              >> died for Slovakian independence," he said.
              >>
              >> A father of five, he will be joined in his journey by his wife, Marta,
              >> to
              >> whom he has been married for 59 years.
              >>
              >> There are still animosities and political fissures in Slovakia, much of
              >> it
              >> stemming from the World War II era and its aftermath under Soviet
              >> domination.
              >>
              >> "People were caught up in the maelstrom, and they had to make hard
              >> choices,"
              >> said Vladimir Baumgarten, a Florida scholar who has researched the
              >> battle
              >> of
              >> Dukla Pass and runs a cultural organization promoting Slovak-American
              >> ties.
              >> Speaking of the commemoration of the battle this week in which Kulhan
              >> will
              >> be
              >> honored, Baumgarten said, "Hopefully, it will be a healing catharsis. It
              >> brings
              >> together both sides of the Cold War."
              >>
              >> It will also be a moment of family pride. The old soldier's daughter,
              >> Darline
              >> Kulhan, was already bursting with pride before the trip started. "I got
              >> a
              >> new
              >> digital camera, and I'm going to take so many pictures," she said in her
              >> Eastchester home. "He put it on the line for freedom, and to get this
              >> recognition,
              >> it will be a moment of joy."
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >> To unsubscribe from this group, go to
              >> http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank email to
              >> SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >> Yahoo! Groups Links
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > To unsubscribe from this group, go to
              > http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank email to
              > SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
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              >
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            • treimer@nycap.rr.com
              There are at least 4 large German war graves in Slovakia, all created since independence. I will send details tonight. But the Czechs still refuse, because
              Message 6 of 12 , Oct 6, 2005
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                There are at least 4 large German war graves in Slovakia, all created
                since independence. I will send details tonight.

                But the Czechs still refuse, because Germans want to include all war
                dead, incl. those murdered by Czechs after May 1945.

                Thomas

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Bill Tarkulich <bill.tarkulich@...>
                Date: Thursday, October 6, 2005 9:47 am
                Subject: Re: [S-R] Dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia (John
                Kulhan)

                > Hello Milan,
                >
                > Before all these people are gone, you should really make it a
                > point to
                > ensure this man's story is at least captured and placed with the SNP
                > Museum in Banska Bystrica. All first-person vantage points count in
                > understanding what happened. Additionally, from a more selfish
                > point of
                > view, so too should your English rendering of these stories.
                >
                > By the way, there was considerable animosity between the German
                > War Graves
                > commission and the Czechoslovakia government. It is my
                > understanding that
                > the Germans were never permitted to maintain German graves during the
                > Czecholslovak regime. It wasn't until the late 1990s that the
                Germans
                > were allowed to enter, rehabilitate and maintain these graves. I
                > photographed one just South of the Pass (
                >
                http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/images/dukla/DK_German_Cemetery_Tarkuli
                ch.jpg
                > sorry it was raining heavily.)
                >
                > I was also told that the Russians (and other Soviet block)
                > returned later
                > and repatriated their soldiers bodies. I have not been able to
                > corroborate that. I am well aware of the Dukla memorial with
                > graves of
                > the "big cheese". I'm a bit uncertain what happened to the "ordinary
                > guy." Do you know where any of the Soviet burials are in either
                > Poland or
                > Slovakia? I've not seen them documented anywhere.
                >
                > I never heard of the "Vlasov Guard". How in the world did they
                > get behind
                > enemy lines to begin with. Did they come to the party late in the
                > War?
                > Thanks for the information.
                >
                > Bill Tarkulich
                >
                > > I have relatives in Liptovska Luzna (Central Slovakia) that I
                > visit just
                > > about every summer. One of their neighbors is an old-timer (a
                > former WWII
                > > Slovakian soldier) who likes to talk about his WWII experiences.
                > Most of
                > > his stories were about the vicious fighting that took place in the
                > > mountains
                > > that immediately surround Luzna. One side of the battle were
                > the Soviets
                > > with their Slovak allies (the partisans). On the other side
                > were the
                > > Germans and their Slovak and Russian allies. The Russian
                > soldiers that
                > > fought with the Germans were the Vlasov Guards and the Slovaks
                > that fought
                > > with the Germans were the Hlinka Guards. Some of the very fiercest
                > > no-hold
                > > barred fighting was done by the Vlasov and the Hlinka guards.
                > These two
                > > groups considered themselves to be more anti-Communists, rather
                than
                > > pro-German, and were fighting to save Slovakia and Europe from
                > the Red
                > > Army
                > > onslaught. You can still find the remains of the destroyed
                military
                > > equipment lying about in the mountains.
                > >
                > > In Luzna there is a monument listing the names of all the
                > soldiers from
                > > Luzna that were killed in the war. The monument was set up by the
                > > Communist
                > > government and as such it lists only the Luzna soldiers who died
                > fighting> on
                > > the side of Soviets. The soldiers who died fighting for their
                > country> with
                > > the Germans are not acknowledged and are only remembered in the
                > hearts of
                > > their families.
                > >
                > > The point of this dialog is that many brave young Slovak
                > soldiers fought
                > > on
                > > both sides of the war until the very end. The soldiers on both
                sides
                > > believed that they were fighting for a noble cause. However,
                > only the
                > > soldiers that fought and died with the victors are acknowledged.
                The
                > > victors
                > > get to write the histories and built the monuments.
                > >
                > > This neighbor also told many stories about the Battle of Dukla
                pass.
                > > Finally, out of curiosity, last year I made the long trip from
                > Luzna to
                > > the
                > > Eastern Slovakia and visited the battlefield area. The
                > battlefield is very
                > > interesting, covering many, many square miles. It is littered
                > with many
                > > almost intact German and Russian WWII tanks and field guns that
                > remain> along
                > > the roads and in the fields where they were abandoned. The area
                > has been
                > > declared an outdoor museum.
                > >
                > > According to this neighbor, the Soviet soldiers at Dukla pass
                > were all
                > > plied
                > > with vodka and then ordered to charge the German defenses. As they
                > > charged
                > > forward, they were being slaughtered by the Germans who were in
                > strong> defensive positions. During this charge, the Soviet
                > soldiers were
                > > stumbling
                > > and crawling over piles of bodies of their dead comrades. The
                > Germans> finally pulled out of their defensive positions and
                > retreated when they
                > > ran
                > > out on ammunition.
                > >
                > > After the Germans pulled out, the Soviets collected their bodies
                and
                > > dumped
                > > them like so much garbage into huge pits. Each of these pits (mass
                > > graves)
                > > contained the bodies of approximately 10,000 unidentified Soviet
                > soldiers.> In contrast, most of the German dead were buried in
                > individual graves,
                > > each
                > > grave marked with the name, rank date of birth and date of death
                > of the
                > > soldier. These German soldiers graves are still being
                > maintained by the
                > > Germans.
                > >
                > > Milan Huba
                > >
                > > -----Original Message-----
                > > From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                > > [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Bill Tarkulich
                > > Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2005 7:27 AM
                > > To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                > > Subject: Re: [S-R] dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia
                > (John> Kulhan)
                > >
                > >
                > > Hi Noreen,
                > >
                > > This is very interesting and suprising, and quite a coincidence
                > to see
                > > this article. I have been corresponding with John Kenny for the
                > past> month. In fact, given my interest, they were wondering if I
                > could come to
                > > the ceremony, but alas, life gets in the way. They even sent me
                > a scan of
                > > John Kulhan's "Order of the White Eagle", presented to him by
                > president> Soboda in 1947. I plan to post it when time allows.
                > >
                > > I plan to call John on his return from Dukla, thanks to his son-
                > in-law.
                > >
                > > Dukla is a very interesting and tragic battle, which Westerners
                > know very
                > > little about. Over 100,000 casulties (dead and wounded), yet
                > the west
                > > never heard of the battle. I visited there during 2001, as it
                > was so
                > > close to my ancestral homeland. What is written of the battle is
                > > primarily in Russian and Slovak, which makes it even less
                > accessible to
                > > most westerners. So I began some web
                > > page(s)http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/Military_dukla_pass.htm and
                > > http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/military_history.htm to describe
                the
                > > battle in English. Mistakes are intrinsic in this work, since
                > history is
                > > written by the victors and each side has an axe to grind. I
                > prefer to
                > > listen to all sides and draw my own conclusions.
                > >
                > > I plan to interview John and perhaps write a more detailed
                > accounting of
                > > the battle. Of course his son-in-law has written an account of
                > John's> life which should make for interesting reading.
                > >
                > > While this is not directly genealogy, I find that history and
                > genealogy> are commingled and should be examined mutually.
                > Otherwise, people tell us
                > > facts and we have them out of context. I found that the vacuum
                > of WWII
                > > knowledge about events in Slovakia to be too much for me to
                > bear. I need
                > > to get to the people who lived them and lift that information
                > for all to
                > > hear for future generations. Sounds noble, huh? Well, if we
                > don't do it,
                > > it ain't gonna get done. These good folks do not have many
                > years left.
                > >
                > > Thanks again,
                > > Bill
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >> hello everyone,
                > >> A co worker showed me this article yesterday in the New York
                > Journal>> News.
                > >> wanted to share it with the list. it was on the front page.
                > >> Noreen
                > >> ----------------------------------------------------------------
                > ----------
                > > ----
                > >> -----------------------------------------------------
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >> This is a printer friendly version of an article from the The
                > Journal>> News.
                > >> To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >> Veteran honored for Eastern Front battle
                > >>
                > >> By ROBERT MARCHANT
                > >> THE JOURNAL NEWS
                > >> (Original Publication: October 3, 2005)
                > >>
                > >> Battle of Dukla Pass took heavy casualties
                > >>
                > >> When: Sept. 8 until the end of October 1944, with further Soviet
                > >> advances
                > >> continuing through November
                > >>
                > >> Where: Southern Poland, Slovakia, eastern Ukraine
                > >>
                > >> Casualties: 84,000 Soviets, 54,000 Germans and 6,000 in the
                > Czechoslovak>> Army
                > >> Corps
                > >>
                > >> Result: Nazi troops forced out of Slovakia; Red Army poised to
                take
                > >> Prague
                > >> in
                > >> May 1945.
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >> Thursday is "Liberation Day" in the eastern European nation of
                > Slovakia.>>
                > >> There will be speeches, toasts, proclamations and, for an 84-
                > year-old
                > >> veteran
                > >> from Eastchester, a particularly sweet moment.
                > >>
                > >> John (Jan) Kulhan was one of those liberators who helped turn
                > the tide a
                > >> gainst the Third Reich and one of the handful of survivors of a
                > >> ferocious
                > >> battle in
                > >> the fall of 1944 that drove the Nazis from his homeland. The
                > Battle of
                > >> Dukla
                > >> Pass raged for a month between the Nazis and the Soviet Army
                > and their
                > >> allies
                > >> in the region bordered by Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine known as
                the
                > >> Dukla
                > >> Pass, a section of the northern Carpathian mountains.
                > >>
                > >> Kulhan, 83, a former Bronxville resident and retired engineer,
                > will be
                > >> honored in a semi-official ceremony at the Military Museum in
                > Suidnik,>> Slovakia, his
                > >> native land. He was a young artillery and transport officer in
                > the old
                > >> Czechoslovak army allied with the Soviets, and he is the last
                known
                > >> Slovakian to
                > >> have taken part in a battle that has a complex and enduring
                > legacy in
                > >> eastern
                > >> Europe.
                > >>
                > >> "We wanted to create our own country. I was fighting for my own
                > freedom.>> It
                > >> didn't happen then; communism dominated everything," Kulhan
                > recalled.>>
                > >> But the fight gave Slovakia a sense of its destiny as an
                autonomous
                > >> nation,
                > >> which it finally became in 1993 after separating peacefully
                > from the
                > >> Czech
                > >> Republic. "When I was fighting, I was fighting for the idea that
                > >> everybody
                > >> should
                > >> be free, not a slave," he said.
                > >>
                > >> His Czechoslovak army unit was pressed into service by the Germans
                > >> against
                > >> the Soviets after the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia, but the
                > unit later
                > >> switched sides and joined the fight against the German military
                > machine.>>
                > >> Kulhan can recall the 1944 battle with sharp details as his
                > clear, gray
                > >> eyes
                > >> narrow with concentration â?? how German prisoners looked when
                they
                > >> finally
                > >> surrendered after a murderous artillery barrage, the sound of a
                > mortar>> shell on
                > >> its downward arc.
                > >>
                > >> He tells many stories of his past â?? how he saved the future
                > president>> of
                > >> Czechoslovakia, Gen. Ludvik Svoboda, by pushing him out of a
                > bunker that
                > >> was
                > >> targeted by Nazi artillery moments before it was destroyed,
                > working with
                > >> American
                > >> intelligence agents after the war, sneaking out of Slovakia
                > with his
                > >> wife
                > >> and
                > >> children in a daring border-crossing to Austria.
                > >>
                > >> "He never got the recognition he deserved," said Kulhan's son-
                > in-law,
                > >> Joseph
                > >> Kenney, a New Jersey immigration officer and an Army Reserve
                > lieutenant>> colonel. "When he turned against the Communists, they
                > turned against
                > >> him."
                > >>
                > >> At the ceremony on Thursday, Kulhan will be honored for the
                > first time
                > >> by
                > >> his
                > >> native Slovakia since it became an autonomous country.
                > >>
                > >> Kulhan came to this country in 1950 and became a proud
                > American, an
                > >> admirer
                > >> of Ronald Reagan who can quote lines from his speeches. As for his
                > >> native
                > >> land,
                > >> he said he hoped his part in the campaign of 1944 will bring
                > greater>> attention to the cause for which he fought.
                > >>
                > >> "I got enough medals. But I'd like recognition for the people
                > who fought
                > >> and
                > >> died for Slovakian independence," he said.
                > >>
                > >> A father of five, he will be joined in his journey by his wife,
                > Marta,>> to
                > >> whom he has been married for 59 years.
                > >>
                > >> There are still animosities and political fissures in Slovakia,
                > much of
                > >> it
                > >> stemming from the World War II era and its aftermath under Soviet
                > >> domination.
                > >>
                > >> "People were caught up in the maelstrom, and they had to make hard
                > >> choices,"
                > >> said Vladimir Baumgarten, a Florida scholar who has researched the
                > >> battle
                > >> of
                > >> Dukla Pass and runs a cultural organization promoting Slovak-
                > American>> ties.
                > >> Speaking of the commemoration of the battle this week in which
                > Kulhan>> will
                > >> be
                > >> honored, Baumgarten said, "Hopefully, it will be a healing
                > catharsis. It
                > >> brings
                > >> together both sides of the Cold War."
                > >>
                > >> It will also be a moment of family pride. The old soldier's
                > daughter,>> Darline
                > >> Kulhan, was already bursting with pride before the trip
                > started. "I got
                > >> a
                > >> new
                > >> digital camera, and I'm going to take so many pictures," she
                > said in her
                > >> Eastchester home. "He put it on the line for freedom, and to
                > get this
                > >> recognition,
                > >> it will be a moment of joy."
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >>
                > >> To unsubscribe from this group, go to
                > >> http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SLOVAK-ROOTS -or- send blank
                > email to
                > >> SLOVAK-ROOTS-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
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                > >>
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                > >>
                > >>
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
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              • Milan Huba
                Hi Bill: I will be going to Liptovska Luzna again next summer, and if that old neighbor is still alive, I will ask him if he would be willing to tell his
                Message 7 of 12 , Oct 8, 2005
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                  Hi Bill:

                  I will be going to Liptovska Luzna again next summer, and if that old
                  neighbor is still alive, I will ask him if he would be willing to tell his
                  story. He has a lot of first hand knowledge, but he gets ambiguous when you
                  ask him about his particular role in the conflict. I never pressed him on
                  this matter and just listened when he volunteered information.

                  I also have two older cousins in Luzna who participated in the fighting in
                  the “uprising” immediately around Luzna. My oldest cousin, who is now in
                  his 80’s, told me that he fought with the partisans in the moutains around
                  Luzna…but he never mentioned being at Dukla.

                  My understanding was that the Soviet war dead, the ordinary guys, were still
                  buried in the pits where they were dumped in the Dukla area. From a
                  practical standpoint, it would have been very difficult to move thousands of
                  bodies especially when they were just haphazardly dumped into the pits. The
                  Russians had a habit of stripping the bodies of anything useful, such as
                  boots, or a shirt, before dumping them into their makeshift graves. It would
                  be almost impossible to identify most of the bodies.

                  It is good that the post Communist Czechoslovak government allowed the
                  Germans to maintain the graves of their war dead. It should be noted that
                  throughout Germany there are hundreds of similar small well-maintained
                  cemeteries (maintained by the Germans) containing the graves of thousands of
                  allied fliers and soldiers…. including thousands of Russian war dead. The
                  war is long over and we should honor all of those brave soldiers who died
                  fighting for their country.

                  In one of the previous emails, someone wrote that “the Czechoslovak army was
                  forced to fight with the Germans and then later switched sides”. Actually,
                  the Czechoslovak army never fought with the Germans. The Slovak army
                  (initially) fought with the Germans and it would probably be more honest to
                  say that the Slovaks were “encouraged” rather than “forced” to fight with
                  them. To go one step further, it didn’t even take that much encouragement
                  to get the Slovaks to fight with the Germans; the Slovaks tended to be very
                  religious and conservative and they didn’t have much love for the Soviet
                  regime that was viewed as Godless. Finally, many Slovaks were grateful to
                  the Germans for supporting them in their bid for independence from the
                  Czechs.

                  At the beginning of the war, it looked like the German army was invincible.
                  When the German army marched through Slovakia (Ruzomberok) on their way to
                  the Russian front, many Slovaks, including some of my relatives, stood along
                  side the road and cheered them on. The long columns of German soldier
                  marched smartly and looked sharp in their crisp new uniforms. After the
                  columns of soldiers came a seemingly endless line of trucks towing big guns,
                  followed by tanks and then even more trucks and all kinds of other war
                  machinery. This army looked invincible. And, there is nothing better than
                  fighting alongside an invincible army that is sure to win.

                  Later, as the tide of the war changed and Slovaks began seeing thousands of
                  wounded German soldiers coming back from the Russian front, some Slovaks
                  began to reassess their position and concluded that they were on the wrong
                  side of the war. These Slovaks started to identify themselves as
                  Czechoslovak patriots and to demonstrate their newly discovered loyalty to
                  the Czechoslovak state, they became anti-German. Other Slovaks,
                  particularly the Hlinka Guards, continued to support and fight with the
                  Germans. Thus the Slovakia became divided nation.

                  It all came to a head on August 29, 1944, a day that we now celebrate as the
                  Slovak National Uprising Day. On that date, a part of the Slovak army
                  attempted to switched sides and join the Soviets who were advancing into
                  Slovakia After some bitter fighting, the “uprising” was at least
                  temporarily squashed by the Germans, but as a result of the uprising a
                  virtual civil war broke out between pro-Soviet Slovak partisans (guerillas),
                  many of them remnants of the Slovak army, and the pro-German Hlinka guards.
                  The partisans claimed that they were fighting against Fascism and for a
                  united and free Czechoslovakia. The Hlinka guards claimed that they were
                  fighting against Communism and to preserve a free and independent Slovakia.
                  Both sides were passionate and considered themselves to be the true
                  patriots.

                  As we know, the winners of a war get to write the history and decide who was
                  right and who was wrong. A lot of bad things happened during the war, but
                  only those who were on the loosing side were singled out for punishment.
                  The winners wanted to settle old scores and they had the power to do so.
                  So, if you fought on the side that lost, you would try to make your way back
                  home to your family and quietly blend back into the population. If you were
                  smart, you would reinvent your role in the war or at least remain ambiguous
                  about it. After the Communist took over, you just kept your mouth shut.

                  The Vlasov guards, like the Hlinka guards, ended up on the loosing side of
                  the war. Many of them joined the guard as idealists and were fighting for a
                  free and independent Russia. Their ending was more tragic.

                  Very early in WWII, many Russians, including some very dedicated
                  true-believing Communists became disillusioned with Stalin’s very brutal
                  dictatorship. These Russians viewed the German invasion as an opportunity
                  to rid themselves of Stalin who they considered to be a monster and the real
                  enemy of the Russian people. General Vlasov, the hero of the Battle of
                  Moscow, and one of Soviet’s top generals was one of these people.

                  General Vlasov was captured by the Germans early in the war while he was
                  defending Moscow during the Battle of Moscow. He and hundreds of thousands
                  of other Russian prisoners of war volunteered or were persuaded to fight
                  with the Germans. These Russians did not especially like the Germans; they
                  just hated Stalin so much that they were willing, and in some cases even
                  eager, to fight with the Germans to rid themselves of Stalin. The Germans in
                  turn promised them that once Stalin was overthrown, they would be allowed to
                  establish an independent Russian Government free of Stalin.

                  These soldiers became unofficially known as the Vlasov guards. They
                  considered themselves to be Russian patriots who were fighting with the
                  Germans to rid themselves of a monster and a traitor (Stalin). Stalin, of
                  course, considered them to be traitors.

                  The Vlasov guards got into the war late in the game. I read somewhere that
                  Hitler initially refused to accept any Russian help even after the Russians
                  guards were trained and equipped and ready to fight. He later relented
                  after the Germans suffered some of their bigger defeats and it was
                  determined that the Wehrmacht desperately needed more manpower on the
                  Eastern front. Some military historians speculate that had the Vlasov
                  guards been deployed earlier, the war on the Eastern front would have had a
                  different ending.

                  My family (grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins) became exposed to the
                  Vlasov guards when they and elements of the German army built their
                  defensive fortifications on the Prasiva mountain ridge that surrounded
                  Liptovska Luzna. Some of the most vicious fighting took place on Prasiva
                  with elements of the Germans army, the Hlinka Guards and the Vlasov Guards
                  fighting on one side and elements of the Red Army and the Slovak partisans
                  fighting on the other side.

                  The fighting between the Vlasov guards and the partisans (guerillas) was
                  particularly vicious. Some of the partisans did not wear military uniforms
                  so it was often difficult to tell an innocent civilian farmer wandering
                  through the mountains looking for his lost cow, from an enemy partisan.
                  The Vlasov guards were trigger-happy, they would shoot first, at almost
                  anything that moved, and then ask questions later. Many innocent civilians
                  were killed. My family told me that the “Vlasovsy” or the Vlasov guards
                  were the most dangerous of all the combatants that fought in and around
                  Luzna..

                  After some heavy fighting, the Red Army and their partisan allies finally
                  broke through the Prasiva defenses. They came down from the mountains into
                  the valley and entered Luzna. They weren’t any better than the Vlasov
                  guards. They indiscriminately plundered and destroyed property and some of
                  them raped woman. In comparison, the German Wehrmacht (army) soldiers
                  seemed to be well-mannered and civilized. Elsewhere it may have been a
                  different story.

                  After all of the soldiers pulled out of Luzna, the Luznan collected and
                  buried the abandoned bodies of dead soldiers. Within six months or so after
                  the war ended, parents of dead German soldiers started to show up in Luzna
                  with horse drawn wagons and picked-up the bodies of their sons. The bodies
                  were, carefully wrapped in blankets, placed in the wagons and taken home for
                  reburial. The Luznans assisted them in locating the bodies of their sons.

                  When Germany finally surrendered in May of 1945, the Vlasov Guards were
                  somewhere southwest of Prague facing General Patton’s troops. Although the
                  German armies were surrendering in droves, the Vlasov guards refused to
                  surrender because they knew that they would face a horrible retribution from
                  Stalin. They were still heavily armed and a force to be reckoned with and
                  they vowed to fight to the death. Finally, General Patton persuaded them to
                  surrender promising them that they would not be turned over to Stalin. But
                  within 2 weeks after they surrendered to Patton and after they were
                  disarmed, they were loaded into freight cars and sent to Stalin. I read
                  that many of the distraught prisoners committed suicide while in the freight
                  cars rather than to face the punishment that awaited them. I also read that
                  General Patton didn’t want to repatriate the guards to Russia but was
                  ordered to do this by Eisenhower.

                  As late as 1949, there were still small-armed remnants of Vlasov army hiding
                  in the mountains surrounding Luzna. As this point, they were considered
                  bandits, they became a nuisance because they would come down from the
                  mountains into the village and take food etc… An older cousin of mine, Jan
                  Valusiak, was in the zandars (a para-military unit) that combed the
                  mountains looking for them. Eventually, they were forced northward out of
                  Slovakia into southern Poland and disappeared.

                  Finally, about twenty years ago, I met this 60-year-old guy at the health
                  club. I first noticed him when I heard him talk; he had a heavy Slavic
                  accent. I thought that he might be a Slovak, but he turned out to be
                  Russian. During our many conversations we eventually talked about our
                  military experiences. It was then that I learned that he fought with the
                  Vlasov guards. I now regret that I never asked him how he managed to escape
                  captivity and manage to make it to America. I bet that would have been an
                  interesting story.

                  Here is a website that you can check out. http://www.feldgrau.com/rvol.html

                  You might also want to Google on “General Vlasov” if you want more
                  information.

                  Milan

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Bill Tarkulich
                  Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005 7:48 AM
                  To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: Re: [S-R] Dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia (John
                  Kulhan)


                  Hello Milan,

                  Before all these people are gone, you should really make it a point to
                  ensure this man's story is at least captured and placed with the SNP
                  Museum in Banska Bystrica. All first-person vantage points count in
                  understanding what happened. Additionally, from a more selfish point of
                  view, so too should your English rendering of these stories.

                  By the way, there was considerable animosity between the German War Graves
                  commission and the Czechoslovakia government. It is my understanding that
                  the Germans were never permitted to maintain German graves during the
                  Czecholslovak regime. It wasn't until the late 1990s that the Germans
                  were allowed to enter, rehabilitate and maintain these graves. I
                  photographed one just South of the Pass (
                  http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/images/dukla/DK_German_Cemetery_Tarkulich.jp
                  g
                  sorry it was raining heavily.)

                  I was also told that the Russians (and other Soviet block) returned later
                  and repatriated their soldiers bodies. I have not been able to
                  corroborate that. I am well aware of the Dukla memorial with graves of
                  the "big cheese". I'm a bit uncertain what happened to the "ordinary
                  guy." Do you know where any of the Soviet burials are in either Poland or
                  Slovakia? I've not seen them documented anywhere.

                  I never heard of the "Vlasov Guard". How in the world did they get behind
                  enemy lines to begin with. Did they come to the party late in the War?

                  Thanks for the information.

                  Bill Tarkulich

                  > I have relatives in Liptovska Luzna (Central Slovakia) that I visit just
                  > about every summer. One of their neighbors is an old-timer (a former WWII
                  > Slovakian soldier) who likes to talk about his WWII experiences. Most of
                  > his stories were about the vicious fighting that took place in the
                  > mountains
                  > that immediately surround Luzna. One side of the battle were the Soviets
                  > with their Slovak allies (the partisans). On the other side were the
                  > Germans and their Slovak and Russian allies. The Russian soldiers that
                  > fought with the Germans were the Vlasov Guards and the Slovaks that fought
                  > with the Germans were the Hlinka Guards. Some of the very fiercest
                  > no-hold
                  > barred fighting was done by the Vlasov and the Hlinka guards. These two
                  > groups considered themselves to be more anti-Communists, rather than
                  > pro-German, and were fighting to save Slovakia and Europe from the Red
                  > Army
                  > onslaught. You can still find the remains of the destroyed military
                  > equipment lying about in the mountains.
                  >
                  > In Luzna there is a monument listing the names of all the soldiers from
                  > Luzna that were killed in the war. The monument was set up by the
                  > Communist
                  > government and as such it lists only the Luzna soldiers who died fighting
                  > on
                  > the side of Soviets. The soldiers who died fighting for their country
                  > with
                  > the Germans are not acknowledged and are only remembered in the hearts of
                  > their families.
                  >
                  > The point of this dialog is that many brave young Slovak soldiers fought
                  > on
                  > both sides of the war until the very end. The soldiers on both sides
                  > believed that they were fighting for a noble cause. However, only the
                  > soldiers that fought and died with the victors are acknowledged. The
                  > victors
                  > get to write the histories and built the monuments.
                  >
                  > This neighbor also told many stories about the Battle of Dukla pass.
                  > Finally, out of curiosity, last year I made the long trip from Luzna to
                  > the
                  > Eastern Slovakia and visited the battlefield area. The battlefield is very
                  > interesting, covering many, many square miles. It is littered with many
                  > almost intact German and Russian WWII tanks and field guns that remain
                  > along
                  > the roads and in the fields where they were abandoned. The area has been
                  > declared an outdoor museum.
                  >
                  > According to this neighbor, the Soviet soldiers at Dukla pass were all
                  > plied
                  > with vodka and then ordered to charge the German defenses. As they
                  > charged
                  > forward, they were being slaughtered by the Germans who were in strong
                  > defensive positions. During this charge, the Soviet soldiers were
                  > stumbling
                  > and crawling over piles of bodies of their dead comrades. The Germans
                  > finally pulled out of their defensive positions and retreated when they
                  > ran
                  > out on ammunition.
                  >
                  > After the Germans pulled out, the Soviets collected their bodies and
                  > dumped
                  > them like so much garbage into huge pits. Each of these pits (mass
                  > graves)
                  > contained the bodies of approximately 10,000 unidentified Soviet soldiers.
                  > In contrast, most of the German dead were buried in individual graves,
                  > each
                  > grave marked with the name, rank date of birth and date of death of the
                  > soldier. These German soldiers graves are still being maintained by the
                  > Germans.
                  >
                  > Milan Huba
                  >
                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  > [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Bill Tarkulich
                  > Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2005 7:27 AM
                  > To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
                  > Subject: Re: [S-R] dukla pass veteran to be honored in slovakia (John
                  > Kulhan)
                  >
                  >
                  > Hi Noreen,
                  >
                  > This is very interesting and suprising, and quite a coincidence to see
                  > this article. I have been corresponding with John Kenny for the past
                  > month. In fact, given my interest, they were wondering if I could come to
                  > the ceremony, but alas, life gets in the way. They even sent me a scan of
                  > John Kulhan's "Order of the White Eagle", presented to him by president
                  > Soboda in 1947. I plan to post it when time allows.
                  >
                  > I plan to call John on his return from Dukla, thanks to his son-in-law.
                  >
                  > Dukla is a very interesting and tragic battle, which Westerners know very
                  > little about. Over 100,000 casulties (dead and wounded), yet the west
                  > never heard of the battle. I visited there during 2001, as it was so
                  > close to my ancestral homeland. What is written of the battle is
                  > primarily in Russian and Slovak, which makes it even less accessible to
                  > most westerners. So I began some web
                  > page(s)http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/Military_dukla_pass.htm and
                  > http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/military_history.htm to describe the
                  > battle in English. Mistakes are intrinsic in this work, since history is
                  > written by the victors and each side has an axe to grind. I prefer to
                  > listen to all sides and draw my own conclusions.
                  >
                  > I plan to interview John and perhaps write a more detailed accounting of
                  > the battle. Of course his son-in-law has written an account of John's
                  > life which should make for interesting reading.
                  >
                  > While this is not directly genealogy, I find that history and genealogy
                  > are commingled and should be examined mutually. Otherwise, people tell us
                  > facts and we have them out of context. I found that the vacuum of WWII
                  > knowledge about events in Slovakia to be too much for me to bear. I need
                  > to get to the people who lived them and lift that information for all to
                  > hear for future generations. Sounds noble, huh? Well, if we don't do it,
                  > it ain't gonna get done. These good folks do not have many years left.
                  >
                  > Thanks again,
                  > Bill
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >> hello everyone,
                  >> A co worker showed me this article yesterday in the New York Journal
                  >> News.
                  >> wanted to share it with the list. it was on the front page.
                  >> Noreen
                  >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  -
                  > ----
                  >> -----------------------------------------------------
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >> This is a printer friendly version of an article from the The Journal
                  >> News.
                  >> To print this article open the file menu and choose Print.
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >> Veteran honored for Eastern Front battle
                  >>
                  >> By ROBERT MARCHANT
                  >> THE JOURNAL NEWS
                  >> (Original Publication: October 3, 2005)
                  >>
                  >> Battle of Dukla Pass took heavy casualties
                  >>
                  >> When: Sept. 8 until the end of October 1944, with further Soviet
                  >> advances
                  >> continuing through November
                  >>
                  >> Where: Southern Poland, Slovakia, eastern Ukraine
                  >>
                  >> Casualties: 84,000 Soviets, 54,000 Germans and 6,000 in the Czechoslovak
                  >> Army
                  >> Corps
                  >>
                  >> Result: Nazi troops forced out of Slovakia; Red Army poised to take
                  >> Prague
                  >> in
                  >> May 1945.
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >> Thursday is "Liberation Day" in the eastern European nation of Slovakia.
                  >>
                  >> There will be speeches, toasts, proclamations and, for an 84-year-old
                  >> veteran
                  >> from Eastchester, a particularly sweet moment.
                  >>
                  >> John (Jan) Kulhan was one of those liberators who helped turn the tide a
                  >> gainst the Third Reich and one of the handful of survivors of a
                  >> ferocious
                  >> battle in
                  >> the fall of 1944 that drove the Nazis from his homeland. The Battle of
                  >> Dukla
                  >> Pass raged for a month between the Nazis and the Soviet Army and their
                  >> allies
                  >> in the region bordered by Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine known as the
                  >> Dukla
                  >> Pass, a section of the northern Carpathian mountains.
                  >>
                  >> Kulhan, 83, a former Bronxville resident and retired engineer, will be
                  >> honored in a semi-official ceremony at the Military Museum in Suidnik,
                  >> Slovakia, his
                  >> native land. He was a young artillery and transport officer in the old
                  >> Czechoslovak army allied with the Soviets, and he is the last known
                  >> Slovakian to
                  >> have taken part in a battle that has a complex and enduring legacy in
                  >> eastern
                  >> Europe.
                  >>
                  >> "We wanted to create our own country. I was fighting for my own freedom.
                  >> It
                  >> didn't happen then; communism dominated everything," Kulhan recalled.
                  >>
                  >> But the fight gave Slovakia a sense of its destiny as an autonomous
                  >> nation,
                  >> which it finally became in 1993 after separating peacefully from the
                  >> Czech
                  >> Republic. "When I was fighting, I was fighting for the idea that
                  >> everybody
                  >> should
                  >> be free, not a slave," he said.
                  >>
                  >> His Czechoslovak army unit was pressed into service by the Germans
                  >> against
                  >> the Soviets after the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia, but the unit later
                  >> switched sides and joined the fight against the German military machine.
                  >>
                  >> Kulhan can recall the 1944 battle with sharp details as his clear, gray
                  >> eyes
                  >> narrow with concentration — how German prisoners looked when they
                  >> finally
                  >> surrendered after a murderous artillery barrage, the sound of a mortar
                  >> shell on
                  >> its downward arc.
                  >>
                  >> He tells many stories of his past — how he saved the future president
                  >> of
                  >> Czechoslovakia, Gen. Ludvik Svoboda, by pushing him out of a bunker that
                  >> was
                  >> targeted by Nazi artillery moments before it was destroyed, working with
                  >> American
                  >> intelligence agents after the war, sneaking out of Slovakia with his
                  >> wife
                  >> and
                  >> children in a daring border-crossing to Austria.
                  >>
                  >> "He never got the recognition he deserved," said Kulhan's son-in-law,
                  >> Joseph
                  >> Kenney, a New Jersey immigration officer and an Army Reserve lieutenant
                  >> colonel. "When he turned against the Communists, they turned against
                  >> him."
                  >>
                  >> At the ceremony on Thursday, Kulhan will be honored for the first time
                  >> by
                  >> his
                  >> native Slovakia since it became an autonomous country.
                  >>
                  >> Kulhan came to this country in 1950 and became a proud American, an
                  >> admirer
                  >> of Ronald Reagan who can quote lines from his speeches. As for his
                  >> native
                  >> land,
                  >> he said he hoped his part in the campaign of 1944 will bring greater
                  >> attention to the cause for which he fought.
                  >>
                  >> "I got enough medals. But I'd like recognition for the people who fought
                  >> and
                  >> died for Slovakian independence," he said.
                  >>
                  >> A father of five, he will be joined in his journey by his wife, Marta,
                  >> to
                  >> whom he has been married for 59 years.
                  >>
                  >> There are still animosities and political fissures in Slovakia, much of
                  >> it
                  >> stemming from the World War II era and its aftermath under Soviet
                  >> domination.
                  >>
                  >> "People were caught up in the maelstrom, and they had to make hard
                  >> choices,"
                  >> said Vladimir Baumgarten, a Florida scholar who has researched the
                  >> battle
                  >> of
                  >> Dukla Pass and runs a cultural organization promoting Slovak-American
                  >> ties.
                  >> Speaking of the commemoration of the battle this week in which Kulhan
                  >> will
                  >> be
                  >> honored, Baumgarten said, "Hopefully, it will be a healing catharsis. It
                  >> brings
                  >> together both sides of the Cold War."
                  >>
                  >> It will also be a moment of family pride. The old soldier's daughter,
                  >> Darline
                  >> Kulhan, was already bursting with pride before the trip started. "I got
                  >> a
                  >> new
                  >> digital camera, and I'm going to take so many pictures," she said in her
                  >> Eastchester home. "He put it on the line for freedom, and to get this
                  >> recognition,
                  >> it will be a moment of joy."
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
                  >>
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