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Marta Vartíková (1928-2016)

The Slovak historian Marta Vartíková died on 28 July 2016. Born on 20 October 1928 in Rimavská Bana, an old mining village in the central Slovak region of Banská Bystrica, she studied history in Bratislava, married the social philosopher František Vartík and joined the Institute for the History of the Communist Party of Slovakia. In 1962, she published her first book titled “Roky rozhodnutia” (“Decisive Years”). She therein investigates the political conflicts in Slovakia from the formation of the first coalition government under President Beneš and Prime Minister Fierlinger in April 1945 in liberated Košice, to the elections of 1946 and the February takeover in 1948 that brought the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia to power. Vartíková emphasized the positive role of the bourgeois Slovak coalition partner for the reintegration of the population of the country – that had formed a separate (fascist) state from 1938 to 1945 – into the re-emerged Czechoslovak Republic. Besides editing documents on the history of the Communist Party – with her focus on the first years after the Slovak National Uprising in 1944 – she began her socio-historical research on the position of women in Slovakia.

Due to her language skills, she was amongst the first regular participants from the CSSR to the Linz Conferences of the ITH. One of her papers drafted for the ITH – “Die werktätige Frau in der Tschechoslowakei zwischen den zwei Weltkriegen” (Linz Conference 1978) – also become known beyond the ITH, since Ernest Borneman included it into his edited volume “Der Neanderberg. Vom Aufstieg der Frauen aus dem Neandertal. Beiträge zur Emanzipationsgeschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts” published with Ullstein in 1983. Marta Vartíková remained associated with the ITH after her retirement and offered her knowledge on Slovak archives and language skills to Austrian colleagues. She, for example, translated the report of the Slovak investigative commission from 1945 for Claudia Kuretsidis-Haider’s research study on the crimes of Viennese SA men in the Engerau camp during the end of the war that Vartíková had found earlier in the Slovak National Archives. Until today, the therein-included exhumation report is an integral part of the annual commemoration ceremony at the memorial for the murdered Hungarian Jews at the Cemetery of Bratislava-Petržalka.

Marta Vartíková was a typical representative of that generation of scientists that did not necessarily distinguish themselves by ground-breaking discussion contributions, but their contributions to the different topics of the Linz Conferences based on the evaluations of archive documents, however, contributed to making these archive sources also available to Western European scientists – by means of the ITH Publications.

Winfried R. Garscha (Vienna)
Translated from German by Lukas Neissl