On August 29, we will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising – one of the proudest moments in Slovakia’s history. By resisting the Nazi occupation and rejecting fascism, the Slovak people demonstrated their courage in the face of overwhelming odds and their determination to stand united against hatred and oppression.
Citizens from over 30 countries participated in the Uprising, including the United States. One of those participants was OSS agent Captain Edward Baranski, an American of Slovak and Polish heritage. Baranski landed at the Tri Duby (Sliac) airfield in September 1944 in a B-17 bomber filled with military supplies. His mission was to coordinate the efforts of Slovak resistance fighters and assist U.S. airmen downed over Slovakia in evading capture. Later, as Nazi forces suppressed the Uprising, Captain Baranski was forced to flee to the village of Detva, where a
Slovak family sheltered him. Nazi troops eventually captured Baranski and sent him to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he was executed in January 1945.
But his story doesn’t end there. Recently, Captain Baranski’s daughter, Kathleen Baranski Lund, returned to Slovakia. And she brought some family members with her … a lot of them. Thirty-seven grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, plus spouses and the family priest all made the trip from California. Together, they traveled to Bratislava, Banska Bystrica, and Detva to learn more about Captain Baranski’s mission. On July 15, the Slovak Armed Forces showed tremendous respect to the Lund family when they hosted a wreath-laying ceremony for Captain Baranski at Sliac Airfield, where he first set foot in Slovakia. The event was capped with a flyover by airplanes from the Slovak Air Force and the visiting Indiana Air National Guard. Speaking after the ceremony, Mrs. Lund said how grateful she was to Slovaks like the Lakota family for the kindness they showed to her father, and how proud she was to return here with her family.
In many ways, the story of U.S.-Slovak military cooperation began with the Slovak National Uprising and the partnership between Captain Baranski and Slovak resistance fighters. That cooperation continues today with U.S. and Slovak forces routinely training together both independently and as part of the broader NATO Alliance. Later this fall, over 500 American soldiers will join their Slovak counterparts for training exercises that strengthen our alliance. These activities are part of NATO’s efforts to return to its core mission – collective defense – and serve as a reminder to the world that the United States and its NATO Allies are stronger when we stand together.
The United States is grateful for its cooperation with the Slovak Armed Forces, and we deeply appreciate the ceremony your military organized at Sliac Airfield to honor Captain Baranski – one of many Americans who gave his life for Slovakia’s freedom. Ultimately, his story reminds us of the courage and sacrifice of all those who fought in the Slovak National Uprising. To honor them this SNP day, let us remember the ideals for which they fought – freedom, self-determination, and the equality of all people. They are shared values worthy of the struggle.