Cintorín vojnový Breznica Slovakia Tree of Peace Romania

Marek Sobola in Slovak Breznica represented Romanian Embassy

Rep. n° 12/2023

Breznica, April 28, 2023. The Breznica Military Cemetery is the burial place of Austro-Hungarian soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War in 1914/1915 and is a National Cultural Monument of the Slovak Republic. It was originally thought that only 77 soldiers were buried here, but research has shown that there are as many as 103 victims buried here. Among the Hungarian soldiers lying here are also Romanians from the regions of the former Kingdom of Hungary, which are now a part of Romania. The soldiers who died in the spring of 1915 were mostly members of Infantry Regiment No. 39 (Infanterieregiment Nr. 39, national composition: 92% Hungarians, 8% others) with the additional area of Debrecen in today’s Hungary and Infantry Regiment No. 43 (Infanterieregiment Nr. 43, national composition: 78% Romanians, 22% others) with the supplementary area of Caransebeș in today’s Romania. The Breznica Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries established on battlefields in Slovakia, where Romanian soldiers fighting in the First World War are buried. The Romanians were deployed in this area in the valley of the Ondava river.

The events of the war touched the village of Breznica already several weeks after the outbreak of the conflict. Already in the summer of 1914, the inhabitants of the village witnessed the transfer of Austro-Hungarian soldiers to the front in Galicia. They had no idea that soon combat activity would directly affect their village. The direct result of the fighting in northeastern Slovakia was the destroyed landscape and considerable material damage. In the spring of 1915, Breznica was home to Field Hospital No. 5/7 (Feldlazarett Nr. 5/7). In February and March 1915, soldiers died here mainly as a result of injuries sustained on the Carpathian battlefield. An important monument preserved to this day, which reminds of the horrors of the First World War in the village, is the Breznica Military Cemetery. It is located next to the municipal one on church land and consists of 41 graves. From the original list of 77 soldiers, the new research confirmed the identity of 55 men. We have confirmed the identity of these soldiers from several sources and we also know the numbers of the graves in which they were supposed to be buried. Thanks to precise research, the total number of soldiers buried at the Breznica Cemetery has increased to 103. The military cemetery was established during the war. In the interwar period, the Stropkov Gendarme Station took care of this cemetery. At that time, only minor adjustments were made. During its repair, material was used that remained here from the time of the war. In 2021, a non-destructive archaeological investigation of the site began, the aim of which is to determine the exact boundaries of the cemetery, or the location of the graves. The first geomagnetic measurements were not successful. The research continued in 2022 and was followed by the overall conceptual reconstruction of this National Cultural Monument according to the project of landscape architect Marek Sobola, Secretary-General of Servare et Manere. The co-author of the design is landscape architect Ján Janík.

The blessing ceremony of the restored cemetery began on April 28, 2023 at 1:30 p.m. with a Christian ceremony assisted by the Honour Guard of the Slovak Armed Forces. In addition to the Mayor of Breznica, the event was also attended by the Mayor of Stropkov and representatives of the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic. The diplomatic corps was represented by the Consul of the General Consulate of Hungary in Košice, Mr. István Buczkó, and Mr. Marek Sobola, who represented the Embassy of Romania in Slovakia and on behalf of the Ambassador, His Excellency Dr. Călin Fabian, read the Ambassador’s speech and laid a wreath at the central monument in the cemetery.

A rare photograph from the First World War from the spring of 1915 capturing a panoramic view of Breznica to the Ondava valley from the south side of the Baranov mountain range. It is beautiful to see the main road and next to it the meander of the river Ondava, in the background next to the main road on the right side the Sitníky village and further on Stropkov town.

Author of text / messages: Servare et Manere
Source of the photo: Ján Janík / Marek Sobola / Beskydy Military History Club / Photo archive of PhDr. Ľuboslav Šmajda
Source of text: Beskydy Military History Club / Marek Sobola