Veľkrop village, September 28, 2018. The Club of Military History Beskydy finished its restoration work on the largest war cemetery in Slovakia. The cemetery, which is in the village of Veľkrop in the Stropkov district, is dated to World War I. On Friday, September 28, 2018 it was made accessible to the public. The cemetery has been restored in the same style as it was designed in the war years. Natural materials were used for the restoration which was based on historical drawings and sketches that have been preserved. Among the most important donors for the reconstruction are the Austrian Black Cross (Das Österreichisches Schwarzes Kreuz) as well as the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Slovakia. The ground of the cemetery was sanctified by The Most Reverend Metropolitan Rastislav, Archbishop of Prešov, Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia with the participation of representatives of different religions. “I was honoured to be able to propose a central monument for the cemetery in collaboration with the architect Andrej Smatana. I took the analogy of similar monuments in our region”, said landscape architect Marek Sobola.
The planting of two oaks by local and foreign guests, who participated at the restoration of the cemetery, was a part of the memorial. The first one is “The Tree of Peace” that was planted by Ing. Otto Jaus, Regional Director of the Black Cross of Vienna and Lower Austria and Colonel Ing. Norbert Hríb from 2nd Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic. It is noteworthy that the planted oaks are of the “Concordia” variety, which in Latin means harmony because without the harmony and determination of the volunteers, this cemetery could not have been restored.
The war cemetery in Veľkrop is the biggest cemetery from the First World War in Slovakia. 8,662 soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian armies have found a final resting place here. Only 11 of the buried soldiers from the total number are known by their names. The cemetery originated after being moved from the front. War graves from the surrounding areas were exhumed and remains were brought over to the war cemetery in Veľkrop. The exhumations were continued in the interwar period. Exhumations were carried out near the villages Breznička, Makovce, Soľník and Varechovce. After the Second World War, there was a limited treatment of this sacred place but then the war cemetery began to decay. Restoration of the cemetery was started in 2010 with more than 200 volunteers from Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Romania.