Who was Anton Neuwirth
Dr. Anton Neuwirth (1921-2004) was a respected Slovak intellectual, diplomat, medical doctor, and politician. During Communism, he was persecuted by the political regime. His life motto was the challenge “To cure evil by the means of love”.
He was an important figure in Slovak public life in the 20th century. With his testimony of a life focused on God, faithfulness to his values and professional mission, constant willingness to seek the truth via dialogue, commitment to politics and public life and trust in young people, he inspired us to contribute to a better Slovakia.
Anton Neuwirth was born in 1921 into a marriage between a Roman Catholic woman and a Jewish man. Their family was Slovak-Hungarian-German. As he often emphasized, the family environment was “a school of religious and international tolerance.” After graduating from primary school in Slovenské Kapušany and Grammar School in Žilina and Prievidza, he enrolled at the Medical Faculty of Charles University in Bratislava, where in 1946 he received the title of MD. During his studies, he lived at the Svoradov boarding school in Bratislava, where he met a Croatian priest and Jesuit professor Kolakovič.
During the Second World War, Kolakovič founded and led the Rodina (Family) community, of which Anton Neuwirth also became a member. Their meetings focused on the intellectual and spiritual development of college students, centered on the Church’s social teaching. During the Communist regime, this community became one of the centers of the underground church and it greatly influenced the later social activities of many other significant personalities of the dissent, among them Anton Neuwirth, Silvester Krčméry and Vladimír Jukl.
A year after graduating, Anton Neuwirth married Eva Adamková and began working at the Institute of Medical Chemistry at Charles University. He later received a scholarship as a research associate of prof. P. Karrera in Zurich, where he completed two more semesters of chemistry. After the communist coup in Czechoslovakia, he and his wife returned from abroad because they knew they were on the Communist blacklists and did not want their family and friends to be persecuted.
After their return, Dr. Neuwirth taught Medical Biochemistry at the Medical Faculty at the University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik in Košice. He was arrested in 1953 and sentenced to twelve years in prison for “high treason and espionage” for non-Marxist teaching and activities in the Rodina community. After the amnesty in 1960, he worked as a specialist in Žilina and as a Head of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry in Čadca and at the University Hospital in Martin.
Until his retirement in 1989, he took part in numerous scientific research works. After retiring and the current change of political regime, he became fully involved in constituting Christian and democratic politics in Slovakia. He became a member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and honorary chairman of the party. He worked as a publicist, lecturing on topics in the field of ethics, medicine, politics and spiritual culture. From 1994 to 1998 he was the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Holy See in Rome. He was active in public life until his last day. He died unexpectedly on September 21, 2004 at his home in Bojnice.