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Remembering the Apollo refinery
“To live in hearts we leave behind. Is not to die.” ― Thomas Campbell
The operation of the current refinery (Slovnaft) in Bratislava, Slovakia began in 1957, but the history of the refining industry in Bratislava dates back to 1895. In 1895, the Municipal Council gave its consent to construct a mineral oil refinery on the left bank of the Danube River. It was called Apollo, after the mythological Greek god.
Unfortunately, it was bombed on June 16, 1944. At that time, mineral oils were refined there and petrol, kerosene, paraffin, candles, Vaseline, tar and even artificial ice were produced. But during the Second World War, Nazi Germany, Slovakia’s official ally, controlled the production, and the refining of fuel and oil was used to produce fuels for their army.
American B-24 bombers dropped more than 60 tons of bombs on the Apollo refinery to cut off retreating Germans from their supplies, and while the objective was met, the imprecise nature of bombers and the bombing instruments at the time caused tremendous damage to port installations and the city as well.
This loss of infrastructure and property was also accompanied by loss of human lives. Not even the bomb shelter helped. Seventy-four employees died and there were also casualties among the local population.
The new refinery was relocated and named Slovnaft refinery. It mainly processes Russian crude from the Druzhba Crude Pipeline. Also, to commemorate the victims, Bratislava’s fifth bridge, finished in 2005 near the original site, was named Apollo.
It is important to remember the past and learn from it.
“To those who died,
to those who survived,
we hear you;
to future generations,
let us never forget.”
― Elie Wiesel
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