Slovenská verzia

Project Oral History - Witnesses of the Oppression Period

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Within the Nation’s Memory Institute there has been gradually established an audiovisual archive that nowadays keeps files of more than 2000 entries. Wide range database of film records, witness interviews, and audiovisual formats of practices of the totalitarian regimes in Slovakia, presents a unique part of the cultural heritage. The NMI actively proceeds in its project that aims to fully and systematically record testimonies of persecuted people. Up to the present we have filmed more than 300 witness interviews in total length of more than 600 hours of audiovisual recording. All the testimonies are copyrighted and safely stored in the NMI’s audiovisual archive. These recordings should serve for research and educational purposes, possibly also for producing new TV documentaries. They are easily to be viewed and used thanks to the detailed database of individual interviews in the audiovisual library. Methodology of recording and further processing of the testimonies is grounded on long-term experiences and time-tested practice of domestic as well as foreign partners working in the field of capturing the witness testimonies. Until today we have defined three basic categories including different subcategories, into which the particular witnesses are to be gradually integrated:

1. Slovakia in Years 1939 – 1945

2. Transition Period 1945 – 1948

3. Communist Regime in Slovakia (1948 – 1989)

Photo: Anton Adámek

ADÁMEK ANTON

In the year 1949 he was present at the religious retreat in Stráže pod Tatrami, what was the reason why the State Security involved him in a fabricated production of anti-state leaflets. In the same year he was arrested in Trenčianske Teplice and sentenced under the Act n. 231/1948 Coll. on the Protection of the People’s Democratic Republic. He was given eight years and he served his sentence mainly in Jáchymov mines.


Photo: Juraj Alner

ALNER JURAJ

When he was a child, his family was persecuted by the fascist regime. They survived only thanks to the help of strange people. The life of his family was substantially influenced also by the communist dictatorship; however, he had never felt hatred within him. His biggest dream is that people would never forget about our history.


Photo: Matej Andráš

ANDRÁŠ MATEJ

Matej Andráš devoted his whole life to Slovak-Polish relations. From the position of the Czechoslovak consul in Poland in the years 1947 – 1950 he fought for the national rights of the Slovaks living in Poland and advanced their desire to use the Slovak language in education and religion. During his life, especially after the year 1945, he was in touch with several well-known writers and personalities of the Czechoslovak political stage. He also engaged in translation and publication activities.


Photo: Juraj Anoškin

ANOŠKIN JURAJ

In the year 1953 he and his sister were arrested and sentenced for high treason, because Juraj had told his friend about the best area to flee across the border. He was given four and his sister three years of imprisonment. He served his sentence in Jáchymov mines. After being released he returned back to Bratislava where he started to work as a draughtsman.


Photo: Zuzana Bacigálová

BACIGÁLOVÁ ZUZANA

Victim of the property collectivization... In 1952 her husband Ľudovít was sentenced by the county court to 7 years imprisonment for committing a crime of sabotage. Their house was confiscated, as well as their land, living and dead stocks. Zuzana was forced to move out to a state property in Moravany, in a Čáslav district, near Pardubice, where she had to work hard for whole 3 years.


Photo: Oto Batelka

BATELKA OTO

During the oppression period he used to help people to cross the border, for what he was sentenced and imprisoned. After being granted amnesty he was released from prison; however, subsequent period full of uncertainty culminated in retracting the amnesty. When the State Security tried to arrest him for the second time, he managed to escape but only for a short period of time.


Photo: Ján Benček

BENČEK Ján

Ján Benček belongs to a group of people who were touched by the mission of Prof. Kolakovič. He tried to follow his example, lectured at the university for many years, worked with youth, and even though he never joined the communist party, thanks to his professionalism and hard work he gained respect also in the communists’ ranks.


Photo: Jozef Bobalík

BOBALÍK JOZEF

Because of the option (resettlement) he and his family left to the Soviet Union, hoping they would find a fertile soil and a great wealth there. However, they found only poverty and misery. In 1948 at one of his friend´s bachelor party, Jozef was made to read a leaflet saying: „Death to Stalin“. Few months later he was captured and sentenced to spend 10 years in prison. After the sorrowful journey through Kiev, Charkov, Novosibirsk, and Tajšet transits he worked in labour camps Ozerlag (Siberia), Magadan, and Usť-Kujga.


Photo: Imrich Brezanský

BREZANSKÝ IMRICH

Political changes made him join the Hungarian army and risk his life for defence of country, which actually was not his homeland. He experienced horrors of war as well as cruelty in Soviet prison camps.


Photo: Ján Brichta

BRICHTA JÁN

The communist regime didn't allow him to study theology and to become a priest, so he decided to escape abroad. However, at that time Morava river was swollen and he was caught there by members of the Border Guard. Ján imagined going studying, but a harsh interrogation and years in Jáchymov labour camps awaited him instead.


Photo: Milan Brišš

BRIŠŠ MILAN

In communists’ eyes he was of an inappropriate bourgeois origin, which has affected his life since his youth. He dreamt about a university education, but only years of hard work in a mine awaited him. His tenacious nature and persistence helped him overcome an adversity of the regime then and achieve his dream aims.


Photo: Ján Budaj

BUDAJ JÁN

Ján Budaj is well known as a politician, freelance writer and one of the founders of the movement Public against Violence (VPN). He became famous mainly due to the mass demonstrations in Bratislava in November and December 1989, when he was an anchorman of meetings held in the SNP Square and the first man of the Velvet Revolution in Slovakia.


Photo: Ján Čarnogurský

ČARNOGURSKÝ JÁN

A man, who actively participated in all the dissident activities of the Charter 77 movement. At the beginning of 1988, he participated in preparations for the Candle Manifestation and then, he started publishing the samizdat magazine called Bratislavské listy (Bratislava Letters). Because of his activities, the communist regime regarded him as an inconvenient person and therefore he had to face imprisonment from August to November 1989.


Photo: Jozef Cerina

CERINA JOZEF

Jozef Cerina used to meet soldiers and army units since his early childhood. Even as a young boy he saw the absurdity of war and pointlessness of its casualties. His life was strongly affected by the Vienna Award, because of which he became a Hungarian citizen just in one moment, so he knew the situation on both sides of frontier. He claims that conflicts between Slovak and Hungarian population were fabricated by political officials.


Photo: Alfonz Czima

CZIMA ALFONZ

He was an expert in the field of building industry, so the State Security had prospecting reasons to train him to be a good collaborator. He saw actions of the state authorities that he refused to participate in. After his dismissal from the State Security, he fled to Canada where he worked with immigrants.


Photo: Imrich Danko

DANKO IMRICH

Even after the communists had taken over the government, Imrich Danko led a very descent life. Everything changed right after his brother’s escape to Austria in 1952. The State Security accused him of participating in his brother’s escape across the border and sentenced him to eight years of imprisonment.


Photo: Rudolf Dobiáš

DOBIÁŠ RUDOLF

Rudolf Dobiáš is an extraordinary personality that took up a very special place in Slovak literature. As a fresh university student he was unfairly arrested and sentenced. After many years spent in prison and uranium mines he returned to the literary work from times of his youth. However, he never forgot fates of others who were wrongfully imprisoned and spent number of years in concentration camps, of those who he often knew himself – the class enemies.


Photo: Adam Droppa

DROPPA ADAM

The communist regime deprived his family almost of everything they had ever had. He was forced to spend several years in the Auxiliary Technical Battalion (PTP); his father was a victim of fabricated trial and ended up in Jáchymov mines. The rest of his family was forcibly moved out to Bohemia.


Photo: Jaroslav Fabok

FABOK JAROSLAV

The life of Jaroslav Fabok was full of various obstacles. Even though he was only a young boy he had to provide for his family, because his father was an alcoholic. During the war he became involved in a resistance movement and the Slovak National Uprising, too. Later, he railed against the totalitarian era and its sharp practices. He worked as a secretary of the Democratic Party till February 1948 when he was arrested and imprisoned along with all the other Democratic Party officials. He worked hardly in uranium mines; however, it was a miracle that he managed to survive and give witness to his life.


Photo: Anton Felber

FELBER ANTON

He was accused of being absent for obligatory brigade work and from 1945 until 1948 he was in the labour camp Nuzal in Vladykaukaz. After he returned home, the State Security /ŠtB/ sent him to a forced labour camp in the Czech Republic for two years for the purpose of re-education.


Photo: Viola Fischerová

FISCHEROVÁ VIOLA

As a six-year-old girl she got to ghetto in Lučenec. She thought it was the worst thing to experience. After the transportation to Auschwitz, she experienced the real hell. She was a victim of doctor Mengele who did various pseudo-medical experiments on her. She survived and managed to escape.


Photo: Fridrich Fritz

FRITZ FRIDRICH

Fridrich Fritz was a student of theology. He delivered counterfeit identity cards to priests who were detained in the town of Podolínec. After dissolving the seminary, he had decided to continue studying theology abroad; however, on the way there he was detained by the border guard. He was charged with the offence of high treason and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment.


Photo: Imrich Gallik

GALLIK IMRICH

Only an eighteen-year old joiner of German origin, Imrich Gallik, was taken by the security forces of NKVD and People’s Militias for a harsh interrogation which was followed by a three-and-a-half-year stay in a Soviet labour camp. Just thanks to his inner strength and young organism he managed to overcome hardship as well as inhuman living conditions in gulag and he was happy to come back home in December 1948.


Photo: Ján Goč

GOČ JÁN

Because of the strong resistance to the communist regime Ján Goč as a political prisoner was sentenced to work in a mine. He wasn't supposed to come back from there as they found him "dangerous". Later on, he was sent to work in a botanical garden and became an expert in the field of botany. He finished his studies and became a teacher.


Photo: Alexander Gordon

GORDON ALEXANDER

Although his father lost his business in the process of Aryanization and both parents were forced to move out, escape and hide, German soldiers found them and they were transported to the concentration camp. As a medical student Alexander was sent to the VI. labour battalion and worked at various workplaces. In his situation it was like living in a paradise.


Photo: Viera Gordonová

GORDONOVÁ VIERA

The Vienna Award and the Second World War deprived her of everything she had ever had. She was just a young girl when she experienced the hell of various concentration and labour camps where she lost all her close relatives. She knew that she owed her life mainly to a good fortune.


Photo: František Granec

GRANEC FRANTIŠEK

An active member of the Bratislava group called White Legion (Biela légia) and a rescuer of many people, František Granec, was sentenced for helping people escape across the Iron Curtain to five years of imprisonment. Since he was still underage, he spent three years of his youth in various Czechoslovak correctional facilities.


Photo: Anna Greňová

GREŇOVÁ ANNA

Anna led an active Christian life and that was the reason for her arrest in 1953. Subsequently she was sentenced to 5 years. During the imprisonment, Anna was often being interrogated and the State Security wanted to find out where the priests she knew were also through physical punishments.


Photo: Judita Zuzana Grossmanová

GROSSMANOVÁ ZUZANA JUDITA

Though she and her family managed to avoid being sent to concentration camp, Judita knows the horrors of human hatred very well. She had to face up to it many times. Her life was full of fear, hiding out and constant struggle in various forms. However, she is Jewess by birth and she stays Jewess till the end of her life.


Photo: Jozef Hanko

HANKO JOZEF

On December 9, 1949 he was sentenced for high treason and espionage to 15 years of imprisonment. After temporary “stays” in Bratislava and Leopoldov, in 1950 he was transported to uranium mining camps: at first to Jáchymov for three years, then to Příbram where he spent seven years.


Photo: Jozef Hrdý

HRDÝ JOZEF

His way to the priesthood led through his love for sports. It stayed a part of his life even after his escape across the border of his native land, Slovakia, in 1949. He didn’t abandon his sport activities also in the period when he lived in an exotic environment of Latin America. There he gained the heart of hundreds of predominantly young people.


Photo: Martin Hritz

HRITZ MARTIN

For helping the group of priests, he was arrested in the year 1950. He was interrogated, tortured and when they failed to force him to sign the fabricated testimony, they sentenced him to fifteen years of imprisonment. After passing the judgement, he spent almost 7 years in prison when they released him on parole.


Photo: Ivan Hupka

HUPKA IVAN

Ivan Hupka and his wife worked in Bratislava broadcasting studio of the Czechoslovak Television. Events from August 1968 caught them there as well. During the occupation period Ivan cooperated with the Czechoslovak Television staff and engaged himself in the production of its media coverage. However, hopelessness, fright of the future, inability to assert his attitudes, and a lack of freedom led him to decision to leave Slovakia and settle down in far Australia.


Photo: Mária Hupková

HUPKOVÁ MÁRIA

Mária Hupková worked for the Czechoslovak Television (CST). She was there even when the Warsaw Pact troops took over the building of the CST in August 1968. As she felt hopeless, frightened, and constantly monitored, she decided to leave Slovakia and move as far as it was possible from all those horrors - to distant Australia.


Photo: Vladimír Jukl

JUKL VLADIMÍR

Together with his friends he developed the Catholic lay apostolate movement for what he was a thorn in State Security´s side. In 1951 Vladimír Jukl was imprisoned; after a torture and ten months of solitary confinement as 27-year old man he was given a 25-year sentence.


Photo: Viliam Kasperkevič

KASPERKEVIČ VILIAM

He tried to cross the borders, see the world. However, in 1952 the State Court sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment for consorting with an agent of the British Secret Service.


Photo: Ladislav Kisska

KISSKA LADISLAV

Due to his acquaintance with Albert Púčik and Anton Tunega, who were executed in one of the most significant fabricated political trials held in 1950s in Czechoslovakia, he had to experience not only cruel investigation, but also forced labour camps. Fleeing from the clutches of the Iron Curtain was a solution of his hopeless situation.


Photo: Gabriela Kleinová

KLEINOVÁ GABRIELA

Gabriela is a sister of well-known colonel Alexander Korda and a wife of an architect Tibor Klein, who was in 1952 sentenced to 8-year imprisonment. Gabriela was arrested and she was sentenced to spend 4 years in prisons in Bratislava, Rimavská Sobota, Sučany, and in Želiezovce.


Photo: Richard Kolban

KOLBAN RICHARD

As a sixteen-year old boy Richard Kolban experienced all the horrors of Soviet labour camps. After two years, when thanks to General Svoboda, the Czechoslovak military forces were being formed in the Soviet Union, he was released from gulag and joined hundreds of volunteers, who enlisted from different parts of the USSR. Along with the military forces he gradually managed to get to Slovakia and participated in many liberating fights in our territory.


Photo: Milan Kňažko

KŇAŽKO MILAN

Milan Kňažko, a significant personality of the Slovak cultural as well as political life. This popular actor with a negative stand towards the communist regime is well known precisely for his co-organising and hosting the mass meetings held in November 1989 in Bratislava. He was one of the founders of the Public against Violence movement (VPN), and he remained politically active also during the post-revolution era.


Photo: Marián Kolník

KOLNÍK MARIÁN

Marián Kolník longed for the study of theology; however, his desire remained unfulfilled. He was interned in the concentration monastery in Pezinok, went through a hard work in military camp in Libava and he also spent forty months in the Auxiliary Technical Battalion (PTP) in Pilsen. All these experiences are indelibly engraved in his memory.


Photo: Tomáš Konc

KONC TOMÁŠ

This Capuchin priest was shortly after the school leaving examination sentenced by the totalitarian regime to several months of imprisonment. This way they made a lag and outcast of him, of the young university student.


Photo: Helena Kordová

KORDOVÁ HELENA

Wife of the colonel Alexander Korda, who was sentenced by the State Security to life imprisonment. After full ten years of imprisonment and torture her husband died on September 13, 1958 in the prison hospital. Helena was sentenced to 14 years and 10 of them she spent in forced labour camps.


Photo: Ján Košút

KOŠÚT JÁN

Russians accused him of serving in the Slovak military – although this service was compulsory. Subsequently he was abducted to the labour camps: OLP 33 NKVD, Jagrinlag, and Ozerlag from 1945 until 1953.


Photo: Milan Krajčovič

KRAJČOVIČ MILAN

Journey. This simple word could describe the entire life of Milan Krajčovič. He didn’t agree with the regime and its sharp practices thus he attempted to flee abroad. However, he has never managed to realise his dream about emigration. They caught, arrested and interrogated him at various places. Subsequently they sentenced him as well. He served his sentence in various prisons and labour camps. He was rehabilitated in 1990.


Photo: Jozef Krajňák

KRAJŇÁK JOZEF

He delivered a speech over the grave of Bishop Vojtaššák. Openly and publicly he expressed criticism towards the communist regime. Because of this act he was detained by the State Security (ŠtB), moreover, he was investigated, and sentenced to two years of imprisonment for rebellion against the Republic.


Photo: Ružena Kramárová

KRAMÁROVÁ RUŽENA

Ružena Kramárová born Kordová was together with other relatives from the Korda family tried in the process “Alexander Korda”. When in 1951 her husband was arrested, she was asked to confirm her husband´s testimony, however, she neither came back home soon and three little children stayed alone. In years 1951 – 1952 she was unfairly imprisoned in Bratislava.


Photo: Dorota Kravjanská

KRAVJANSKÁ DOROTA

Mother of five children, who was in her youth engaged in many activities within the Catholic Action and who was active in many Christian associations as well, had the first-hand experience of the state power bodies’ arrogance. She had to stand a trial on charge of “consorting against the state” and spend three months in prison.


Photo: Silvester Krčméry

KRČMÉRY SILVESTER

He joined the Catholic Scout League and during his high school studies he fully participated in various Church activities. In the end of July, 1951 Silvester was arrested and he spent three years in a remand centre. The military court in Trenčín sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment for high treason in 1954.


Photo: Štefan Kruško

KRUŠKO ŠTEFAN

The family of Štefan Kruško was among those, who trusted the false words about a better life in the Soviet Union. They became displaced persons, who immediately after their arrival in Ukraine lost their Czechoslovak citizenship without being aware of it and became citizens of the Soviet Union. Twenty years later, Štefan and his family managed to come back to Slovakia, where he still tries to help displaced compatriots with a great assistance from the Repatriates Coordination Committee in the Slovak Republic.


Photo: Zoltán Kukula

KUKULA ZOLTÁN

The private letter from his friend was a reason for his apprehension, investigation and, finally, it became a basis for a fabricated accusation of high treason, subverting of the Republic, and a membership in the White Legion resistant movement. Despite later being released from the prison due to lack of evidence, he together with his wife suffered a lot. For a long period of time she had no idea what had happened to her husband and why and where he had disappeared. Moreover, because of a reasonless apprehension and imprisonment his health was damaged. There is only one thing he wishes for: to never let the cruel and inhuman communist regime reign again in the future.


Photo: Alojz Kuna

KUNA ALOJZ

Alojz Kuna’s father was in the village labelled as the “local rich man”; however, in 1952 he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment, imposed a three hundred thousand crown fine and forced to move out of Nitra region. František Kuna served his sentence in Jáchymov mines. Moreover, his family had suffered the consequences of persecution for many following years.


Foto: Ernest Kyrály

KYRÁLY ERNEST

Even though he was persecuted because of his origin and had many conflicts with the communist regime, Ernest Kyrály had always believed in justice. Unfortunately, he neither achieved justice during the totalitarian era, nor afterwards.


Photo: Emil Lábus

LÁBUS EMIL

When he was only eighteen years old, the State Security arrested him for the distribution of leaflets encouraging people not to vote the Communist Party. After the trial he spent five years in Jáchymov labour camp.


Photo: Ivan Lefkovits

LEFKOVITS IVAN

He is honoured as a specialist in the field of immunology. He lectures at the university in Switzerland, in the city of Basel where he also lives. He was born in Prešov and as a six-year-old boy he experienced the hell of concentration camps Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. He was forced to pretend being deaf-and-dumb, with his brother they escaped from an orphanage, and when he wanted to cross the border dressed up like a girl, he betrayed himself. He survived bombings, death marches and he also witnessed the worst horrors that happened during the last days of Bergen-Belsen camp.


Photo: Alojz Lenkavský

LENKAVSKÝ ALOJZ

Alojz Lenkavský was one of the founders of anti-communist movement called White Legion in Spišská Belá. He prepared the distribution of leaflets that were aimed to point at the crimes of communism. However, the State Security revealed the White Legion group and thwarted their intensions. He was arrested and forced to confess to many crimes he had never committed.


Photo: Ján Lenský

LENSKÝ JÁN

In the year 1940 he fled the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia along with his parents and together they came to Slovakia. After the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising they joined the partisan group as civilians. However, Ján’s parents couldn’t stand it; they returned back and were deported to concentration camps. Ján had to hide at various places. The family managed to reunite only after the liberation of Czechoslovakia and then, they decided to emigrate.


Photo: Don Ernest Macák

MACÁK ERNEST

Don Ernest Macák, a man persecuted because of faith and care for his confreres, a cooperator of the Vatican Radio during the communist totality, a missionary of Slovaks in Basil, the first director of a newly opened Grammar School of Ján Bosco in Šaštín, a writer and a former provincial of Salesians, but precisely a man of deep faith and an enthusiastic Salesian priest.


Photo: Anna Malá

MALÁ ANNA

On August 21, 1968, the tragedy stepped into the life of the whole family of Anna Malá nee Bonková. Her brother, Jozef Bonk, nineteen-year old keen football player and trained locksmith, became one of the victims of occupation forces’ arrival in Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, he succumbed to gunshot wounds by a Soviet soldier.


Photo: Karol Maník

MANÍK KAROL

Karol Maník started his cooperation with an American Counter Intelligence Centre (CIC) in the 1950s, soon after Communism was established. He had been helping them to gain information for a short period of two years and, as a result, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.As the political prisoner, he spent ten years in the prison and in forced labour camps. After being granted amnesty in 1960, he was released.


Photo: Marta Marsinová

MARSINOVÁ MARTA

As early as a young girl she attended theological courses, she actively joined activities of the Slovak catholic scouting and she organized summer girl camps along with a professor Mária Pecíková. However, in 1959 she was taken to court. She served a year in a prison for religious activity in the Third Order of St. Francis as well as for distribution of religious literature.


Photo: František Mikloško

MIKLOŠKO FRANTIŠEK

One of the most significant personalities of the Slovak Catholic dissent and of the Slovak political stage after the year 1989, a long-time representative of the Christian Democratic Movement and a member of the Slovak National Council as well as the National Council of the Slovak Republic.


Photo: Jozef Mikloško

MIKLOŠKO JOZEF

He doesn’t consider himself to be a dissident, even though he actively participated in publishing samizdat magazines and various activities of the secret church. His political career began after the Velvet Revolution when he was appointed to two important posts of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Czechoslovak Federative Republic and the Slovak Ambassador in Italy. He is an older brother of František Mikloško.


Photo: Július Molitoris

MOLITORIS JÚLIUS

He and his family experienced the situation when southern parts of Slovakia were ceded to Hungary.


Photo: Ján Motulko

MOTULKO JÁN

Ján Motulko took a fancy to literature, which became his real love. This outstanding Slovak poet and prose writer fell silent for some time after the year 1948; however, he never stopped writing. His literary works written in the oppression period were published later after the revolution. In his testimony, he is forthcoming about the sharp practices of the State Security and about his own experiences from the investigation.


Photo: Františka Muziková

MUZIKOVÁ FRANTIŠKA

Františka Muziková, nurse by profession, was sentenced for professing her faith and for meeting her friends and had to spend one and a half year behind the bars of Czechoslovak jails. However, this bitter experience didn’t bring only affliction and sad memories into her life, but also many lifelong friendships with other political prisoners.


Photo: Jozef Nemlaha

NEMLAHA JOZEF

Jozef Nemlaha had the only dream – to have his own business. His dream came true; however, February 1948 changed everything. Unmerciful communist regime deprived him of his business and in 1952 sentenced him wrongfully for an alleged espionage to seventeen years of imprisonment, forfeiture of his property, loss of his civil rights for ten years and financial penalty of 20,000 Czechoslovak crowns.


Photo: Karol Noskovič

NOSKOVIČ KAROL

Based on the fabricated evidence, Karol Noskovič was accused of the high treason and the State Court in Bratislava sentenced him on April 22, 1952, to six years of imprisonment, ten-year loss of his civil rights and forfeiture of his whole property. He passed through many prisons such as Ilava, Jáchymov, Příbram and Leopoldov. He was a precious man who, regardless all the bitter experiences with the communist regime, never lost his sense of humour and faith in goodness.


Photo: Andrej Novák

NOVÁK ANDREJ

He was arrested, investigated and sentenced to life imprisonment for espionage and harbouring an agent of the Western intelligence agency, Viktor Palkovič. After being granted amnesty in 1963, he was released.


Photo: Gabriel Novák

NOVÁK GABRIEL

After being dismissed from school and from all secondary schools in the republic, he lost any chance to finish his education. In 1950 he accepted an offer to join the White Legion movement; however, one year later the state power bodies arrested him and subsequently sentenced him for anti-state activities to 22 years of imprisonment.


Photo: Ján Okoličáni

OKOLIČÁNI JÁN

He is a man who loved nature very much since his early childhood. This honest and principled man was labelled as unreliable and deprived of the chance to finish his university studies. He risked his life on the eastern front and got involved in the events following the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising. His desire to run the family property was thwarted by the post-war left-wing government that deprived him of everything what his family had ever had.


Photo: Bernard Pánči

PÁNČI BERNARD

As he belonged to the majority of priests who did not agree with the communist ideology, he was arrested on January 13, 1958, spent half a year in the remand centre in Žilina, and subsequently he was tried. In July 1958 the sentence was passed - 13 years of imprisonment for committing a crime of high treason.


Photo: Anton Petrák

PETRÁK ANTON

As a carrier officer he fought during the Second World War in the Czechoslovak foreign legions. After coming back home, the communist regime labelled him as an inconvenient person, so he was not only dismissed from the army but also persecuted and imprisoned.


Photo: Heliodor Píka

PÍKA HELIODOR

For the whole life he had fought and worked in favour of his homeland and he also used to prefer it to his own family. However, after the year 1948 this unique man and patriot was executed.


Photo: Milan Píka

PÍKA MILAN

His father’s arrest after the communist takeover in February 1948 set off the merry-go-round of affairs that have definitely changed the life of Milan Píka. Either his father’s execution or his own accusation of father’s escape preparations didn’t break him at all. A few hours before his father’s death, he promised him to clear his name. However, he managed to do that yet after the fall of the communism in 1989.


Photo: Ivan Polanský

POLANSKÝ IVAN

This deeply religious man devoted himself to spreading God’s word. He shared his ideas and attitudes with the other members of secret groups and societies at their gatherings. He proved his courage mainly when he started the publication and distribution of various samizdat periodicals and collections. He also used to make audio and written records of the broadcast of the Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and Vatican Radio that he copied and subsequently distributed among people. In June 1988 the Regional Court in Banská Bystrica sentenced him for an offence of subversion of the republic to four years of imprisonment.


Photo: Michal Popovec

POPOVEC MICHAL

As early as a student of a grammar school he experienced cruel methods of the State Security. Suspicion of sabotage, inhuman torture and a fabricated trial were only the beginning of his misfortune full of pain, grief and terror, which led him to Leopoldov and, finally, to Jáchymov prison. In spite of his bitter experience he gratefully appreciates there always have been individuals who did not lose their humaneness and helped him to overcome all the obstacles he has had in his life.


Photo: Ján Prokop

PROKOP JÁN

As a student he was arrested and investigated by the State Security for the first time due to his participation in the action organized by university students, but after being granted amnesty, he was released. However, he did not avoid the prison for long. A few years later, he was accused falsely and after a fabricated trial he spent more than nine years in prison.


Photo: Dobroslav Pustaj

PUSTAJ DOBROSLAV

Dobroslav Pustaj, the founder of the anti-communist movement called the Free Czechoslovakia. One of the political prisoners who were imprisoned for the longest period of time. Due to his fight for democracy in the country he spent more than sixteen years in various prisons and labour camps.


Photo: Mária Repáková

REPÁKOVÁ MÁRIA

Mária Repáková was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment on June 25, 1949. It was solely based on the false accusation of being present at so-called rebellion in Levoča. Even though her sentence was cut to five years at the second session of the court, she was given another five years of forced labour. She served her sentence in prisons in Košice, Ilava and Leopoldov and after being released, she worked under surveillance as a storekeeper in Košice.


Photo: Adam Repka

REPKA ADAM

Adam Repka was accused of high treason and, consequently, he was sentenced to five-year imprisonment and ten-thousand-crown penalty because of two anti-state leaflets warning against the activities of the Communist Party which tried to separate from the Catholic Church with the aim to establish its own church. He served his sentence in Leopoldov and in Jáchymov prisons. After being released, he, as an “ineligible” person for the Socialist regime, had to work in a collective farm until his retirement. In spite of his hard life, he and his wife brought up together seven children.


Photo: Richard Kolban

ROHÁČEK VLADIMÍR

After the communist takeover, the family of Vladimír Roháček experienced one affliction after another. At first, his grandfather was imprisoned, father confined to psychiatry and then, he also ended up in prison, supposedly for an offence of subversion of the republic. He was a member of a group of young believers, who used to meet regularly. After being released from a remand centre, he was sent into a labour camp for “re-education”.


Photo: Juraj Ružbaský

RUŽBASKÝ JURAJ

Since he was seven years old, he worked hard as a farm servant at different places, mainly at German farms, where he learnt to speak German. After the war, Russians accused him of translating for German soldiers and from 1945 until 1947 he was abducted into the labour camps in Ľvov and Odesa.