Adam Repka (1924)
“First of all, the young should heed their faith, because they will face the trial once, not the Communist one though, but when the Last Judgement comes. Moreover, they should never forget how much their ancestors suffered during the reign of Socialism.”
Adam Repka was born on June 9, 1924, and during his life he has experienced reign of four different regimes. After the war he did not react to the Socialist regime with elation mainly because of forced establishment of collective farms. In 1950 he was arrested and sentenced to five-year imprisonment and ten-thousand-crown penalty because of two anti-state leaflets he was given by his friend. They warned against effort of the Communist Party to separate from the Catholic Church and to establish its own church. Other eleven people, mostly ordinary citizens including a postman and some teachers, were arrested and sentenced along with him. Firstly, Adam Repka stayed in the remand in Prešov and later in Bratislava. After the trial he served his sentence in Leopoldov and Jáchymov prisons. In Jáchymov he worked in mine and after six months he moved to well drilling where he worked until his release. Most likely it saved his life, because he had been exposed to radiation in the mine only for a short time. Moreover, he served as a ministrant during secret masses in the prison. Meanwhile, his wife had to look after their two-year-old daughter and three-month-old son alone. During five years he spent in prison, she could visit him only five times. His brother, Ján Repka, whose monastic name was Romuald, served as a Franciscan priest. He was interned in Podolínec monastery where he had to work hard in state property as well as in a state wood. After the year 1968 he was moved to monastery in Trnava. Later he served in Dvorníky, Malacky and Svätý Anton near Banská Štiavnica. He died prematurely of cancer. After being released, Adam Repka had to work in the collective farm, because he was considered to be “ineligible” for the Socialist regime. He worked there until his retirement. Moreover, he started to play the organ in a church. Meanwhile, his wife gave birth to other five children. The oldest son, inspired by his uncle Ján, studied theology, was ordained a priest, and now he serves in Russia. Two daughters live in Canada and the rest of the children live in Kurima and Bardejov. He wishes the young people to heed their faith and never forget how much their ancestors suffered during the reign of Socialism.
“When the second elections were due to start and people were expected to express their opinion about separation from the Catholic Church, the leaflets because of which I was arrested were made. They were printed by an official working in the notary office in Bardejovská Nová Ves, where he had a printing machine. Then he and my friend with whom I served in the army distributed them in villages on a motorbike. On Sunday afternoon, after the elections, they came to a pub in Kočín and they asked people what the result of the elections had been. ‘The result in our village is this’- one of them said and he showed them a blank sheet of paper. But there was a chief of police station wearing civilian dress. When they went outside, he came to them and showed his police badge. Then he asked them to show their identity cards and he arrested them. Afterwards, other people were arrested successively. All in all, twelve people were arrested including a teacher, a postman from Bardejovská Nová Ves, and some other ordinary citizens. I was working on a field about two kilometres far away from the village when two State Security members came and told me that I’d had to go with them. They took me to the police station in Kurima. Before I went to the police station, I asked them to go home with me to take my coat, because I was wearing only a shirt. They accepted my request. The rest of my family was working on other field. My mother packed me a piece of bacon and some bread and then I went with them to Prešov.”
Custody in Prešov
“And then I saw the whole group had already been arrested. So I waited what would follow. We were investigated there. One of the people investigated before me was called Karol Miháľ, he was our leader. It was just his turn then. His cell was situated above the cell used for investigation. Consequently, he was listening to cry and shouts during the whole night when people were investigated and beaten. Therefore, he couldn’t sleep, because it depressed him. After a couple of weeks, when they started to investigate him, they battered him firstly, then he was given a cigarette and they asked him to speak. He started to blather nonsensically and they wrote a sixty-page record about his meetings with an agent in Bratislava. When they asked him to tell them an address of their meetings, he came up with a fabricated one. Since he had worked in the notary office, he knew a lot of addresses, so he fabricated the address where they met in a cellar. He also told them who else had those leaflets including my name. Just before the trial they found out his testimony was all nonsense. Therefore, they shortened it to thirty pages, maybe twenty-eight; they reduced it to a half. And the methods of investigation: when he didn’t want to confess to anything, he was sent to a dark cell where he stayed without any food, without a bed or a table, so he had to lie on the concrete floor, because he didn’t have anything there.”
Secret Masses in Prison
“… One Franciscan priest, Jozef Jurčovič from Vištuk, served masses in a mine, five hundred metres under the ground, and I went there to serve as his ministrant. Since I worked in well drilling, the other prisoner operated a machine and I went to the mass. Moreover, we confessed to the priest secretly. Some of the priests didn’t have wine and wafers for the masses. I mean the wafers which were baked without sugar and milk. In prison, there were also clerks from the office of the Czech Archbishop Beran. Their wives sent them baked wafers in parcels so they could exchange them in the prison. We had our own special money in the prison; they were minted only on one side, so they weren’t valid outside the prison. The currency used by citizens outside the prison was called ‘hard’. When some grapes were supplied to the canteen, six of us squeezed them to produce some wine. But only one bottle was good, the rest of it went sour. During every mass we used only a little of it. Some glass tubes from pills looking like snifters were used instead of a goblet. When we found a room without a ‘rat’, where everyone was reliable, we could serve the mass there. It looked as follows: I pretended to play chess, another prisoner pretended to read newspapers and the priest stood on the bed and he served the mass by his memory.”
Breakout from Jáchymov
“Some prisoners tried different ways how to escape from the prison. There is one example. All the waste rocks were transported outside the factory. The factory was fenced and some civilians carried them there. There was a three-shift system of work and the civilians worked the night shifts. A group of prisoners figured out a plan to make a lid and put it on the bottom of a mine car. A prisoner hid under the lid and they poured waste rocks on it until the car was full and sent it among other loaded mine cars. When the waste rocks were poured out on the heap, he fell out on them. Since he wasn’t hurt, he started to run away and some civilians watched him running. But there was a problem, because one prisoner was missing and wardens had to find out how he had escaped to prevent other breakouts. Finally, one of the civilians confessed he saw the escaping prisoner. As a result, they took measures to prevent other breakouts, for example, they constructed some kind of platform for mine cars and the spar pushing them forward had a new sharp tip then to dig the mine cars to their bottoms.”
“When the prisoners came to execution, they had to stand in a queue; all the corps of the prison guards were present there. Firstly, the prisoner’s sentence was read and then a hangman hung knot over his neck. Meanwhile, he leaned his knee against prisoner’s belly to prevent kicking, then he pushed some button and the bottom dropped under him. In addition, the hangman took prisoner’s head into his hands and broke his neck. The prisoners were executed successively, one after another. The rest of the prisoners had to wait for their own execution. Those who were executed later were under extreme mental pressure. Some of them were so scared by impending death they started to shout loudly….”
The story and videoclips of this witness were put together and published thanks to the financial support of EU within the programme Europe for Citizens – Active European Remembrance.