“System could work only in case it satisfies not only biological, but also psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of people. As for the communists, they satisfied the first mentioned, but suppressed all our spiritual needs.”
Elena Schmidtová was born in the town of Krompachy as the oldest child in the family. She spent the entire childhood in her hometown where they lived with their grandmother. This woman also set her a good example of religious belief in God. Her father had a strong social consciousness what influenced her a lot in her personal life. He worked as an official in the factory in Krompachy. Elena studied at the municipal school where she had very good educational attainments. She wanted to enrol at the university’s extramural studies in Košice. She didn’t manage it because of the financial situation of her family and because the school was closed then. In 1939 when the Slovak State came into existence, she had to get employed in the Food Cooperative in Krompachy, even though she initially longed for studies. Later, she managed to find a job as an assistant teacher in the village of Odorín. In the year 1943 she passed an exam and continued studying the third year of the Teacher Training College where she passed the leaving examination in 1947. In 1948 she left for Bratislava because of extramural studies at the Faculty of Arts. She used to organize various gatherings and groups at the faculty along with two other girls. They called themselves “tiny trio” and besides many other activities they also organized different trips to nature. She gained a lot of important contacts that she used later when they organized secret Christian activities together. However, in 1952 she was arrested by the State Security and imprisoned in Bratislava prison at Špitálska Street called U dvoch levov (At Two Lions). Then the interrogation followed. They had probably given her some intoxicants into her meals to be sure that she would tell them “the truth” about people who she had cooperated with when organizing all those Christian gatherings. Subsequently they forced her to sign fabricated record of her testimony. When she was in prison, she fell ill and thus they had to take her to hospital. She spent some time there, but then she was transported back to the prison. Between the years 1954 – 1956 she got to the labour camp in Želiezovce where she was an agricultural worker. After being released from prison, it was really hard for her to become integrated into society because she had almost nothing. Her family helped her to start living a full life again. She managed to achieve what she had always longed for - she graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy and in 1990 her book titled Listy nielen o adopcii (Letters Not Only about Adoption) was published.
Father as a Role Model
“We lived at my grandmother’s from my mother’s side. She set an example for me by her faith and trust in God and by her really sound Christian life. And my father, who usually led conversation with her, mainly before elections, he was zealous for social justice. I can say that back then the village of Krompachy was called “valley of hunger”. Later people used to call it red Krompachy, because there was a mine in Slovinky and a copper processing plant in Krompachy. And it was interconnected somehow. In Slovinky miners often died of silicosis and their children were forced to beg for food. It influenced me a lot because my mother used to give them some bread at the door. You know, we used to have it always at home and my father called those children in and asked them about their parents, their occupations and then he usually went to see the sick ones. Thus my father was a good example of a man with real social consciousness and he considered it as some fight for social justice. Even though he wasn’t well educated, he was very intelligent and he never feared to raise his voice against injustice.”
Interrogated at Špitálska in Bratislava
“I was there for about three weeks or the like and they didn’t interrogate me at all. And then they transported me to Špitálska. They probably gave me some drugs into my meal. I say probably, but actually I am sure they did so. Because once he came and told me: ‘This is for you.’ It was a kind of cake scattered with sugar. Later I came to know that they added some scopolamine or something like that there. At night I was seeing things, it seemed to like it was filmed. Silvo Krčméry has already told you that they were doing similar things in Ruzyně in Prague. As if I heard some investigation above my head, I thought it was Nahálka because I didn’t know that he had managed to run away. I told myself that it shouldn’t have been forgotten ever. I could hear as they tortured him, yelled at him and threatened him as well. I didn’t know whether they filmed it to frighten me or it was a real investigation, but I must admit that it could be a kind of my hallucination with Nahálka. Actually I have to say that I was somehow motivated by the Jehovah’s Witness to accept all that suffering in the name of Church and its resurgence.”
Signing an Untruthful Record
“Well, I was in Bratislava. That bully urged me to sign the untruthful records so much that I became really raving. I had a kind of inner cue; it was for the Church, you know, it’s embarrassing to talk about it, I thought that if I had signed the record, devil would have taken us to hell. But the suffering was for the Church. So they probably don’t point at that record from Bratislava, because it’s visible there, I mean on my handwriting, that indeed I wasn’t sane when I was signing it. Under the influence of all the hallucinations and delusions I didn’t perceive reality at all and I haven’t told it to anybody, that I did it for the Church. But since that time the main incentive in my entire life has been the Church indeed. And I was so elated thanks to our last popes that I considered it to be too big reward for me, you know, firstly the council and then… Objectively speaking it was a horrible unfairness and malicious perversion of facts. Personally I took it as my duty to suffer for the Church. And I never regretted it, quite the contrary I thank God for everything.”
Appraisal of the Period Spent in Prison
“I still thank God for everything. After all, every negative event had some positive influence on me. It was really unbelievable that when somebody tried to hurt me, he actually did me good. In prison I realised who communists were and how they could hate and treat people and the like. I would have never believed it, if I hadn’t met those precious people from Košice. Then I was so enthusiastic about the resurgence of the Church, about living in accordance with the Holy Bible, and about an engagement for the Kingdom of Christ in general. I could really thank for everything because even though somebody didn’t wish me any good, it ended up well for me.”
“It will be my turn, too...”
“Some people had already been imprisoned. Actually I mean professor Šmalík and Silvo Krčméry from Bratislava. So I supposed somehow that I would be the next, because I used to organize various, even underground gatherings, meetings at the faculty, religious retreats at some disposed families and things like that. I was fully engaged in various activities also in my hometown.”
From Jail to Jail
“We were writing an introduction for my diploma thesis. My mother came to my room and said: ‘Aca,’ I have already told you that they used to call me Aca at home, ‘two men are searching for you.’ And I got it, I felt embarrassed that it was at my friend’s house and I went downstairs, left my bag there, but of course, later they forced me to go up and take it with me. Well, when I came downstairs, I asked them who they were and they showed me their certificates, proved that they were the State Security members. They took me to their car and drove me to Špitálska Street, where the remand centre called At Two Lions was located. I was photographed and fingerprinted there. I had golden earrings, ring and probably wristwatch, simply said, they took everything and never gave it back to me. So I said to myself: ‘Now I am in it. I am already involved.’ I can say I was prepared for it somehow, yes, I really was. I convinced myself that it would have been mercy of God, if they had nabbed me. And at night they transported me from Špitálska Street to the district prison. They put me to the cell with two other women. I used to imagine prison like a cellar, but it was a normal room where only the window was high and straw mattresses were on the floor.”
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.