Emil Lábus (1932)

Photo: Emil Lábus


“Just like fascism, also communism should disappear from the entire world. People should live like people.”

Emil Lábus was born on April 23, 1932 in Spišská Belá. His father, who was a bricklayer, was a German by birth and his mother came from Slovakia. The family inherited a small homestead from his mother’s father. 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. He was tried together with another fifteen defendants and four of them were supposed to be sentenced to death. Emil was finally sentenced to five years of imprisonment for the high treason and they sent him to the forced labour camp in Jáchymov. He had a work injury in the camp, so he got to the prison hospital where he met a doctor of Jewish origin, Professor Koch. He was released from the prison in 1956. When Emil Lábus was in custody and later in prison, he had to face cruel interrogation and battering, though he was only a young boy at that time. He still has painful memories of this period of life.

Distribution of Anti-communist Leaflets

Emil Lábus - Distribution of Anti-communist Leaflets (data format Flash Video)

“We went to distribute the leaflets and we intended to do so in Levoča. However, they caught Lucián Neupauer. The State Security came and detained him. We both went back to the house and we were detained on Saturday. It was on November 5.” “What kind of leaflets did you distribute? Where did you get them?” “We had printed them by ourselves; actually I wasn’t there at that time. Other people had done it. And we offered to distribute them.” “What was written there on those leaflets?” “Brothers Slovaks…I can’t recall word by word now.” “Was it a kind of appeal for something?” “Of course, it was an appeal for not voting the communism.” “Who encouraged you to do it?” “Who encouraged us? Nobody had to.”

Motion to Death Penalty

Emil Lábus - Motion to Death Penalty (data format Flash Video)

“We were tried on June 12, 1951. When they read the accusation, the prosecutor filed a motion to impose the strictest sentence, the death penalty, on Bohumil Jakubjak, Lucián Neupauer, Alojz Lenkavský and Peter Drozd. Presiding judge Tratnerová insisted on the death penalty but the legal expert, who was observing there, was given the floor and said: ‘Oh people, what are you doing here? They are just kids and you want to sentence them to death!’ He was the only man who stood up for us.”

Interrogation and Beating

Emil Lábus - Interrogation and Beating (data format Flash Video)

“There were two, three or four men who interrogated us; they battered us black and blue, I can’t even express it.” “What kind of methods did they use?” “When they opened a wardrobe, you know, there was everything from the small whip to… and they battered and battered…” “What did your cellmates say? How did they beat them?” “Oh, it is, it was always different.” “And what about the testimonies?” “They investigated me on one day, I knew nothing else. I only woke up… and I was absolutely soaked through. Don’t ask me more about it…”

Holy Mass in the Camp and Slapping a Warder

Emil Lábus - Holy Mass in the Camp and Slapping a Warder (data format Flash Video)

“Men from Moravia were usually on guard but they were also present on the mass. We were watching out. Once when I was working in the afternoon shift, they had the mass in Svätopluk. It was mischance that the campfire, it was the nickname for kapo, heard it. The same day they sent our priest away. Actually, they abducted him in the same evening. We didn’t know where. We didn’t know. In the morning when I was there to have a wash, the kapo walked around, I didn’t know whether he was snooping there or not. I slapped him so strongly that he fell down. I couldn’t remember how long he wasn’t there then, but it was surely about three or four days. He said he was beaten. Slovaks knocked him down.”

Injury, Stay in Hospital and Release

Emil Lábus - Injury, Stay in Hospital and Release (data format Flash Video)

“I had an injury there because we used to move it in some nailed boxes. We put boxes down and moved it and they concreted there around the building site. And the most probably that mould broke off and as the lift and crane pulled it up, it pushed me somewhere and I hit my head. Nothing else happened to me, only my head was fractured thrice. Look here, it was twelve centimetres long. And fortunately I am still here.” “Did they take you to the military hospital?” “It wasn’t a military hospital, it was a prison hospital indeed and there was Professor Koch. He was a man who experienced various things during the Slovak State because he was a Jew. They took Jews during the Slovak State and he was taken as well. He was a very good man. Later they discharged me from the hospital and I was paroled. They granted my and my mother’s request and moved me to the hospital in Karlové Vary. I called my parents and they had to come to take me home. My mother, father and me as well, we all had to sign that I was discharged on my own request, and then I went home to Belá.”

Getting Rid of Prisoners in the Camp

Emil Lábus - Getting Rid of Prisoners in the Camp (data format Flash Video)

“In the camp Rovnosť, prisoners had to make a kind of draft to ensure circulation in the shaft and once something happened there. They had last two or three meters to blast and they would be on the surface. Paleček, who was a commander of the camp, took automatic and started to fire to the places where prisoners stayed. It was said that he had shot somebody to death. I didn’t know.” “Did sometimes happen that men who led the prisoners out wanted to get rid of them and shot them?” “Yes, members of the National Security Corps bragged: ‘I take a prisoner or two for a walk. And I come back alone.’” “Can you recall any case of this kind?” “Oh, I don’t know exactly. However, I had a friend who slept in my cell and he told me that Paleček had done it.”

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.

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