Emil Švec (1925 - 2010)
Motto: „For six years I was in the prison without any judgement.“
“The reality is that there exists an illegal communist organization in the justice system, which is connected with former communist structures and has available material from the State Security and the Ministry of Interior and it directs further battle to cover up for the culprits who committed crimes of the past as it pushes to take root and hold its current position in justice.” And this is what they gave me those three months for...
Emil Švec was born in 1925 in Piešťany. He grew up in a Christian family, gained the elementary and secondary education, later he completed also air training in the army. As a young student he joined the Piešťany group White Legion, which led an active resistance against the communist totalitarian regime being formed. Kamil Vančo, a Catholic priest from Sokolovce near Piešťany made him acquainted with other members of the group at his parish. During his further studies at the Faculty of Medicine in Bratislava he was arrested by the State Security and sentenced to six years of prison for high treason. After releasing from the custody he couldn´t find any job so he fled to Austria in a crop-dusting airplane. He signed up for courses at the University in Vienna and during the studies of medicine he also worked as a journalist. However, at that time State Security registered him as a state enemy and his activity was monitored. In 1961 he was convicted in absentia for espionage and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Later on, he was attacked, wounded, and kidnapped from Austria to Czechoslovakia by the State Security forces. Communist propaganda started to play an intelligence game and misinformed the public, that Emil Švec was captured whilst crossing the boarder from Austria to Czechoslovakia. Without any reason he was named a NATO agent. In 1969 he was freed and rehabilitated. After the pseudo-rehabilitation he was imprisoned again. Finally he was released from the prison in 1977; however, he had many problems with State Security until 1989. Shocking was a reality that in 1993 he was convicted of a harsh offending a public actor in the execution of his legal authority and the County Court in Trnava sentenced him to spend three months in the prison. The reason for this action was that after 1989 was Emil Švec searching for his perpetrators and calling for their punishment.
Prisons of the Czechoslovak Communism
“I’ve been taken to this prison twice – I’ve had two sentences. The first time was when I was a student. At that time they arrested me and brought me to the two lions. I was kept there for about four days. Then they put me here, at this 162, and here at 162 I was anchored for about a year. At that period of time the practice was such that there were no books for reading, that’s the first thing. It was just an empty cell, that’s the second thing. We did not have exercise time outside, that did not exist. When we were being taken for interrogation, they would push through a towel that hung outside. I would take it, cover my eyes, and would just stand there. They would open the door, take me, and go out and down the stairs, down to a car. We called the car Anton. It had these boxes, maybe 8. They would open a box, push you in with your eyes covered, and you had to sit. Then they would shut you in there. And when they closed it, I was in this kind of tin cage. Here air vents, there an air vent, with the light on. In this way they would bring me to the two lions, the court. Again a towel, we’d go up, and when I got to the room, he would say ‘take it off’. Then I would take off the towel and put it down. There was an agent who would start the interrogation.”
Rejecting the Application for Passport Issuing
“I gave my request through the usual channel to the Bratislava police office, some kind of passport division, and it was refused. It was refused in a similar way from Prague when I appealed against the first decision. Each sent an obligatory response that was the same -- It is not in the interest of Czechoslovakia that I would hold a valid passport.”
Escape to the West
“It was still dark when I got into the machine, like now. I tried to remember what switches were where, since I had not been flying in this type of plane, although I had seen it before. The important thing was the valve to allow gasoline in. It had one gas tank. And a second tank. Both of these on the wings. It was done so that one was on, then the second was on, then both of them. Since it was night, and everything could be very well heard, I quietly, slowly, so as to make no sound, I pushed it there and left it. After some amount of time, as I decided I would go, a little complication appeared. My cabin was fogged over with mist, and I was buried in the seat. As I was looking, one guard came to the guardhouse window, stopped there, looked out a bit, and stretched his back. That was, that was a really tense moment. What’s he going to do? Is he going to go outside, or is he going to go back to sleep? I waited some 5, 6 minutes, but he went back to sleep. He didn’t go out. That was a strong signal to do something, because the morning was already approaching. So I decided I would go.”
“When I got off the plane, it all fell off of me. Firstly, the whole risk which was connected with the flying, and the fact that it all worked out. That was the first great feeling. The second feeling, a bit later, was the fact that I realized that everything the regime represented, the State Police, those confidants, those jails, everything that I experienced, that I lived through, all was behind me. And they can never, in no way, persecute me again.
As I was leaving that Storch, to report to the police that I’m here, I remember one thing. I was already leaving but something turned me back. And I went back to the Storch, looked at the fuselage, and I just kind of tapped it. In a friendly way. I sort of said goodbye, and thank you, for taking me here. It had given me a ride. Since then I’ve never seen it. I hope it’s doing well….”
Friend - Secret Agent
“Palkech, who appeared in Vienna about 14 days after my escape, surprised me quite a bit. As far as I knew, he had not been able to get to Austria, and suddenly he just was there. I don’t know from who he got a contact to me, but he simply found me in one hotel where I lived. We went for a walk, he took pictures of me, and so on. I felt that there was too much of that picture taking, and I didn’t know what for. Later I found out – it was all in the documents of the State Security.”
“The fact that I stayed in Vienna for three years and did not travel to America, even though I already had permission to travel out, I value positively in the way that it made sense. I attended the University, that was one thing. I spent a lot of time with people I knew. But, of course I have to admit that I was not careful, I risked too much. And in taking these risks, unfortunately, I ended up back in Czechoslovakia.”
Convicted in Absentia
“I found out about the 1961 trial very late, in the immigrant press printed in Munich. It was about imprisoned patriots, but there were no names. These were very brief news articles, and I did not know they concerned me. Unfortunately, only when they arrested me did they tell me I had been tried here and a court had sentenced me to 15 years for espionage.”
Near a Boarder Stone
“Based on the information that I had from the journalist Mudry, some news material from him would be in this area. So I got here; it was a Sunday, a sunny day like today, nobody nowhere, as it is here today – but in this I was really mistaken because these were the conditions that were convenient for the ambush which was done later.”
Kidnapping from the Austria territory
“I got to the stone without much trouble, and here, close to my left foot, I took out a parcel, in which I don’t know what was there. I put it into my pocket, turned, and slowly went back to my bag which I left in the corn. When I was already close to the corn, I had a bad feeling so I turned and saw a lieutenant in his uniform with a pistol in his hand, firing at me.
I have to state that all of these were killing shots which could have ended really badly. After the second hit, two more armed men came with automatic guns, in uniforms, warrant officers. One was a former prison guard. When they got to us they tripped me, and one grabbed one leg while the other grabbed the other leg, and they dragged me on the ground – Šándor took my hand and in this way they dragged me to Czechoslovakia. As soon as we were behind the line on Czechoslovak territory, they threw me on my belly, pulled my hands back, tied me and a dog lied on me.”
Shocking Arrivals to the Prison...
“These arrivals to the prison are so shocking. Firstly, being put into prison is shocking, and it takes some time for a man to get used to it and acclimated to it. Then, of course, the sentence was always much higher than expected. Always. I have to say that the length was a surprise. Just imagine that a judge tells you convicted and sentenced to 10 years, or 6 six years, which is an awful long time. And, as a man, you cannot imagine, you just can not imagine, what you will be in a year. Where will I be in a year, will I be in prison for two years, for three years; that perspective is in a fog. I could not count that I would live to the end, survive from a psychological standpoint: it was terror from morning until evening, everything against me and against my will. That was where the inner core, or I can say the higher principles, came into everybody in a different way. Since it was impossible to handle the material area, that was all losing meaning and these higher lasting principles were gaining importance and value the more helpless the person was. Based on that, many people revised their opinion. Even former atheists, they had to think what is possible and what is impossible, because the life that they had lived outside of prison that had been good enough, in prison it was not enough.”