Ján Goč (1925)

Photo: Ján Goč

Biography:

“I was strong-minded, bold and prepared even for gallows. I don’t know how could I have been so courageous...”

Ján Goč was born on February 15, 1925, in the village Breznica in the family of poor peasants. His parents worked hard to build and keep a huge homestead where Ján had to work since his early childhood. When he was young he didn’t use to hide his strong resistance to communism and had many conflicts with the state power bodies. After finishing the military service he was forced to work manually. Later he was labelled a “rabble-rouser”; he spent three months in prison and finally, as a political prisoner he was sentenced to forced labour in Nováky mines. On the basis of an indemnity letter he managed to leave mines and start working in botanical garden in Bratislava. Here he gained a lot of practical experiences, which he used later in his professional life. He got over the hard times in prison thanks to the moral certainty and constant support from the side of his cellmate, dean Štefan Varga, who used to emphasize the need of spreading the gospel everywhere. After Ján had been released from the prison, he helped to build botanical garden in Košice and he also got an external degree in chemistry and biology. He worked at Pedagogical Faculty; however, he refused to sign the document about his excommunication, so he was dismissed from his work. Although he was an expert with a lot of skills and they offered him various positions, he had worked as an ordinary teacher for decades, because all the employment opportunities were conditioned by joining the Communist Party. At present Ján Goč often attends various forums at schools.

Father’s Arrest for “Breaking the Sowing Plan”

Ján Goč - Father’s Arrest for “Breaking the Sowing Plan” (data format Flash Video)

“Just imagine when I came back home after I had finished the military service. I was very sad because I saw my mother and sister crying. I said: “Mum, why are you crying?” “Oh, son, you were far away from us in South Bohemia, so we didn’t write you that your father is in nick.” “What? Our father was nicked? Our father, do-gooder, who used to help people so much, such an honest and brave person and he was arrested?!” “Son, they had already wanted to reap together, so they commanded a sowing plan, who, where and what should be seeded and do you know what father told them?” “Drunkards and idlers will never dictate me what I should do! I will seed what I want.” “Son, instead of rye he seeded wheat and this way he broke the sowing plan. Father was imprisoned. And now he is in nick.” “What? Our father was nicked...” Well, I had that black case, young and, you know, lively boy… I threw that piece of luggage on the floor and I almost destroyed it. Opposite our house there flowed a brook, I ran across the bridge straight to the Local National Committee (MNV), I grabbed the notary by the throat and told him: “Why did you arrest my father?” And he pointed at the former commander of the guard and said: “Mr. Goč, I had to do only what he directed me.” And I responded: “You brute! (I couldn’t say the Bolshevik one). You let three Jewish families load on a truck and then you arrested respectable people to cover up that filth!” I didn’t spit at him but on the floor and I left in anger.”

About the “Accidental” Tragedies in Mine

Ján Goč - About the “Accidental” Tragedies in Mine (data format Flash Video)

“They sent that prisoner to clean the troop carrier. “Take the rag and clean it there because the belt is sliding. Clean it well mainly around the launcher!” As soon as he put his hand there (my cellmate told me because I didn’t witness it, he spoke about it and warned me), as he gave his hand there, they pushed the button, his hand blew off and he fell down on the ground. He bled to death. They went as far as to say that he caused his death because of his own carelessness. And then I paused for a while: What are they doing here? Killing people? Why? But then I recalled that they used to arrest people gratuitously. Because I reproached the Reds that they loaded Jews on the truck and then poacher turned gamekeeper? I just told the truth! So that’s why they wanted to take vengeance on me. Well, and maybe they would want to kill me here too... Well, I stayed in silence, though, and watched not only myself but others as well.”

Helping the Cellmate to Meet His Family

Ján Goč - Helping the Cellmate to Meet His Family (data format Flash Video)

“On Sunday morning I looked, looked round because visitors were walking there but they didn’t permitted visits; however, people in the distance waved to prisoners. It was a signal which prisoner was familiar with. It meant that some relatives would come to see him. “Doctor”, I ran up to him, “probably your wife and two daughters are there, girls, one about ten years old and the second one about twelve.” “Oh, boy, are you sure?” I grabbed him under his arms. I took him to the corner of the building and his daughter shouted: “Mammy, mammy, look daddy is there!” I held him there and I tried to be inconspicuous, we both didn't want to let them see his disfigured body. I stood the way they couldn’t see me. He cried and girls jumped for joy and hugged their mother. Can you imagine how I felt, what a joy it was to watch them? He was absolutely happy, waved them, and then we had to go back. So I also experienced events like this in the camp, too.”

We, the Communists, Won't Make Concessions

Ján Goč - We, the Communists, Won't Make Concessions (data format Flash Video)

“It happened when the National Committee had a session in Breznica, my mom took spirits (vodka) and waited for them near the fence. When those drunkards, who judged my father and me too, who decided how long I would be in prison, went out, my mother told them: “Please, set at least one of them free, I need a man to work.” But Novotňák who was the secretary of the Regional Committee (KNV) and later of the District Committee (ONV) of the Communist Party and who loaded Jews on the truck told my mother: “We had already buried him, yes, we had.” And mammy responded: “Had you really done it?” “Sure, we, the communists, won't make concessions! We buried him, we buried your son. He will never come back.” And my mom cried. She offered them spirits, she wanted to placate them; however, they went away like the devils.”

Secret Celebrating of Easter Mass

Ján Goč - Secret Celebrating of Easter Mass (data format Flash Video)

“Suddenly Simonis came and said: “Patrolman is coming! Watch out!” The priest quickly removed that book, just like nothing had happened. We sat down again, the mass was disrupted and Klorus said: “I have no children; I'm going to stop him!” “Janko, don’t do that! You would get in the scrap.” Simonis ran up to us and said: “The patrolman went away, he turned and went back.” “Now, Janko, you can see that the prayer is really powerful; also the holy mass needs to be finished!” And it was the truth; we finished the mass properly and felt happy, even though we stayed behind that barbed wire.”

Accusation of the Dean Štefan Varga from Stropkov

Ján Goč - Accusation of the Dean Štefan Varga from Stropkov (data format Flash Video)

“Why did they arrest the dean? Actually, he managed to unite the entire Marian congregation in the town of Stropkov. He was a really good preacher and likeable man, people appreciated him near and far, and it was clear that they had to get rid of him. So the two State Security members agreed on this: “You will go and confess to priest, and then I will ask him what you told him. And I will pretend being an anti-state rebel.” After all, their action was revealed. But at that time, the dean finished the confession and went to sacristy and the other State Security member followed him: “Excuse me, do you know that man?” “No, I don’t.” “Don’t lie to me,” he raised his voice. “What did he confess to?” “Sorry, I had to keep a confessional secret. I can’t reveal it.” “You are the same!” he said and immediately they arrested and accused him. They fabricated the accusation and took him into custody for cooperation with an anti-state organization.”

University Examination in Marxism

Ján Goč - University Examination in Marxism (data format Flash Video)

“Of course, we studied Marxism, the world doctrine. I couldn’t pass an exam in Marxism because they made me to fail it three times; they wanted to foil my education. There was a signal. I made some excerpts and tried to cram for that exam: Menshevik policy, Bolshevik policy, two policies of social democracy, democratic revolution… Then, about the conference and so on, someone said something somewhere at the congress... Finally, the mentioned man who examined me asked: “How many files does Lenin have?” “Thirty-two volumes.” “What is written in the twenty-ninth volume?” And I stared at him: “Are you crazy?” And he responded: “Just take those files home and study them.” “Thirty-two volumes!”

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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