Ján Košút (1926 - 2013)
“Not even an animal can endure what a man can. In German concentration camps people were condemned to rapid death: to gas and the furnace. We were condemned to slow death, through total exhaustion.”
Ján Košút was born in 1926 in Central Slovakia. Nine years of his life he spent in the Gulag labour camps in the outlying areas of the Soviet Union, today’s Russia.
Russians accused him of serving in the Slovak military – although this service was compulsory. Subsequently he was abducted to the labour camps: OLP 33 NKVD, Jagrinlag, and Ozerlag from 1945 until 1953.
“The war was almost over. In spite of that, I was recruited into the Slovak army. I couldn’t refuse and I had to go, because we were at war. Anyway, I deserted from training camp and came home. But two weeks later the executive body of NKVD arrested me on the basis of a denunciation.”
Information from the Central Archive in Moscow
“From Slovakia about 7000 civilians were taken. Of those, 210 were women. I found out this information in the Central archive in Moscow where I worked for the Department of Justice. There I also realized that 61 900 arrested people had died by June 7, 1945. Those were all innocent people.”
“A Military Tribunal judged me. No defence, no right to appeal. But before the hearing one young Belo Russian advised me to agree with everything, to sign everything because there was just one rule operating: If you don’t sign, you get a bullet! If you sign, you will live a little longer! And Beria’s rule was: “Show me a man and we will accuse him!” This was the way the accusation process went at that time.” (Beria was then head of the KGB.)
Torture in Bessarabia
“On the seventh day we arrived at the prison of Chernovice in Bessarabia. That was a shock! We were packed in one room with a container for water and faeces, nothing more. We were lying there, we were tight like sardines in the can. If someone wanted to turn round or turn over, the same act had to be performed by all lying in a row. There was torture, there was hunger, and it was really hard to survive even one day. It was horrible psychologically, as well as physically.”
“In the north of JAGRINLAG I had been with criminals and bandits. It was really hard to survive every day. We were beaten by them. They stole not only from kitchen, but also from their cellmates. They followed the underworld’s law: “It is not right for us to labour! You die today, but me tomorrow.”
“I returned home just before Christmas in 1953. When I got off the train, I sighed: “Oh Lord, I have trusted in you!“ When I entered the yard, I met an old woman. This woman was my mother. And I had always imagined her as a young, beautiful, healthy woman, the way she looked like when I left.”