Jozef Mikloško (1939)

Photo: Jozef Mikloško

Biography:

“The Velvet Revolution was the God’s gift and a real miracle. It was our fathers’ and grandfathers’ dream.”

Jozef Mikloško was born on March 31, 1939 in Nitra. After finishing the Eleven-year Secondary School he earned a degree at the University of Pedagogy in Bratislava where he graduated in mathematics and chemistry. After a short a period of time when he worked as a secondary school teacher in Nové Zámky, in the early 1960s he served the attendance military service in Lipník nad Bečvou. Besides sports he engaged in science. He found a job in the Slovak Academy of Sciences as a research worker at the Institute of Technical Cybernetics, where he worked until the year 1990. When he was working at the Academy, he managed to graduate at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University in numerical mathematics, which he lectured on at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics in Bratislava until 1989. In the late 1980s he held a post of the chief of the international Base Department for Artificial Intelligence. He reproached the communist regime mainly for its uncompromising attitude towards people with different opinion and for suppression of religious freedom. He was actively involved in the activities of the underground church and organised regular gatherings of families, children, and youth. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 he became a member of the Slovak National Council; however, a bit later, he decided to go and work in Prague, so he had to surrender his mandate. Until 1992 he held a position of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic for human rights and briefly he also worked as a member of the Chamber of the People of the Federal Assembly. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, he worked as a journalist for several months; however, still in 1993 he took the position of an Advisor to the President in the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic, where he stayed until 1995. In the late 1990s he was engaged especially in literature and book publication in his publishing company called DACO, but in addition to that he worked as a secretary of the commission of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia: Justice and Peace and as a member of the local government of Bratislava-Petržalka. He lectured at the Catechetical-Pedagogical Faculty in Ružomberok and became a vice-rector for science, research, and international relations at Trnava University. In 2000 he was at the peak of his career as he became the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Italy, San Marino, and Malta. After his return from Italy, he retired and since then, he has acted as a president of the Christian Seniors Association in Slovakia. He continues writing his own literary works and also shares his attitudes with the public in his weblog.

Mass Rallies as an Indication of the Fall of the Communist Regime

Mass Rallies as an Indication of the Fall of the Communist Regime (data format Flash Video)

“I consider the year 1985 to be the beginning. We went for pilgrimage to Velehrad, when we suddenly realised that there were two hundred thousand people and it was said there for the first time that this wasn’t a peace festivity, but the celebration of St. Cyril and Methodius, not just Methodius and Cyril, but Saint. Mr. Klusák jiggled nervously there and two hundred thousand people shouted and probably cardinal Casaroli didn’t experience such fame as back then later. It was the first hefty blow. There were many Slovaks as well as Moravians, maybe a bit less Bohemians, it was the year 1985. Then, in 1988 various petitions and mass rallies were launched. Surely you are familiarised with them as they were prepared in Slovakia. The secret church prepared several petitions and one of them was a petition of father Navrátil from Brno, in which he demanded religious freedom and the like. Six hundred thousand people signed it because the structures had already been prepared for it. It was a kind of blow for communists; they started to think about it, they were aware that it was no game and additionally, there were many petitions, which went relatively well. And communists weren’t able to fight against them. Then, the Candle Manifestation took place on March 25. It was actually the beginning of our revolution. I regard it as one of the first clear demonstrations against communism, there were about ten thousand people also standing in side streets and so on. It all is really well-known, but it was a point in which that big glacier moved towards freedom, in which our Velvet Revolution started. With prayer beads in our hands, with prayers, with no resistance against violence which was really cruel. A few days after the Candle Manifestation, I travelled to Vietnam, where we had a mathematical meeting and congress and I was very surprised that all the people there, in strongly communist Vietnam, knew about the Candle Demonstration.”

Informing Public from Abroad

Informing Public from Abroad (data format Flash Video)

“Another important aspect was a number of books smuggled from abroad, you know, there were literally hundreds of thousands of them. Especially Tóno Hlinka from Munich, from the Voice of America, used to publish and smuggle them to Slovakia through various means, but sometimes something was revealed. He shared greatly in the fact that Slovakia was well informed. You know, the Voice of America, Munich, back then the whole Slovakia listened to it and when the Candle Manifestation took place, that day in the evening we came to know how the things actually were from the Voice of America from Munich. From Munich, later, I met Tóno many times and I know his shares in this regard were huge, he searched for various publications and obtained them, he published books, and his intelligence activities were excellent. It is necessary to say that my brother, František Mikloško, and Jano Čarnogurský, but also many others, phoned us the news immediately and weren’t afraid. It all was dependent on them, and they were dependent on him.”

Unpunished Evil

Unpunished Evil (data format Flash Video)

“In this regard, Slovakia and its history are strange as they managed to survive as well as the faith survived. However, it is necessary to say that besides all these positive and devoted people and their deeds there was very much evil which hasn’t been punished yet and which probably never will. The problem is that such unpunished evil will sooner or later return, and it returns now, it is a sort of imprecation on Slovakia as it is still so. I only want to mention everything related to it. Hundreds of thousands of people were involved in it, there weren’t tens or hundreds of them, that State Security and communist machinery consisted of half a million communists at that time, in 1988, 1989. Moreover, there were people excluded, stroked out after 1968, people who didn’t win favour with them. Another interesting thing is that many communists, who had done various dirty tricks and literally crimes in 1950s and 1960s, suddenly came around, probably with the distance of several years they saw it was bad and in 1968 they joined the process of reformation. Hooray, hooray, let’s go; let’s build the communism with the human face, socialism… Then, the year 1968 came, the invasion of troops and they all were punished, more or less, some even in 1950s, 1960s, but then they suddenly became martyrs.”

Europe Doesn’t Need Students with Bad Marks

Europe Doesn’t Need Students with Bad Marks (data format Flash Video)

“A lot has changes in the past twenty years. Slovakia is a free state, let’s say. Europe offers great opportunities to us, so the own desires, own ideas, own talent are much more important today. I think that talent goes hand in hand with an ability to break through, in simple terms, there are possibilities for people who speak foreign languages, who have own ideas, who are industrious, serious and the like, so those people have to break through and in some way, Europe waits for such people. Europe doesn’t need students with bad marks who knows everything just a bit and nearly nothing. So the style in which the point is to sail through the life somehow, be doing well and know almost nothing, this lifestyle is a sort of dead end, though it is very popular these days. In the communist era I thought that people really were appointed to functions and high offices through contacts, connections, through party membership and I was persuaded there the era will come, in which the things will be different, unfortunately, it is the same also today, party t-shirts, contacts, corruption decide who will hold higher posts, but on the other side there is also a private sector in which people can realize their potential and ideas. People can come there and get on. The possibilities and opportunities for the young generation at present are absolutely incomparable with the past.”

Times Will Come When Various People and Even Rascals Will Come out of the Holes

Times Will Come When Various People and Even Rascals Will Come out of the Holes (data format Flash Video)

“I remember that in December Anton Hlinka came for the first time to the cathedral and preached a beautiful sermon. Hooray, we were there, we finally had freedom and the like, but back then, he was the first person who warned us, it was a bit strange, that times will come when it will be much harder, when various people and rascals and others will come out of the holes and assert themselves and so on and he said we had to fight for freedom constantly, what we actually knew, and the mentioned times already came. But even though they came and a lot of mistakes were made, a lot of troubles appeared, the fact that the communists and the totalitarianism are away is absolutely fantastic. I presume that the era of the past twenty years was successful, as I have already mentioned, the communism was thrown to the dump of history, but communists dispersed to other parties and there is a joke today that ‘Who will you vote for? Communists, but I haven’t chosen the party yet,’ which is unfortunately the truth.”

Student Demonstration in Bratislava on November 16, 1989

Student Demonstration in Bratislava on November 16, 1989 (data format Flash Video)

“Surely you know that the first demonstration of students was on November 16, the day before, when they joined their hands and walked through Bratislava and went to the hall of residence called Suvorák, I guess, to discuss with Gejza Šlapka. And coincidentally, my son was there back then, all the people were enthusiastic about what was going on. Actors could declaim and thus influence masses, they could give a true picture of the facts, and they were known from theatres and films, thus they played the major role along with students. All around the world, students are those who revolt somehow and aren’t afraid of building barricades. So when there were established strike committees at Comenius University, when students seized the opportunity, then the old communists, professors and the like began to worry. Even my son Jozef was there, so I can say that students did a lot of good things at the medical faculty, I watched them from distance as well as from up close and I saw they were really good and embarked on it.”

Personal Meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1994

Personal Meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1994 (data format Flash Video)

“He visited Bratislava in 1987, if you remember. I don’t know if you remember that, but I recall everybody expected that after coming here he would scold Husák and others for the way they governed it here, for the fact that they lag behind everything I mean the words such as perestroika and glasnost didn’t resound here very often. However, he told me they had agreed in advance that these political issues and possibilities of change wouldn’t be discussed, that the topics had already been chosen, thus when he was walking in Bratislava, when he had been walking in Prague several days before, he saw the people eager for change, but he couldn’t and didn’t want to open it because he had agreed on it with Husák. So then, he apologised to me for disappointing us and dashing our expectations, but at that time he had already knew it wouldn’t take long.”

Selfishness of the West

Selfishness of the West (data format Flash Video)

“We are used to saying that Europe, European motto is United in diversity, which is really nice. It is the truth that we are diverse, it is an asset that each state has its own language, own culture and other things, own history, but at the same time were not unified because one wants this and another one wants that, bigger countries more and smaller ones less. In this regard the West really didn’t grasp the situation and seems selfish to me, I mean the Western countries rake in too much for themselves and still regard us as their younger brothers. Austria is an example. There is one borderline, but in the last twenty years almost nothing has changed, you know, we can go to Vienna and the like, but there is still a sort of barrier between us, our countries are two different worlds.”

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.

logo Europe for Citizens
Print