Karol Maník (1928)
“My mind has been led by God, who has always helped me and he always will.”
Karol Maník was born on March 2, 1928 to Anna nee Pribulová, and Mikuláš Maník in the village of Hradisko in Prešov district. He came from the large peasant Orthodox family. Karol completed eight grades in a public school. In 1948, on request of his parents, he married his schoolmate Mária, nee Olejárová. After the wedding, he did the driving course and started to work as a driver in Prešov where he lived with his wife in lodging. It was the first time he met a CIC agent V. Palkovič, who he later started to cooperate with. Karol Maník was given the code name Orol (Eagle). Gradually he asked his father and his elder brother to cooperate as well. In 1950 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for these activities and espionage, but thanks to the amnesty in 1960 he was granted a pardon and released from the prison. After more than ten years spent in the prison, he came back home and started to work as a bricklayer. After many years of separation, three children were born to the married couple within the following three years. The youngest son secretly studied theology.
Reasons that Led him to “Anti-state Activity”
“I don’t know what the strongest reason was, which led me to agree with it, I don’t remember which year it was. I think it was after the war, in 1946 or maybe in 1945… Because then there were debates how to eliminate priests. There was a discussion how to eliminate the manse and the priest and to establish a collective farm; how to put all the church property and church fields under state ownership and how it all should look like. The future, it was communism. So I thought it was the right time to start to fight against communism. ‘Let’s do it, young boy, from the very outset!’ I couldn’t agree with it.”
Cooperation with Palkovič
“So I said to myself: ‘I will start to cooperate with Palkovič.’ Then he came to the feast and told me that when he had come to change transmission in Cemjatá, he found himself being persecuted and suspected of having a transmitter there. But agents weren’t sure because the transmission from Cemjatá lasted only a few minutes and then the place of transmission was changed. So he told me: ‘Karolko, we have already been connected, I would like to transmit from this village wired to the battery.’ Since it was August, the weather was nice and the day was longer, so he walked about in our garden, which was quite large. While we were walking down the garden, he noticed doors of the cellar. I told him: ‘There’s a cellar.’ ‘Can we look inside?’ ‘Yes, of course.’ So we went inside and he told me: ‘Karolko, it’s perfect. We can transmit from here wired to the battery. They won’t be able to trace us here.’”
Gift from Palkovič Aroused Suspicion
“So I told him when he was there that I had found good and glossy furniture made of hard wood, but I hadn’t had enough money. And he generously said: ‘I will help you with that.’ And he gave me ten thousand crowns to buy it. So when I came back from the vacation, I went to the shop and paid for the furniture. As I have already mentioned, the soldiers willingly helped me to get a car and put all the furniture inside. All the wardrobes were dismantled and I sent the furniture home. But when it came home, it was taken by the State Security agents. My wife brought it home, but they took it away, so she had to buy the furniture for ten thousand crowns again. Therefore, I got under suspicion. I was working the shift when they arrested me.”
Meeting with Father in the Prison
“I cried: ‘Father! Father!’ You can’t imagine that - the feeling, the meeting. And he, my eyes filled with tears, and he... I just said: ‘Father, I’m sorry, forgive me, please.’ ‘I forgive you, my son. Don’t worry. Have they beaten you? Have they tortured you? I don’t blame you, because if I wasn’t arrested then, I would be arrested later as a kulak. I would be imprisoned in any case. Now I know all the things I did were right. Don’t be scared, my son, forget it.’”
Message from Karol Maník to the Young
“I was young and nobody had taught me how to live, whether to persecute or to hate. As I have already mentioned, when I was sixteen, I hated it from the outset. The Lord has given me the faith that even if the communism wants to destroy religion and the God, it won’t be successful, because church is eternal. Indeed, the communists didn’t succeed, they had been trying for almost forty years, but they failed despite all the means they used: studying, working, torturing people, especially priests, closing monasteries and convents, and persecuting nuns… Thus I would like to pass on my message to the young, because they shouldn’t make light of everything. Now they can see the truth of the regime we couldn’t stand. But it was worth all of it and we can see the results now. And we are happy. Children are our joy. We are happy, because we can praise, we can go to church and we can pray. As a result, God’s mercy still has been given to us.”
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.