Mária Repáková (1931)

Photo: Mária Repáková


“Being imprisoned in Ilava affected all the people there really badly, but I said to myself: ‘I will survive at any cost.’”

Mária Repáková née Neupauerová was born on March 11, 1931 in Levoča. She had six siblings and as her father was a sexton in the chapel on Mariánska Hora (Marian Hill) in Levoča, they all were raised in accordance with the principles of Christian religion. She gained the primary education in the monastery for women in Levoča. As a fifteen-year old girl she witnessed the murder of a partisan, who was killed by his fellows because of some money in forests near Levoča. It was a fateful moment in her life because after the war those partisans ended up in the regional power structure of the Communist Party of Slovakia. She was falsely accused of being present at so-called rebellion in Levoča. On June 25, 1949, when she was only eighteen years old, and after the fabricated trial, she was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment. Her seventeen-year old brother was sentenced in this trial, too. When she was in custody, she was interrogated very often and as they were tough with her, they forced her to sign a confession. She successively served her sentence in Košice, Ilava and Bratislava prisons. There she met several well-known convicts of the former regime such as Viliam Žingora, Milada Horáková and Anton Tunega. Later, her sentence was changed to five years of imprisonment and five years of forced labour. After being released from prison, she started to work in Hukostav in Košice. She was supposed to serve her five-year long sentence of forced labour there. In the meantime she got married and became pregnant, so she didn’t have to serve the rest of her sentence. However, being released didn’t mean also the end of her affliction, because representatives of the communist regime continued making her life a misery.

Murder of a Partisan

Mária Repáková - Murder of a Partisan (data format Flash Video)

“Front-line nurse of the Red Cross, who carried some medicine, asked me to walk her to Ruskinovský trail. She asked me whether I knew the way there. ‘Of course, I know it’, I told her with a huge self-trust. We went to the first cross where some partisans, soldiers had to be waiting for us. But I realized I went the wrong way, because I should have gone to the second cross, which was a bit further. Thus we strayed in the forest until we came to Vinná, where we witnessed something what I as a young girl couldn’t like at all. There were some drunken partisans and suddenly one of them shot another one, actually they killed a father of my classmate, Bendík.”

Rebellion in Levoča

Mária Repáková - Rebellion in Levoča (data format Flash Video)

“Boys whom I babysat were standing at the window and suddenly told me: ‘Auntie Marienka, come to look at it, people are running somewhere.’ And one woman told me as well: ‘Marienka, go to the town, something is going on there. You know, a lot of people hurry there.’ Thus as I went downstairs, because they lived on the first floor, I met my former classmate there and asked her: ‘Where are you walking? What is going on?’ ‘Oh, come with us because they want to take our priest.’ And I responded: ‘I won’t go there. You know, if they had wanted to drive him away they could have done it at night without telling us about their intention. I can’t make head or tail of it.’ Then she said: ‘Anyway, I am going there.’ ‘When you come back, you will tell me about it.’ Finally, I didn’t go there, I stayed at work playing with the boys and doing some housework. Later, I went out of the house and there was silence everywhere, like nothing happened.”

Arrest, Transport, Interrogation

Mária Repáková - Arrest, Transport, Interrogation (data format Flash Video)

“Well, on Sunday I was in the church. Then I went to visit my friends, Štubňa family, and four police officers came there to take me. And I said: ‘Dear boys, what are you doing here? What happened?’ I knew one of them, so he told me: ‘Nothing, but in case they ask you who was at the presbytery, don’t peach on anybody. You can say only the names of those who you suppose to be the communists.’ All right, then. And they arrested me right on Sunday afternoon. There were lots of arrested people in that room and we waited till midnight when they drove a bus up in front of the building. As I sat on the front seat I could see it and found ridiculous that there were motorbikes with policemen all around the bus. I asked: ‘What is going on here?’ One policeman told us that people wanted to set us free, so they had to reinforce the guards. After the midnight we came to Košice. Everyone went to his/her cell, solitary cell indeed. And there were such plank-beds that were impossible to lie on. One plank went up, another one down, a man couldn’t lie there. Thus I just sat there and waited. We used Morse code to find out who was where – who was in neighbouring cells. And in the morning they took us for interrogation, which was every hour or half an hour.”

Fabricated Legal Proceeding

Mária Repáková - Fabricated Legal Proceeding (data format Flash Video)

“Later they drove us to the Regional Court in Košice where the trial took place. People said such guff there, which wasn’t truth at all and those people even hadn’t been there back then to witness. So I said: ‘I really wasn’t at the presbytery.’ [She said:] ‘But not right at the presbytery, I mean near the park.’ And she pointed my direction with her umbrella. And boys testifying against me knew my name, even though they hadn’t met me before. Then the assessor asked: ‘Is she here?’ And the boy pointed at Mrs. Biľkovská. We were only three women who were tried then: a wife of some judge, Mrs. Biľkovská and me. And suddenly he asked us which one of us was there. And he responded: ‘No, she isn’t here.’ Then some man gave a signal to him, to the witness, who faced us, and who really got the signal. However, the assessing professor noticed it. Her name was Žideková and she asked what it meant. She saw that he got a signal to point at me. And he did so, thus I told him: ‘You brat, I even don’t know you.’ The boys testifying against us were only children. Then the lawsuit was over. Well, I was given seven years.”

How Warders Helped Me before the Second Proceeding

Mária Repáková - How Warders Helped Me before the Second Proceeding (data format Flash Video)

“When the second proceeding was about to take place, I told [the warder] Šišovič: ‘I can’t cry, so how should I cry when I don’t know it?’ Thus he cut onion into two pieces and folded them in my handkerchief. I was supposed to rub my eyes with the onion to start crying. It was ridiculous. And the wardress gave me a piece of rope for luck. That rope was used for Tiso’s hanging. I also got some clothes from a Jewess and shoes from a Gypsy woman. Oh, I looked like a scarecrow. My deceased mum used to say: ‘You look horrible.’ ‘I don’t care. Who knows me here?’ Finally, they cut my sentence by two years. Instead of seven years they gave me five, but together with it they added five years of forced labour.”

Shoes from Milada Horáková

Mária Repáková - Shoes from Milada Horáková (data format Flash Video)

“She used to say that she was somewhere from Bohemia, but she didn’t know where she was then because she was in a solitary confinement. She asked me: ‘Are you allowed to move here freely?’ And I responded: ‘No, we aren’t, and moreover, my feet are really painful.’ She said: ‘I’ll give you my shoes.’ And I told her: ‘Why? What are you going to wear?’ ‘I have one pair of shoes that I won’t need any more. We are sentenced to death.’”

Sad Christmas

Mária Repáková - Sad Christmas (data format Flash Video)

“Everyone started to cry, everyone recalled. I severed such a small fir branch because Mrs. Stanková, who had been given life imprisonment, died there. Thus we went to inter her. And we decided to spend Christmas somehow. We used to lay gildings from our candies aside. But it was even worse because it reminded us past Christmas. We had candles from home.”

Three Groups of Prisoners

Mária Repáková - Three Groups of Prisoners (data format Flash Video)

“Political prisoners could hardly ever have visits; even criminals were allowed to receive visitors more often. Moreover, we were divided into several groups. The first, second and third group. When a prisoner belonged to the first group, he could get letter or parcel anytime. But it was really hard to get there… In the second group a man could get parcel or letter only once in three months. And in the third one it was even worse. It depended also on how hard a man worked. You know, I was young, so I had always been in the first group.”

After Release

Mária Repáková - After Release (data format Flash Video)

“I came home from Bratislava prison on January 16. I found it ridiculous and warders laughed at me because when they released me from prison, I didn’t know where to go, I was lost in Bratislava. Thus I went back. I told them: ‘Excuse me, boys, I can’t find the way home. Can you tell me where I should go?’ I didn’t know where the station was. I had never been to Bratislava before. When I was in prison we used to discuss what all we would buy or have after being released… But they didn’t return my money to me. They even didn’t give me any money to travel home. They didn’t give me my personal things, nothing. You know, I was arrested in June and released in January. My parents had to send me some winter clothes. My summer clothes were in Bratislava or Ilava prison, I didn’t know where exactly. I didn’t bring anything home. Then I found it funny and they really laughed at my situation because it hadn’t happened to them before that somebody came back to prison after being released to ask about the way home.”

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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