Oto Batelka (1920)

Photo: Oto Batelka
 

Biography

 

“I would never be willing to join the Party and under no circumstances I would cooperate with the State Security!”

 

Oto Batelka was born in 1920 in the village of Horní Meziříčko in Dačice district. His father was an officer in Austro-Hungarian army, who was present at all the front events in the First World War, and who finally worked as a staff sergeant at the Bratislava Castle. Later he took early retirement. His mother was a housewife who cared for their three children. Even in his youth Oto used to perceive various political and power changes in the country really intensively. All those events culminated when the Red Army overran the country and totalitarianism was established. During the first years of a new era, he helped many people to cross the river Morava and flee abroad. In 1948 he was arrested and imprisoned for that “anti-state activity”. He managed to send a message from prison to his brother who was working at a high position at that time. Subsequently he had informed other people involved in this case, so Oto was labelled as a reliable person and they offered him favourable conditions for collaboration with the State Security. He radically refused this opportunity to regain his freedom. He had never signed any agreement, nor did he join the Party. When Gottwald was elected the President, he proclaimed amnesty thanks to which Oto Batelka was released from the prison. He had to move away from Bratislava and live in fear and uncertainty. He suspected the retraction of amnesty and the warrant for his arrest was issued soon. For the first time he managed to escape almost from the State Security’s handcuffs; however, he fell into the trap when he tried to cross the border. In the prison he met a lot of notable political prisoners such as M. Horáková, J. Ursíny, B. Jaško and A. Púčik who was even his cellmate. Though there were many calumnies brought against him, Oto Batelka had always walked with the clean slate.

 

Silenced Truth about Štefánik’s Death

 

Oto Batelka - Silenced Truth about Štefánik’s Death (data format Flash Video)

 

“[My brother told me:] ‘Come on, I will show you what our father was talking about.’ There was an antiaircraft gun which was used when general Štefánik’s plane was landing. So we went there. Even today I could show you the exact place. You would probably see it from the road; you needn’t go to the Castle. Then it was covered with some wooden boarding or cardboard, you know, antiaircraft gun. I remember it very well though I was only seven-year-old boy. I recall that long gun barrel and his words: ‘It was the plane which had fired on Štefánik.’”

 

Course of Lettrich’s Moving Abroad

 

Oto Batelka - Course of Lettrich’s Moving Abroad (formát Flash Video)

 

“I was with that fisherman in the first car; it was a kind of lorry. The car with Letrich’s brother was driven by major Šavel and they followed us. The whole way was absolutely trouble-free. Lettrich, the chairman of the Slovak National Council, joined us in Patrónka and said goodbye to his sister. Then they got in the car and followed us as we drove the lorry in the direction of Hochštetno when the fisherman ordered us to stop. We did it and they came to us in two or three minutes. They switched off the car lights and we said goodbye to each other. He took them right to the river Morava where they boarded the boat and went away. The next day I came to know that they, I mean Fraštacký, Hodža, Lettrich and also his brother, came there and met one another at the American Embassy in Vienna.”

 

Published Lie about General Ambruš

 

Oto Batelka - Published Lie about General Ambruš (formát Flash Video)

 

“[In the book] Návrat do Itaky Drahoslav Machala wrote in details about the whole life of the general of aviation Ambruš. It’s written there that the general Ambruš got an order and subsequently was driven to Vajnory to the Stein brewery where the plane was awaiting him. He wrote that he piloted it and flew to Schwechat airport in Austria. It wasn’t the truth, though. There was no plane. I wrote a letter to Machala in 1990 and he responded me that in a short period of time he would come to me to clarify those facts. I am still waiting but nobody comes. I am sure about one thing. General Ambruš went away the same way as Lettrich and his brother; he crossed the river Morava in Hochštetno to get into exile.”

 

“Chapter of Non-capitulation”

 

Oto Batelka - “Chapter of Non-capitulation” (formát Flash Video)

 

“In the evening when the lights went out, I told the guard who was on duty: ‘Please, could you take a message to my brother who works in the insurance company? I will give you ten thousand crowns right now.’ He stared at me and in a few seconds he agreed. ‘I will let the lights on for you, I will give you a pen and you could write. In case I put the lights out, you have got the toilet paper because it’s forbidden to write anything here. Have you got a toilet paper?’ ‘Yes, I have.’ ‘So if I switch the lights off, destroy it immediately, flush it down the toilet because the night guards could check you.’ I wrote everything, who and where, and that sort of things, I used probably forty or fifty pieces of toilet paper… I wanted them to inform others.”

 

Tempting Rewards for Espionage

 

Oto Batelka - Tempting Rewards for Espionage (formát Flash Video)

 

“They told me: ‘We have got a session every day and we state,’ (because then they investigated the group of Doctor Fedor Turza) ‘that you are the only one from the whole group who says the truth. Thus we, the whole administration, agreed that we should offer you the collaboration with us. We will enable you to go abroad with your family and on the other hand you will cooperate with us in the matter of emigration.’ My minute book had about sixty-five pages; the last note was approximately six or seven lines long. I have never joined any party. And I wasn’t willing to join the KSS and collaborate with the Central Office of the State Security.”

 

Four-year-old Son Deceived the State Security

 

Oto Batelka - Four-year-old Son Deceived the State Security (formát Flash Video)

 

“‘Where does engineer Batelka live?’ I said: ‘It’s me.’ So he told me: ‘We are from the State Security and you have to go with us. Come home now.’ I walked about one hundred meters with them. I told them that I wanted to change my clothes. They allowed me to do that and stood between the room and kitchen, on our veranda. When I had changed my clothes, I noticed my four-year-old son playing in the yard in the sandpit. I jumped out of the window on the ground floor, then over the banister and I ran up the street. Of course, I didn’t know at that time that they followed me; they jumped out of the balcony door and asked my son what way his father had escaped. He was so resourceful and responded: ‘He went down.’ However, I ran the opposite direction.”

 

Prisoners Waiting for the Death Penalty

 

Oto Batelka - Prisoners Waiting for the Death Penalty (formát Flash Video)

 

“They were really timid. They didn’t want and, you know, they didn’t believe anybody. They were battered, investigated and beaten and things like that, so they had various gazes on their bodies. So a man couldn’t wonder at it, you know. However, everyone who got there was very surprised.”

 

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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