Persecution of Churches
After the communist coup d’état, churches (especially the Catholic Church) remained the only potential opponents of the regime. The communist state systematically persecuted the Catholic Church and liquidated its structures. In a very unique way it took an action against male and female religious orders as well as against the Greek Catholic Church that was almost completely liquidated by violent integration into the Orthodox Church. Hundreds of priests, monks, nuns, and laics were imprisoned for long-time sentences.
Ján Benček belongs to a group of people who were touched by the mission of Prof. Kolakovič. He tried to follow his example, lectured at the university for many years, worked with youth, and even though he never joined the communist party, thanks to his professionalism and hard work he gained respect also in the communists’ ranks.
Fridrich Fritz was a student of theology. He delivered counterfeit identity cards to priests who were detained in the town of Podolínec. After dissolving the seminary, he had decided to continue studying theology abroad; however, on the way there he was detained by the border guard. He was charged with the offence of high treason and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment.
Anna led an active Christian life and that was the reason for her arrest in 1953. Subsequently she was sentenced to 5 years. During the imprisonment, Anna was often being interrogated and the State Security wanted to find out where the priests she knew were also through physical punishments.
For helping the group of priests, he was arrested in the year 1950. He was interrogated, tortured and when they failed to force him to sign the fabricated testimony, they sentenced him to fifteen years of imprisonment. After passing the judgement, he spent almost 7 years in prison when they released him on parole.
Together with his friends he developed the Catholic lay apostolate movement for what he was a thorn in State Security´s side. In 1951 Vladimír Jukl was imprisoned; after a torture and ten months of solitary confinement as 27-year old man he was given a 25-year sentence.
Marián Kolník longed for the study of theology; however, his desire remained unfulfilled. He was interned in the concentration monastery in Pezinok, went through a hard work in military camp in Libava and he also spent forty months in the Auxiliary Technical Battalion (PTP) in Pilsen. All these experiences are indelibly engraved in his memory.
This Capuchin priest was shortly after the school leaving examination sentenced by the totalitarian regime to several months of imprisonment. This way they made a lag and outcast of him, of the young university student.
Wife of the colonel Alexander Korda, who was sentenced by the State Security to life imprisonment. After full ten years of imprisonment and torture her husband died on September 13, 1958 in the prison hospital. Helena was sentenced to 14 years and 10 of them she spent in forced labour camps.
He delivered a speech over the grave of Bishop Vojtaššák. Openly and publicly he expressed criticism towards the communist regime. Because of this act he was detained by the State Security (ŠtB), moreover, he was investigated, and sentenced to two years of imprisonment for rebellion against the Republic.
Mother of five children, who was in her youth engaged in many activities within the Catholic Action and who was active in many Christian associations as well, had the first-hand experience of the state power bodies’ arrogance. She had to stand a trial on charge of “consorting against the state” and spend three months in prison.
He joined the Catholic Scout League and during his high school studies he fully participated in various Church activities. In the end of July, 1951 Silvester was arrested and he spent three years in a remand centre. The military court in Trenčín sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment for high treason in 1954.
Don Ernest Macák, a man persecuted because of faith and care for his confreres, a cooperator of the Vatican Radio during the communist totality, a missionary of Slovaks in Basil, the first director of a newly opened Grammar School of Ján Bosco in Šaštín, a writer and a former provincial of Salesians, but precisely a man of deep faith and an enthusiastic Salesian priest.
Františka Muziková, nurse by profession, was sentenced for professing her faith and for meeting her friends and had to spend one and a half year behind the bars of Czechoslovak jails. However, this bitter experience didn’t bring only affliction and sad memories into her life, but also many lifelong friendships with other political prisoners.
As he belonged to the majority of priests who did not agree with the communist ideology, he was arrested on January 13, 1958, spent half a year in the remand centre in Žilina, and subsequently he was tried. In July 1958 the sentence was passed - 13 years of imprisonment for committing a crime of high treason.
Mária Repáková was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment on June 25, 1949. It was solely based on the false accusation of being present at so-called rebellion in Levoča. Even though her sentence was cut to five years at the second session of the court, she was given another five years of forced labour. She served her sentence in prisons in Košice, Ilava and Leopoldov and after being released, she worked under surveillance as a storekeeper in Košice.
After the communist takeover, the family of Vladimír Roháček experienced one affliction after another. At first, his grandfather was imprisoned, father confined to psychiatry and then, he also ended up in prison, supposedly for an offence of subversion of the republic. He was a member of a group of young believers, who used to meet regularly. After being released from a remand centre, he was sent into a labour camp for “re-education”.
To help the needy people. It was the life mission and the biggest desire of Sister Bohumíra, civil name Rozália Školníková. However, her help to the priests, who had been interned in Podolínec monastery, was qualified by the regime then as an offence of abetting the anti-state activities and Sister Bohumíra was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in 1961.
As a nun, sister Zdenka worked in the Bratislava state hospital and she helped to organize escape of imprisoned Catholic priests. In February 1952 she was arrested and the investigators tortured her to reveal even such information that didn´t refer to the reason of her apprehension. Finally, she was sentenced on June 17, 1952 to 12-year imprisonment and 10 years of the civil rights´ deprivation for the alleged high treason. She died in 1955 as a result of the inhuman treatment in the prison.
Along with her friends she used to organize various Christian events and gatherings, for what she was imprisoned in 1952. They interrogated her, tried to force her to betray her fellows from the movement and sign fabricated testimonies.
His only desire to study and become a priest drove him behind the borders of his homeland. However, this was a sufficient reason for the communist regime to sentence him to twelve-year imprisonment. Neither hard work in Jáchymov mines, nor constant monitoring from the side of the State Security discouraged him from seeking the common speech understandable for both sides.
Father Ferdinand Takáč, a catholic priest of Croatian origin, was a political prisoner, a writer, and a translator. Since his youth he promoted a credo under which he wanted to give a bit of himself to other people and he also made it by writing several remarkable books. However, his desire for truth, freedom, and democracy cost him a lot of energy and worries. In 1955 he was sentenced for his religious activities to eight years of imprisonment.
This archbishop from Košice was debarred from his priestly activities by the state for seven years because he openly criticised the attitude of the communist regime to the church.
He was a priest who led a very active life and who used to criticise the totalitarian regime. That’s why he spent forty years in various prisons and labour camps. Later he was even forced to substitute his canonicals for boiler suit and he worked as a manual worker for another twenty years.
From his early childhood he desired to become a priest and in spite of disfavor of the communist regime, in 1970 his dream came true. However, due to his active work with youth, organizing secret meetings at the presbytery, and because of cooperation on distribution of the prohibited religious literature, he was under the constant State Security surveillance.
His impressive life story is full of colours and light. Ladislav Záborský was wrongfully sentenced, imprisoned, kept in solitary cell and separated from his family. He had to live in seclusion and in modesty; however, he considers it to be the gift from God. Deep joy, peace of mind and optimism are clear evidence that his inspiration in life and work has always been Majster himself.