Project Oral History – Witnesses of the Oppression Period

Within the Nation’s Memory Institute there has been gradually established an audiovisual archive that nowadays keeps files of more than 2000 entries. Wide range database of film records, witness interviews, and audiovisual formats of practices of the totalitarian regimes in Slovakia, presents a unique part of the cultural heritage. The NMI actively proceeds in its project that aims to fully and systematically record testimonies of persecuted people. Up to the present we have filmed more than 550 witness interviews in total length of more than 1000 hours of audiovisual recording. All the testimonies are copyrighted and safely stored in the NMI’s audiovisual archive. These recordings should serve for research and educational purposes, possibly also for producing new TV documentaries. They are easily to be viewed and used thanks to the detailed database of individual interviews in the audiovisual library. Methodology of recording and further processing of the testimonies is grounded on long-term experiences and time-tested practice of domestic as well as foreign partners working in the field of capturing the witness testimonies. Until today we have defined three basic categories including different subcategories, into which the particular witnesses are to be gradually integrated:

1.Slovakia in Years 1939 – 1945

2. Transition Period 1945 – 1948

3. Communist Regime in Slovakia (1948 – 1989)

Photo: Anton Adámek


In the year 1949 he was present at the religious retreat in Stráže pod Tatrami, what was the reason why the State Security involved him in a fabricated production of anti-state leaflets. In the same year he was arrested in Trenčianske Teplice and sentenced under the Act n. 231/1948 Coll. on the Protection of the People’s Democratic Republic. He was given eight years and he served his sentence mainly in Jáchymov mines.

Photo: Juraj Alner


When he was a child, his family was persecuted by the fascist regime. They survived only thanks to the help of strange people. The life of his family was substantially influenced also by the communist dictatorship; however, he had never felt hatred within him. His biggest dream is that people would never forget about our history.

Photo: Matej Andráš


Matej Andráš devoted his whole life to Slovak-Polish relations. From the position of the Czechoslovak consul in Poland in the years 1947 – 1950 he fought for the national rights of the Slovaks living in Poland and advanced their desire to use the Slovak language in education and religion. During his life, especially after the year 1945, he was in touch with several well-known writers and personalities of the Czechoslovak political stage. He also engaged in translation and publication activities.

Photo: Juraj Anoškin


In the year 1953 he and his sister were arrested and sentenced for high treason, because Juraj had told his friend about the best area to flee across the border. He was given four and his sister three years of imprisonment. He served his sentence in Jáchymov mines. After being released he returned back to Bratislava where he started to work as a draughtsman.

Photo: Zuzana Bacigálová


Victim of the property collectivization... In 1952 her husband Ľudovít was sentenced by the county court to 7 years imprisonment for committing a crime of sabotage. Their house was confiscated, as well as their land, living and dead stocks. Zuzana was forced to move out to a state property in Moravany, in a Čáslav district, near Pardubice, where she had to work hard for whole 3 years.

Photo: Oto Batelka


During the oppression period he used to help people to cross the border, for what he was sentenced and imprisoned. After being granted amnesty he was released from prison; however, subsequent period full of uncertainty culminated in retracting the amnesty. When the State Security tried to arrest him for the second time, he managed to escape but only for a short period of time.

Photo: Ján Benček


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.

Photo: Jozef Bobalík


Because of the option (resettlement) he and his family left to the Soviet Union, hoping they would find a fertile soil and a great wealth there. However, they found only poverty and misery. In 1948 at one of his friend´s bachelor party, Jozef was made to read a leaflet saying: „Death to Stalin“. Few months later he was captured and sentenced to spend 10 years in prison. After the sorrowful journey through Kiev, Charkov, Novosibirsk, and Tajšet transits he worked in labour camps Ozerlag (Siberia), Magadan, and Usť-Kujga.

Photo: Imrich Brezanský


Political changes made him join the Hungarian army and risk his life for defence of country, which actually was not his homeland. He experienced horrors of war as well as cruelty in Soviet prison camps.

Photo: Ján Brichta


The communist regime didn't allow him to study theology and to become a priest, so he decided to escape abroad. However, at that time Morava river was swollen and he was caught there by members of the Border Guard. Ján imagined going studying, but a harsh interrogation and years in Jáchymov labour camps awaited him instead.

Photo: Milan Brišš


In communists’ eyes he was of an inappropriate bourgeois origin, which has affected his life since his youth. He dreamt about a university education, but only years of hard work in a mine awaited him. His tenacious nature and persistence helped him overcome an adversity of the regime then and achieve his dream aims.

Photo: Ján Budaj


Ján Budaj is well known as a politician, freelance writer and one of the founders of the movement Public against Violence (VPN). He became famous mainly due to the mass demonstrations in Bratislava in November and December 1989, when he was an anchorman of meetings held in the SNP Square and the first man of the Velvet Revolution in Slovakia.

Photo: Jozef Cerina


Jozef Cerina used to meet soldiers and army units since his early childhood. Even as a young boy he saw the absurdity of war and pointlessness of its casualties. His life was strongly affected by the Vienna Award, because of which he became a Hungarian citizen just in one moment, so he knew the situation on both sides of frontier. He claims that conflicts between Slovak and Hungarian population were fabricated by political officials.

Photo: Alfonz Czima


He was an expert in the field of building industry, so the State Security had prospecting reasons to train him to be a good collaborator. He saw actions of the state authorities that he refused to participate in. After his dismissal from the State Security, he fled to Canada where he worked with immigrants.

Photo: Ján Čarnogurský


A man, who actively participated in all the dissident activities of the Charter 77 movement. At the beginning of 1988, he participated in preparations for the Candle Manifestation and then, he started publishing the samizdat magazine called Bratislavské listy (Bratislava Letters). Because of his activities, the communist regime regarded him as an inconvenient person and therefore he had to face imprisonment from August to November 1989.

Photo: Margita Červenková


She was one of those, whose life was affected by the Vienna Award in 1938 as her native village became a part of Hungary. Although she had to cope with many difficulties, the biggest blow was the death of her father, who was shot dead by the Hungarian soldiers. It influenced her attitude to the Hungarian nation in general.

Photo: Imrich Danko


Even after the communists had taken over the government, Imrich Danko led a very descent life. Everything changed right after his brother’s escape to Austria in 1952. The State Security accused him of participating in his brother’s escape across the border and sentenced him to eight years of imprisonment.

Photo: Rudolf Dobiáš


Rudolf Dobiáš is an extraordinary personality that took up a very special place in Slovak literature. As a fresh university student he was unfairly arrested and sentenced. After many years spent in prison and uranium mines he returned to the literary work from times of his youth. However, he never forgot fates of others who were wrongfully imprisoned and spent number of years in concentration camps, of those who he often knew himself – the class enemies.

Photo: Adam Droppa


The communist regime deprived his family almost of everything they had ever had. He was forced to spend several years in the Auxiliary Technical Battalion (PTP); his father was a victim of fabricated trial and ended up in Jáchymov mines. The rest of his family was forcibly moved out to Bohemia.

Photo: Jaroslav Fabok


The life of Jaroslav Fabok was full of various obstacles. Even though he was only a young boy he had to provide for his family, because his father was an alcoholic. During the war he became involved in a resistance movement and the Slovak National Uprising, too. Later, he railed against the totalitarian era and its sharp practices. He worked as a secretary of the Democratic Party till February 1948 when he was arrested and imprisoned along with all the other Democratic Party officials. He worked hardly in uranium mines; however, it was a miracle that he managed to survive and give witness to his life.

Photo: Anton Felber


He was accused of being absent for obligatory brigade work and from 1945 until 1948 he was in the labour camp Nuzal in Vladykaukaz. After he returned home, the State Security /ŠtB/ sent him to a forced labour camp in the Czech Republic for two years for the purpose of re-education.

Photo: Viola Fischerová


As a six-year-old girl she got to ghetto in Lučenec. She thought it was the worst thing to experience. After the transportation to Auschwitz, she experienced the real hell. She was a victim of doctor Mengele who did various pseudo-medical experiments on her. She survived and managed to escape.

Photo: Fridrich Fritz


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.

Photo: Imrich Gallik


Only an eighteen-year old joiner of German origin, Imrich Gallik, was taken by the security forces of NKVD and People’s Militias for a harsh interrogation which was followed by a three-and-a-half-year stay in a Soviet labour camp. Just thanks to his inner strength and young organism he managed to overcome hardship as well as inhuman living conditions in gulag and he was happy to come back home in December 1948.

Photo: Ján Goč


Because of the strong resistance to the communist regime Ján Goč as a political prisoner was sentenced to work in a mine. He wasn't supposed to come back from there as they found him "dangerous". Later on, he was sent to work in a botanical garden and became an expert in the field of botany. He finished his studies and became a teacher.

Photo: Alexander Gordon


Although his father lost his business in the process of Aryanization and both parents were forced to move out, escape and hide, German soldiers found them and they were transported to the concentration camp. As a medical student Alexander was sent to the VI. labour battalion and worked at various workplaces. In his situation it was like living in a paradise.

Photo: Viera Gordonová


The Vienna Award and the Second World War deprived her of everything she had ever had. She was just a young girl when she experienced the hell of various concentration and labour camps where she lost all her close relatives. She knew that she owed her life mainly to a good fortune.

Photo: František Granec


An active member of the Bratislava group called White Legion (Biela légia) and a rescuer of many people, František Granec, was sentenced for helping people escape across the Iron Curtain to five years of imprisonment. Since he was still underage, he spent three years of his youth in various Czechoslovak correctional facilities.

Photo: Anna Greňová


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.

Photo: Judita Zuzana Grossmanová


Though she and her family managed to avoid being sent to concentration camp, Judita knows the horrors of human hatred very well. She had to face up to it many times. Her life was full of fear, hiding out and constant struggle in various forms. However, she is Jewess by birth and she stays Jewess till the end of her life.

Photo: Jozef Hanko


On December 9, 1949 he was sentenced for high treason and espionage to 15 years of imprisonment. After temporary “stays” in Bratislava and Leopoldov, in 1950 he was transported to uranium mining camps: at first to Jáchymov for three years, then to Příbram where he spent seven years.

Photo: Mária Horňáková


She witnessed the occupation of her native village by the Hungarian army in 1938. Thanks to her uncle Jozef Kelemen she could participate in the important events held by Slovaks living in Hungary, who strived to maintain their national consciousness and struggled for their national rights.

Photo: Jozef Hrdý


His way to the priesthood led through his love for sports. It stayed a part of his life even after his escape across the border of his native land, Slovakia, in 1949. He didn’t abandon his sport activities also in the period when he lived in an exotic environment of Latin America. There he gained the heart of hundreds of predominantly young people.

Photo: Martin Hritz


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.

Photo: Ivan Hupka


Ivan Hupka and his wife worked in Bratislava broadcasting studio of the Czechoslovak Television. Events from August 1968 caught them there as well. During the occupation period Ivan cooperated with the Czechoslovak Television staff and engaged himself in the production of its media coverage. However, hopelessness, fright of the future, inability to assert his attitudes, and a lack of freedom led him to decision to leave Slovakia and settle down in far Australia.

Photo: Mária Hupková


Mária Hupková worked for the Czechoslovak Television (CST). She was there even when the Warsaw Pact troops took over the building of the CST in August 1968. As she felt hopeless, frightened, and constantly monitored, she decided to leave Slovakia and move as far as it was possible from all those horrors - to distant Australia.

Photo: Vladimír Jukl


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.

Photo: Viliam Kasperkevič


He tried to cross the borders, see the world. However, in 1952 the State Court sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment for consorting with an agent of the British Secret Service.

Photo: Ladislav Kisska


Due to his acquaintance with Albert Púčik and Anton Tunega, who were executed in one of the most significant fabricated political trials held in 1950s in Czechoslovakia, he had to experience not only cruel investigation, but also forced labour camps. Fleeing from the clutches of the Iron Curtain was a solution of his hopeless situation.

Photo: Gabriela Kleinová


Gabriela is a sister of well-known colonel Alexander Korda and a wife of an architect Tibor Klein, who was in 1952 sentenced to 8-year imprisonment. Gabriela was arrested and she was sentenced to spend 4 years in prisons in Bratislava, Rimavská Sobota, Sučany, and in Želiezovce.

Photo: František Kľuska


He grew up in tough living conditions, so since his childhood he learnt tenaciousness, stubbornness, and persistence. His harmonious family gave him a solid ground and support in the period of his persecution by the communist regime. Just due to them he was not willing to compromise his principles.

Photo: Milan Kňažko


Milan Kňažko, a significant personality of the Slovak cultural as well as political life. This popular actor with a negative stand towards the communist regime is well known precisely for his co-organising and hosting the mass meetings held in November 1989 in Bratislava. He was one of the founders of the Public against Violence movement (VPN), and he remained politically active also during the post-revolution era.

Photo: Richard Kolban


As a sixteen-year old boy Richard Kolban experienced all the horrors of Soviet labour camps. After two years, when thanks to General Svoboda, the Czechoslovak military forces were being formed in the Soviet Union, he was released from gulag and joined hundreds of volunteers, who enlisted from different parts of the USSR. Along with the military forces he gradually managed to get to Slovakia and participated in many liberating fights in our territory.

Photo: Marián Kolník


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.

Photo: Tomáš Konc


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.

Photo: Helena Kordová


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.

Photo: Ján Košút


Russians accused him of serving in the Slovak military – although this service was compulsory. Subsequently he was abducted to the labour camps: OLP 33 NKVD, Jagrinlag, and Ozerlag from 1945 until 1953.

Photo: Milan Krajčovič


Journey. This simple word could describe the entire life of Milan Krajčovič. He didn’t agree with the regime and its sharp practices thus he attempted to flee abroad. However, he has never managed to realise his dream about emigration. They caught, arrested and interrogated him at various places. Subsequently they sentenced him as well. He served his sentence in various prisons and labour camps. He was rehabilitated in 1990.

Photo: Jozef Krajňák


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.

Photo: Ružena Kramárová


Ružena Kramárová born Kordová was together with other relatives from the Korda family tried in the process “Alexander Korda”. When in 1951 her husband was arrested, she was asked to confirm her husband´s testimony, however, she neither came back home soon and three little children stayed alone. In years 1951 – 1952 she was unfairly imprisoned in Bratislava.

Photo: Dorota Kravjanská


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.

Photo: Silvester Krčméry


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.

Photo: Štefan Kruško


The family of Štefan Kruško was among those, who trusted the false words about a better life in the Soviet Union. They became displaced persons, who immediately after their arrival in Ukraine lost their Czechoslovak citizenship without being aware of it and became citizens of the Soviet Union. Twenty years later, Štefan and his family managed to come back to Slovakia, where he still tries to help displaced compatriots with a great assistance from the Repatriates Coordination Committee in the Slovak Republic.

Photo: Zoltán Kukula


The private letter from his friend was a reason for his apprehension, investigation and, finally, it became a basis for a fabricated accusation of high treason, subverting of the Republic, and a membership in the White Legion resistant movement. Despite later being released from the prison due to lack of evidence, he together with his wife suffered a lot. For a long period of time she had no idea what had happened to her husband and why and where he had disappeared. Moreover, because of a reasonless apprehension and imprisonment his health was damaged. There is only one thing he wishes for: to never let the cruel and inhuman communist regime reign again in the future.

Photo: Alojz Kuna


Alojz Kuna’s father was in the village labelled as the “local rich man”; however, in 1952 he was sentenced to two years of imprisonment, imposed a three hundred thousand crown fine and forced to move out of Nitra region. František Kuna served his sentence in Jáchymov mines. Moreover, his family had suffered the consequences of persecution for many following years.

Foto: Ernest Kyrály


Even though he was persecuted because of his origin and had many conflicts with the communist regime, Ernest Kyrály had always believed in justice. Unfortunately, he neither achieved justice during the totalitarian era, nor afterwards.

Photo: Emil Lábus


When he was only eighteen years old, the State Security arrested him for the distribution of leaflets encouraging people not to vote the Communist Party. After the trial he spent five years in Jáchymov labour camp.

Photo: Ivan Lefkovits


He is honoured as a specialist in the field of immunology. He lectures at the university in Switzerland, in the city of Basel where he also lives. He was born in Prešov and as a six-year-old boy he experienced the hell of concentration camps Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. He was forced to pretend being deaf-and-dumb, with his brother they escaped from an orphanage, and when he wanted to cross the border dressed up like a girl, he betrayed himself. He survived bombings, death marches and he also witnessed the worst horrors that happened during the last days of Bergen-Belsen camp.

Photo: Alojz Lenkavský


Alojz Lenkavský was one of the founders of anti-communist movement called White Legion in Spišská Belá. He prepared the distribution of leaflets that were aimed to point at the crimes of communism. However, the State Security revealed the White Legion group and thwarted their intensions. He was arrested and forced to confess to many crimes he had never committed.

Photo: Ján Lenský


In the year 1940 he fled the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia along with his parents and together they came to Slovakia. After the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising they joined the partisan group as civilians. However, Ján’s parents couldn’t stand it; they returned back and were deported to concentration camps. Ján had to hide at various places. The family managed to reunite only after the liberation of Czechoslovakia and then, they decided to emigrate.

Photo: Don Ernest Macák


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.

Photo: Anna Malá


On August 21, 1968, the tragedy stepped into the life of the whole family of Anna Malá nee Bonková. Her brother, Jozef Bonk, nineteen-year old keen football player and trained locksmith, became one of the victims of occupation forces’ arrival in Czechoslovakia. Unfortunately, he succumbed to gunshot wounds by a Soviet soldier.

Photo: Karol Maník


Karol Maník started his cooperation with an American Counter Intelligence Centre (CIC) in the 1950s, soon after Communism was established. He had been helping them to gain information for a short period of two years and, as a result, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.As the political prisoner, he spent ten years in the prison and in forced labour camps. After being granted amnesty in 1960, he was released.

Photo: Marta Marsinová


As early as a young girl she attended theological courses, she actively joined activities of the Slovak catholic scouting and she organized summer girl camps along with a professor Mária Pecíková. However, in 1959 she was taken to court. She served a year in a prison for religious activity in the Third Order of St. Francis as well as for distribution of religious literature.

Photo: Anna Matiová


She grew up in humble conditions, so she couldn’t receive an education she always yearned for. She witnessed the occupation of her native village by the Hungarian troops in 1938 as well as its liberation by the Red Army.

Photo: František Mikloško


One of the most significant personalities of the Slovak Catholic dissent and of the Slovak political stage after the year 1989, a long-time representative of the Christian Democratic Movement and a member of the Slovak National Council as well as the National Council of the Slovak Republic.

Photo: Jozef Mikloško


He doesn’t consider himself to be a dissident, even though he actively participated in publishing samizdat magazines and various activities of the secret church. His political career began after the Velvet Revolution when he was appointed to two important posts of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Czechoslovak Federative Republic and the Slovak Ambassador in Italy. He is an older brother of František Mikloško.

Photo: Július Molitoris


He and his family experienced the situation when southern parts of Slovakia were ceded to Hungary.

Photo: Ján Motulko


Ján Motulko took a fancy to literature, which became his real love. This outstanding Slovak poet and prose writer fell silent for some time after the year 1948; however, he never stopped writing. His literary works written in the oppression period were published later after the revolution. In his testimony, he is forthcoming about the sharp practices of the State Security and about his own experiences from the investigation.

Photo: Františka Muziková


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.

Photo: Jozef Nemlaha


Jozef Nemlaha had the only dream – to have his own business. His dream came true; however, February 1948 changed everything. Unmerciful communist regime deprived him of his business and in 1952 sentenced him wrongfully for an alleged espionage to seventeen years of imprisonment, forfeiture of his property, loss of his civil rights for ten years and financial penalty of 20,000 Czechoslovak crowns.

Photo: Karol Noskovič


Based on the fabricated evidence, Karol Noskovič was accused of the high treason and the State Court in Bratislava sentenced him on April 22, 1952, to six years of imprisonment, ten-year loss of his civil rights and forfeiture of his whole property. He passed through many prisons such as Ilava, Jáchymov, Příbram and Leopoldov. He was a precious man who, regardless all the bitter experiences with the communist regime, never lost his sense of humour and faith in goodness.

Photo: Andrej Novák


He was arrested, investigated and sentenced to life imprisonment for espionage and harbouring an agent of the Western intelligence agency, Viktor Palkovič. After being granted amnesty in 1963, he was released.

Photo: Gabriel Novák


After being dismissed from school and from all secondary schools in the republic, he lost any chance to finish his education. In 1950 he accepted an offer to join the White Legion movement; however, one year later the state power bodies arrested him and subsequently sentenced him for anti-state activities to 22 years of imprisonment.

Photo: Ján Okoličáni


He is a man who loved nature very much since his early childhood. This honest and principled man was labelled as unreliable and deprived of the chance to finish his university studies. He risked his life on the eastern front and got involved in the events following the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising. His desire to run the family property was thwarted by the post-war left-wing government that deprived him of everything what his family had ever had.

Photo: Bernard Pánči


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.

Photo: Anton Petrák


As a carrier officer he fought during the Second World War in the Czechoslovak foreign legions. After coming back home, the communist regime labelled him as an inconvenient person, so he was not only dismissed from the army but also persecuted and imprisoned.

Photo: Heliodor Píka


For the whole life he had fought and worked in favour of his homeland and he also used to prefer it to his own family. However, after the year 1948 this unique man and patriot was executed.

Photo: Milan Píka


His father’s arrest after the communist takeover in February 1948 set off the merry-go-round of affairs that have definitely changed the life of Milan Píka. Either his father’s execution or his own accusation of father’s escape preparations didn’t break him at all. A few hours before his father’s death, he promised him to clear his name. However, he managed to do that yet after the fall of the communism in 1989.

Photo: Ivan Polanský


This deeply religious man devoted himself to spreading God’s word. He shared his ideas and attitudes with the other members of secret groups and societies at their gatherings. He proved his courage mainly when he started the publication and distribution of various samizdat periodicals and collections. He also used to make audio and written records of the broadcast of the Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and Vatican Radio that he copied and subsequently distributed among people. In June 1988 the Regional Court in Banská Bystrica sentenced him for an offence of subversion of the republic to four years of imprisonment.

Photo: Michal Popovec


As early as a student of a grammar school he experienced cruel methods of the State Security. Suspicion of sabotage, inhuman torture and a fabricated trial were only the beginning of his misfortune full of pain, grief and terror, which led him to Leopoldov and, finally, to Jáchymov prison. In spite of his bitter experience he gratefully appreciates there always have been individuals who did not lose their humaneness and helped him to overcome all the obstacles he has had in his life.

Photo: Ján Prokop


As a student he was arrested and investigated by the State Security for the first time due to his participation in the action organized by university students, but after being granted amnesty, he was released. However, he did not avoid the prison for long. A few years later, he was accused falsely and after a fabricated trial he spent more than nine years in prison.

Photo: Dobroslav Pustaj


Dobroslav Pustaj, the founder of the anti-communist movement called the Free Czechoslovakia. One of the political prisoners who were imprisoned for the longest period of time. Due to his fight for democracy in the country he spent more than sixteen years in various prisons and labour camps.

Photo: Mária Repáková


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.

Photo: Adam Repka


Adam Repka was accused of high treason and, consequently, he was sentenced to five-year imprisonment and ten-thousand-crown penalty because of two anti-state leaflets warning against the activities of the Communist Party which tried to separate from the Catholic Church with the aim to establish its own church. He served his sentence in Leopoldov and in Jáchymov prisons. After being released, he, as an “ineligible” person for the Socialist regime, had to work in a collective farm until his retirement. In spite of his hard life, he and his wife brought up together seven children.

Photo: Richard Kolban


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”.

Photo: Juraj Ružbaský


Since he was seven years old, he worked hard as a farm servant at different places, mainly at German farms, where he learnt to speak German. After the war, Russians accused him of translating for German soldiers and from 1945 until 1947 he was abducted into the labour camps in Ľvov and Odesa.

Photo: Cecília Schelingová, sr. Zdenka


  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.

Foto: Helena Schmidtová


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.

Photo: Michal Slivka


As to an enemy of the communist regime, within the frame of economically-technical adjustment of land, they exchanged his lots for other of a worse quality, and they confiscated his cattle for several times. Moreover, in the 60’s and 80’s he was investigated six times and they prosecuted him for artificial criminal acts.

Photo: Mária Slodičáková, sr. Mária


The purpose of her life was to pass out love and faith. It was her deep faith, which helped her overcome health problems as well as all the trials of life. Today, she only smiles when she recalls interrogations by the State Security.

Photo: Ladislav Snopko


Ladislav Snopko has rubbed shoulders with the Slovak dissidents since he was a university student. In the era of the Velvet Revolution he was one of the central personalities of the Public against Violence movement and in the next years he also became an important figure of Slovak political and cultural stage.

Photo: Tibor Spitz


In 1942 his family thanks to certain “exceptions” was not deported to concentration camps. After the Slovak National Uprising began in 1944, because of the threat of transports they began hiding. Their Christian friends offered them the first refuge, however, during the winter 1944/45 they were forced to stay down in a forest bunker. In 1968 he emigrated through Cuba into the USA, where he lives until today.

Photo: Anton Srholec


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.

Photo: Jossi Steiner


As a six-year-old child he and his family experienced the hell of the holocaust. They were searched; they ran, hid out and afterwards got to ghetto. They spent nine months hidden behind so called “double wall” in the house of Mr. Ján Mozolák. Nine people lived in the space 1,5m wide and 5m long.

Photo: Rozália Školníkova, sr. Bohumíra


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.

Photo: Vladimír Štúr


Twenty year old Vladimír was arrested in 1950 because of the attempt to leave the country. Subsequently he was condemned to 15 years of imprisonment. Twelve of those years he worked in forced labour camps Mariánska, Vojna, and Bytíz.

Photo: Emil Švec


He was arrested by the State Security and sentenced to six years of prison for high treason. After releasing from the custody, he couldn´t find any job so he fled to Austria in a crop-dusting airplane. In 1961 he was convicted in absentia for espionage and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Later on, he was attacked, wounded, and kidnapped from Austria to Czechoslovakia by the State Security forces.

Photo: Ferdinand Takáč


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.

Photo: Arpád Tarnóczy


Though he was only thirteen, they arrested him for alleged anti-state activities. After being released, he started to work as an auxiliary worker and later he got employed in chemical plants. He had never given up and tried to always move forward. He got involved in the political life of Slovakia and in 1996 he proposed the bill about amorality and unlawfulness of the communist regime that was subsequently approved in the Parliament.

Photo: Alojz Tkáč


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.

Photo: Emil Tressa


Emil was only eighteen-year-old boy when he was caught, interrogated and wrongfully sentenced for the offences of high treason and religious fanaticism. Moreover, he was forced to sign the record that he had never read. He still doesn’t know why he had to spend three years in prison since he did nothing wrong. Even after being released, he thought he was still shadowed. Nobody has made any public apologies to him for the experienced injustice.

Photo: Viktor Trstenský


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.

Photo: Mons. ThDr. Bartolomej Urbanec


Mons. ThDr. Bartolomej Urbanec has dedicated his entire life to the church and to spreading the God’s word among people. On the way to make his dream of being a priest happen, he faced many obstacles from the representatives of the incoming regime. He worked as a chaplain in various Slovak towns. He considered the pastoral activities and priestly work in the oppression period equal to being in the minefield. However, despite all the difficulties he managed to win mainly the hearts of young people, who still see him as an example of lively faith and wisdom.

Photo: Augustín Valentovič


His open attitudes and numerous contacts with opponents of the communist regime got him in disgrace of the former state authority. On September 21, 1949, he was due to his attitudes and activities arrested in Prague.

Photo: Alžbeta Váradiová


She experienced the horrors of war, which she would never wish on her worst enemy, as well as a bombardment of her native town of Nové Zámky, in which many of her friends lost their life. She became a teacher and dedicated her life to educating children.

Photo: Ladislav Vrábel


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.

Photo: Eugénia Anoškinová - Vyskočilová


In 1952 she and her brother helped their friend to flee abroad. A year later she was arrested and sentenced for high treason. She served her sentence in Ruzyně, in Pankrác and in Želiezovce as well.

Photo: Otto Wagner


Holocaust deprived him of the whole family. He worked in the camp in Nováky until the year 1944 and later participated in the fights of the Slovak National Uprising. However, the hardest times came, when he was transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where he lived until the end of the war

Photo: Bibiana Wallnerová


An attempt to flee across the borders to find freedom cost her sister her life. Bibiana and her parents ended up in prison, where they spent many years; however, her father never returned. Neither the cruel fate, nor the hard “prison school” managed to break her and knocked her sense of humour that helps her even today to go through the hardest situations.

Photo: Ladislav Záborský


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.

Photo: Margita Zimanová


Moving story of the family that paid dearly for helping their kin and as a result, they experienced cruel and uncompassionate practices of a totalitarian regime. A father was arrested and executed; a mother, a grandfather and an uncle were sentenced and imprisoned unrighteously. Three abandoned children were dragged from parents’ arms by the regime and later looked after by their poor ailing grandmother. Members of the family who only wanted to help their relative experienced a lot of pain, misery, torture, loneliness and sorrow in their lives.

Photo: Pavel Žigo


After the totalitarian communist power came into force in Slovakia, he was investigated by the State Security and in 1947 he was unfairly sentenced to twelve-year imprisonment for a military treason. He went through many prisons and labour camps and he also underwent the forced labour in Jáchymov uranium mines.