Viliam Kasperkevič (1929)

Photo: Viliam Kasperkevič

Biography

„“I survived, I endured. And what have they done to me? Nothing. They could not break me, because I didn´t let them.”

Viliam Kasperkevič was born on January 1, 1929 in Stará Ľubovňa. His father was a carpenter who had his own workshop and a big farm. In years 1930 and 1932 Viliam´s two brothers were born, however their mother died when they were little. Shortly after her death their father remarried. Viliam finished an elementary school and got trained by his father´s friend to become a house painter. Both of his brothers studied at a university and Viliam also desired to do so. Therefore he left to Bratislava and while he worked at municipal service of the capital, he also attended evening classes of a grammar school. His family had some relatives living in America and Viliam always longed to visit them. When in 1951 his friend named Krajger invited him to run to the West with him, he though this might had been an opportunity to see a different world. The escape was not successful. Viliam got caught and arrested, and as Krajger wanted to run away across the corn field, he was shot down by the border guard. The State Security Police started to investigate Viliam and the State Court sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment for consorting with an agent of the British Secret Service. He went through many different prisons in Znojmo, Mikulov, Prague, Ilava and he got also to the uranium mines in Jáchymov. After eight years of hard work and illness he was released and began working as a house painter. He got married and with his wife they had four children. In 1969 he applied for rehabilitation, but he wasn´t rehabilitated until the year 1990. Even though the communist regime deprived Viliam of eight years of life, he has still a feeling he won. They did not break him.

End of the Private Enterprise Forced Labour at the Construction Company

Viliam Kasperkevič - End of the Private Enterprise Forced Labour at the Construction Company (data format Flash Video)

“We began working together [with my friend] in 1947. It was still possible in that year, however, the year 1948 came and the changes were applied. We didn´t want to give up. Engineer Ševela would do anything just to get us into the state construction company, back then. Well, until we could, we were trying to postpone it, but somehow in 1949 they took us and our private enterprise had to end. We were forced to become employees of the state company.”

Meeting with Krajger

Viliam Kasperkevič - Meeting with Krajger (data format Flash Video)

“And as we kept talking, he told me to go to the West with him; to go and see how it looked like there. He said: “You´ll see the wellbeing...” You know, I was young and I trusted him. Few days later, when he came, he said: “Let´s go”. What was I supposed to do then? I couldn´t step back. Even though it wasn´t too convenient for me anymore, because I had some moonlighting started at that time, I couldn´t retreat. I used to work in Bratislava to earn some extra money for me and for my brothers who studied at the University. You know, our father didn´t care about us and as we were without parental support, we had to take care of ourselves. Well, nothing could be changed. I had to go with Krajger. So I made the decision and I went with him.”

Attempt to Escape in 1951

Viliam Kasperkevič - Attempt to Escape in 1951 (data format Flash Video)

“It was in September 1951. As we were walking we came to a river which we were unable to cross. Krajger told me: “Wait here.” He got undressed to his bathing suit, swam to the other side, and casted off a raft. Then he came back to me and we both rafted towards the border. I don´t know why, but I had such a feeling that he probably lost the way. I thought he was unsure whether we were going in the right direction. We got near a village, I didn´t know its name, and we stayed in such a field. He said: “Let´s stay here.” I answered: “All right.” We hid under a heap of – I would say – brushwood from the grapevine and corn, and we fell asleep. He told me: “We will wait here and then we keep on going.” But as we slept for a while, when we woke up it was already early in the morning.”

Capture and Arrest

Viliam Kasperkevič - Capture and Arrest (data format Flash Video)

“We can´t go on, what shall we do next?” There were some trees and he said: “Let´s hide here.” So we climbed the tree and tried to observe the situation. But – try to imagine - we chose such a tree around which there was a path with a border guard. As we were on the tree, me higher and Krajger lower down, two soldiers were walking below and talking about their girlfriends or something like that. Suddenly one of them bended down to pick some grapes and the other one looked up on the tree. He sighted Krajger and said to his colleague: “Wait, someone is here.” They came closer and asked Krajger whether he was watching out. Krajger told them to let us be, to go away. After he said this, they yelled at him to come down with hands up. And in that moment they noticed me too screaming: “Up there, there is another one!” So we both went down. I stayed by them holding hands up, as they were shouting at us, but Krajger didn´t. He started to run across the vineyard towards the border. The guard began shooting from the sub-machine gun and Krajger fell down at the end of the vineyard, which was wide approximately eight to ten meters (8.7 to 10.9 yards). As Krajger fell, one of the soldiers turned around and wanted to hit my head, but the other one yelled at him: “What are you doing? Don´t be a fool!” They caught my hands, put me on the ground and gave me the handcuffs.”

Investigation

Viliam Kasperkevič - Investigation (data format Flash Video)

“And there I stood in a corner, maybe two hours or two and a half, with my legs apart and with handcuffs on. The handcuffs clamped my hands so tightly that they kept bleeding and became numb. I thought I might not have been able to write anymore. Then they came and took me, thinking I could have fainted and fallen down. It was very hot there and it was not easy to stand that way. Afterwards they took me to their office and started the investigation. They stripped me naked, took each and every piece of me, and inspected it all.”

Remand Centre at Bartolomejská Street in Prague

Viliam Kasperkevič - Remand Centre at Bartolomejská Street in Prague (data format Flash Video)

“At Bartolomejská Street they put me into the lowest basement. Most of the time I was alone in my room and from there they used to take me for the investigation. Always, when they came, they tied my eyes and led me upstairs right to the investigator. He looked like an intelligent guy, well, you know, he had a uniform and so. He didn´t protest against my statements, unless; he asked me: “Your brothers also knew about it?” “No, they didn´t.” I replied. “How come they didn´t know?” I said: “They didn´t know because they are Bolsheviks.” And I got such a thrashing for that expression, you know, the wall was from one side and him from the other. Until I realized that it was better to forbear the comments, I was thrashed again and again. But I endured and came up to the idea that it was better to say nothing than to express my own opinion, because as soon as I said what I thought I was battered.”

What Was It Good for?

Viliam Kasperkevič - What Was It Good for? (data format Flash Video)

“Most of the time I was alone and really hungry. When they took us to have a bath, they opened such iron door and put us inside a room being app. 80x80 cm (2,6 x 2,6 feet) big. They closed us there and gave us a bath. Do you know how? When they turned on really hot water, I thought that all my skin peels off, but I couldn´t step away. It went right on me and as they switched the water to cold, I became completely numb. Well, that was how they gave us a bath. What was it good for? Just for destroying a man. Eh, what a Bolshevik band!”

Eleven Years of Punishment for Nothing

Viliam Kasperkevič - What Was It Good for? (data format Flash Video)

“Every one had his own opinion. Each had his own sorrow, cause that is not funny to put up with eleven year of punishment for nothing. Well, if I had killed somebody, they would have given me two years, but just because I wasn´t a communist, because I did not agree with them, bam, eleven years - take it and go.”

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