Vladimír Jukl (1925 - 2012)

Photo: Vladimír Jukl


“If you don´t want to go mad, if you don´t want to loose your mind or if you don´t want to commit a suicide, pray. Prayer was really a power that made a believer survive the stress, the continuous humiliation, the absolute depriving of his property...”

He was born in 1925 in Bratislava, where he spent the majority of his life. His father had a Czech origin and worked as a professor at the Business Academy in Bratislava. His mother was Slovak and from her Vladimír received foundations of the faith and of the religious life. He gained elementary, secondary as well as university education and became a member of the community Family. In this community the university students studied Russian language, eastern rite, and philosophy more in detail. There in 1943 Vladimír met a priest and a university professor Tomislav Kolakovič. Thanks to this priest Vladimír acquired knowledge of the applied Christian theology and own inner spirituality. Together they wanted to cooperate with leading Russian representatives and this way help the Catholic Church in the Soviet Union. In 1944 they took a part in the Slovak National Uprising and even though they didn´t organize any resistance, they were forced to hide in the mountains. After the Uprising the professor got the chance to travel to Russia for the summer and Vladimír along with his friend Silvester Krčméry started to study at the university in Prague. Together they developed there a lay apostolate movement, so called catholic action and they further cooperated with father Kolakovič. That was the main reason for their four-week arrest and interrogation by the State Security in 1946. Five years later the State Security started to deal with the Family community again and Jukl, Krčméry along with their friends were succesively being arrested. 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. He was paroled in 1965; until then he spent in prison 13 years, 6 months and 9 days. Other members of the Family were together condemned to more than thousand years of imprisonment. In 1966 Jukl and Krčméry founded the first university group of a Secret Church. After the secret bishop Korec was released from the prison in 1968 he approved the activity of organizing such groups of students. This way Jukl and Krčméry could start systematic building of the Secret Church as an organization according to Kolakovič´s recommendations. Gradually in every Bratislava faculty and in each class they built a group of the Secret Church. During the study they worked with students in Bratislava and trained them to be able to found regional groups of the Secret Church after they return back home. In the end of 1970's the Secret Church existed as an organised network around the whole Slovakia. Vladimír Jukl was ordained to be a priest in 1971 and until today he has been devoted to the pastoral activity.

Community Family – Getting to Know the Truth

Vladimír Jukl - Getting to Know the Truth (data format Flash Video)

“The others had wider interests from different spheres and that is what Kolakovič supported us in; he showed us what a Catholic intellectual should know. It was not just attending some religious services, but also getting actively involved in the life with other parameters. Kolakovič brought us together and for us he organised courses to open up our eyes, such crash courses of Christian philosophy, etc. My father had many books in his library and he wasn´t very happy about me fiddling there. He got through it, though and more I read those books, tougher it had become for me to understand what actually the truth is. One philosopher says this, the second claims the opposite, the other negates that, and so on. Simply, I got a headache from it. When I was listening to Kolakovič, the present confusion diminished and the truth lit up. So this is what I considered to be a great advantage, the reality that I am able to take a stand to any philosopher and see his positive as well as negative points, the truth but also the lie.”

Involved in the Slovak National Uprising

Vladimír Jukl - Involved in the Slovak National Uprising (data format Flash Video)

“There was some hope that Kolakovič´s ideas, including his activities in Russia, will come true. He decided to leave to the Uprising territory and try to bring up discussions with leading Soviet authorities about work possibilities of the Church in Russia or in the Soviet Union. This way Slovakia could help Russia, which was ruined by the war. He offered not material but mainly humane help of Slovak experts in the field of medicine or education that Catholic Church would be willing to send there. This is how the cooperation between the Church and Russia could start to develop. Of course, he didn´t know the exact way. He decided to go to this territory and I as his devotee offered to join him and help him in everything he would need. He accepted my offer, however, he told me: “Go and ask your father what he thinks about it.” So he also respected opinion of my father, who even though tried to convince me not to go with Kolakovič to the Uprising, did not succeed. My father respected me as a young adult; he wasn´t happy about my decision - he worried about me, but anyway, he let me go. So I went with Kolakovič to the SNU territory. He got in touch with some Soviet officers, politics who were there at the beginning of the Uprising, but yet weren´t communists. Communists were there in the second phase. Initially the Uprising was started by officers who had connections with London, where our foreign army was; moreover, our politics e.g. Beneš was in touch with them as well.”

Power of Faith

Vladimír Jukl - Power of Faith (data format Flash Video)

“Kolakovič knew exactly what he wanted and I really liked that. When I was free, meaning that I didn´t have any commitments, I decided to choose this way of helping and cooperating with Kolakovič. Of course, I couldn´t even imagine what all would it include; what would it cost me. In each situation, though I believed God would help me. That is what I prayed for. When I was in the prison, having a twenty-five year sentence I saw many nonbelievers, atheists who were running to wires so that electricity current would kill them; they searched any possible way to get out of the prison world. Then I knew that nothing and no one could help me in such situation but God. Many people sought refuge in Russians; they used to say: “Americans come, they set us free, then we will hang the communists!” Some of them had thoughts like that, but I never did. I never lowered myself to express any hateful words towards the communists or towards the powerful ones. I knew that only if God helps me, I endure.”

Little Fish

Vladimír Jukl - Little Fish (data format Flash Video)

“We all went through that; I did in 1946. Along with other, approximately ten people, we were being interrogated and arrested, because the State Security wanted to know where Kolakovič is. They wanted to arrest him, and therefore they forced detainees to say where he was hiding. Kolakovič did not hide at all. When he found out we were arrested - Silvester Krčméry, others, and I – he went to report himself to the communist police office with hope they will respect him. When he knocked at the gate of the prison called U dvoch levov (At Two Lions), the State Security officers were shocked to see him. They promised him safety but of course, they lied to him and arrested him immediately. He was also investigated and we – the little fish – were set free. He was released after three – four weeks. And when we were leaving from the prison they threatened us: “Let Kolakovič be, don´t meet him anymore, otherwise you end up very poorly.” And after all, they were right, but we didn´t let him go.”

Violent Investigation Methods

Vladimír Jukl - Violent Investigation Methods (data format Flash Video)

“Well, when they called me to interrogation from the cell where I lied on such a straw mattress, they led me into a room with a group of about seven people. At first they made me sit down and each of the seven State Security officers was staring at me. The one who was the nearest to me led the interrogation. When I didn´t answer, actually, when I didn´t know the answer to his question, one of the men stood behind me and slapped me from the back. The other had such iron clips, which he put between my fingers and pushed. It was very painful because it was damaging my fingers. Moreover, a man sitting opposite to me took my nose and twisted it around; it was bleeding. After he let me go, I had bloody stains on my jacket.”

Arrest in 1951

Vladimír Jukl - Arrest in 1951 (data format Flash Video)

“When my sister-in-law was called to the State Security office, they made her to believe nothing would happen to my brother. They told her: “Just tell us where your husband is at the moment so that we can check it.” Naively she told them the address and in about half an hour they came back. The investigator screamed: “Turn around!” I turned around. “Hands up! Put everything out of your pockets!” triumphantly, he took out a penknife. “You have it on your back,” he meant I had a revolver there. “So, don´t do this and go through the rooms.” I went; I didn´t want to hinder their work in any way. They checked whether no one was waiting for them and took me downstairs. There was a car prepared with other two officers and they drove me to a prison U dvoch levov.”

Refused Amnesty

Vladimír Jukl - Refused Amnesty (data format Flash Video)

“The year 1960 came and the amnesty was being declared. I don´t specifically remember the reason, whether it was at the occasion of electing Zápotocký or Novotný to be the president. The amnesty was declared and so called lighter cases were released; severe criminals were kept on. I was also among those more severe ones who did not deserve granting the amnesty. This is what repeated in 1962 again because according to my twenty-five year sentence I was a felon, a severe criminal, more severe than the others, you know.”

Holy Masses served in Prison

Vladimír Jukl - Holy Masses served in Prison (data format Flash Video)

“If there were priests were in the prison, they were able to serve Holy Masses. Mainly at the places with bigger cells, bigger rooms and where were more Catholics. The priests shared their experiences and informed each other how it is possible to serve the Mass. The foundation of the Holy Mass is a Canon and the base of this Canon is changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. So what was needed for a valid Mass was something similar to a wheat wafer. I say something similar, because in the prison a priest had to ask his relatives when they visited him to bring him some kind of wafer. When the priest had the wheat wafer, he needed a little raisin. He put the raisin on a spoon and poured it with water. Until the morning, the raisin soaked up the water and the priest was able to wring it out and get at least a drop of a grape juice. It didn´t have to be fermented, but it had to be a pure grape juice. These are so called substances to be prepared for the Holy Mass – little amount of the wheat wafer and the grape juice. It was changed after the priest served the Holy Mass upon it and with the help of his assistants the Holy Communion could be distributed, of course, in a secret way. We could get the wafer by dividing a waffle from the sweet filling; we cut it out by razor and broke the clean side into little pieces. My role as the role of other distributors was to pack the Holy Communion into a fine small paper usually used as a cigarette paper. It was allowed for smokers to have it there. So each little part of the wafer was packed and someone distributed it in the workroom where the co-prisoners worked. It had to be quite unnoticeable; for example when I was to distribute it, I pretended to go to use the restroom or something like that. In the workroom I went around the prisoners about which I knew they were prepared and longed for the Holy Communion. So I passed them the little wafer in size of - let´s say - 0,12 times 0,12 inches (3x3 mm). Receiving this part of the Holy Communion was enough for a layperson; the priest received except the wafer also the grape juice, the Blood of Christ. This way the Holy Communion was provided to those who longed for it. The priests tried to organize and serve Holy Masses, however, it had to be kept in secret, so that nothing essential would be revealed.”

The Parole

Vladimír Jukl - The Parole (data format Flash Video)

“In 1965 my mother submitted a request for parole after expiring the half of my serving time. That is one of the legal options, which communists used to invisibly get rid of almost all – political prisoners; even though we did not consider ourselves to be political, but religious prisoners. So in 1965 based on my mother´s request I was released on parole, what means that if I had committed any criminal offence, I would had been imprisoned without a trial again.”

Inconvenient Expert Profile

Vladimír Jukl - Inconvenient Expert Profile (data format Flash Video)

“The most important thing for me was to find a work opportunity, so I applied for one, two, three tenders at different companies, which introduced new computer technology. In some way I learnt it so when I was taking the test in front of the interviewing committee I succeeded well. The manager then invited me to the other room and told me: “You are an excellent mathematician; we would really like to accept you, but we can´t. Your expert profile has been somehow messed up and we cannot hire you.” “If you cannot, you cannot. There is nothing I can do with that,” I said. After all, my friend also from the Kolakovič´s Family told me: “Why would you have to work as an assistant machinist! Come and we set up a new department where you will be able to work with computers.” This is how I learnt to operate computers within the SAB as well as within the technology of Faculty of Electrical Engineering.”