Jozef Babiak

* 1934

  • “Until 1953 the Hungarians tolerated us and they let us survive with handing in given contingents. However, in 1952 they set so dreadful contingents just to liquidate us. Certainly, my father didn’t want to sign up and join the cooperative. The thing was that a person had to hand in completely everything – horses, cows, barns, everything! Nothing was left, just the house where one lived and option to work as a day laborer. My father just couldn’t bear losing all the property. They imposed on him such contingents that he even got a sentence for that. For not meeting the contingents he was sent to jail in 1953. All because of those contingents!”

  • “As the monetary reform came, they paid us in old currency much more that I was used to. I got such great salaries that I was surprised how that worked. But in Prague and its surrounding the prices increased tenfold! The ticket didn’t cost there 3 crowns, but 30. Only books didn’t get more expensive, I continued to buy them, but for example in buffet the price of food increased greatly. Before the monetary reform I used to visit my friend in Prague who was married already, so I had the chance to experience life before and during the reform as well. It was unbelievable what was happening there. Those millionaires who lost their factories were splurging money as of no value. Everyone could see that in ratio 1:50 the total liquidation didn’t apply equally to all. Everybody cheated how he could. These conditions really crushed me […]. I shall never forget that the President Zápotocký a day before the monetary reform had a speech in radio and announced there wouldn’t be any monetary reform. The people calmed down, but on the next day the monetary reform came as planned. Those strikes in factories were terrible, because many people lost everything they had. They had to live from hand to mouth. This is what triggered complete psychological repulsion for everything in me.”

  • “I was watching the Second World War as in the theatre. You know, this farm was five or three kilometers away from Ipeľský Sokolec, what was and now is the border with Hungary. All of the American airplanes were flying over the hills called Boržoň and even though it was Hungary, Hitler allied with Horthy, the Americans didn’t attack this area, but were just flying through to bomb Germany. It was the period when I was eight-ten years old; it was quite theatrical for us as we weren’t being harmed! We didn’t join partisans or took interest in such stuff, however, in 1945 the Russians switched with Germans. They liberated us three times, then they took over us three times and we were looking at them like idiots… I can’t say the Germans behaved badly towards us in terms of any violence or liquidation. It was the war and we took it like it was. Of course, they took Jews from our village. The Hungarians made sure the Jews would be taken from our village as well, but we, being a bit off the mark, didn’t have any problems.”

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    Zvolen, 25.01.2018

    duration: 02:01:21
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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Finding one’s reason for living for me is to have faith in God

Profile photo, early 70-ties
Profile photo, early 70-ties
photo: archív pamätníka

Jozef Babiak was born on August 29, 1934 in Žiar nad Hronom. He comes from a peasant family and together with his sister and parents they moved to Lontov near Šahy. This territory was annexed to Hungary during the Second World War, but the Babiak family remained to live there. When Jozef was eight years old, his mother died. His father remarried few years later. After 1948 Jozef’s father was persecuted and later convicted as a kulak. Having a profile of kulak’s son, Jozef was unable to study at any university and thus he left to work to Motorlet factory in Jinonice. In 1953 a State Security agent got in touch with Jozef through his colleague and lured him to cross the Austrian borders with the intention to emigrate. Jozef was caught and sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment. In the prison he met with various political prisoners and respected religious persons, from whom he gained great knowledge. Most of all he was thrilled by physics. He was a strong opponent of the regime and he refused to apply for earlier release. Finally, he left the prison in 1966. He settled down in Zvolen, where he met a bank clerk Mária Slosiarová. They got married one year later and together they had two sons. Jozef worked in repair manufactory ŽOS Zvolen and later in Zvolen hospital. Until November 1989 he was a fierce critic of the regime. After the Velvet Revolution he tried to lead his own business and since 1994 he has been retired and devoted to physics.