Rudolf Duda

* 1929  †︎ 2019

  • "Brother Zikmund was lecturing, he used some latin sentence and said: 'Brother Duda, translate it.' I didn't want to, because everyone else was a craftsman of some sort, I was the only one with classical education, so I was pretty uncomfortable. Brother Kraus solved that problem. He entered the classroom and asked for someone to cut the grass for the cows. So I rushed off to do that. But I never even held a scythe! It was awful. It was schything, the cows were bawling, and Brother Kraus came by: 'What are you doing?!' He finished the job. 'Now toss it on to the barrow and off to the barn with you!'"

  • "During the War, when we had the Slovak State, there was trouble because of Saturday. One of our Brothers was a cobbler, and he was always closed on Saturday. The State Police and the Gestapo were in charge of the city, and I don't know how it happened, but the came there and started saying: 'How come they're closed? They must be Jews!' Luckily one of our Brothers could speak perfect German, and he explained to them that there was no chance of that, that these people were Christians."

  • "The guard was checking mess tins. How clean they are etc. The Jehovah's Witness Kočiš was standing ahead of me. The guard said: 'Show me your tin!' He did. 'Go wash it!' He didn't want to go, so the guard asks him: 'Why do you act like this? Go wash it, or you won't get any food!' Kočiš replied: 'I am a Witness of Jehovah and Christ teaches us not to cast pearls before swine.' To wich the guard said: 'So I'm a swine?!'... They beat him up so much that I could only recognize him afterwards by his nameplate."

  • "Saturday came and we assembled for work. I said I wouldn't go. The whole barracks was assembled there, so the officer said to: 'Gun, ammo, bayonet and get in line!' I said 'I won't.' He repeated the order in front of the whole assembly. I said that I couldn't, that I didn't work on Saturdays. The locked me up straight away, and didn't let me out at all. I was there utnil Monday, when my escort arrived to take me to Košice."

  • "I remember that during the War, the air raid sirens couldn't give warning in time, so we decided to take turns to keep watch. It was my watch and I heard the humming. I shouted for everyone to rush down. I ran upstairs myself to help take my baby brother's pram down to the cellar. Tucked inside the cellar, we heard bombs falling. They were carpet bombing. A whole load at once, then nothing, then again. It was awful. Me and Mr. Ananský stood by the entrance, holding the door. Every explosion made the door jump, us with it. People were screaming and crying. Someone shouted: 'Mr. Duda, pray with us!' Everyone fell silent and my father, who I never heard pray before, started the Our Father in a soft voice. He paused for each explosion, but always carried on. When it ended, I decided to have a look outside. Opposite us, aby a hundred metres away, there was a technical school and a military hospital for the Germans. It was all in flames. I ran out onto the main street and there were dead horses and soldiers everywhere. It was terrible to look at."

  • "I entered the office, right in front of his desk. He said: 'So you won't do your work, Duda, is that right?' I said: 'Commander, sir, that's why I was convicted. I've never worked on Saturdays. I can't, it's a principle of mine.' 'They sent you here because of it. This is a disciplinary institution. We have to discipline you here, and you will work like a well-oiled machine. I'll show you,' and he showed me out of the room. But I decided I wouldn't leave the room. That would seem like I agreed to work on Saturdays. So he told the guard: 'Go to storage, get some tubing and fill it with iron. I'll teach him to work!' He kept pointing me out. But I didn't go, I couldn't. He jumped up from the desk, caught me, slapped me again an again, bellowing. I thought to myself, Lord, when they bring that tubing and when they start beating me with it, please help me. And as he was bellowing, he suddenly stopped, and pulling at his hair he ran out, bellowing on all the way out of the camp."

  • "The unpleasant thing about working at Nikolaj was that was already rather cold. We did various jobs there. Cracked piping and such. They also took us to the Jáchymov reservoir. It was made of clay and it was nasty work. In dry weather the clay was hard as rock, when it rained, then there was mud everywhere. It was hard to work there. I had purple rings under my eyes, I couldn't walk properly and I heard a voice: the kingdom of God is not food and drink, the kingdom of God is not food and drink. But I replied to myself: 'Lord, I never ate it, I won't eat it.'"

  • "Suddenly there was an alarm. We had visitors flying in - the Soviet army. A load of colonels and generals. They toured the whole place while we stood at attention. After a while they got back into the plane and flew off. We dispersed, and suddenly there was another alarm. They had found out that the visitors hadn't been Soviets, but foreigners."

  • "Anti-reaction Week at camp Nikolaj was aimed at the politically active. The wardens came unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, with stockwhips, and they thrashed everyone, forcing them out of the triple bed-bunks and outside. There they did knee-bends over and over, and all the time these coloured searchlights were flashing around. It was snowing, and as I watched through the window, I saw an old man at the end of his strength and a young one helping him to get through..."

  • "I got two sheets. I arrived at my cell and wondered: what should I do next? I know, I'll put one sheet over the table. It'll be like a tablecloth. I remembered how it used to be at home, when mummy found the truth. When it came to Friday, everything was tidy, she spread the tablecloth, opened the hymn-book and started signing with her thin, high voice. We children sang with her, until we fell asleep, and she carried on. It was like that every Friday. So I prepared it the same way and thought about home. I can't remember a more beautiful Saturday in my life! I stood by the door and sang 'So many ancient lands my pathways led me through and my eyes roamed woodlands from the cragged cliff'. I learned the song with the idea of singing it when I return to my choir. This experience was so powerful, that it pushed me to make sure, when the sun set on Fridays, that I stopped working and that at the end of the day I would thank God once again."

  • "So I stood there and waited till evening, till someone would call me away. And how I stood there, in the snow, it was unpleasant. I remembered how we watched the film 'She defends her country' at school. They showed us German concentration camps there. All the prisoners standing there for roll call. Because roll call took a long time, they were allowed to fidget. It was getting dark, my shoulder-blades were aching terribly, my shoulders, my hips, it hurt all over. I tried moving and immidiately I felt better. Suddenly someone shouted at me to stand without moving. It was the political officer. Then the commander saw me and shouted: 'Don't just stand! You'll freeze! Ten steps to the right, ten steps back!' So I was walking here and back like that when the other one shouted at me to be still. So I was still. The sun had set, it was dark and I was alone. I thought to myself: Lord, where is that cloud of white? The stars were shining. At least if someone came to me and said: it's great, how you uphold your faith and abide by God's commandments. Lord where are you? I just can't hold out any longer. Then came another shout: 'Duda, get into correction!' I was so glad that I could lie down there. I was more clever next time. I took a blanket, wrapped it around me with wire, put on my prisoner's coat over it and that made it so much easier to stand there the next time."

  • "'Duda, you're getting leave. You'll put your uniform on and go home. The commander of the castle took care of it.' The someone waking me up in the middle of the night. 'Get up! Duda, pack all your stuff!' So I packed my things, they gave me my belongings from storage, and then they took us to the train station. I thought that it was great. They put six of us prisoners and one guard into a coupé. I opened my suitcase and took a book out and read it in one go, without having a clue that we were on our way to Jáchymov... We got out of the train, a car was waiting for us and it took us to Nikolaj."

  • "We had a training session. The enemy is in the trenches opposite. Skirmish line, bayonets, yells, music, and go assault the German figurines. Gut and pass, gut and pass... So I said myself, not this, no, and I threw the rifle into the trench. My officer came up, shouting: 'Don't be crazy, Duda!' 'I can't!' I replied. Before I entered military service, I decided on where my limits were. I forced those limits so that I would pick up the weapon, I would hold it, but I wouldn't shoot from it. But when this came along, I realised I can't even train. They went about disciplining me straight away, put me in the locker."

  • "When I was six, my mother found the truth, she became an Adventist. I heard at the time, how the other members asked her: 'Sister Dudová, what would you wish became of your boys?" She replied: 'If God gives, that they be preachers." That wish was fulfilled. I wasn't the best, on the contrary. Go on a raid, steal something... the things I did, it was Divine mercy that I ended up a preacher. My fourteen years younger brother Emanuel was chairman of the Slovak association."

  • "As far as I know, Matyáš was a murderer. He had killed a gamekeeper and was sitting out his sentence. The more he got to know us, the more he changed, he was different and he wanted to be an Adventist. Of course, that information leaked out to the whole camp. They sent each of us to a different camp and we didn't hear from Matyáš since. I only know that, I think it was Brother Bláha who heard two years later, that he was there somewhere and that every Saturday he was standing at the barbed wire... alone, unbaptised. It was only later that he was baptised. It was such an encouragement to hear that."

  • "I got up in the morning and waited. The last name was mine! So I asked for permission to speak, said that I won't go to work, turned round and ran back to the house. The guard behind me shouting: 'What are you doing? Everyone assembled and is going. Well you'll be going into correction.' So I saw what the correction is like at Eliáš. It was concrete with small windows. When they put me inside, it was pitch dark and wet and there were pipes leading above and below so I could just about stretch myself. So I lay down. I didn't sleep much, but I was pretty tired. In the morning they pulled me out. There was fresh snow everywhere, which was awful for the eyes. I stumbled and fell over. He had a hit at me, I got up, we went outside and suddenly he was saying: 'Go to right! Out of the camp!' I stayed put. 'I'm not allowed there!' He cursed, hit me, and then opened the exit and we went into the guardhouse. We entered the wash-room and the guard roared: 'Go wash the basins!' I just stood there, I didn't do it. He caught hold of me and tossed me left and right. I made sure I didn't fall on my head. Then suddenly the camp commander was there and he started shouting at the guard, what the hell was he doing. I shouted at me: 'Get out!' and kept me standing outside."

  • "One Saturday was like that aswell... That's how I found out that Brother Kloda is an Adventist. He was supposed to have his workshift after me, and so I was expecting him to turn up. He still hadn't come, so I was thinking that the poor man hadn't withstood it and had gone to work. I prayed, and suddenly I saw him come to me and say: 'They sent me to stand next to you.' So we stood there next to each other, and to make it bearable, we started singing. The result was a shout: 'Move apart from each other and no talking!' So we stood there. The worst was when it was snowing, or even a blizzard. One time it was snowing so much that we had it halfway up to our knees and I thought to myself that I couldn't manage any longer. So I started moving and that helped immensely."

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    Praha, 14.06.2007

    duration: 03:13:11
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Lord where are you? I just can’t hold out any longer...

Rudolf Duda
Rudolf Duda
photo: Výstava: My jsme to nevzdali (2009)

Rudolf Duda was born on May 25, 1929 in Košice. When he was six, his mother, formerly a Catholic, converted to Seventh-Day Adventism. Rudolf Duda has two younger brothers, Dezider and Emanuel. All three brothers served as preachers in the Adventist Church. From 1941-1949 Rudolf studied at a classical grammar school. In 1949 he left the Catholic Church and received baptism into the church of the Seventh-Day Advents. After gaining absolution he decided to follow his brother’s lead and join the Adventist seminary in Prague. The School of Bible Studies was opened in 1946 in Prague-Krč. However, the Adventist Church was forbidden in 1950, causing the school to close. After a year of study, Duda returned to Košice, where he began work as a miner in the Spiš Iron Ore Mines. In autumn 1951, after less than a year of mining, Duda received a draft notice to join the air division in Levoč. Military service in those times was a test of faith for Adventists, one which often influenced their lives. After refusing to work on Saturdays, Duda was escorted to the military prison in Košice, where he was placed into solitary confinement. Several weeks later he was moved to Špilberk, where he was again placed in solitary confinement. While at Špilberk, Duda was convicted by military court for refusing an order, and sentenced to three years in prison. After appealing, the sentence was reduced to one year. Not long after the judgement, Duda was moved to Jáchymov, firstly to Camp Nikolaj and subsequently to Camp Eliáš. Refusing to work Saturdays brought further disciplinary action. Release from the Jáchymov labour camps did not mean the beginning of a free life for Rudolf Duda. Not long after his release he was called to the Auxiliary Engineering Corps in Radvanice, near Ostrava. There he spent two years working the mines Fučík 1 and 2. Duda was among those caught in a mine collapse on New Year’s Eve 1953. Fortunately he was found and rescued in time. In 1965 he received state permission to serve as a ‘Bible teacher/preacher’, something he had always wanted to do. He was put in charge of Moravské Slovácko, where he held office till May 1969. He was made a teacher and preceptor of a Biblical seminary. Since 1970 he has functioned as a preacher for the Adventist congregation in Prague-Vinohrady, where he lives and is still active today, even after his retirement in 1989. Rudolf Duda died on 17 January 2019.