“A chief of our cell was some Tibor from Žilina. He was 27 years old in those days. He was a relative of Hlinka and he was a member of Hlinka’s youth. Tibor was sentenced for 25 years in prison. He was just going to get married. His girl visited him after the trial and told him: ‘Tibor, we will be just over fifty when you will be released. It is still worth to live and I am going to wait for you...’ When I met him Tibor spent seven years in prison already. He used to say: ‘I have reason to live. I have someone to look forward to...’ These were the real gestures. She had been sending him letters covered as letters from sister trough his mother. The communist regime strived to destroy people psychologically. For example they tried to force wifes to file for divorce. Or they put them to some heavy work, for example to carry heavy burdens, just because their husbands were in prison. In case some wife filed for divorce (albeit only formally), the ban on contact with the imprisoned husband immediately followed. Nor the wife nor the children were allowed to send letters. Prisoners affected by this procedure had been sitting in silence in front of the window staring in nowhere, sometimes crying sometimes angry. They had no idea what was going on at their homes. The regime had been trying to break them down by this way. Tibor was in his thirties. He was a noble and bold man.”
“At the beginning nothing had been happening. But in 1953 when they realized there was a secret communication with monastery in Želiv (which was considered as espionage) our superiors had been arrested (till this time they were officially ‘in internment’ only, author note) and sentenced to fifteen, twenty years imprisonments. State Security got information the connection was organized by the priest Filipec. They searched for him and from this time they also had started to spy on us.”
„I think we have to take our life as it comes, not to live in illusions life should be different. Man can live in full under any circumstances. Every situation offers benefits or losses. It depends on us how we approach it. Ideal way of living is to take love from Christianity, be able to live by love and to forgive because of love.”
Methods of interrogation
“An interrogator told me: ‘Look, you are denying here, but in the meantime other guys are ill (for example padre Jurečka was really ill) and it would help them to close this process as soon as possible. And you are delaying this by your attitude.’ Or other emotional things: we will detain your parents; your sister will be expelled from school as a teacher. It was a real psychological pressure, so you were wondering if you should say something... But after ten or more hours of interrogation you were so exhausted that you didn’t care about many things at all.”
“Seven small steps forth, seven steps back. One hour, two hours, ten... From the very morning till ten o’clock p.m.. First day, second day, third.... One week, two weeks, third week... One month, two months, third, fourth... And you are completely exhausted! Your only desire is to be interrogated again, to see some human being. The psychological pressure was almost unbearable and they knew it. If I were not used to prey it would cause complete shock to me. Some guys who were one month in the solitary confinement were beating on the doors and screaming: let me go out! They took him for an interrogation and he revealed everything he knew. It had happened to me several times my interrogator asked me: ‘How are you doing in solitary confinement?’ I answered: ‘Not fine, not bad. I take it as it is.’”
Ideal way of living is to take love from Christianity, be able to live by love and to forgive because of love
Miroslav Frank was born on 27th July in 1924 in Bánovice nad Bebravou in Slovakia. In his very youth his family moved near Ostrava, where he grew up. He got trained in repairing cars and in 1944 he started to study at monastic schools of Salesian congregation, which he often attended. As many others the Salesian congregation was dissolved in 1950, but a Salesian high school in Přestavlky remained open and Frank successfully graduated there. Frank refused to study in a Salesian seminary in Litoměřice dominated by communists and applied to University of mining in Ostrava. In the meantime he had been supporting underground activities of dispersed Salesians. He had stayed in contact with his brothers in faith. In fifties he had been helping as a secret connection to distribute leaflets from the monastery Želiv, where representatives of the Salesian Order had been detained. Frank also took part in printing a Salesian periodical Cor unum and in organizing secret common campaigns. Miroslav Frank was detained in January 1957 and interrogated in custody four months in one Olomouc prison. On 2nd March in 1957 he was sentenced to two years in prison, which he had served in penitentiaries Ilava and Valdice. Frank was released in 1959. In sixties Frank had privately studied theology and in Brno he had secretly passed trough exams. In the meantime he continued to deepen his formation in the Salesian Order under the leadership of his superiors. In 1968 Frank was ordain as a priest by bishop Trochta. In times of normalization Frank had served as the priest in Bílina and Veneřice near Děčín. Within given limits of communist society he had organized religious life, he had been in close contact with workers and with help of local people he had repaired a church. Despite of repeated threats he would loose his state license for priesthood he was able to remain in his religious service until the fall of communism. Nowadays Frank lives in Salesian center in Prague-Kobylisy.