“After dismissal of priests, monks and nuns due to Prešov Sobor (Prešov Council) in April 1950, our dad was removed from his function on June 30, 1950. He was not only dismissed from the position of a town school’s director, but completely from the sphere of education, supposedly pursuant to paragraph 20. He was allowed to get a job, but to work with a shovel in some production, 200 km from home. So he went, searched, job-hunted, because there were three little children to be taken care of. I was only four, my deceased brother was eight and the eldest brother was eleven years old. The life was dreadful. All five of us were starving. Finally, our dad got a job and worked in state forests Stakčín with two-handed saw. Before that he searched everywhere, nearby in Svätý Kríž nad Hronom, in Žarnovica, or even in the west – at the oil refinery that was opening in Kúty – Gbely.”
“I had quite weakened health, personally also from the malnutrition. We didn’t have anything to put on the plate, we were starving and we had to sell more valuable things to have money for bread, or once a month for meat to cook, when my brothers came from dormitory. They studied in Košice. At first there was my older brother, then four years later my younger brother studying at the Secondary School of Construction in Košice. It was necessary to pay for the dorms and when they had a leave-permit Sunday, that’s when we could’ve had meat; although it also had to be only pork as it cost just 20 crowns. It was a piece of flank either baked or boiled, or just some cheaper stuff as was tripe or so. And our clothing was very modest as well. As a girl I had majority of clothes re-sewed after my brothers due to saving reasons. My mom didn’t even have anything to get my trousseau ready, as it was existentially not possible […]. I don’t wish anyone to go through that. My peers didn’t understand why I was wearing stretch pants after my brothers. My mom used to knit and re-knit sweaters, socks, and so on. Very pragmatic that was. She was very skillful and as a teacher she was great in handicraft. It was really a difficult life we lived.”
“We were able to survive it, thanks God, I live, but my health has been weakened because of the poverty. […] I know what hunger is, what it takes to be starving and suffering from malnutrition; to have empty plate and be slobbering over lacking food as Pavlov’s dogs. I have very weakened health from my childhood. Yet before I began to attend school, doctors diagnosed me with open cavern of lungs. That was also reason why our relatives mobilized in America, gathered up all money they could and sent them to us, to be able to buy a house, to get away from Snina. There were two groups of people in Snina: those, being compassionate and helpful verbally as well as physically, but also those deriding and saying: ‘They get what they deserve, churchmen, pietists, running to church instead of taking care of themselves!’ But how could’ve we taken care of ourselves when we didn’t have anything? We lived in a rented place, didn’t have own living, because my parents returned from Subcarpathian Rus, where they lived since 1935.”
“The whole class went to the cinema. I didn’t… My mom couldn’t give me the nickel as she didn’t have any.”
Mária Gondová, née Selinová, was born on May 20, 1946 in Snina. She was born in a family of Greek Catholic teachers, what affected the life events since Mária’s early childhood. After the February 1948 the Greek Catholic family became an enemy of the state and its socialist system. Mária’s father Jozef was dismissed from his work in 1950 and sent to “labor”, where he could earn only minimum wage. The family with three children couldn’t be even economically supported by their mother, who was hindered to get employed whatsoever. Due to this fact, the family was during long years condemned to struggling for existence, poverty and derision of the vicinity. Mária recalls the times when they had nothing to eat, lacked decent clothes or money for basic needs that were so common for their peers. Eight years later, the Selina family reached help from their relatives from overseas, who sent them money to buy a new house. That’s when they moved to Humenné. All three children achieved university education, even though their cadre evaluations didn’t allow them to study in fields they desired. Mária studied economy, founded a family and moved to Zvolen. In spite of the distance from her hometown, until November 1989 she still experienced various persecutions.