JUDr. Jan Haluza

* 1914  †︎ 2011

  • “The interrogators let me be for a few days because I couldn’t walk on the bloody feet. Then they took me to another interrogation, but it was a different matter. It wasn’t only beating; they took me in chains to the horrid interrogation room. Other prisoners were talking about electricity, something completely inhuman. I didn’t say anything and they didn’t like it, so they put small iron sheets in my shoes and began with the interrogation. They switched on the electricity, 220 Volt, into my feet. When I felt it, I shook the shoes loose. They tried it twice, and then began laughing and said: ‘We know what to do.’ One of them went to the other room and brought big army boots with the conductors already in them. ‘Put them on!’ I put them on, and, of course, these shoes were tight, and I couldn’t shake them loose. The interrogation began again, and that was really bad. When I was sitting, it squeezed my heart, infected my brain. My legs were shivering. They told me to lie down, and continued with the torture. Finally, they ordered me to stand up and plugged me into electricity. My legs went rubber, and I collapsed on the floor.”

  • “In Uherské Hradiště I got the solitary cell, where you are alone and you really suffer because you were arrested and you don’t know why. I expected that they were going to prosecute me, because they promised to. But, when they put me to the solitary cell, it was horrible. I didn’t know why and for what; I couldn’t believe that what we did--that we gathered together--was a crime. I am a lawyer, and I would never come across the idea that they would do such an issue out of nothing. I was arrested as a member of a group called Zlín. Because they needed to give us higher penalties, they put us together with the group of father Antonín Huvar, which amounted to some fifty people. The penalties were ranging from one to ten years. If I was judged just by the Zlín group, I would get two or three years. But, they needed to squeeze us hard, and they really did. I was sentenced by § 2 of the law No. 50 dated 1939 for plotting against the government; and by § 52 of the law No 71 dated 1945 for economical espionage; and I got six years in prison and hard bed quarterly."

  • “A commando came to Bratrství. They cleared the room and took off the floors. They took me and Květoslav Dostálek to Jestřáb, which was the interrogation centre in Jáchymov. They put us in cells underground that were two meters long and one and a half meter wide. There was a bucket in the corner and nothing else. It was absolutely dark and we were almost naked except for a t-shirt, shorts and socks. They let us there for a week without food, but also without water. I didn’t have a sip of water for the whole week! They took us for the interrogation every day. Once, the main interrogator, his name was Pták, told us that he hopes we have good food. After two days without food, you don’t care; we didn’t have problem with hunger, we had a problem with thirst. The interrogation consisted of questions like: ‘What is your name? Where were you born?’ It was the same the second day, the third day, the fourth day. They gave me a piece of paper to write what I had done. I always wrote when I was born and left the paper blank. It lasted about a week, and then, when we had to stand up all night, I was exhausted and my legs were swollen, so I collapsed and that was the end of interrogation. Finally, it became the case of espionage in the Jáchymov mines, and we were the suspects. Every day the interrogator threatened us with the ‘tailcoat’. When he said that for the first time, I thought it couldn’t be that bad, because I thought it was a life sentence. But he told me that ‘tailcoat’ meant execution.”

  • “Imagine that: I was sitting in the cell, thinking about how to get out, collecting arguments in my thoughts. Then, suddenly, someone knocks the door and tells me: ‘Doctor, you got your wife here, she was arrested.’ We had a signal, it was Mozart’s lullaby. I whistled through the prison in Uherské Hradiště: ‘Sleep, little one, go to sleep’…. Those were real hard times. We would never wish for any couple to go through this.”

  • “Professor Arne Novák gave me a good advice when I wasn’t sure where to go in my life. After the failure of the ecclesiastical seminary, professor Novák told me to study law. I took his advice, and it was a good choice. I graduated in 1939, and nowadays I am one of the oldest living doctors of law. During the studies I devoted my time to sports, and I soon become a professional athlete. Offers came also form Slavia and Sparta, but I chose Zlín. Baťa offered me also with a job. I went to Zlín where there was also Emil Zátopek. Nobody took care of him, he had no trainer. Mr. Juránek came and asked me to train him. He said: ‘Emil is very talented. Take care of him.’ I didn’t hesitate, and we started running with Emil Zátopek. He listened to every word I said; he was loosing his temper with me, he did everything with me.”

  • “The trial took place on 9th November in Uherské Hradiště. During the interrogation, I visited different interrogators. One of them wanted to use some drugs to damage my memory, but then he changed his mind. The main tactic they used on me was a cross interrogation. They put some warm clothes on me and lit a circle of five thousand watt light bulbs that produced a considerable amount of heat. You should sweat and begin to hallucinate, but it didn’t work with me, so the cross interrogation was a failure. After the trial, when the prisoners were sent to Pankrác, and then to Jáchymov, I stayed in Uherské Hradiště, because they raised another accusation against me. It was a case that I was supposed to be a member of the group of people connected with Milada Horáková. Doctor Jandečka and Ing. Antonín Vaněk, who worked with Milada Horáková in a committee, were accused together with me. So, I was interrogated both as a member of the Zlín group and the group of Milada Horáková. They let me in Uherské Hradiště, also, because I didn’t tell them that I was a member of the group of Milada Horáková. They took their revenge on me, and tortured me with all the possible techniques they could think of. First, they were nice and asked me to tell them what I had done, and so on. They never said for what activity you were interrogated for but they insisted on you to tell them that you did something. And I told them: ‘Why are you doing this? You are interrogating me for something and you don’t want to tell what it is.’ Of course, they didn’t like it. They tied me to the iron bed and slashed my feet until they were bloody so that I couldn’t walk. That was the first thing they did to me because of Milada Horáková.”

  • “When the guard took me Praha Hotel for the interrogation, I saw a tap with water, and because I was thirsty, I jumped under the water. He took out a gun as if he was going to shoot me, if I drunk the water that it was a contaminated with typhus. He wanted to shoot me, but I already drank from the tap. When I got to the camp in Jáchymov, symptoms had already appeared. I was he first one with typhus in Jáchymov. They put me in hospital in Karlovy Vary, that was a normal prison. We were 40 patients with typhus. I had hallucinations for 22 days, and I was really dying. People who were allowed to enter the room were looking at an outstanding athlete dying. We had chains on our ankles even though we were sick to death. I was hallucinating for 22 days and I was in chains. Chains one meter long. They were fixed to one leg, and by the other, there was a lock. And, they tied us to beds every night. Even though we were dying, we had to have chains on our legs so that the people could see that we were dreadful criminals. And then, after 22 days I woke up, I looked around me, and for two or three days I was shouting ‘h, h, h’. I lost my memory, and everybody thought that I had become mad. The third day I finally shouted a word, ‘human’. I saw all the people around me, and ‘human’ was the first word that came back to my mind--that there were human beings around me.”

  • “Religion helped me to survive all the suffering in prison. You can believe in anything, but you can’t live without God. We wouldn’t have endured all this without faith. The worst crime of Communism was atheism. To tear the God down by all means, that is nonsense. In life, everything pulls you in the upward direction. I have to think, 'I am an old man….' But, ever since I was a small boy I hold a very strong faith in God.”

  • “I graduated in March 1939--it was during the Protectorate. So, lawyers everywhere, but nobody wanted a lawyer, so I was unemployed. My father was very worried that I was a university graduate and I couldn’t find work, so I told him that I will apply at the construction works Brno. I was the only graduate there. There were about 200 people that couldn’t finish their studies because Hitler had closed the universities and they had to wait.”

  • “I stayed in Uherské Hradiště. I slept in the central building, and from there I was always escorted to the interrogation room. It was a beautiful house--a former school--and there were rooms in the attic where we were interrogated. Even the way they called us to the interrogation was harsh: they woke you up early in the morning, and put you to a room where you were guarded; and you had to stand with your face to the wall, and you couldn’t turn around unless you needed something really urgent. And you were like this without food and drink until the evening when the interrogations began. That was the first horrible thing. The other was that in Uherské Hradiště, where I won the national championship several times, they dragged me in the chains trough the city. People at the street realized me and seem to pity me. That was really humiliating.”

  • "Rovnostz was the last camp where I had to mine down in the shafts. Carts had to be drawn up the hill to the front where they were mining. We loaded it with coal and we took it back down--that was called ‘running away’. We had iron bars that we stuck between the wheels to slow it down. Quite often, the carts went loose. Once there was a screaming that a cart went loose and we immediately looked for a place to hide. I had a good hideaway, but a friend--he was German--didn’t have any place to hide. That was a horror, but it had a happy ending. Luckily enough, the cart flew by and didn’t hit him.”

  • “Before the arrest I directly dealt with the communists. I was a member of the People’s Social Party, and I had a certain position: I was the regional chairman of the Youth Organization.We dealt with the communists. They lured me into their party and threatened me that, otherwise, it would have bad consequences. One of them was sitting next to me and he said: ‘Don’t worry. If there was any overthrown against us, I would first shoot you and then myself.’ I was arrested on 27th September, 1948, in the Kotva company on the fourth floor of the building. They came to me and said: ‘Did you expect us?’ I asked them why I should have expected them and they answered: ‘Well, you’re under arrest.’ They controlled the whole floor and they took me to the Regional court in Zlín. I think I also slept there, and the other day, they took me to Uherské Hradiště. This is how it all began”

  • “I spent about two or three months in Brno at Cejl, because they needed me there because of Tonda Vaňek. He had a trial in June. I still didn’t know what they will do with me concerning Milada Horáková’s case. I was sentenced to six years for the § 2 and § 52, but I didn’t know if they weren’t going to add some years to that. The highest sentence could be ten years--that is a complete disaster for a young man. Nobody can imagine what it means for a prisoner. The trial with took place in June and I was called in. I wasn’t accused; at the main hearing people denied everything. I cheered up the boys in Uherské Hradiště, and I told them: 'Deny everything. Don’t say a word. Deny and deny. Or else they will use it against you.’ At the court in Brno, I denied everything, and if I finally said anything, I denied it as well. There was a chairman doctor Presl, and he was wondering that the protocols from the StB interrogations were quite different. And I told him: ‘Mister chairman, if you were interrogated the way I was, you would sign your own death penalty!’ He knew that they tortured people in Hradiště. The result was that I saved Tonda Vaňek. When we met at Cejl on the yard, he thanked me very dearly. He called me the way they used to call me when I was a sportsman, Ali. He said: ‘Ali, thank you so much for helping me.’ That was a great relief, because I wasn’t accused, and he was released directly without any sentence.”

  • “They needed miners in Ostrava. I decided to go, because I had spent four years in the mines in Jáchymov, and I was used to it. In Ostrava, I worked in the pit for three years, and the other miners didn’t even know that I am a doctor of law. They found out the last year, and they were cross with me. But, I told them that they wouldn’t want to work with me if they had known. Then I went to Slovácké strojírny to the factory as an auxiliary crane mechanic.”

  • Full recordings
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    Pozlovice u Luhačovic, 23.07.2008

    duration: 03:08:41
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“Mr. Presl, if you were interrogated the way I was, you would sign your own death penalty!”

Athlete Jan "Ali" Haluza
Athlete Jan "Ali" Haluza
photo: Pavla Krystýnová

JUDr. Jan Haluza was born on the 12th of July, 1914, in Šternov, today’s Újezd u Brna. He graduated at the Law Faculty in Brno in 1939, just before the German occupation. From his early youth, he did sports and soon became an outstanding athlete. He brought medals from Catholic Olympics in Berlin and Ljubljana, and he won many titles and achieved many records. He was a member of the Baťa Athletic club in Zlín, where he met Emil Zátopek, for whom he became the first and only trainer. After the War, he joined the political scene. He became a member of the Czechoslovak People’s Party and chairman of the regional commission of the People’s Party Youth Organization in the Zlín area. In the regional commission, Haluza met with Jan Šrámek, František Hála, and Adolf Procházka. After the Victorious February 1948, Haluza was offered membership by the Communist Party, which he refused. He was then arrested, accused of plotting against the government and sentenced to six years in prison. Haluza was accused of being a member of the group connected with Milada Horáková, and was subjected to electricity torture in Uherské Hradiště. The interrogation in Uherské Hradiště was terminated when he gave no information. Apart from several prisons, Haluza passed through camps of the ‘Jáchymov hell’, including Vykmanov, Eliáš, and Mariánská. In the Bratrství camp, he was accused of espionage and was threatened with danger of the ‘tailcoat’, or execution. During the interrogation, he fell ill with typhus, and after 22 days of hallucinations, lost his memory. After the release in 1954, he was still watched by the StB who threatened him in order to cooperate. For the following several years, Haluza worked in inferior positions until he could once again practice law. After the Revolution, Haluza was honored with many decorations, including the Golden Medal for An Honest Run in the Race of Life. Mr. Jan Haluza died on 25th of August, 2011.