Ing. Pavol Hric

* 1955

  • "Certainly one of the cores that reacted to those events was the Inorga Košice. It's here at Moyzesova 24. It used to be there, it doesn't exist anymore. And we went, we shared that you should both go to the puppet theater. There there was some Czech director, so it wasn't a big problem like talking them out or saying that you shouldn't act either and you have to talk to people when such terrible things happened in Prague. Well, it wasn't difficult in that Puppet Theater. The same some other colleagues went to the State Theater. And we started preparing there (I have a lot of it somewhere), we started publishing information. Like an information leaflet. It was called IFórum, as Inorga Forum, where we all the available information that was known, those statements and so on, we started to prepare. I don't know exactly if we published anything in that first week. Also on Wednesday was the first student strike. Well, first the one where they were supposed to collect papers around the school and there we said that it was not it's good that you are now dealing with the papers or the teaching process, that it is something else. So we kind of helped those students as well. On the one hand, among those students there were also those who went to our Christian clubs, so it was not such a problem to meet them. And they were really active. It seems to me that the formation or the guidance to that freedom, that we, as it were, had some kind of preparation in our little circles."

  • "That's where I met Dr. Jukl. At first, I was suspicious that what this guy was doing here, that we are the only students here, and he's some fifty-year-old man walking with us on the hills, and he was still singing a song called Neďaleko Bohumína, the girl fell into the chimney . So he came here to sing with us? But suddenly, when I had the opportunity to talk with him on that trip, or otherwise, we found out that he is a serious person. He was in prison for fourteen years and he was understandable, he did not interpret in some unintelligible concepts. But mainly it was a personal testimony. Of course, it was almost as if he always carried the memory of Professor Kolakovič, who actually introduced him to the life of the secret church, that how can one survive when that communism is an atheistic state , when he is constantly liquidating those believers. So that was my discovery in Bratislava. So, in addition to the professional education I received there, I also received a fairly decent education. You can probably say that to humanity, decency and finally, when I look at it this way, we are in those circles, in those communities, they were free. We didn't have censorship there, we read everything there. Usually it wasn't from our labels. But it was smuggled literature, samizdata, copied books, and later also those periodical samizdat magazines."

  • "And I don't think they did it because they needed all those things so urgently, but rather I think it was the humiliation that we will show you who has the power here and if you don't sign, then I don't know yet what. There were even direct death threats, thank God it didn't happen. But it was a difficult time. And now a family without these agricultural products, without chickens, eggs, milk, it was a terrible prospect. Terrible. Father also had health problems. Mentally it was just very hard for him to bear it. Mother, probably with such a drive for preservation, first went somewhere in a neighboring village to work part-time on some state property, then to a sugar factory in Trebišov. And she actually became the main breadwinner of the family. So the family's punishment was great. And more apart from the physical, the nutrition and so on, the designation kulak, even though the regulation or the law, the kulak was supposed to be the one who had more than twenty hectares of land and who employed. But ours had nothing like that. They had those seasonal helpers at the harvest or during harvest. But the label kulak stuck with me. I'm the son of a kulak, and it's simply a pejorative term for the fact that my father was a farmer and a peasant."

  • "So I think I belong to a generation, so I'll take the liberty of summarizing it a bit. We were lucky enough to live to see the days when freedom was born in Slovakia. And even today I will say that as long as we have freedom, we have a chance to improve our democratic system, which is, one might say, on straw legs... we see that democracy is somehow not working for us, or we don't even want to learn or that much we don't want to be democrats either. Because rather when someone grabs that power, so they doesn't want to let go... on the one hand, we are a generation of hope that my parents didn't live to see... even though mom lived, but you can say she didn't enjoy it anymore... she didn't have the feeling that yes, I can implement. People in their seventies already had a slightly different view of the world than maybe us in our thirties... and my father didn't live to see it, but I think that if he had lived, he would have warned me: "don't do anything, don't get involved in anything". ... they got it like that in 1968... they really caught on in the 1950s... that was a generation to be respected. Really, these victims and their attitude to those wrongs, to those lies and cruelties, that they prevented it as much as possible."

  • "Well, since religion was not taught in schools at that time in Košice... in many cities and villages, the parents fought for it, even though it was not allowed... both parents had to bring an application to the director, stating that they both wanted the child went to religion class... but it wasn't in Košice. I know this because I had a colleague at work who said that he insisted that his child attend religion at school. He knows that it can be done in other ways, by visiting houses or by calling a chaplain, but he wants to and has a civil right to do so... well, I learned from him that the chaplains have already dissuaded him, that: "But let that's right, we'll come to you"... no, he wanted to exercise such a civil right. Today, we may smile so much that it was necessary to fight for such elementary rights. However, religious freedom in the socialist Czechoslovakia, even though it was declared, was not in reality. Because we didn't have any literature, we didn't even have any religious books... just once in a while something came out in the Society of St. Vojtech, but there was an absolute lack of anything related to any kind of education. Whether in that Christian modernity as in poetry or in prose works and so on. Well, it all had to be secured somehow..."

  • "I think that we, who grew up in the environment of the secret church, just as we are sitting here now, some priest in civilian clothes could also sit here and talk to us. This means that we were consired as partners, even apart from the fact that they were in charge of the spiritual service, confessions, holy masses or the liturgy of prayer... no one would have recognized that this is a layman and this is a priest... because when it was said, that we are going to print, publish or copy some videos and distribute them... so it was the task of this or that, but it was not accepted that you are a priest and you cannot do this... after the year 1990, the first thing I experienced was the division , that those secret priests or priests who lived in the lay world had to or wanted to withdraw into the sacred environment. Well, they left us here to take care of this world... it was such a surprise to me that I never had such a close relationship with priests as I had during the time of the secret church."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Košice, 19.09.2022

    duration: 01:32:28
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
  • 2

    Košice, 10.11.2022

    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

None of us did not know what this social change entailed, and what everything would have to be done to release the energy that was hidden in people

Pavol Hric during EYD recording
Pavol Hric during EYD recording
photo: Photo by Dominik Janovský

Pavol Hric was born on July 5, 1955 in Trebišov. He has three older siblings and spent his childhood in the village Nižný Žipov in eastern Slovakia. From 1963, he started attending elementary school, during which he experienced the arrival of occupying Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. Pavol comes from a peasant family that lost all its property during collectivization. After elementary school, he entered the gymnasium in Trebišov and in 1974 he went to study at the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava. While studying at university, he participated in meetings of the secret church, where he also met his first samizdat. After completing his studies, he moved to Košice, where he got a job at the company Inorga - Institute of Automation in Industry and Heavy Engineering. Pavol was at the creation of the Občianske fórum during the Velvet Revolution. After the Velvet revolution, he was involved in Christian Democratic clubs. In 1990 he started a business in the field of software design. In Košice in 2021 he founded the Museum of Victims of Communism.