Štěpán Kaňák

* 1934  

  • "When I went to the interrogations, they immediately put on glasses on me in the cell where I was. I don't know where I went. I always grabbed the guard and walked slowly up the stairs until I came to the room where I was interrogated. And I always got black glasses on my way back. As for the interrogations, I got a few slaps from the investigator when I didn't want to say anything, but I can't say that I would be physically tortured."

  • "I was imprisoned in the 1951. I was at a carpentry school in Bruntál, I came home in June and then I worked for Mr. Kozelka in Frýdlant as an apprentice. And as apprentices do, I also went for snacks. Once I went to get a snack for the men, and when I came back with the snacks, two men in leather coats stood at the door and said, 'Give them the snacks and you'll come with us.' Master Mr. Kozelek stood in the doorway, looking at me in horror. So, I handed out snacks and went. They took me home first. Mom had just left somewhere and the house was locked. And I got up through the barn, unlocked it, and let the comedians in. And then they interrogated me. They wanted to know the name of some secretly ordained bishop, but I didn't know anything about it at all. Mom came home and was horrified at what was happening. They told her they would just ask me something and that it would be fine. But I didn't want to tell them anything, because I didn't even know that there had already been secretly ordained priests, so they told my mother that they would take me away, but that I might be back for my birthday. It was September 7th, my birthday is 16th. My mother saw me again in a year and a half."

  • "We went there [to Hájek] in the autumn of 1949 and on April 13 they took over us. The State Security officers came with submachine guns and raided the monastery. They started banging on the gate and the doorman went to ask the superior if he should open it. And a whole bunch of the State Security officers, and I think they were militiamen with submachine guns too, raided the monastery. We had to get up at night and gather in the refectory, that was the room where we ate. And there they asked us, the young people if we wanted to go. Maybe they wouldn't arrest us, maybe they would let us go, but we said we would go with the superiors. So, they loaded us to a bus. We didn't know where they were taking us. And they brought us to Hejnice. It was a Franciscan monastery that was no longer very busy. They took us there."

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    Ostrava, 31.08.2021

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    Ostrava, 02.09.2021

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He was imprisoned in a solitary confinement at the age of seventeen. There he felt that God was protecting him

Štěpán Kaňák / around 1964
Štěpán Kaňák / around 1964
photo: archive of Štěpán Kaňák

Štěpán Kaňák was born on September 16, 1934 into the family of a metal-farmer in Frýdlant nad Ostravicí. From 1946 to 1949 he studied at the Archbishop’s Grammar School in Kroměříž. After its abolition, he continued his studies at the Franciscan monastery in Hájek in Bohemia. In April 1950, he experienced Action K there, during which the Communists liquidated the male monasteries and orders. Together with the Franciscans, he was interned in concentration camps in Hejnice and Bohosudov. He also underwent a re-education stay in the former monastery in Hájek and then had to work on the construction of the Kvíčala dam. Less than a year after returning from internment, he was arrested by the State Security for being in touch with the Franciscans. The court sent him to prison for a year and a half for associating against the state. In 1954, the Ministry of Defense called him to military service with the technical battalions. He spent most of his two-year service working at the Dukla Mine in Havířov. In civilian life, he returned to Frýdlant nad Ostravicí and joined the local foundry, where he worked for thirty-five years. He got married and raised six children. In 2021, he lived in his hometown, in Nová Dědina, a the part of Frýdlant nad Ostravicí.