Stefan Katona

* 1947

  • "Throughout the course of the war, we have witnessed a tense atmosphere. For most of us, it seemed quite dangerous because there were broadcast in Hebrew, from Egypt from Cairo, where they said it was the end of the state and we have to run away wherever we could. Because that's the end. There have been such reports for several days. It was only on the fourth, fifth day of the six legendary days that the news did not seem that bad. Or that it's almost the opposite. And that was the feeling of being free from fear. Because what they threatened seemed close enough. That they're all going to the sea. There were propaganda channels that broadcasted that quite intensely. So one had to have this youthful courage or optimism that nothing bad could happen. But it has already happened. Not to mention those who lived through those terrible years of war, they took it differently than those born afterwards, who didn't know the threat or didn't realize it. So it was, of course, dramatic and exciting, inducing a lot of fear."

  • "Mother had the goal she couldn't accomplish to follow her sister. They were eighteen when they were taken to the camp. After the war, they had 21 and 22. They [parents] would then also like to go to Israel. However, various difficulties and misunderstandings prevented it. My father, as a landlord, had trouble leaving his property, not thinking about the fact it would nevertheless be expropriated soon. It's hard to judge every step. Everyone had a serious reason for his behaviour- he left, he didn't go, he stayed. In comparison with those who left, staying was a really unfortunate decision. Father stayed and was deprived of even more property. It was not enough that he was robbed, he also lost his physical freedom. The 8-year sentence seemed like a lifetime."

  • "That moment my mother returned from Český Krumlov, where she heard the sentence. I don't know how much I remember, as I was eight years old, but it made me cry. When bitterness is concerned, another scene is connected to this. After the sentence, we had to go to Slovakia. My father had not yet been moved from Ceske Budejovice to Jachymov. We knew the sentence, but they were still looking for a place for him, he was still basically in pre-trial detention. We were granted a farewell visit, it was in Budejovice prison, I remember that as an eight-year-old. They lead our father through the corridor where there were bars, bars, bars, and in one place there was a window with a mesh. There we were allowed to say goodbye to our father. They gave us ten minutes. There I saw my parents crying for the first time. I will never t. Mom crying. What could have been there? They could not even touch. That remained with me."

  • "And now comes the moment that God will put a hand or a foot in it. As a boy I am sent to the headmaster to bring something there, I don't remember that anymore. I had to wait for a while in the hall: 'Wait a bit.' I look and see a questionnaire for entrance examinations to a secondary technical school in Zvolen. I had the courage to take it without asking. I would even ask. I had a little doubt whether they wouldn't say I had stolen something from there. But the paper seemed public to me. At the age of 15, 16, I filled it in, sent it and received an invitation for the entrance examinations to a secondary technical school in Zvolen. Even those who tried hard to pass the exams had sometimes to wait for a year or two. There were many more candidates than places. I had to do this all alone, I had no one to ask. Then I received an invitation for the entrance exams, and I went there. Full classroom, they distribute papers. I got the answer that I was accepted. One of those nicer moments in my life. "

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Kolin, Nemecko, 13.03.2019

    duration: 02:12:23
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
  • 2

    Kolin, Nemecko, 19.03.2019

    duration: 01:25:02
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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Only living outside Czechoslovakia cleared him of the sign of the class enemy

Historical photography
Historical photography
photo: Archív pamätníka

Stefan Katona was born on January 14 in 1947 in Sahy into a family of a great landowner of a Hungarian-Jewish origin. In the early 50s, the whole property of the family was expropriated and the father had to work manually. Shortly afterwards, he became an administrator of state property at Sumava, which was expropriated after deported Germans. A few months after the family moved into Sumava, his father was charged with the sabotage of Socialist economy and in a political trial in 1955 sentenced to 8 years in uranium mines in Jachymov. Stefan and his mother moved back to Sahy. His mother worked as a shop assistant and she barely managed to provide for the family. The boy was interested in music since childhood and as a gifted student, he dreamed of studying at the conservatory in Bratislava. Due to his bad “political profile,” he could not attend a high school with high school-leaving examination enabling entrance to university and he had to continue on a vocational school. However, due to chance and his courage, Stefan managed to switch to secondary technical school in Zvolen and later in Bratislava. Together with his 16-year-old brother, he illegally travelled to Israel, for which he was found guilty in absence. Mother followed him a year later. Their father emigrated to Germany after the Soviet invasion in august 1968. Stefan moved there in 1971 with his wife, he played in various bands after work, in 1983 he opened jazz club Melody Piano Bar in Koln, which remained a legendary place for local jazz fans for next 30 years. After 1989, he visited places of his childhood.