“When I returned home, they came for me; they said they were from the Union of Slovak Consumer Cooperatives, that we would be leaving for Košice in the morning, that we had to hurry to make it in time. That’s the ruse they used to get me out of the house. My mum even cut them some slices of smoked meat and said they should take some for the journey. They took me to Harmonie. They arrested me on 28 May, but they wrote in the report that it had been on 31. During those days I was interrogated in Harmonie. Then they sent me to the central police office in Bratislava. More and more cops. They put me together with one, she said she was Eva Bieliková, Pavol Bielik’s sister. It was Marta Páleníková, a cop. Then on 5 June I was in such pain that they took me to the regional hospital in Bratislava. There they operated me for appendicitis. After all the knee bends I had to do, and I had menses at the time, the blood just poured out of me, there was no stopping it.”
“I went to cut them. Before we changed places, I told Jan Bača: ‘The knives are blunt.’ He gave me his knife and I remember him saying: ‘I got this from my great grandfather. Don’t do anything to it.’ So I used it to cut a few sheaves. And suddenly the string broke and it pulled me inside. This leg and this arm, it mangled both of them. I don’t know, maybe I was saved by the rubber boots I was wearing that I had been given by Norika, before they moved her to a different room. I guess that saved my leg. That it wasn’t completely torn apart. I fell in like this with my leg, my arm. It’s such a shock that you don’t have time to feel the pain. You don’t. And wham such a noise. And shouting all around. Also my screams, I guess. Of course I screamed. But I don’t remember it. I reeled backwards. I pushed the hood away with my body. I had this leg like this, and my arm. Someone knocked the belt off, so it stopped. Now they wanted to pull me out of the thresher. They’d pulled me out, and now a stretcher and they wanted to lower me down (from the machine). I was never more afraid then at that moment that they would drop me. I said: ‘Let me climb down.’ I didn’t know anything had happened (to my leg). Because straight away Doctor Vídová came up and injected me with some stupifiers. I must have been in terrible condition, because I remember them saying to splash me with cold water.”
“In Harmonie (when interrogated) I had to do so many knee bends, and that was when I was already having my period. I started bleeding awfully there. And Bauman brought me some cotton wool. But I had to do more knee bends at the central police office, and that knackered me. When they moved me to the central police office, it was terribly cold there. I might have even had those pains from that awful cold. Everything hurt me around here. When they took me to the hospital for a check-up, they said it looks like appendicitis. So on 5 June 1952 they took me to surgery, and I was operated by the head doctor Makaj. But he said: ‘This isn’t appendicitis.’ I heard him say that. In other words, it was from the cold. But I really had strong pains. And that was also because I didn’t have any clothes to speak of. A day or so after the operation they took me back. I had it bandaged. They put me into the cell, it was on the floor, the straw mattress and blanket were dirty... It started hurting.”
“My blood was seeping through, so they stopped in Levice. The head doctor there was called Fraštatský, and he said: ‘Off to surgery now!’ The wardress, Black Annie, said no, that she had orders to take me to Nitra no matter what. He said: ‘That’s not possible, the girl won’t survive.’ Already back in Želiezovce the driver had said the ambulance was bad, that it wasn’t in good enough shape to take me to Nitra. Doctor Fraštatský said it was out of the question. She said no, that she had orders. That she had to take me there. We set off and after a while the ambulance broke down. They re-bandaged me. I think that Doctor Fraštatský had already phoned to Nitra to say that they should expect us. Because we were driving along, and suddenly we were stuck in the middle of the fields. What that driver did with it, I don’t know. He called the bitch over to help hold something. So she went. I was in the back of the ambulance the whole time, loosening and tightening the bandage myself. The girls had given me some water with lemon for the journey, and I sucked on that along the way. I guess that saved my life, that I got that liquid into myself. I could only see the leg, with my toes all black, I had it green here. You see, I had all this ripped outwards. The ankle, from here to here, gone. Here I’ve got a piece of bone under my knee, about five centimetres. I also had my arm bandaged, right up to here. So they drove me to Nitra, they took me straight to the x-ray and from the x-ray to straight to surgery.”
“Then they took me, with my crutches with no rubber, to the prison in Ružomberok, where the chief warden tells me I should request my release. I say: ‘How? I don’t even have a prosthesis yet.’ The chief says: ‘Exactly, everything will go much better outside.’ But while I was in Nitra, I was visited by my brothers Ludvík and Stefan. They had been searching for me and they had gone to the prison in Nitra, where they had been told that I was supposed to have been released on the thirteenth. Based on that they told our parents that I should have been released. And my mum, at least according to what I was told by the director of the military hospital in Ružomberok, Karel Boháč, my mum said she doesn’t me at home, that they don’t want a beggar at home. He came and asked me where I would go. I said: ‘I don’t know.’ ”
Helena Kociánová, née Maxiánová, was born on 20 November 1933 in Borský Svätý Jura in Slovakia. She experienced many difficult moments in her life. When she was eighteen she was arrested by the Slovak State Security. She suffered violent interrogations and ended up in a military hospital. Upon returning to prison, her freshly operated wound caught an infection and she was wracked with unbearable pain. In October 1952 she was sentenced to five years in prison during the trial with Krutý and co. And yet Helena Kociánová had not been doing anything seditious, she had merely advised a friend how to get in touch with a border guide, who could help him cross the border. On 12 June 1955 in the corrective labour camp Želiezovce, she was part of an incident that marked her for the rest of her life. While working with a rapeseed thresher the hood came loose and Helena Kociánová fell inside the machine. The thresher injured her severely and she had to have her leg amputated. After the operation, she was not given anaesthetics and she thus suffered great pains. Her leg did not heal and Helena Kociánová had to undergo several further operations and remain in hospital for almost a year. When her brothers visited her, she found out that she was supposed to have been released on probation the day after her accident, but that did not happen. Her release was later refused by her mother, so that she would not have to look after her invalid daughter. Helena Kociánová was not released until 1956. In the same year she moved away to Mikulovice in the Jeseník District, and ignoring her mother’s disapproval, she married Karel Kocián. Influenced by his wife’s bitter experience, her husband quit the Communist party in the early 1960s. She became a widow in 1986. In 1997 the Kociáns’ house was severely damaged in a flash flood: it demolished half the house and destroyed the barn and garden. The house was repaired with the help of family and friends, and the witness lives there to this day.