Ing. Jan Konzal

* 1935  †︎ 2021

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The interrogation methods were supposed to make me lose my mind

Jan Konzal 1953
Jan Konzal 1953
photo: archiv Jana Konzala

Jan Konzal was born on the 5th of May 1935 in Třebonice (today’s Zbuzany) u Prahy as the fifth child out of six into a Christian family. His father, an accountant, died of asthma two years after the war so his mother took care of the family. From the age of eight to twelve he was at a boarding school for altar boys in Svatá Hora. In April 1950, during the persecution of monasteries and male monastic orders, he managed to avoid being forced into a labour camp in Králíky thanks to his seemingly young age. His brothers, however, did not escape forced labour. He studied at a gymnasium and later ČVUT, graduating in 1958. From the age of 17 to 25 he organized secret reading sessions for his peers, frequented a monastery choir, and educated himself in theology. He wanted to become a priest. In October 1960 he was arrested and put under investigation in Ruzyně for his Christian activism. The interrogation methods used caused him to lose memory and the interrogations had to be interrupted. He was sentenced to three years in prison for alleged subversion of the state. Following his release in 1963, he continued in his secret activities and education, and he enrolled in a distance theology programme in East Germany. He got married in 1968. In 1972 he was secretly ordained a priest, ten years later he became a bishop. His underground church activities included mainly work in eastern Slovakia. Jan Konzal went through several jobs - he worked as a manual worker in a Tatra factory and Armabeton, as a project designer at the Institute of Scenography, and as a researcher at the Institute of Electrical Engineering. He refused to be ordained a priest again after the revolution so he is not included in the Catholic bishop registry and officially doesn’t work as a bishop or a priest anymore. He dedicates his time to people excluded from the church and publishing work for the Getsemany magazine.