„A labor camp Barbora is deeply in my mind because of a screw named Kulhanek. I didn’t mince my words, which someone carried to him. One afternoon two guards picked me up from work. I knew something is wrong. They took me to a headquarters barrack, stripped me naked and left me stand for an hour in a corridor, where the temperature reached 3–4 degrees above zero. Finally Kulhanek appeared out of his office, told me to dress up and go in. At first he just shouted at me, but then he ordered me to change clothes. I was still in working dress. Now I knew I was heading to a correction unit. The unit comprised a concrete building with three cubicles, where wooden plank beds were hanged from the walls. Only tiny space had been left to pass by the plank beds. No mattresses at all of course. I happened to find myself in the correction unite many times before, so I knew I had to await freezing temperatures. I decided to take a towel, which was forbidden of course. At the moment Kulhanek saw the towel around my neck; he started to shout and dragged me by the towel around the room. Then he stroke my head against the wall repeatedly and finally put me in the coercion unit. I was locked there around a week. Outside were freezing temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees below zero. Naturally there was no heating in the unit. Through a small window snow fell in. These were really life threatening conditions. I had to do anything to move permanently. Motion is the basic law of creation.”
„The worst freezing we had experienced was 34 degrees below zero. Two hundred men were standing on a platform and the screw Kulhanek forbade us to draw our caps over our ears. The platform was digged in the mountainside and the headquarters barrack stood just over it. Kulhanek watched us from inside through the window clad in fur coat and cap and mittens. He literally laughed at us as two hundred men had been freezing there in poor cloths. Biting wind came and within ten minutes all got frostbitten the ears in these conditions. My ears were weeping several years until my body finally coped with the frostbite.”
“I was taken to Pricni Street. Immediately after I entered the room, a interrogator locked the door. Then I realized a file labeled Zdenek Krivka was prepared on a table. Without a word or a question the interrogator started to beat me with his fist. Then he ordered me to kneel on a chair, my feet were sticking out through the chair backrest. I had to stretch out my hands and he placed a pencil on my fingers. You can just try how long it takes until your hands get tired and the pencil slides. Every time the pencil fell on the floor, the interrogator smashed me in the face with such strength I toppled on the ground with the chair. But still, you can survive such beating.”
„Whole of my life I wanted to be a teacher, but I was a workman instead. I’m not bothered about it. If man wants to become a real personality, he can find his way even in the wasteland. As workmen I was able to educate myself in such a way I have no reason to be ashamed. In a German magazine I have read a statement of a sociologist Elisabeth Lukas: ‚Not the circumstances, but the outcome which man reaches within these circumstances counts.’ This is decisive. That is the reason why I do not accept any excuses related to circumstances. Everywhere I try to reach the maximum. What really matters is the man’s will. Without the will you can never create a personality. This could be only the result of your own will.”
“Once we were punished together with my brother, who accidentally appeared in the same labor camp as I did – in so called camp ‘12’. We had to dig out stumps in a morass. It was just bullying evidently, because the place was to be buried within few weeks under a pile of waste rock. With leaky gum boots we were deprived of sleep, tired, hungry and benumbed. I was deadly tired and I told my brother: ‘We are probably going to die here...’ But he replied: ‚We won’t perish! Don‘t be afraid! We will sustain everything!‘ His words sounded to me literally miraculously. I was deeply struck in this very moment. I experienced what an impact could have just few words said in the right moment. Even if I happened to be in much worse situations, I had never yielded to similar weakness after that. Such weakness never affected me again.”
We won’t perish, don‘t be afraid! We will sustain everything!
Zdeněk Křivka was born on 20th February in 1927 in Spisska Nova ves in Slovakia. After the Slovakian proclamation of independence in 1938, whole family left Slovakia and moved to Brno. During the Second World War Krivka was called to forced labor in the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia. After the communist putsch in February 1948 Krivka joined anticommunist resistance group led by his uncle Petr Krivka. Unfortunately the whole group was betrayed by an agent Frantisek Janku and completely dispersed in August 1949. Among detainees were Krivka’s brother, father and uncle as well. After one year long interrogation, Zdenek Krivka was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment (his brother to 20 and father to 15 years). Uncle Peter was sentenced to a capital punishment for his activities and hanged on 21. 7. 1951. During the next ten years Zdenek Krivka passed trough seven labor camps and the prison Leopoldov. From November 1952 he had been detained for two and a half year in one of the worst labor camps called Barbora. There he was systematically persecuted by screw Kulhánek, who repeatedly punished Krivka by putting him into the correction unit. In the mountain area 1000 meters above the sea level with winter freezing temperatures between 20 and 30 below zero this meant live threatening conditions. Krivka had to wait for his release until the 10th May in 1960. Then he was pardoned by a broad amnesty. Till his retirement he worked manually. Eight years he had drawn water in woods, later he had worked as a warehouseman in railways.