Juraj Krupa

* 1936  

  • “Then I decided to make a dictionary, because I didn’t know what to do any more. I had already pondered my childhood and all kinds of things, and then I stopped, and I wondered what next. So it occurred to me that I could make a dictionary. I started from A. A as the conjunction [‘a’ means ‘and’ in Czech - trans.], Ab - meaning father in Hebrew, and so on. I wetted my finger in the water in the toilet and wrote on the concrete floor. I wrote out the dictionary like that. Then the chief of the segregation unit came in and was scared that I had gone bonkers. I told him I hadn’t, that I was writing a dictionary. But you really can go crazy from it.”

  • “Before every ten days of segregation, they sent me to the commanders. And one of them told me I would give up. ‘I can keep on doing this, but you can’t,’ they would say. One time they even sent a supposed prosecutor. They said I was disrupting the economic plan. I asked in what way I was disrupting the economic plan. Supposedly, I had an economic plan, and I was disrupting it by refusing to work. That there was such and such a law about it, and that they’d extend my sentence because of it. I would be convicted and I’d never come out of prison, they said. One day I really was summoned before someone who introduced himself as the district prosecutor, and he told me again that I was disrupting the economic plan and that I would get another conviction for it. In short, he showed me that I was in danger of staying in prison until my death.”

  • “One of my classmates was an Adventist, and we became friends. He started telling me about our Lord Jesus, which no one had ever done before. I couldn’t talk about it with anyone. But he was able to tell me how much our Lord Jesus loves us and so on, and that was something that spoke to my heart, I liked that. My mother and other people I had been in touch with had always only told me they were so-called Sabbatarians, people who observe the sabbath the way the Jews do, which they regarded as a negative thing. But I don’t remember it worrying me. The Adventists helped me find Jesus, who loves us and offers to connect with us through conversation. So probably by the end of my first year I was already visiting my friend’s place. I came there on Saturday one time, and his mum showed me the Bible and told me to read it. There were certain things written in it, and I believed it.”

  • “It worked okay for some time, no troubles. Our company commander was First Lieutenant Ondřej Kalaba, whom I have good memories of, he was a very decent man. He knew about it, so he didn’t give me any orders on Saturday. But then one time there was a military exercise and drill on Saturday, which I refused to take part in. The battalion commander sent me to the prosecutor with no big fuss when I confirmed that I insisted on the matter. So the superior officers sent me to the prosecutor, and on Monday morning I was escorted to Brno, where Lieutenant Colonel Dr Tomáš Holomek, the prosecutor, asked me what the situation was, and I saw him stamp ‘custody’ on to my papers.”

  • “It really is a harsh punishment. It was harsh for me too. It’s a long time. There’s just concrete and no furniture, nothing. Just the toilet bowl, with the wooden seat removed so you can’t sit on it and get some rest. No chair, nothing, just the concrete floor. [Q: So you spent the whole day on your feet?] I stood the whole day. In the evening they brought a straw mattress to sleep on, and you took off the clothes you wore in the day, got changes, and in the morning it was all tidied away again. So it was rough. It was long, having to stand awake those 16 hours. It was tiring, mentally as well. That’s why they do it, it break the person.”

  • “It was completely dark there, and all I knew was that it was day-time. It was February, and I was cold. Every third day they served normal prison food, which I often returned because I didn’t eat it. The other days I only got the morning ration of bread and then nothing all day long, then the next day the same. The third day I got normal food, but I often returned it. Then the segregation unit chief came in and asked if I was on a hunger strike, and I told him I wasn’t but that I just don’t eat that food. He sympathised with me and even brought me some bread. It lasted ten days, and when the ten days were up, I returned to my cell and went mining in the evening. I went mining for three days, and then [back in the cooler] for another ten. And that repeated. [Q: You always worked until Saturday, when you refused to go...?] I refused, and they always put me in the cooler. So I tallied more than a hundred days in the cooler.”

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A hundred plus days in the cooler for observing the Sabbath

Juraj Krupa 1968
Juraj Krupa 1968
photo: archiv Pamětníka

Juraj Krupa was born on 16 March 1936 into a peasant family in Slovakia, in Východná near Liptovský Mikuláš. His father died when he was three, and his mother had to feed six children. The family was Lutheran, but Juraj found his personal faith in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. He finished primary school in 1950 and went on to attend grammar school in Liptovský Mikuláš. He planned to prepare for pastorship in Prague, but that ceased to be an option when the Adventists were abolished in 1952. After graduating from grammar school he came into trouble for adhering to the fourth of the Ten Commandments, as Adventists observe the sabbath by refusing to work on Saturday, although this was considered a working day at the time. He uncompromisingly refused to serve on Saturdays during military service as well (he was drafted into the Auxiliary Engineering Corps, AEC, in Komárno in 1956). In 1957 he was sentenced to four months in prison for failure to do his duty, with another eighteen month of prison added a year later. His refusal to work on Saturdays was repeatedly punished by solitary confinement, which amounted to more than a hundred days. Although his prison time interrupted his military service, he was sent back to serve in the AEC in Krnov in 1960. He and other Adventists found employment in civil engineering work, where their religious customs were tolerated. In 1968-1972 he studied to be a pastor. He received state permission and served as a preacher in the Adventist Church until 1992. He married in 1962; during the normalisation his children had difficulties applying to schools due to their religion and their father’s job as a preacher.