“When a policeman came at half past eleven at night and rang the door bell… I have to get out when the bell rings. What if somebody needed me to attend to a sick or dying person. You cannot ignore it, not even here, I am available days and nights and I must go out. No matter if there are thieves or not. The door bell rang at half past eleven and there was a policeman: ‘Father, at seven you have to be at the police station in Moldava.’ Nobody knows anything. You don’t know – will you return or not? And so I wrote a note: I was summoned to the police in Nová Moldava, if I don’t come back, you know where I am. And I left it on the desk in the office. I returned in the evening, and they threatened me and harassed me but the constitution helped me. Just imagine their look when I quoted to them some law about which they thought that they were the only ones who knew it? Or they did not even know it at all. It was hard, but all those things that I have experienced since the days of my youth until now... great hardships have I survived, but I don’t regret it. On the contrary, I am glad that I have survived it and that I was able to survive it.”
“We followed it quite emotionally in the village. They supported communists, but when things went bad, in one or two days they turned coats and they were now democrats. It was sad here. If I had been in power, I would not have executed Ceausescu. I would have kept him in prison until he died, and fed him with dark bread, the kind that we ate here every day. There is bread for you, the same as we ate. But I would not have shot him to death, but if they had not done so, he would have escaped and he would have gathered support again and they would have put down the revolution, and he would have killed half of the world. It was bloody. They should not have, they should not have executed him, but you know, Securitate said so, and we had sworn our oath that we would sacrifice our lives for him. And we were bound by this oath and for as long as he was alive, it was our duty. It was quite hard, because if the Securitate had or had not done what it had been ordered to do, and then if he had gotten out of it, he would have shot all of them.”
“The bishop promised me that he would send me to a German parish down there so that I would learn German; I was about half-proficient in German already. When I finished, Maško said: ‘I need you among the Czechs, you will go to Nová Moldava.’ There had been no priest for twenty-four years. I did not even find a single stove, not a single lamp, not even a chair. I didn’t even have money, because I just graduated from the seminary. And so I started working there and it was quite difficult for me, in four languages. German, Hungarian, Rumanian, Czech. If you preached only in one language, the others did not understand you. But how could I switch to Rumanian in the church? We are not Rumanians. Even now I oppose it, we are not Rumanians. I will do whatever I can for a Rumanian person, but not in their language. And so I was in Moldava for nine years. Then I was sent to Svatá Helena, I walked a lot there, because I had no vehicle there. And I was in charge of Zlatice, far away at the border, and I was going there by bus, and also here in Eibenthal, where I later got a car, there was no road, it was under water. And so I had to get there by boat, I would get off here and walk from here. So I was in Moldava for nine years, and then I requested Gernik, and then I was in Gernik, in my native village, for twenty-two years.”
I am proud that I am a Czech. And perhaps even more of a Czech than a Czech Czech
Václav Mašek was born in 1941 in a farmer’s family in the Czech village Gernik in the Banát region in Rumania. He was to learn the shoemaker’s trade, but his master demanded an excessively high donation for accepting him as an apprentice, and Václav therefore grazed cows instead. He was studying while spending time on the pasture, and eventually he was sent to a seminary for priests, from which he graduated in 1968. He began his ministry in his first parish in the village Moldava where he had to preach in several languages. In 1977 he became a priest in his native village. Václav faced bullying from the authorities and he was being monitored and interrogated. He worked in Gernik for twenty-two years and then he withdrew from the parish in order to make place for his successor Mr. Altmann, but Mr. Altmann subsequently served in Gernik for only one year. Since 1999 Václav Mašek has been living in Eibenthal, which was another predominantly Czech village in Banát, and he also serves in the nearby village Bígr. He became the head archivist of the Czechs in Banát and he contributed to a number of studies about the life of this community. His most recent significant contribution is a songbook of songs of Czechs from Banát.