Anna Očenášová

* 1924  

  • “A bit later, a train from Slovakia, from Nitra, was about to arrive in Komjatice. It was very interested for me, so right in the morning I went to the station as well as many other people. It should have been secret; however, people got wind of it, so finally about a hundred people were at the station waiting for the Slovak train. It was a while before the noon, when the train arrived and you should have seen those people crying: ‘The Slovaks, Slovakia, to Slovakia,’ and still about Slovakia. They started running towards the train, threw flowers, but there were police officers walking around the train who didn’t let anybody to come closer. People would have embraced that Slovak train, as it was so precious for us. It took only a couple of days and we already felt that we weren’t at home; we were severed just like a healthy limb from a healthy body. We really felt severed, actually we were. Later, they stopped the train. It wasn’t allowed to arrive in our village any more. People’s overstated the reactions were the reason…”

  • “Well, this era, instigations, various intolerable claims, it all makes me worry and I think about the reason why there is such uneasiness, why, who tries to elicit unrests between us. In reality, Hungarians have everything here, they have their own schools. I remember that we, not we, but our children, the youth, who were younger than me, had to study in Hungarian, they had to write, read, and speak Hungarian. However, now they have liberty, freedom. There are Hungarian clerks, Hungarian nurses in hospitals in Slovakia. So why aren’t Hungarians satisfied nowadays, what do they want? We used to go to bed contentedly and we used to get up in the same way. Nowadays, we live in a horrible period of time. This is a horrible era. Either in a political aspect, or in any other way. This is not a good period of time. We are not used to it. We experienced a lot, good as well as bad things. I have had a hard life; I worked at a collective farm for twenty years, and almost all the time I did only the hardest works, but I was content. My family was satisfied, my children too, my husband worked at the railways, he was a railwayman, he spent a long time in Germany, and he was also imprisoned in a camp in Germany. When we got married, we were glad to have a job, so that we were able to support our children. But nowadays, it is a very unsettled era. I don’t know who did it, or who sowed the seeds of discord among us, we were such a contented nation. That’s why I am not satisfied with this period of time.”

  • “I finished the school in August and the Hungarians came in November. But you know, people had already been frightened. The war, Hitler, mobilisation, and everything about it, no manifestations, no protests against Hungarians. Nothing, because everybody was scared. We were such terrified people. However, then November came, I think it was November 18. We were said that Hungarians would come to annex our territory. And people looked like mummies. Like mummies. We also went there, but not to celebrate. We were just curious. I was on the square when the Hungarians were drawing near.”

  • “We were forced to leave our villages and find some work. So children like me were taken away on wagons. Husbandmen around Komárno and Nové Zámky were all of Hungarian nationality, they were Counts. We were going from homestead to homestead and looked for some agricultural works. Actually, we had no other choice, and when we came there, we saw only some long stables for horses or for cattle. They were separated into two parts with boards, farmers painted it white and we lived in one part of the stables. Either we had plank-beds with straw, or we slept on the floor, worse than some beasts. On the floor there was also a straw, so men, women, children, we all slept together, it was really horrible. We used to eat, you know, we had some cooks and a few kettles, in which they used to cook for us. It was like we had lived a hundred years before, more than a hundred. This way we lived for seven years.”

  • “Slovak soldiers were leaving and at the same time the Hungarians were arriving in Komjatice. Slovak soldiers who were still in Komjatice walked along Nitrianska Street singing the song “On Komjatice Bridge, little violets flourish”. So they were singing and walking towards Nitra. When they were near gypsies, you know, at the end of the village there was a gypsy settlement, they met a gypsy man, who we called Mišo Adam. He was a convict. Reportedly, he had already hung out a Hungarian flag, so the two of the soldiers ran to him, took the flag down and tanned his hide, so he got what he deserved. Then the soldiers walked silently, left for Nitra and the Hungarian ones came here to Komjatice.”

  • “We used to go to Slovakia, I usually went myself, and they called us smugglers. We carried corn-fed ducks, corn-fed geese, and grease to sell it in Nitra. We used to walk overnight, because the borderline was close to the village. And on the contrary, from Nitra we usually carried clothes, shoes, also for children, washing powders, soaps and the like from Slovakia to Hungary. Moreover, we also supplied the Hungarian villages located behind Nové Zámky; we sold our stuff there, too. There were some groups that brought more goods, which we carried on our backs and thus we even supplied the Hungarians. People from there also used to buy goods from us. However, there lived some customs officers, borderline soldiers, who were called határvadász in Hungarian and who used to catch people, impound the goods and beat culprits. It was their method, beating.”

  • “Only later people awoke to what had actually happened. It was Sunday and as there was a mass, we went to church. Of course, the brass hats and soldiers came, so a lot of Hungarians were there. When the mass finished, they started to sing the Hungarian anthem. And as they were singing the Hungarian anthem, people started to cry. It made all of us cry and it was a moment when we realised what had actually happened…”

  • “This is a picture of my brother who enlisted in the Hungarian military in Nagyatád in the year 1943. There was a really cruel commander, his name was Sziva. He was fettered twice and when he lost consciousness they poured water on him and when he came round they did it again. Later, they made him stand on his case, such a wooden one, you know, at that time when the young men wanted to join up, they made their own wooden cases. They made him stand on that case, placed a plate with soup to the case and gave him a fork to eat it. This way they tortured him. When he came home for holiday, it was at Christmas, his body was seeded with ulcers, and he was broken. He looked much worse than if he had come from the concentration camp. He told me, ‘I won’t go there any more; I would rather end my life, but I won’t return. I won’t let them torture me again.’ Then, before New Year’s Day, he left for Slovakia and this way he saved his life. He stayed in Slovakia, found a job there and waited until the front arrived.”

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    v Komjaticiach, 04.05.2010

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    duration: 58:51
    media recorded in project Witnesses of the Oppression Period
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“This era and instigations, it all makes me worry. I think about this unsettled situation, who and why wants to elicit these unrests between the Slovaks and the Hungarians. We had a really hard life, but we were satisfied. We went to bed contentedly and got up in the same way. But nowadays… We live in a horrible period of time.”

Anna Očenášová
Anna Očenášová
photo: Referát oral history, ÚPN

Anna Očenášová was born on January 3, 1924 in Komjatice. She finished the elementary school in 1938, only a few months before the Vienna Award was announced. In the period of the Czechoslovak Republic the residents of Komjatice didn’t notice any problems between the Slovaks and the Hungarians; however, in 1938 the situation rapidly changed. The quick course of events, when the mobilisation was proclaimed in Czechoslovakia and propaganda from Budapest stated the Hungary’s annexation of Slovak territory, caused that the family members of Anna Očenášová worried about their fate. The first serious incident in Komjatice happened on December 18, 1938, when the crowd of protesting residents was dispersed, actually there were students demanding retroceding the village to Slovakia, or rather Czechoslovakia. The rally was finally dispersed by violence, arrests and imprisonment of young men in Komárno fortress followed. Deterioration in the economic and social situation also affected Anna’s life. Since there was no work in Komjatice and its neighbourhood, she had to find some seasonal employment at various agricultural homesteads. She used to make some extra money on smuggling food across the borders to Slovakia, from where she also carried back some shortage goods such as clothes, soap, and shoes. It was a very risky activity, for which she was in danger of being deprived of the goods and beaten by the Hungarian border guards. Her older brother joined up the Hungarian military, which was notorious for their cruel attitude to soldiers, so he escaped to Slovakia, where he waited until the end of war. The arrival of a group of armies brought hardship to residents of Komjatice, who had to dig trenches, and hide from bombing in cellars. The most tragic day in the local history was March 25, 1945, when the bombing of village occurred during the church prayer service. Horrified people tried to escape from exploding bombs into a safe place; however, that day 150 residents of Komjatice died. A few days later, the village was liberated by soldiers of the II. Ukrainian Front. Soldiers treated people really rudely, and they plundered houses, stole stocks, raped women, so Anna was in hiding to avoid being one of their victims. Occupation took seven years, but the village and its inhabitants were recovering from the horrors of war much longer and their painful memories didn’t disappear for decades.