Magdalena Stefanová

* 1945  

  • "Once, around midnight when I was washing my hair in the bathroom, I heard on the radio that they were saying, 'It is the Soviet tanks that crossed our borders, occupying our republic.' I was astonished by it. What's going on? After all, they are our brothers! 'I continued to listen as he spoke. Everyone who was there, including me, we went outside. It was a terrible surprise, nor did we want to believe it could be so terrible. Then we went to bed, but early in the morning, I remember, I went to the Danube. I will not forget that. I stood by the railing, there was the Danube and parks with tulips. And so I stood leaning against the wall, there were a lot of foreigners. And suddenly I saw the tanks going, and it was stupid as they drove through the tulips, destroying everything. I remember everyone left and I stayed there: "Let them shoot me." No one shot, they rode on those tanks. And we were surprised, well surprised, that's not a strong enough word, confused. And from then on, we went to demonstrations. Well, we rather joined others. We also went to churches, it seemed that they were shooting from the towers or something, in such a group I also got hit on my back by a baton, but I don't know why - I guess there were a lot of us."

  • "I told my parents that I was going to my aunt's in Michalovce. I came to Bratislava to the boarding school, I slept there and went to exams. There the professors were on formal terms with me, I was excited about it. It was because I was terribly underestimated, at least I felt that way. I did not want to be embarrassed in front of them and I must say that I answered almost all the questions. I enrolled in architecture. The professor who tested me said to me, 'Don't be angry, but what you said to me here, I see how you speak and what your interests are, I advise you to go into engineering.' Jesus, me and engineering? But what, we'll see later. I waited to see if they would accept me. There were a lot of people at the entrance exams, some even with their parents. Then I returned home. Silence, I didn't tell anyone, I was waiting until June. And in June, they sent a letter to me saying that I had been accepted for engineering and that I had a boarding school. Well, Jesus, how do I tell my parents now? So, I told them, and my mother said, 'Don't tell me anything.' (When I was twelve, my brother was born. Because my mother couldn't have children. Then it happened somehow, and at that time my brother was little.) 'Aren't you ashamed to leave your brother here to me? I'm sick!' It hurt so bad. But I took the courage and left in winter boots because they didn't want to give me money, nothing, but I left. And there in the boarding school I met a friend who ate little, so I went to the canteen with her for lunch and what she left, or we shared it in half, so I ate with her and I managed it.”

  • "My father came there [to Stropkov], I think it was that way, after four years of the military service, he was sometimes nervous about it. When I was little, he sometimes slapped me and I wasn't allowed to cry. That's how it was then. My mother was terribly sad about it, and moreover, she had a headache all the time, for as long as I can remember, since my childhood. She had a problem with that. My father knew quite a different life. When he got to a town as small as Stropkov, it must have been very difficult for him, I think. I think so now. And that's why, like the others, he started drinking. He was such a bohemian. He could paint, he had a lot of culture in him. He read a lot, he also liked philosophy. I learned a lot from him. However, I didn't find out until years later. And so my childhood, because my father drank... when he wasn't drinking, he was great. He played theater with us children, all the children loved him. I couldn't understand that I loved him once, and then when I saw him drunk on the street, I hated him. I was ashamed of him. That was something terrible. Then the people, in such a small town, the gossip. Who's from which family they said - that's the daughter of the heavy drinker."

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    Miláno, Itálie, 25.05.2019

    duration: 51:15
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Being able to receive the joy of life

Magda, portrait, Stropkov, 1962
Magda, portrait, Stropkov, 1962
photo: archive of the witness

Magdalena Stefanová was born on April 16, 1945 in Stropkov, a small Slovak town near Prešov. Her father had a talent that Magdalena inherited from him - he was good in painting. However, the family environment did not provide much impulses for her development, unlike the professors at the general secondary school, who encouraged Magda to continue her studies. She secretly went to university exams and was accepted to the Faculty of Civil Engineering, which she graduated from 1962–1968 (graduated in 1969). She fell in love with Italian, she began to study and later she worked as an interpreter for the state travel agency Čedok. With the beginning of normalization, her superiors made it impossible for her to stay in touch with her Italian contacts, and in the summer of 1970, she decided to emigrate. She arrived in Italy secretly, by ship, and after staying in a refugee camp in Padriciano near Terst, she worked first as a draftswoman and later as a construction engineer. As a woman, she had difficulty asserting herself in a purely masculine field until then. She married Cesar Fischetti in 1972 and has lived near Milan ever since. Today he teaches yoga and lives in Milan.