Ján Tocký

* 1930

  • “We saw such a channel and behind that there were still some Russian forces. If they had caught us, they could have returned us back home, to Slovakia. We found a small grove. Of course it was freezing back then and I had such a duffle coat. I wanted to crouch a little, but the coat froze and stayed stretched, therefore I scuffed and warmed up myself. Fortunately, later on it got a little warmer; the sun was shining. Don Dráb, one of the priests, took out a little flask and began to drink. It was some kind of hard liquor. When the guide wanted to take that from him, the priest refused. Hence the guide took out his gun and said: ‘Give it to me, otherwise I shoot you!’ The priest handed the flask to the guide who poured little shots to each one of us, so it warmed us up.”

  • “There was the Barbarian night on 13th – 14th April in 1950 and they gathered us in Šaštín. Two weeks later they centralized there all the Salesians and transported us to Podolínec. Of course, on our way to the bus we already had quite dramatic experiences. We thought they were taking us to Siberia. Some people, for example Don Šilhár, whispered to me: ‘Write to us. When you will be near Žilina,’ by that time we knew we were heading East, ‘Send us a little note somehow through the window saying – you are leaving, farewell.’ In case someone found this note, he could give it to my mother. Fortunately, in Poprad we turned to Podolínec. We stopped in Podolínec and there we were separated. There were also other religious, for example the Jesuits. They were separated from us as they were considered to be the most rigorous, so that we weren’t in touch with them.”

  • “[The guide] heard some noise like if a car was coming. Of course, it was dark. There was such a potato field and we had to hide into furrows so that no one could see us. They were spotlighting; some policemen did. They didn’t spot us, so we crossed the road and we continued our journey through marches and fields. The guide told us there would be such an embankment and behind that we had to watch out for a wire, so that nobody would touch it. It was dark and I guess someone hit that wire. Suddenly a flare was fired and as it was slowly falling down, it lighted everything up. All of us lay down and waited what was going to happen. Even after fifteen minutes it was still very dangerous since the guards could find us. We waited in total silence. Nothing happened, so the guide said we could go on.”

  • “We came close to the river, it was swollen; it almost overflowed. Some people were afraid, especially the older priests wanted to return. We all decided to go on. The guide blew the dinghy, little Joe went first also with the cord and he tied it, so that we could get to the other side much faster. We were in the second dinghy from the end when it turned over as one priest was sitting on the edge. Each dinghy could carry about 6 – 7 people. He dipped his bottom into water, stood up and the boat overbalanced. Luckily, Janko Mihalec and I could swim, so we quickly flipped the boat over and everyone could hold on to it. Others began to scream they couldn’t swim and from the streamside the guide shouted to us to be quiet, that otherwise he’d shoot us. Nothing happened, so we got to the other side. After us there was one more dinghy supposed to come, but since it was daybreak already, we had to stay on the other streamside.”

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    Žilina, 19.08.2013

    duration: 01:32:26
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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After a month of reeducation they told us: You shall go home not as religious anymore, but as civilian citizens – comrades

Ján Tocký
Ján Tocký
photo: Archív Ústavu pamäti národa

Ján Tocký was born on December 30, 1930 in Žilina as the youngest of seven children. He attended public school as well as high school in Žilina. In 1948 he decided to enter religious order of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Within a liquidating intervention of the communist state power against the male religious orders in April 1950, Ján Tocký was interned in Podolínec monastery. Since being young, after several weeks he was relocated from Podolínec to reeducation monastery in Kostolná near Trenčín. Approximately after a month of reeducation in Kostolná, along with other young religious men, Ján was moved to building the so-called Youth Dam (Priehrada mládeže) near Nosice (in Púchov district). After the release and a short stay at home he was drafted to the compulsory military service, which he carried out in units of Auxiliary Technical Battalions (PTP) in Plzeň. About four months later, in December 1950 he was released from PTP and returned home, where he continued in his studies at Žilina’s high school. In 1951 based on a compromising material, the State Security managed to recruit Ján Tocký for cooperation with the State Security authorities. (The compromising material was a reality that Ján Tocký was hiding his friend Anton Semeš for several days. This man deserted from the compulsory military service and tried to runaway to Austria. Tocký got to know Semeš when working on the Youth Dam.) However, not even after a year the ŠtB members threatened him with an arrest because of his unwillingness to collaborate. This reality together with the desire for further study of theology led him to a decision of running away from Czechoslovakia. Right at that time there was a Salesian Ernest Macák who offered Ján the opportunity to get behind the borders. The runaway took place at the end of April 1952 and the escaping group was comprised of 32 people. In spite of various complications during the border crossing, all members of the group managed to runaway to Austria. They crossed the state border near village Moravský Svätý Ján. After several weeks spent in Vienna, Linz and in a refugee camp Wels in Austria, along with other young co-brothers he reached a Salesian centre Valdocco in Turin. This was a gathering place of almost all Salesians running away from Czechoslovakia. After his study and a two-year long activity in Turin, Ján Tocký made his religious vows in the Salesian religious order in 1955. Subsequently he left to Great Britain, where he continued in his studies in a centre called Melchet Court.  In 1958 his religious superiors sent him to a Salesian center in Ramegnies-Chin near Tournai in Belgium. There Ján served until the year 1981, when he began to work as an economist in the Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome. In 1992 he returned to Slovakia and became active in Žilina’s Salesian centre, where he lives up to the present.