“It wasn’t a prison – in was a secret police interrogation facility. First of all we had to undress completely. We received some clothes, two blankets and that was it. The whole cell was 2x4 meters. In the morning we had to get up at six and walk around until ten. In the meantime there was breakfast which meant some mash and a piece of bread. Then there was lunch and later dinner. In the evening up until ten we had to walk around again. We would lie on bare ground with just a single blanket beneath. We had to lie with our hands next to our bodies and the light was on the whole night. It was mental torture. Open window, cold… And now, they interrogated there day and night, beating the inmates. I don’t know if you can imagine it. 3 or 4-floor building, an open space from bottom to top and sort of balconies around. They also sent dogs against those interrogated. Screams every night. Mentally, they broke everybody. ‘Is it true?’ – ‘It’s not true.’ So they covered our eyes with cloth and then again brought us to interrogation. The investigator sat in a corner. Some guy called Jano always said: ‘So what? You’re gonna snuff it here!’”
“Ten of us escaped. That means that as soon as I finished digging the tunnel I told the boys: ‘Tell everyone escaping to gather here in ten minutes. Take some essential food with you.’ I brought paprika and spices for the last one. ‘Who wants to go first?’ – Nobody. So I said: ‘I will got first but keep in mind that just a single cough and the guy with the machine gun will take us all down.’ We had to pass five meters below a guard in the tower. And then we had to crawl for some 150 meters.” – “What did you have the paprika for?” – “Because of the dogs so that they wouldn’t catch our trace. The last one was supposed to scatter it around. We formed a snake. Imagine, ten people with two-meter distance between each other. We crawled around the fence… Moreover, I had pliers and had to cut the wires. At that point the guy in the tower spotted it but by that time we were already far away. But then they turned on the corridor leading to the mine and I said: ‘This is bad, boys.’ We couldn’t go in the direction of Mariánská as intended but had to take another route. We had to make a detour because there was some extraordinary work shift going to the mine. So we went all the way to the Klínovec mountain.”
“So I got to the station and wanted to buy a ticket. I didn’t know the money – how much it cost. So I bought a ticket to Piešťany. And the woman told me off for paying with a hundred crown banknote. The ticket was one crown eighty so she had to give me lots of change… I got to Piešťany at night and thought about where to go. So I headed to hotel Lípa. I remember getting there – it was warm inside – and telling the receptionist: ‘Please, I was just released from Leopoldov and need to spend the night here because I am afraid to stay out.’ – ‘Sit down and I will find some cheap room for you.’ Within ten minutes the door burst open and three men armed with assault rifles stormed inside: ‘Hands up! Get down!’ Oh my God… I said: ‘I just got out of Leopoldov and now this!’ I passed him the release notice from Leopoldov. ‘Let me see!’ – ‘You idiot!’ – ‘But you told me to report all suspicious individuals…’ So this was my welcome. As you can imagine I didn’t get any sleep that night. They apologized and even invited me for a beer.”
Anton Tomík was born on 2 June 1932 in Skalica, a city on the Slovak-Czech border, into an agrarian family. He grew up at times of crisis and penury and started attending school at the era of the fascist Slovak State. For a long time his family wasn’t directly affected by the war. However, in its late years, allied and Russian shelling had intensified and eventually also damaged the family house. Following the 1948 communist putsch, Anton’s family was subject to forced collectivization. Anton studied mechanical engineering in Bratislava and dreamt of becoming a pilot. During a summer trip to the Slovak mountains in 1951 he was arrested with several friends and falsely accused of subversive activities. To make things worse, the investigators found weapons in his dorms which he and his colleagues discovered randomly in a ditch. Anton was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for high treason. He was transferred to a uranium mine in the Jáchymov region where he operated carts transporting slag. In 1955 he and his nine inmates dug out a tunnel and escaped from the camp. After two days he was apprehended and wounded in a shootout. He received an additional two-year sentence but was moved back to Leopoldov where he could receive family visits and where he got a good job in an electrics workshop. He wasn’t subject to the presidential amnesty in 1960 but successfully applied for a conditional release only a few months later. Soon after release he got married and ever since worked in engineering. After more than sixty years he had received his high school graduation certificate in 2014.