František Vaczula

* 1929

  • "It is hard to imagine when we were to unload gravel so we could build roads...we were given shovels but it makes a difference if you get one with a sharp tip, that could more less work; but those with the square ones had it much harder. And some mates even cried as they got such blisters whether using gloves or not that they weren´t able to cut a slice of bread. Some went to the infirmery; it was something terrible. And when it started freezing, things got much worse; we had to break it with pickaxes first right in the freight car."

  • "And then it started. The guardsmen appeared. I would not wish that for anyone. Signs on the walls and fences such as ´Hungarians over the Danube!´, ´Jews to gas chambers!´ ´Cechs on foot to Prague!´ appeared. And it all started. I was just a child. The guardsmen wore uniforms, polished boots and pants called ´rajtky´. On Sundays they assembled in front of the Salesian Church; the young (Hlinka Youth) separated from the old (Hlinka Guardsmen). They went to pray. They were so mighty that each afternoon they were able to stop people in the street and check on their identity. And when the person was found to be German or Hungarian they would just beat him up. It looked as if he did not belong to Slovakia. I did not like their going to church and beating people up for no reason. They appeared almighty. One had to be careful not to speak other than Slovak. I did not know what fascism was back then; now I do. So when walking through the town whether a child or a grown-up, one had to be cautious."

  • "Then the freight cars loaded with cement arrived. It did not matter if it was morning, noon or mignight. We had to unload immediately not to pay penalties. So there were nights we unloaded all night. We brought it to the warehouse on a kind of carts. It was dusty. We worked our fingers to the bone in Líně. But there were mates, a musician or a priest, we really felt sorry for. It makes a difference because I come from a village and was used to working hard with my hands but some did not know know what a shovel was. It was really bad. There was an officer out there and when the men went to the infirmary he was waiting outside saying ´What is the matter with you?´and when he saw the patient wasn´t dying he said ´To work! I will fix you up!´...Life was hard in Líně."

  • "There were mates that did nothing wrong to anyone; they were innocent. Only due to their parents having had some fortune or to their religion conviction, they were placed to the camp. So they were poor things; when we talked together in our rooms we could not believe they could do such things to us. To make matters worse, rumors had it that when we were all completed with the work they would take us to Russia. You can imagine how we felt. There could have been some truth in it as all the work we did was run by Russians. The construction supervisors were Slovak and Czech but the Russians controlled everything. So we were seriously concerned they would take us to Russia."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Štvrtok na Ostrove, v dome pamätníka, 11.12.2018

    duration: 01:24:13
    media recorded in project Inconvenient Mobility
  • 2

    Bratislava, 08.01.2019

    duration: 01:32:30
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

We were lucky we could see the sun

Picture of a young soldier
Picture of a young soldier
photo: archív pamätníka

Mr. František Vaczula was born on December 11, 1929 in the village of Veľké Úľany as the oldest of 5 children. František comes from a poor family of Hungarian origin. He spent his childhood in the village of Ovsište (currently part of Bratislava) occupied by German invadors from October 1938. According to the political developments at the time, young František had to switch from his Hungarian primary school to German, and later to Slovak schooling. Due to having witnessed a rampage of Guardsmen (members of the Slovak Nazi organization Hlinkova garda) in the streets of Bratislava as a young boy, František feared speaking anything other than the Slovak language. In 1946, because of the reaction of the Czechoslovak Government to the Vienna arbitration of 1938, František´s family had to move out of their home and resettle in Moravia. Only in 1949, as part of the forced acceptance of Slovak ethnicity, the re-Slovakization process, the family was allowed to move back home as long as they accepted their new nationality. Because František´s father refused, he was sent to a labour camp in Jáchymov mines for three years. The rest of the family met with an unpleasant surprise: their house had been occupied by a high commissioner´s daughter and the family was to find a new home. František was experiencing a great dissapointment. He soon tried to flee the country but was arrested and sentenced to 5 months in prison. In 1950, as a subversive, he commenced his military service in the Labour camp batallion (PTP) in Svatá Dobrotivá for 31 months. He worked hard in different places, mostly helping with the building of aiport foundations, Líně u Plzně being the most toilsome. After the service, František worked as a truck driver and later as a bus driver for the rest of his career. For breaking the record in number of kilometers without an accident, František won several awards. He was never a member of any political party. Today, Mr. Franišek Vaczula lives with his family near Bratislava.