Štefan Zamiška

* 1930  

  • “We took it as Christians would. We were prepared to die as we could not do anything about the situation." “Wasn´t the atmosphere uneasy?” (documentarist)]. "It was. The feeling of uncertainty was the worst. The uncertainty of not knowing where we were being taken, that was the worst part. Because a lot of people were taken away, and nobody knew neither where they were nor when and where they died in the gulags. After all, they were showing it in films, what they did to those people. So we were afraid of that, of being taken (as well), and no one would care two hoots about what they did to us. That is what made us scared. And then, the other uncertainty was being in the military for three years and three months. Up until the last day, I did not know what would happen to us. Until when they would keep us there. After all, we still wanted to do something or to lead a different kind of life. So that was terrible.”

  • “I have this experience. Once, when the Germans were leaving and the Russians were arriving, I thought I had seen a killed German up there. I got this stupid idea. So I went there to take a look at that gun. And then, I heard it; the Russians wanted to shoot me down. They thought I was a German, or a partisan (probably so-called “Vlasovec” – note of editor).”

  • “The worst part was not knowing what would happen to us. Were they going to kill us, hang us, shoot us or what? 'Don’t take anything, only the bare essentials.' So we could not take anything, not even blankets. We put only the necessary into the suitcase and left everything else. They took what was left there, I don’t know what they did with it. We were ordered to get on the buses. As we were heading towards Poprad, one of us said that now we would see where they were taking us. He said if we headed towards Kežmarok, the road would lead us through Poland to Gulag where they were probably taking us. And we did head towards Kežmarok, then a great fear came on all of us and we were terrified because, indeed, we were heading towards Kežmarok. However, at dawn, the bus stopped and I looked around; we were in Podolínec. I know it there, it is our train station. No one was as close to home as I was.”

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    Bystričany, 30.03.2019

    duration: 01:25:27
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
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I know whom I believed - no time or regime can change that

Štefan Zamiška - a photograph from the times spent in the PTP (Technical Auxiliary Battalions) (1951)
Štefan Zamiška - a photograph from the times spent in the PTP (Technical Auxiliary Battalions) (1951)
photo: z archívu pamätníka

Štefan Zamiška was born on January 1, 1930, in Kolačkov, a village near Stará Ľubovňa. He, along with his seven siblings, grew up in a modest family in “lazy” (a dispersed mountain settlement). Being a talented pupil and of a religious disposition, he was later admitted as a postulant into the Society of the Divine Word, a religious order at the Calvary of Nitra. During the transit of troops, he and his family witnessed a great many tense and dangerous situations. After the end of the war, Štefan resumed his theology studies at the Calvary, in Spišský Štiavnik, and completed his novitiate in Nitra, specifically at the Zobor Mountain and the Calvary. The state-organized operation “Akcia K” put an end to his life of monasticism. In 1950, Štefan, amongst other monks, was deported to Podolínec, later to Kostolná, and was eventually put to forced labor in the construction of Priehrada Mládeže (present-day Nosice water reservoir). In the autumn of 1950, he was called up for service in the military camp of forced labor of PTP (Technical Auxiliary Battalions). There, he spent more than three years doing the hardest manual labor before being released in 1953. In the time that followed, Štefan worked in the Nováky Chemical Plant being assigned the heaviest work due to his cadre report. In 1957, he married Mária Matušková and they had four children together. Štefan attended evening classes and successfully graduated from the Slovak University of Technology (STU) Faculty of Chemical and Food Technology in Bratislava. Throughout the whole communist era, he was discriminated against on account of his Christian activities and views. Štefan Zamiška is currently retired and lives in Bystričany.