Miroslav Žbirka

* 1936  

  • “The one I have already mentioned to you, Šimon Žbirka, was friends with Clementis. At first, they went to France together, and as communists they were interned for some time, when they revealed who they were, of course… Then from France they continued to England and I don’t even know where all they went. However, some time later I asked him, for example, about getting to Spain as a soldier of interbrigade in 1936. He didn’t speak much about it, but he fought for the republic, for sure. Unfortunately, since all of this happened in the West, these men were perceived as enemies of the regime. He was an old fighter, so he was also in the Slovak committee of the Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters. But the communists didn’t see, he was on their side and they monitored him as a supporter of the West. Once he told me, he went for a walk along the Danube bank, ‘Even here a man shadowed me and I could recognize him! So, I waited, stepped towards him and said, - I know you have to shadow me, but you know what? Keep a bit longer distance from me, ok? - ’”

  • “When the Russians came in August 1968, I went to buy the most important things to the grocery store. No one knew, what would happen next. I wasn’t too worried about how would the communist party further exist, or what kind of regime would be established, but I was truly afraid, something much worse could happen. Thus, I made food supplies. Only after that I went to talk to those Russians. Poor guys didn’t even know where they were. Those were young boys, not knowing what they were doing, being just driven to our country. From behind each corner they waited that some counterrevolutionary would start shooting at them. I was just angry that one couldn’t even sleep during nights as they drove tanks on the streets, demonstrated their power, destroyed asphalt, kept lighting to the windows and in such a way they terrorized the citizens. All of this really bothered me a lot.”

  • “A man that was supposed to shadow us was a bus driver and I got into trouble with him. We were on a trip in Switzerland. The bus driver traded in the car spare parts, he used to go to scrapyards, take some interesting parts for small money, and so on. Back then, the weather was very bad, it was cold and rainy and I remained the last passenger in the bus. He had already planned to take some stuff to the bus, there was a lot of space to fill, and suddenly he shouted at me, ‘Why are you sitting here? Why didn’t you get off?’ I replied, ‘Why do you care? I don’t want to get off yet, so I don’t have to.’ Thus, he has been picking on me ever since and slandering me in the Engineering Works. He reported on me and the head of the trip to Switzerland told me, ‘You don’t even want to know, what all he wrote about you. I won’t even tell you.’”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Martin, Slovensko, 10.08.2018

    duration: 01:36:45
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

‘We shall give you such a stamp on the inspection report that you will find no more work in your whole life!’ told me the chairman of the party.”

photo: vyfotografované počas nahrávania

Miroslav Žbirka was born on January 25, 1936 in Trnavá Hora near Zvolen. He attended elementary school in Jalná and later studied at the secondary technical school in Zvolen. Since 1955 he lives in Martin, where he received a job admittance to Heavy Engineering Company (ZŤS). In 1960s he started to pursue mountaineering, later traveling and cycling, and he also reached behind the so-called Iron Curtain. In 1967 he and Michal Orolín managed to climb Elbrus (5.642m) in Caucasia. He was a member of the communist party, but he resigned during the Prague Spring, when he learned about existence of political prisoners, forced labor camps, auxiliary technical battalions, and further iniquities of the regime. In times of normalization he had been hindered in salary and career advancement and for a long time he was unable to travel abroad. He also had an experience with the State Security, which monitored him mainly due to his hobby to travel. After the fall of the communist regime and opening of the borders, he traveled a lot and his life experience was visiting the USA. Currently he lives retired in Martin.