My Slovak hero

My Slovak hero

This story is story of my grandfather told by my father. We sat together and he told me all of our family history in a very long conversation. It was not easy for him, it lasted many hours and I want to thank him. I love you dad. I do not tell you that often, but I really do.

Apuka and his life started in the year 1905. When he was born, there was still Austrohungarian empire. His siblings did not survived  untill adulthood. He was the only one from 7 children, who lived longer than couple of months or years. My father pointed out, that he was never too healthy, he survived three heart attacks, he was shorter, skinnier man. But his life and legacy is a story of a strong personality and one very strong man.

Apuka´s parents were rather rich people. They owned their business and provided horse carriages. In the big industrial crisis their business also colapsed and they had to start something new. These times were the times of the first Czechoslovakia and it was really good enviroment for business. So it did not take them long time and they had a new business plan. They had big clothing store with many different fabrics. One of the biggest in agricultural city in the western Slovakia,where my father´s side of family is from.

My grandpa studied in the business academy and was fluent in Hungarian language. They even forced him to change his last name to Hungarian translation, but he refused. After his graduation he took care of the family clothing business and married quite young. He had three children and his wife was later the owner of family clothing store. He also had important position and was the commander of military guards.

He never became a member of the leading political party, but he knew a lot of politicians. He had one very famous teacher – Jozef Tiso, who later became the first Slovak president. He did not have a nice experience with him. He slapped his fingers because he spoke Slovak in the hallway of his high school. He was later kicked out of his job as the commander and received another job proposal to become the director of the main post office. Untill 1944 he had this powerful position and was also a passionate photographer.

In 1944 my dad said, that the Russians came. Well they came to liberate the city from Nazi Germans, which my dad angrily pointed out where no longer there. Most probably it was because the Slovak soldiers refused to give them all their weapons from the storages.

During this second world war liberation one of the bombs hit the family store and one another hit the family house. The second bomb hit only the garden of the house, but the first bomb killed the oldest daughter of the famly and apuka´s wife. It completely destroyed the store. Fortunately it did not hit the store, when the storage close to it was used as a shelter. My grandpa´s family helped another Jewish family to hide there. I asked my dad, if he knows the names or if they survived the whole war, but he was unsure. He told me, that it was family with multiple members and they hid there during the most difficult times of the second world war. He thinks, that they were also children and granparents hidding.

The spring, when apuka´s wife and daughter were killed was very hard for him. He suffered heart attack and last unction, that Christians believe is for dying people. He was simply dying, but had two children, who lost their mom and sister and wanted to make it for them. Fortunately he made it, but his good days did not last too long.

They discovered gun in his posession, which he had to own as a director of the post office. Some documents were missing and he was imprisoned as a political prisoner. He was in prison waiting for his trail, when one of the prison guards recognised him. It was the son of the Jewish family, that was hidding in the storage. He was immediately discharged and other prisoners gave him notes to their families. The next morning all of his fellow political prisoners were shot and killed without any trial. He had numerous notes from dead people. He came to the first family and they told him, what happened. He almost collapsed.

When the second world war ended he was a widower, without his family business, but with two 12 and 14 years old children. He did not have many skills to take care of his kids, so he decided to create a newspaper ad to search for a new wife. Back then somethnig very crazy. When he met my grandma she was 35 years old and they had my father in 1947. Other two sons followed in 1950 and 1954.

Communist time was also hard for apuka. He was yet kicked out of another job as the director of the post office. He was pictured as the son of the capitalist family and portrayed in a very bad light. He had problems to find another job, was unemployed for couple of years and eventually returned to the post office. He was the manager of the transport department. He worked there until his retirement and loved his job very much.

The year 1973 was very sad for my father. They demolished their house, because they wanted to enlarge the post office. They had many options, but since apuka was the capitalist, they pulled down their home. My father remembers this time very vivid and is allways sad to talk about it. Instead of the house they gave them three bedroom apartment. All 5 of them were living there. The two children from first marriage were older and lived on their own.

Apuka was also not a big fan of this flat, he missed his rabbits and dogs, because they could only have the smaller dog in their flat. As the years went by, he lived there only with his wife and my dad said, that they deeply loved each other.

Unfortunately I could never see this love or my grandfather. He was killed in 1979 by drunken driver. My father and his two brothers decided not to press charges against the driver. His killer was father of many children, worked for communist party and that evening was forced to drink during local political celebration. My dad had to push his tears while telling my, that one family life was destroyed and they did not want to destroy another one.

My grandma lived 20 more years without her husband. She was one very sad woman. I remember meeting her and never understanding why she is so sad and confused. She could never cope with her husband´s death and was depressed. For me as a child I knew something is wrong with her, I just never understood what. When she died I was about 14 years old and unfortunately I don´t have any nice memories with her.

And now, you want to know, why is my grandpa, that I never met my hero? Well, the answer is very simple. He was man of principles. He was Christian and strongly believed in God. He thought God saved many times his life and had a lot of his own experiences and attitudes. He visited many pilgrimage places and often found there his peace. His belief helped him to be strong and resistent. I really love his opinion, that communism and fassism are just two sides of the same coin. Eventhough I am not a practising catholic anymore, I still believe that morals are important. I believe, that all people are equal. I do not believe in labelling, hate and discrimination. And it makes me very sad, how our elections ended. I am very angry, that in our parlament we have people who say the stuff they say. Because for my it is not just some history, it is my family. And without my grandpa, without people helping him, there would simply be no ME.


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