Ing. Pavol Abrhan

* 1959

  • "We've always done it with such drive and conviction, and plus the faith has always helped us through it, we believed that even if the worst happens, that faith just won't let us down. And in this we had wonderful examples, when we talked, I could talk often and for a long time with Vlado Jukl, who served fourteen years, who talked about how it is necessary to simply have one conviction and to be able to bear witness to that conviction in life, not to say and live something else. Silvo Krcmery as well, so this was an emotion. One time I think Fero Miklosko took me also to the then Bishop Korc's apartment, and that was so encouraging for us, or such... it was just youthful vigour, we were willing... I had one only problem, I confess, that when I was interned somewhere, that how could I stand it without the cigarettes."

  • 'Mum was perhaps more of the combative type, Dad wasn't, I think that was evident in the fact that he didn't let himself be excluded from that schooling, he preferred to give in to that pressure. So in that they just (said to themselves) well, that's the way of the times and for that reason what we talked about at home was different but going to school…. just there was very clearly that double track. Because at home there was one thing that they weren't going to give up and they weren't going to give up no matter what and that was faith, that was going to church services and so on. But everything else was an area for compromise and for agreement because family and providing for family is more important. They had this experience (of collectivization), and in the end, even after the sixty-eighth time, it sort of confirmed to them that just that struggle or struggle with these powers can be tragic."

  • "And it was always such that I can't say that I was in denial, but everything that I did, I did with sort of full commitment and in such a conviction, in such a joy that yes this is the right thing to do. And what I really appreciated was that I always had the support of my parents in all these things. Even though my father was sort of cautious, but I always had the support of my parents in this. When it was necessary to, I don't know, sleep over when some people came, that they needed to stay for longer, everything was always possible. And the grandparents were no longer living, I mean, the grandfathers, but the grandmothers were living. And I'll never forget that phrase, and I recall it many times now, they said to me, -My dear grandson, I don't understand what you're doing, but I pray for you that it all turns out well - and that's why I say that, that's why I'm recalling it now, because I guess every age has its challenges, and that youth is important, that when you're young you can dream, and not just dream, but make those dreams come true. Even when we're older, I can sort of dream nowadays, but those experiences and the life experience sort of retouches a lot of my dreams, it says to me that - well boy, you can't do that, you just can't do that. But our society also needs idealists, they push it forward. I don't know if I could do today what I could do then, because I've had different life experiences and one is also more comfortable the older one gets, but at that younger age, that age of ideals and that kind of strength, it's natural, and it seems to me that it's important for every one of those generations to be able to make that struggle their own."

  • "At one time he (Grandpa Vincent) was also called a kulak because he didn't want to join the co-op. From the story, what I heard, one of my father's elder brothers was also in the PTP because when he joined the war, then some denunciation came from the village that my father didn't want to join the cooperative, but so they transferred him to the PTP"

  • "But I felt that the loop was sort of closing, because on top of all these things we were still making books, which were running out of, but there were always a few, so at home we would - there was carbon paper - and reproduce them. Ten times I wrote, I don't know, a two-hundred-page book in the evenings, slowly, and then next to Calvary in that street, there was a bookbindery. That's where we picked up and that's where I had those books bound and all of a sudden I had ten books, I had ten of one and I could give them away even if it was just on tracing paper. So even about that they were asking, where did those books come from, who gave them to you. So that's how it was."

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Nové Zámky, 29.08.2022

    délka: 02:05:13
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory of our Nations - Never forget our totalitarian heritage
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

It is important to dream and to try to make as much of those dreams come true as possible

František Mikloško, then chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, and Pavol Abrhan (1990)
František Mikloško, then chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, and Pavol Abrhan (1990)
zdroj: Archív pamätníka

Pavol Abrhan was born on July 25, 1959 in Vráble. Both his parents and grandparents come from the village of Vlkas in the district of Nové Zámky. The families were engaged in agriculture and farmed on their own small estates. Pavel‘s father was a teacher, his mother had an economic education. Mother‘s father worked as a church father. In 1962, the parents and little Pavel moved to Nové Zámky. In 1964, his sister Katarína was born. The collectivization significantly affected both families. Grandfather Vincent was called a kulak because he did not want to join the cooperative. But in the end, after being threatened, he agreed. Everything had to be handed over: the land, the cows and the horses. After that he just worked on the cooperative and herded the cows, which was also a humiliation for him. Pavel‘s father had to leave education and took a job as a clerk in the Restaurants and Canteens in Nové Zámky. The same threats were also made against his mother‘s family at that time. Eventually, her family also decided to join the cooperative. In the sixties, Pavel was a member of a scout troop. He liked to go, but after 1968 scouting was banned again. His parents perceived the developments after the occupation of Czechoslovakia negatively, but they took note that these were the times. They spoke freely at home, they would not give up their faith at any cost. From an early age, Paul attended church with his parents and received an upbringing in the spirit of the traditional Roman Catholic faith from both parents‘ families. In his teens, he was greatly influenced by chaplains who invited him to be a mini-chaplain. He had long conversations with them and gradually became aware of his faith and life values. This period significantly shaped his later attitudes and direction in life. A friend recommended the building trade school in Nitra and Pavol began to study the field of Technical Equipment of Buildings. He commuted daily from Nové Zámky to Nitra. On weekends he would meet the priests, they would go for a beer or a kofola together, or after mass they would stay at the rectory and talk for hours. Through the priests he got access to books, mostly with religious themes, also to the first samizdat books. After high school, he graduated from the College of Agriculture. Already during his studies he got acquainted with František Mikloško, Vladimír Jukl, Silvester Krčméry from the Catholic dissent and the secret church. Meetings with them had a profound influence on Pavel. Samizdat and banned literature were also distributed through these meetings. This was also how the pilgrimage to Šaštín was organised in 1984. The usual Night Adoration was changed into the Youth Night Programmes, where the young people gave their speeches. For Nové Zámky, Pavol wrote the scripts for the speeches. In 1985, a pilgrimage to Velehrad took place, and in the same year Pavol organized a youth meeting in Nové Zámky He has been interrogated several times by state security. On 25 March 1988, Pavol took part in the Candlelight Rally in Bratislava. He was constantly under surveillance by the State Security and after the Velvet Revolution he learned that a file was kept on him by the STB as an enemy person. At home, he typed banned books on a typewriter. He used to go to Bratislava at night to buy samizdat books from Silvester Krčméry and distribute them. In everything he did, he had the support of his parents and grandparents. In November 1989, the canonization of Agnes of Bohemia took place in Prague. With a group of Catholics around Augustín Navrátil, he managed to travel to Rome. He felt that the circle was closing around him and therefore seriously considered emigrating. However, when he saw from Rome how the Berlin Wall had fallen, he felt that things were in motion and decided to return. They crossed the Austrian-Slovak border on 17 November 1989. The next day he was already giving a speech in the square in Nové Zámky and shortly afterwards in Trnava. From then on, Pavel began to move in the open public space, became secretary of the KDH, founded clubs and began preparations for the first free elections. Until 2016 he was an active politician, he was a member of the National Assembly for fourteen years. Nowadays, he tries to devote as much time as possible to his mother and the youth, whom he leads to his favourite sport, football. He is still interested in politics, although he no longer has political ambitions. He finds time for books and meetings with František Mikloško, as well as with other former colleagues from the parliament.