Ondrej Berta

* 1948  

  • “We arrived there before evening. There was such uncertainty, we didn’t know where, what, where to go. We circled in the city. We arrived to the hospital. In front of the hospital, tanks were waiting for us, and a soldier shouted from one of the armored personnel carriers, he had a microphone. We didn’t speak Romanian so someone translated it for us, that Romanian army is with the people and they would protect them. So we were happy, for at least something, because we did not know what to expect on the way there. Along the way we were greeted as liberators by Romanians. They were armed with sticks, and various tools, so we did not know what was going on, it was a civil war, we knew about shootings. We didn’t know what to expect from whom. Of course, we did care. Then we were navigated to the hospital, that was also seized by Securitate the day before. They brought there injured people from the square,where the massacres took place, so they continued shooting in the hospital as well. Even the injured were massacred inside the hospital. Along the way, all the shop windows were smashed, everything was stolen, there was practically no normal life in Romania. Then, we were redirected to the outskirts of the city Timisoara, where food stores were located. As we started to move with the convoy, we heard shooting. We jumped out of the car and hid under a lorry and waited what would happen. They told us we must immediately leave the district and go back to the city. As we were passing a personal vehicle, we had seen two dead. They didn’t obey soldiers’ commands, so they shot them on the spot.”

  • “I say it because then the evidence of publications became less strict than before. In 1987, in 1988 KDH (Christian Democtratic Union) was already operating. I had a friend who was an active member and he always brought some samizdats and I secretly made some copies for him. They distributed them and then read them at their gatherings. And that had some consequences. Presumably, some of my colleagues reported me. In 1988 I received a subpoena from StB for police interrogation. I did not know the reason. The situation was- I was on a road trip through Germany and Austria with my sister in 1986, we had some friends and an uncle there, who had stayed in Germany after the war. He was there in American captivity and then he did not feel like returning to Nove Zamky, so he stayed there. We were in contact with him, so we went for a visit. Of course those members of secret police found out we were in Germany, and they started to ask, to whom I handed passport, which secret materials I smuggled from the research institute and to whom I gave or sold them. It was of course a lie. I do not know the reasons, what they wanted from me and why. Then the year 1989 came, and all of this practically vanished. I found the record of my interrogation, and I also knew which officer interrogated me.

  • “As I mentioned, it was a political organization, and of course everybody who worked there was urged to join the party. I didn’t feel like it. When we organized a district exhibition of artists, some problems arose, here I shall return to normalization. After the evaluation, a very talented artist won the district competition of artists. It became clear that her father was expelled from the party during normalization. As a result, she couldn't take the prize. We even had to shred the catalog we prepared for the show. So we had such conflict with normalization. This later persuaded me that I was not suited for this job. So I left the education very quickly because I didn't agree with their approach.”

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    Bratislava, 30.01.2019

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Copied samizdats and documented the Romanian revolution

Ondrej Berta was born on March 19, 1948 in a Hungarian family in Nové Zámky. After graduating from secondary technical engineering school he worked as a driver and later he worked for several years in the development company Hutný projekt. He was a passionate photographer and a member of the photo club, so he accepted employment as a photo film methodologist at the Educational Center in Nové Zámky. However, here he was not only a witness to the manifestations of normalization censorship, but was also invited to join the Communist Party. He refused, and was employed in the newly formed Research Institute of Tools.Later he became head of the department of propagation, which was also in charge of reproduction technology. In 1988 he copied Christian samizdats to a friend and filmed the Independent Alternative Art Festival Stúdió erté in Nové Zámky. At the end of 1988, the StB summoned him for interrogation, which however, was without consequences. Since the 19th November 1989 he actively participated in revolutionary events - he was a co-founder of the local Civic Forum initiative, as a representative of the VPN he attended “roundtable” negotiations with city officials, as well as exchanges of executives at the research institute. On December 24, 1989, he accompanied a humanitarian convoy from Nové Zámky to the city of Timisoara at the time of the armed conflict in Romania and as a cameraman documented events on the spot. In 1990, he was co-opted to the city council, and as secretary was later in charge of preparing the first democratic municipal elections in November 1990. After the elections, he resigned from all functions and returned to the research institute, which began to decline after the change of director. Since 1991 he has established a successful business in publishing/print. He retired in 2018.