Marie Šťastná

* 1922

  • "Then we had more Clothing, we took in another seven girls, to become sisters. Bishop Hlouch was still with us for that Clothing. But already he warned us and suggested we should maybe invite the vicar general instead, as he [Hlouch] was under surveillance, and Moscow-trained surveillance at that, so that we didn't have any trouble. But we wanted him to come. And he still got to meet, as a whole bus load of people arrived, priests and the youth who knew us. So we had them in Třeboň at the Clothing, that was the last opportunity the bishop had to speak with his priests undisturbed. We seated the gentlemen in one room, it had a statue of the Immaculate Mary, we always placed suspicious visitors there. We brought them food and they sat and stuffed themselves like materialists. And Bishop Hlouch, in the meantime, we had the Clothing ceremony in the house chapel. After a while one of them remembered that they were supposed to keep watch on the bishop, so he went there as we were singing the Loretan Litany, that's part of the ceremony. And he said: 'Is that a mass?' And the sister said: 'Yes!' 'Oh, nothing I haven't seen then,' and he went back to eating. The bishop made good use of the time when he could still talk openly with his priests and with the people there. And in the end the bishop was in his car sooner than his escort. But that didn't last. We could make use of that time, because Communism didn't yet know where the strings were. That's why we took in new members and grew in numbers. We occupied a few filial parishes too. But then they called me to the regional council and gave us a... we had to decide either to break up the convent... You see, we had arrived at a time when the monster trials were going on, and also at the time the nuns had to leave their houses. But we didn't announce ourselves as a community. We came only as citizens and we said: 'Our bishop knows about us, and if you want to know something, come and ask.' So they gave us two options, either we go to prison like the nuns, or we go back to being just citizens. But that was, for us it was... we're a new community, so we are allowed to go about in plain clothes, we can live both separately and in a community, we have both options. So we decided to break up the convent."

  • "Otherwise I was together with this one who couldn't read or write. But I told you about that already, no? She taught me what to do when one wanted to flabbergast an SNB (National Security Corps - transl.) man. She would pluck his facings and then kick him. She wanted to teach me how to do it. I wanted to with her, that we would read to each other, we would take turns, and that's how I found out she couldn't read, because it was a load of rubbish. They came into a pub, had this... I said it wasn't possible that someone would write like that. So I looked into the book and only then did she admit that she couldn't read or write. So we learnt how to read, we learnt how to write, at least a bit, according to the letters. She didn't want to do arithmetics. That wasn't funny enough. And then I also wanted to have some quiet. I said: 'Well I'm off to the north-east, I'm off to visit my mother, so don't bother me.' When I wanted to pray for instance. So that I had some quiet. She respected that. She knew that I wouldn't speak with her. I insisted on having that while for myself. Well, it was... We fed doves in the window. We always gave them something. Then they came, that there are droppings below, if we... what is that? So they forbade that, that we mustn't put anything on the windowsill. All sorts of stupidities like that. Political stuff or some such... well, that I'm in prison because I didn't understand, that it should have dawned on me, what Communism is, and apparently it hadn't dawned on me, so that's why I'm in prison, that was so... I mean, the interrogating, it was always, when they took us along the corridor, no one was allowed to be there. The red light. But I knew where my, the second sister that was imprisoned, where she is. When I had to march along like that, I always knocked on the door. The one who escorted me once said: 'You forgot to knock.' I can't complain that they behaved rough or vulgar to me. To start with they said I was sarcastic, that I was making fun of them. You bet. It was hard when I thought how my mother was left alone, how she would cope. When she was supposed to clear up everything after us. It all fell on mum, my old mum. That was hard. I once mentioned to my cell-mate that I think of my mother, and straight away the officer said: 'I, as a fellow citizen, feel for your mother. But you!' I retorted: 'How she raised me is how she has me!' "

  • "That was on the 7th of March 1957, they came for me in the factory, I had the morning shift: 'Take all your things and come to the office.' I stopped the machine and thought to myself: 'I have to have a look at the courtyard.' I saw a car. We were expecting it to come sooner or later, because they were following us, we kind of saw that, but we were young and we more or less made fun of it. For us, it was an adventure of sorts. For instance... when there was someone walking behind us, we said to each other: 'You go right and I'll go left, and now, what will he do?' He stood fidgeting, he didn't know which of us to follow. Basically we really just made... we thought to ourselves: 'What can they do to us, when we're not doing anything?' Well, but on that 7th of March, I mean February (she was arrested 7th Feb 1957 - ed.) they took us away, two of us from Hrádek... Sister Jana and me, and Sister Věra from Hradec. So there were three of us in Hradec. Prague came to us afterwards. 'You were in April.' (talking to Sister Milena) They took another four, so seven of us all in all from our group. Well, and we didn't know why they took us. We asked them, they said: 'You'll see, you'll see!' They searched our rooms, rifled the place through and through. Then they said I could tidy it up, we had bits of cloth there and suchlike. I told them: 'If I'm staying here, I'll tidy it up, and if you're taking me with you, then you can tidy it yourselves.' Well, and they took us to Hradec. Then the changing into prison clothes, they take everything from you. They put you in this cell, it took me a moment to get a bearing, I knelt and wanted to offer the time I spent there, to give my life anew, but they were there already to take me to interrogation. That was always a clatter of keys. Well, and so one had to go along the corridor, arms tucked nicely behind the back, it took them till they taught me that... And then it was teeming with them. I sat on a plank by the wall, something like a clapper it was. And now... I had read a book before about how it was when the Germans took prisoners. What they used to decide. So I thought to myself: 'Well, they'll beat me, which side will I get it from first?' So I looked at them, flying around me, each with papers: 'What is it? What is it? What is it?' But I didn't sense them in that way, I just kept telling myself: 'So where is it going to come from?' Then the 'Stokerman', the man who led the interrogation, and he shouted at me: 'Should I get you a psychiatrist?' And that helped me! I came to and said: 'Thank you, but it's not necessary, I'm calmer than you are!' And that was the end of the first interrogation. Well, but then it was... one after the other. And they always wanted us to, like: 'How come I see you in such clothing?' I replied: 'It's not my taste, it's the Ministry of Interior's taste.' I always thought that was... I was strengthened a lot by the fact that our founder was also in prison in Dachau and he told of how he had managed there, what gave him strength. I said that he had told himself that God always gives his child the best nappy, even if it contains some thorns and thistles, it's the best to make him prosper and grow, so he needn't be afraid of anything. So we had this conviction and we were proud of being the only sisters of our worldwide community to be imprisoned. We considered it an honour of sorts, to share a part of the fate of our founder. That kept us going and gave us a certain joy and strength."

  • "We raised ourselves so that we didn't need much, just enough to make do. And not to grieve pointlessly. The enthusiasm came from knowing that truth prevails. It gives one that sort of inner strength, we felt we had the advantage. It was all so stupid, the stuff they tried on us. I remember one case, he was typing the protocol, about one of the sisters they were asking about, that she was a livestock specialist of the district committee. I started laughing and he didn't get it. I said: 'Well, livestock specialist of the district national committee.' Well, then he understood, so he pulled the sheet out. You know, if you would like it if they were rough and vulgar and such, but we didn't experience any of that. It seems to me that they get caught off guard, disarmed, by the people who show them some respect. Or when, I noticed that with the prisoners too, say the thieves and the murderers, that it works when one doesn't despise them, when one isn't pretentious, instead tries to help, get closer or change the vibe a bit. I saw my mission in that, the reason we were there. That it was most necessary there. Not to let oneself break. Well, but it's hard sometimes. I mean, I could sleep alright, I didn't lose weight. But Sister Jana, she had lost I don't know how many kilos. Not me, I could sleep. So I really can't tell any of those horror stories. I mean, they try, they do try to break a person, psychologically, but when one has counterweight of sorts, it's fine. For instance the thought that I'm not alone here, God is with me, what are my problems. Well, or don't I have a mission here? This one is kind of sad, so I tried to cheer her up or something. The knowledge that I'm not there just for myself, to grieve or something, that I'll return anyway. Or like I told you beforehand, that we can live through a bit of the hard times that our founder did, who lived them before us. So that we can try them now, and already I was looking forward to when we would be telling him all about it."

  • "We knew that our place was with our nation, so we went. Now, for example the situation in Cheb. We got out, there was this... flags everywhere, this uneasiness, lots of backpacks on the ground and people wanting to cross the border. We wore nun's habits, like we have now. We can go about in plain clothes or in our habits. So there were nine of us, we got out and now what. And first kind of smile was that a small boy came up to us on the platform, a child, and he greeted us: 'Glory be to Jesus Christ!' That was sort of a welcome home for us. The first greeting we heard, and it happened to be that child and that exact greeting. After that we split up to our homes for a while. Bishop Hlouch wanted to take us into his diocese. So two of us went to visit him to agree on what to do next. He was surprised, he said: 'Children, how did you come to be here?' He was just on his way to visit the sick, he also visited the seminarians. We replied: 'Well, we travelled.' 'And do you know what it looks like here?' 'We do!' 'And you came despite that?' 'Precisely because of that we came!' We wrote that down into our chronicle, and later, when they arrested us, it was: 'Precisely because! Spies!' We gave it to them in writing, so to say."

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    v Rokoli u Nového Města nad Metují, 12.08.2008

    délka: 01:06:22
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

They didn‘t actually beat us any more But psychologically, mentally they wanted to ruin us completely!

M. Šťastná - old photo
M. Šťastná - old photo
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Marie Šťastná was born on the 7th of October 1922 in Lhotky, Náchod. At eighteen, she was deciding what to do with her life when she discovered the Schoenstatt Movement. She emigrated to the West to get a better understanding of the movement. She entered the order and became a Sister of Mary. She returned to Czechoslovakia in 1948 to propagate the Schoenstatt Movement. She returned to her home region, where the Sisters looked after Rokol, a pilgrim site and spiritual sanctuary. She was arrested for political reasons on the 7th of February 1957 and sentenced to three years of prison. She was held in custody in Hradec Kralové, where the trial took place, and afterwards transferred to the Pardubice prison. She was released in 1960. Although she was forbidden to meet with her fellow Sisters, she constantly defied the ban. After 1989, she joined up with her fellow sisters to build a sanctuary - a chapel and a provincial house of the Sisters of Mary in Rokol.