2 December 1952

Lida my one and only,

A while ago I told you that I am at peace with everything. I thought, then, that it was true. But it wasn't until after the meeting with you that I saw that, without you, without being able to experience with you everything which linked and will link us - without that, my peace would have been only of mind, a forced posture of will. You gave me the greatest thing, with which I depart, when you told me yourself that you know and understand everything. And I know that it couldn't have been any other way; I had no doubts about that. And yet your words were just what I needed.

Before the meeting with you, I wrote in a letter to Olga and Boza that the most difficult moments of my life - parting with you, Lida my one and only - still awaited me. I will not transcribe that letter, although in it, concerning this, my choice of words was so despairingly incomplete.

You know that I have always feared grand words. And which words could be grand enough and dignified enough to express that which you said to me with your eyes? We have never been so close, so wedded, as we were behind those mesh gratings. What awful hardships you have had to endure, Lida my eternally beloved, in order to be so beautiful, so pure and great, that you were able, in the end, to give me that which I now feel toward you, and for which I cannot find words.

I have faith, now, that you will have enough strength for the difficult life which awaits you. And that is another great solace to me in these final hours. I know that you will find for yourself the answer to the question you put to me and which I left unanswered: how to live? I believe and I know that you can live only the dignified life of a human being, the life of the person who was and who remained until the end of my perceptions the goal and purpose of my conscious action.

I believe that you will live to see - in ten or fifteen years? - a socialist Europe and that you will hail it also for me. And it is for that, also, which you must abide and find a positive bearing on life and the times. Indeed, you know better than anyone who and what I was, how I felt and thought, from where sprang my shortcomings and faults and the bad actions and behaviour resulting from them. And in a world devoid of tension, of the threat of reversals and of the stifling atmosphere of the final conflict, perhaps others, too will be able to see that.

Your eyes told me all of that, and reassured me. I see them still, that you are with me, and you know how very much I love you. I told myself that I would not think back upon them, that I would not turn back again; indeed, I have had two years' worth of time for all of that. A departure is easier with a vision of the future.

And yet I am just reminiscing. Without bitterness, without malice - and in that is said, also, what I reminisce upon. That after all, I have done, perhaps, a bit of good for others, for the just future in which I believed and in which I have not stopped believing. That I have, in my truly fortunate life, met genuine people. That I found and had you.

So you see, I'm already in it, things are rushing so much that it's hard to find my way out - and why should I? I surrendered at last to this pleasant weakness, for in the end it gives me strength, too. For how could I, at this point, forget about the Horehronie and the so many stages, the chats with dear friends, Uhlisko and our many, many common woes and joys?


I am drinking a lot of black coffee. I laid down for a bit, and am writing with breaks. But you know, too, what fills the silences; that there remained between us nothing unspoken or spoken incompletely, even though we did not, perhaps, express all of it in words.

My everything, my dear Hadicka, I know that you will be surrounded by the love and tenderness of your dad and your mom and all of our family, who will help you get through the worst of the pain.

I am smoking my last pipe, and I am listening. I am listening to you clearly singing songs by Smetana and Dvorak, and I am, I remain, and I will be with you always.

Your Vlado.

Prague, November 1967

Vlado, my dear!

I must write you a letter, years after our parting. A letter as a punctuation mark on our discussions and on our correspondence, though not on our relationship.

You were such a personality for Slovakia that everyone revered you, and all of us adore you still.

When I think back on our years, I have to go back to when we were students, to when we students honestly admired you. I subscribed to your DAV, I went to your lectures and admired you too. I was studying, then, at the Bratislava Music and Drama Academy. You told me, later, that you remembered me for my long braids. We got to talking with each other for the first time at a tram stop somewhere near Stefanka. You addressed yourself to me so normally, informally as usual, but after a while we parted, you bound for the station, and me for school. Three months later, we married.

Every romance and every marriage has its charms, but ours was something exceptional. How I long to relive all of it, at least in reminiscences. Indeed, that which you had only fancied I had seen also in your eyes, and spoke aloud for you. We spent beautiful and difficult years together, as well as the most difficult years. Home, emigrating, home again and, later, in prison. How fortunate it was for you that you didn't know that I, too, was imprisoned for 22 months, possibly near your cell. Yes, our faithful dog Brocek was there, too, somewhere, for nine months. And what happened with my family... that is a difficult chapter in my life and ours. They did not disavow you, and for that, they suffered.

When the commandant of the Ruzyne prison informed me on 2 December 1952 that you had been sentenced to death and permitted me a farewell visit, they dressed me in civilian clothes, did my hair, made up my face and took me to Pankrac. I recall that the Pankrac tower tolled six o'clock when we saw each other again after nearly two years. Between us, the double grating and the stern admonition that we were to speak only of family matters. You raged at the guards, saying that if you had known how inhuman they would be, you wouldn't have agreed to my visit. And then, with our words and our eyes, we spoke. You told me that they had so defamed you that not even Brocko would take a crust of bread from you. You soothed me, and quieted me. You promised me that in 10-15 years, when the archives were opened, I would hail a socialist Europe for you. You were not embittered or despondent; just a little teardrop rolled down your cheek when we parted.

They led me away from you, backwards, to Ruzyne, and I simply could not believe that you might die such a humiliating death at the hands of your comrades. I sat a while in my cell, again in prison garb, but I couldn't bear it. I asked for cleaning supplies, and scrubbed my cell all night long, as if in a fever. In the morning they brought me before the prison commandant, and he informed me that early in the morning they had carried out the death sentence against you. You were said to have gone to your execution bravely; the entire hanging lasted five minutes, and was not physically painful. They gave me your final letters to read, which I am publishing in this book and which you addressed to me, your sisters and your family. They also showed me a sealed letter addressed to Klement Gottwald. They gave me your two pipes and your broken cane. Then they released me.

And today I say farewell to you once again in this correspondence. I am putting it out to the public as documentation of your character, of the fact that you did not fail.

Vladicok, my dearest! You don't even have a grave. They scattered your ashes on the Pankrac plain, but everything you did for a better future for world and man stands as a monument to you in the hearts of the faithful.

And if you could still speak out, you would certainly prove your faith in communism and emphasize, to us and to those who will come after, that to die for a just cause, for a bright future for the world, is not in vain.

We will remember you forever!

Your Lida

(translated from Slovak by Mike Gogulski)