. Punished for Singing a Christmas Carol.            

        At that time, he did not suspect, that Christmas 1958 would be 'fatal' to him. The entire event is described by Mudr. Anton Neuwirth, who at that time was Fr. Trcka's cellmate in Leopoldov: When I came to Leopoldov, Fr. Metod lived in so called 'Vatican.' These buildings housed predominantly the guards, but later, they were renamed D-section. Elderly priests had their own building in that section &endash; we called it the Vatican. This Vatican had a certain peculiarity, windows facing the hallway, which in the past connected the guards' residences, and could be opened from inside and out. Once, shortly before Christmas, I think it was Christmas Eve, Fr. Trcka was sitting at the window and was singing a religious song (Christmas carol). A guard was walking on the other side of the window, in the hallway. In fact, he saw Fr. Trcka sitting there, so he opened the window ever so slightly and began listening. Even though Fr. Trcka sang ever so quietly, the guard understood what was going on. As I heard it, (I do not want to hurt anyone now), and still remember it, this particular guard was a young man whose nickname was 'falcon'. Some of the older prisoners knew him even by name, but most of the time, we only recognized the guards by these nicknames which circulated among us prisoners. When the guard heard that Fr. Trcka was singing the religious song, and since he himself did not have keys to the cells, the guard could not get into the cell so he had to phone for the supervisor to come. The supervisor came along with one or two others, maybe an escort, and took Fr. Trcka away and as punishment, they put him in isolation. Isolation itself was not a problem; it was one large building which had specific cells for a single prisoner, but according to how many prisoners were there at one time, the cell may have held more than one prisoner. In Leopoldov, isolation cells held, I do not want to say only criminals, but these were political criminals, who were not supposed to be designated as political because the communists said there were no political prisoners in Czechoslovakia. Simply because they did not recognize the prisoner's political status, everyone was a criminal, whether he was convicted for a political or criminal act. They called us criminals of the worst kind. We were worse than murderers, and they treated as accordingly. The main floor contained separate isolation cells. This was a prison within a prison. For days after someone was accused of doing something wrong, he was thrown into this cell where he was to rehabilitate himself. These cells had a peculiar routine. Mostly, they were dark. The cell had a small window that was almost always closed by a steel cover. The cell had a cement floor, and the bed itself was a large block of cement, cold of course. The prisoner was allowed to sleep on it. And just so the prisoner was not able to get a good sleep, the 'bed' had cemented in it slats of wood that were always digging into the prisoner trying to get some rest. In fact, after being there for three days, the prisoner did not get any rest because he had to lie there on the cement and only for the night, was he allowed a single blanket. They were only fed every other day, I believe. So if you were there three days, you fasted two days and ate one. Fr. Trcka was immediately taken to isolation, to the cement cell and there he slept. Early the next morning, I think they called me, but I don't know if it was because the guard was covering his back or whether Fr. Trcka himself complained, but the medics were called in. The medic on call at that time was a prisoner, a former medical student. He told me that they called and told him that there is a Fr. Trcka and would I please take care of him and try to get him moved to the prison hospital because he was in the isolation. You see, to help a priest or take his side was a big risk even in prison, it would damage your profile for life. And since I was convicted for Catholic Action, helping a priest could not hurt my case. It was taken for granted that I was close to the priests, so whenever there was a priest who needed to be helped, my colleagues called on me, 'Tony, say something, tell the supervisor to admit him to the hospital…' and so on. I cannot recall exactly now, whether I asked to go and visit Fr. Trcka, or if I was on duty the second day and they took me to him. (I would have to guess what happened.) It is not impossible but rather probable that the medical student, Prchlik, said he thought that Fr. Trcka had pneumonia, and for them to call on me as well. Thus I came. He certainly had high fever (40C), he definitely had pneumonia in both lungs, I think, and so I suggested that he be admitted to the hospital. The supervisor of the guards refused to permit that at any cost. I informed him that if anything should happen to this man, it would be on his conscience. He discussed the situation with someone else, and the only consolation was that they transferred Fr. Trcka from the cement floor cell to another isolation cell with a wooden-floor and a straw filled mattress that he was able to sleep on. I was also able to get him a blanket or two for the entire time he was in the isolation cell. The prisoners in isolation were only able to get a blanket through the night. I am almost positive that he spent that one night, evening and definitely the night, in the cement-floored cell and was not transferred until the second day. We then treated Fr. Metod with penicillin for several days, even though we did not have much of it. However, I know he was bouncing between good and bad times. I once again tried to get him admitted to the prison hospital, but to no avail. His fever subsided a bit, but that was only due to the fact that there were several of us looking after him; there was always someone there, but the doctors certainly did not visit him daily. Eventually, I was not allowed to go and see him anymore. I did find out, and it stuck in my mind, that his situation worsened and eventually, he died. I spoke to Fr. Metod, actually I tried to explain to him why I was not able to get him admitted into the hospital and if he went there, I think it would have definitely helped him. Treatment would have been far better in the hospital. Food and care would have been better. Maybe, we would have been able to get better drugs. In any case, death was imminent because they put him in that cell. That is what I believe. He told me, in a sense, that he was not angry with them. I cannot exactly explain to you now, but the important thing was that he showed good will and forgiveness to those who hurt him. I consider this very important, that in this very difficult situation, he forgave and he truly knew that he did not have an easy time.
        They brought Fr. Metod to the cell to die. Fr. Mastiliak took care of Fr. Trcka, a saint taking care of a saint. 'When we were lined up in the hall in front of the window of his cell, where Fr. Trcka lay fatally ill', said Mr. Stefan Kristin, 'Fr. Trcka turned towards the window, I waived to him. He acknowledged me by raising his arms towards heaven, and with his eyes he indicated that he was saying good bye to us and was on his way from life to eternity.' Fr. Mastiliak, who stated that his bed was right next to Fr. Trcka's, was not present when Fr. Trcka was dying. He had to be in the shop, but through a messenger, he was kept informed of Fr. Trcka's condition. He recalls these last few moments: When he was close to his death, in the evening hours, only the older confreres were in the cell. Due to their age, they were not required to go to work. Several of them came from other cells. In the shop, his death was closely monitored through messengers. We returned from the afternoon shift at 10 pm, our father lay dead for over an hour. It was March 23, 1959.
        'After death,' continues Fr. Mastiliak, 'the deceased was left in the bed for an hour. The orderlies from the hospital came and took his body to the morgue. They buried him on the second or third day following his death without a priest, of course, but with the assistance of a guard. He was buried in the prison cemetery.'

In April 1959, Fr. Trcka's family tried to move his corporal remains to his native Frydlant, but the authorities put too many obstacles in their path and eventually, the family was unsuccessful. They were however able to locate the grave where he was buried. According to their testimony, there were only two rows of graves at the prison cemetery that were taken care of. The other graves were mounds of dirt covered with grass. Fr. Trcka lay in grave number seven in the first row.