Young Titus Zeman in folk Vajnor costume.

Young cleric Titus Zeman with siblings.

Titus Zeman as a theologian with his parents and youngest sister in Vajnory.

Portrait of Titus Zeman from prison.

Portrait of Titus Zeman from prison.

Portrait of Titus Zeman from prison.

Titus Zeman
(1915-1969)

Titus Zeman was born on 4 January 1915. He completed his grammar school studies in Salesian institutes. On 6 August 1932, he made his first religious vows as a Salesian. In 1937 he began studying theology in Rome and later in Chieri near Turin. On 23 June 1940, he received the Rite of ordination. After returning to Slovakia, he studied chemistry and natural history at the Faculty of Science in Bratislava, so that he could later teach these subjects at the church grammar school. Over time, he began to consider the idea of smuggling young students through Austria to Italy, because they could complete their studies there. At the end of August 1950, together with the smugglers, he managed to transfer the first group. During the third attempt to cross the border illegally on 9 April 1951, the border guards captured him. During the interrogations that followed investigators knocked Titus’ teeth out. After a few days, all the detainees were taken to the Leopold Prison, where interrogation and torture continued. Guards broke Zeman’s collarbone during these interrogations. Titus Zeman’s "anti-state group" was tried by a state court on 20-22 February 1952. Zeman was described as the leader of the group, a staunch enemy of the state, a spy in the service of the Vatican intelligence service and a traitor. Therefore, the prosecutor demanded the death penalty for him. Finally, as a group leader, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. On 26 February 1952, he was taken from the prison of the Bratislava Regional Court to the prison in Ilava, and later to the prison in Mírov. At the beginning of 1955, he was transferred to Jáchymov, where he was forced to work in radioactive uranium mines wearing only ordinary prison clothes. After four years he was transferred to Leopoldov and again in 1959 to the prison in Valdice. In the winter, Titus Zeman had to undress, climb into a stone pit and lie on his back and spread his arms. There they flooded him with cold water at night. During his imprisonment, Titus Zeman was gradually excluded from all amnesties in 1953, 1956, 1957, 1960 and 1962. After almost 13 years in prison, he was released on probation on 10 March 1964 as a frail person without any reduction in the total length of his sentence. He worked as a worker in a textile warehouse. The invasion of Allied troops into Czechoslovakia on 21 August 1968 had a very bad effect on his poor physical and mental health, he feared that he would be imprisoned again. On the evening of 7 January 1969, he fell ill and died the next day in Vajnory as a result of torture and imprisonment.