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Volume 14, No. 4, Winter 2006

Slovak Heritage Live

A quarterly newsletter published by Vladimir Linder

Winter issue was published in January 2007 and it was mailed to 1200 recipients world wide. 


Dear Mr. Linder,
I am submitting this article about our recent visit to Slovakia. We are all USA cousins of the Gonda family from Orava. My hope is you might print all or parts you may deem interesting in your Newsletter in the near future. I’ll pass on copies to the “TEAM SLOVAKIA” members. You may get some new readers out of it. Thanks from a first generation Slovak living in the USA.


Bernard Letassy
1014 W. Pine St,
Poplar Bluff  MO  63901-4840  USA

Dear Mr. Linder,
Sorry I was behind in my subscription. I do enjoy reading about your insight on what is happening politically and culturally in Slovakia.

Happy New Year

Eleanor Cibula
598 Lorn Ct. 
Orange Park  FL  32073  USA

Dear Vladimir,
Enclosed is a check for $25.00 for renewal of my subscription.
I enjoy your articles and read them straight through when I receive the newsletter. I would love to be in your shoes to experience Slovakia as you do. My parents were born in Slovakia. Mother in Ladomírová in Svidník district and father in Bretejovce, near Prešov. I still keep in touch via e-mail with relatives there.

God bless you, Zbohom.

Vince Stankay
6133 Seashore Drive, Lantana  Fl  33462  USA

Vladimir Linder

An exhibit of photographs from the church of St. James in Levoča from photographer Vladimir Linder. Concept of the exhibit is based in capturing and illustration of emotions in Gothic statues through the lens of author complimented by quotations from that era and texts dedicated to the given subject. More than 60 photographs are on display mostly of portrait character, which attract by remarkable views of gothic statues from Church of St. James in Levoča. Photographs are evoking immense survival of emotionally strained moments. They have portrait character and they are possibility for comparison of common view of monumental works and detailed not much visible and not very well known looks. Comparison offers also time spectrum of early gothic up to its late period coming from hands of Master Pavol from Levoča. Subject matter is abundant. Prevailing is Laying to the grave, Last supper, Crucifixion, saints and woman saints in moments of torture, ecstasy, prayers… Selection of photographs was made in consideration of the name of the whole exhibit: Gothic Emotions, and it tried to pick up indication of characterization of statue as part of psychologisation of individual statues, progressed crystallization of portrait features and using wide palette of gestures.
Text part of the exhibit is complementing medieval texts as inseparable and important part of medieval perception of work of art, appreciation of beauty and connecting spirituality with artistic expression. The goal is presentation of abundant unique cultural heritage-with eye of photographer and comparison with literary works. The photographs are complimented by copies of works of Master Pavol from Levo
ča-plaster moulds from last supper-from the main altar of the church of St. James in Levoča. Interesting part of exhibition is so called three of knowledge on which there are statements and quotations from works of medieval authors.  Component of exhibit is also computer presentation of more than 200 photographs, that were supplied by Vladimir Linder and thus makes possible even more looks that were unable to be installed. Component of this exhibit are also whole looks at altars, so we can offer our visitors possibility to view the complete works. Exhibit was open until August 11, 2006 in the premises of the Old City Hall.


The Institute of Language and Academic Preparation for Foreign Students, Centre of Continuing Education is the part of Comenius University in Bratislava, the oldest and largest university in Slovakia. It is the only institution preparing international students for their studies at all Slovak universities both in language and professional respects. We organize short-term as well as long-term Slovak language courses in our premises applying 46-year tradition in teaching Slovak as a foreign language. University studies in Slovakia attract attention of students from Sweden, Great Britain and USA but also from Bangladesh, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Yemen, Kuwait, Thailand, Japan or South Korea. The Institute prepares students from over 50 countries annually. During the 46-years existence of the Institute altogether over 10,000 students from 127 countries have prepared for their university study there.

is intended at mastering Slovak language and intensive preparation in dominant subjects in the following fields of study: medical and biological, technical, economic, natural sciences, humanities, law, architecture, art, being the first step for foreigners towards university education in the Slovak Republic. The students are placed into groups according to the following fields of study. The learning is aimed at sufficient Slovak language acquisition to enable international students not to only communicate in the new surroundings but also to acquire specialized knowledge in the range of subjects, which will be the focus of their future university studies. The study is organized in two terms in the period from September to June. Examinations are scheduled at the end of winter and summer terms in written and oral forms. Representatives of respective faculties participate in final exams together with teachers of the Institute. After successfully completing the course the student is awarded a certificate for passing language and academic preparation meeting all the conditions for his/her university studies in the chosen field of study. Although this certificate does not guarantee admission to the university, it increases, to a considerable extent, the chances of successfully passing the entrance exams.
The students who wish to enrol in the program need a complete secondary education. They must submit completed enrolment form, a photocopy of identification page of their passport and school-leaving certificate.

of Slovak language for foreigners is for those who are interested in learning the language and about the new country or need Slovak in his/her job or everyday life. Three-week intensive summer courses of Slovak language aimed at basic understanding and improving Slovak language skills as well as learning about Slovak geography, history and culture via lectures, discussions, extramural and club activities–sports, culture, sightseeing.
The activities of the Institute of Language and Academic Preparation for Foreign Students focus also on Slovak language and cultural promotion abroad. Our Institute offers the study of Slovak as a foreign language in courses of varying duration and level of proficiency to applicants from all over the world.

are designed for a very wide range of applicants: for students preparing for their post-graduate studies at Slovak universities, for applicants not planning to study at a Slovak university but having an interest in the Slovak language or needing it in his/her job or everyday life, e.g. foreign representation officers, diplomats, international managers, foreign language lectors, etc. We cannot forget compatriots bound with family ties to Slovakia who would like to improve their knowledge by learning the language of their parents or grandparents.

Further interesting program is:

focused on the acquisition of basic understanding or improving Slovak language skills as well as learning about Slovak geography, history and culture via lectures, discussions and sightseeing. Teaching Slovak is with a concentration on communicative principles by experienced staff, together with the lectures on Slovak Studies and interesting facts of Slovakia. The students are divided into groups of beginners, intermediate and advanced. There is no age or education restriction, so the course is open for everyone. The program includes a variety of trips, excursions, meetings, discussions, workshops and other activities such as learning Slovak folk dances or cooking traditional meals (various cultural activities and trips for visiting monuments and Slovak natural beauty is very popular). Children of Slovaks living abroad regularly attend this course, as they do not want to lose contacts with the mother country of their forefathers.

are organized in cooperation with Departments of the Slovak Language and Literature at universities abroad and they are designed for Slovak language students in order to improve their language skills.

are designed for those who find daytime inconvenient, i.e. employees, daily students of universities.

In addition to these courses the Institute is accredited by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic to hold General State Examinations in Slovak as a foreign language. This examination is designed for foreigners interested in Slovak language acquisition demonstrating the reliable competence in oral and written communication.  In 2003 our project Language Competence testing was labelled as a “Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for languages.”

Along with other study program ÚJOP CĎV UK also issues its own course books, multimedia and study materials and is engaged in the methodology of teaching Slovak as a foreign language.

The Institute mission is to prepare students for entrance exams and studies at Slovak universities in the Slovak language. The successful admission for universities is 85-95 per cent of ÚJOP leavers. After the wide range of our language courses the participants will be able to communicate in Slovak and also they will get acquainted with information of Slovak history, geography, culture.


Mons. prof. ThDr. ICDr. PaedDr. František Diugoš, PhD.
Vladimir Linder

What shall your message be, o Lord,
in this land,
to us, who obey signs?

... the bard of contemporary Slovak Christian poetry Milan Rúfus is asking together with us and in the name of modern people, swallowed every day by a wave of action coming from every direction and level. Powered by an unending uproar we envy seek, we snoop in the mosaics of banal bizarreness. Finally, we resign with a fatalistic sigh: there’s nothing new under the sun. If we were more humble, receptive, civilized in spirit, we un­derstood one: the most beautiful, most dramatic and most heartbreaking stories happened long before us.

Saint James the Great, apostle, fulfilled his earthly fate tragically: he was decapitated. What more can be added to such a gradated destiny of a disciple of Jesus'? Gliding on the surface, a storywriter of movie thrillers would make this point ‑ in the punisher’s hit, to be an end of the saint’s drama. However, the divine foresight decided dif­ferently. The legacy of the Apostle spreads from the Span­ish coast up
to Levoča, a town of population under 15.000. Pilgrimages to Compostella, where James found his grave, belong to the largest in the world. James remains as a symbol of the faithfulness to Jesus Christ, and the nations of the Old Continent chose just this Apostle to be the patron‑saint of' the pilgrims.

Story of' Saint James the Apostle still hasn’t its epi­logue. There are still talented people coming to extend the “James’ epic” by a new chapter. In the first half of' the 16th century, Master Paul settled down in Levoča. He surely wasn’t aware of' the future fame he arranged by his altar to the man, Jesus Christ called to the apostolic service directly from the fishing net. And he couldn’t guess this charismatic ingenious woodcarver, that by his monumental work the Church of' Saint James in Levo
ča will become one of the world’s unique pieces of art, everyone admires.

James’ apostolic mission, death as a martyr, cult of' his piety is not only inspiring, but also gathering many, who want to say a word about these themes, make a photo report, film sequence, or write a poem. In this way James got together also creative mind and ways of' Mons. prof.
ThDr. ICDr. PaedDr. František Diugoš, PhD. and a universal publisher, great photographer Vladimir Linder ‑ an exceptional esthete of' the photo lens, supreme sup­porter and propagator of Levoča. Both authors want to tell the story of' the Saint in the first place, they want to re-present the legacy of the phenomenal late‑gothic woodcarver and his masterpiece. There are also unknown makers of wall paintings, blacksmiths and other masters of' art. They all added something to the interior of' the church from the smallest detail to the monument of the Last Supper. They give us time for a quiet moment with Saint James the Great, apostle, who lives in Levoča church for centuries, but mostly, who lives.

Seventeen cousins and 2nd cousins of the Gonda family decided to visit their parentage birthplace this past month. The “team” range in ages from 22 to 82. A few had been there before but most for the first time. Karen Knipper organized the visit. Karen’s mother, Anna (Gonda) Shanske had visited Slovakia in 1991 along with her first cousin Bernard Letassy...

The team flew out of O’hare in Chicago to Bratislava and stayed at Hotel Danube, to visit Staré Mesto, St Martin’s Cathedral, Devín Castle, and the Opera House. After a few days, they headed for the High Tatras to stay at Starý Smokovec and some hiking to the Studenovodské waterfalls at about the tree line of the mountain. Even in mid‑May a few skiers headed for the remaining snow up higher. On the way to Liptovský Mikuláš the group toured one of the many caves Slovakia is noted for, Demänovská Jaskyňa Slobody-Demänovsk
á Cave of Freedom. When asked for a highlight of the trip Steve said “the scenery throughout the country was much more spectacular than I had expected” and Dorothy thought “seeing Grandpa’s house in Zuberec and meeting the locals and seeing the little villages. I still can’t believe how beautiful it is there. I thought we would see a country destitute but it wasn’t. So many TV dishes on rooftops and the gardens!!!!!!! So reminded me of Grandpa (Victor Gonda). Interesting how he brought that way of life with him to the US. His garden in Downers Grove had potatoes and carrots; I remember those most probably because that’s what I like when I was a kid.”...

Mons. Prof. PaedDr. ICDr. ThDr. František Dlugoš, PhDr.

The oldest pilgrimage place in Eastern Slovakia is Levoča, where the roots of Marian cult go back to 13th century. At the beginning the Marian mount attracted pilgrims from eastern and central Slovakia. Worshipers of Latin and Greek right came together with their happiness and their pains. Most of all were coming here pilgrims from Košice, from behind Magura, from Halíč, Hron region, but also pilgrims from Poland from the other side of Tatra Mountains. Simple Slovak people were coming here with their happiness and pains to Mary as their own mother, and they were singing about it in their pilgrim songs.

The continuity of pilgrimages to Marian mount didn’t stop even during the hardest times of religious injustice and belief-in time of reformation and in the last ten years of communist totalitarian regime in Slovakia. Worshipers were continuing to visit this pilgrimage place. Even though people had to suffer for visiting this place, they were thrown out of schools, work, offices that were even more attracting people to this place and with time Marian Mount became with the number of pilgrims the largest pilgrimage place in Slovakia and it was included between world’s pilgrimage places.

These victims of suffering joined with pilgrimages were rewarded by the Highest Priest of Catholic Church-Holy Father John Paul II, when he elevated the pilgrimage church on January 26, 1984 to Basilica Minor.

Holy Father on July 3, 1995 in his address to gathered pilgrims on Marian Mont beside other things said: “Marian holy places are places, where Christ witness is becoming extraordinary effective. Surely many sons and daughters of Slovakia are grateful to Levoča’s holy place for the truth about God and believe in him were preserved live in their hearths.”...


Cadastral area: Tatranská Lomnica
Region: Pre

The Belianska Cave is situated on the northern slopes of Kobylí vrch (Mare Hill) in the eastern part of the Belianske Tatras, near the village Tatranská Kotlina, in the National Nature Reserve Belianske Tatras in the territory of the Tatra National Park.    
Entrance to the cave is 890 meters above the seal level.
It was formed in the Middle Triassic Gutenstein limestone’s of the Knižnanský nappe by the waters penetrating along inter bed surfaces and tectonic faults. Total cave length is 1,752 meters and vertical range is 160 meters...  

The newly opened Pension Karolína, is situated in the beautiful surroundings of Slovenský Grob, a village famous for its unique and delicious food. This special village lays only 20 km from the Slovak capital, Bratislava very close to Pezinok. It will catch your attention first of all with its three outstanding little houses, which create the image of a traditional village, using typical elements from the country architecture in Slovenský Grob.
When entering the small hotel you will find a stylish interior with massive wooden ceilings and other wooden decorative elements. The main hotel rooms are situated upstairs above the restaurant and there are few rooms on the main floor as well. They offer a magnificent view of the Small Carpathian Mountains, which have their own charm at all times of the year.
Delicious food is served in the restaurant, which also has a winter garden or conservatory. The view from the Conservatory makes clear of their ambition, not only to fulfill the culinary dreams of their guests, but also to provide them with a relaxing atmosphere, suitable either for a couple or for a group of friends. They have also created facilities for working groups and meetings followed by refreshments from an extensive and varied buffet table.
The capacity of Pension Karolína is one apartment that can accommodate up to four persons, two single rooms and ten double rooms. you can come there for a dinner have a drink of wine from their fantastic and well stocked wine cellar. The owner Miroslav Jajcay is Slovakia’s best sommelier and won the second prize in Vinanza Trophy Sommelier Club 2003, Vinum Victory at Grand Prix Sommelier Brno 2003 in the Elite category, Troph
ée Kuinart Le Meilleur Sommelier de Slovaquie in 2004, the first price at Grand Prix Sommelier Brno 2006 in the Elite category, Gurman Award Waiter-Sommelier of year 2006 and many more too numerous to mention.

You stay overnight as there are strict regulations and penalties for drinking and driving in Slovakia.

The owners, Miroslav Jajcay and his wife are looking forward to your visit!
You can contact them for reservations and information at:
Phone: 011-421-33-647-8264
Cell: 011-421-905-478-264
[email protected]


Reviewed by Clayton C. David, Secretary, The Air Forces Escape & Evasion Society, 19 Oak Ridge Pond- Hannibal,
MO 63401-6539  [email protected]

Much more than just another war story, this true, first person story grips the reader from beginning to end with total realism. Those of the Greatest Generation can relate to the author's childhood and teen years enjoying Scouting and sports during the Great Depression years.
The author’s vivid memory and ability to write about his determination to enlist and fly in the Army Air Corps is as if you were there with him. His unique experience of evading capture by the Nazis for over three months (only with the Slovaks invaluable help) after bailing out of his shot-up B-24 over Slovakia December 11, 1944, would make an excellent book alone. This is especially true because of the author's awesome description of the Slovak Resistance and Partisans heroism and sacrifices in protecting downed American fliers.
His eventual capture and harsh treatment by the Nazi Gestapo intensifies his wartime experiences to a fever pitch, acutely testing his courage---and his Faith.

Finally, the aftermath of his harrowing prisoner experience and finding the Love of his Life will move and touch you.

This Soft Cover, 308-page book with over 40 photos is available from:

Gene Hodge
#4 Arnold Dr. Texarkana, AR 71854;
Price, $19.50 + $3.00 postage
Phone: 1-870-772-4723
[email protected]


For Peter Zoričák, a professional historian and archivist who is a long‑term enthusiast for history and a graduate of the Faculty of Arts of the Jan Evergelista Purkyně‑University in Olomouc, creative car­ving is a hobby. As an amateur artist‑beginner, Zoričák, as many unqualified artists, has concentrated on general aesthetic rules and academic sculpting. That he is interested in fine arts, particularly sculp­ting, was clear from his early work. His artistic attention transformed into an urge to change wood into talking figures. Zoričák sought to transform his inner feelings into a sculpture. Strong handwork distinguishes him from other fellow artists, past or contemporary, using the same methods of work. Folk art‑inspired sculptures and relief’s required what Peter Zoričák followed in his later work-his natural sense of composition. Nativity scenes, Adoration of the Magi, Adoration of Shepherds and saints are the scenes that Zoričák treats in his work. These scenes follow rigorous Christian codes and Zoričák uses a balanced composition to emphasize a single central line that represents dominant universal truth of a single God in gothic and iconographical art. Zoričák borrows from folk art. What he borrows are not folk topics and elements, but methods of work, simplification and use of folk elements as part of artist’s statement and atmosphere. A hat is not what makes a sculpture a folk art. It is a component helping to communicate information about folk art regions, fairy‑tales and songs. Zoričák avoids descriptive pictures if not necessary and often uses simplification and condensation. Zoričák has learnt how to work with simplified expressions, use them wisely, searches for new opportunities within the limits of folk culture. Foreign visitors see his sculptures as an original perspective on Slovakia and its people. The style the artist uses ‑so called “folk‑Zoričák style”‑helps him to develop his work with wood and colors and transform his perspective on world, life and his philosophy into pieces of art. Native of the Záhorie region and close to Tatry and Ždiar, Zoričák is a long‑time inhabitant of Krem­nica, a famous mining town and centre of mining culture. His nativity scenes and carved sheep shel­ters are installed vertically, one after another, similarly to the nativity scenes on gothic altars. Zoričák carves reliefs with many figures as well as single‑figure sculptures and sculptural groups. Zoričák makes sculptures that can speak. You can read their mood and character or a situation they are in. The sculptures are the embodiment of the author; his attitude and optimism. They convey aut­hor’s energy and forward it to others. Zoričák is a proficient carver using special means of expressi­on and colors. Despite repeated artistic expression, his communication with wood and the com­munication of a viewer with his sculpture are never the same.

Martin Mešša

I went to the opening of this beautiful exhibit on July 27. I was very impressed with his several nativity scenes his birds and angels.


For sample issue of The Slovak Heritage Live Newsletter, please send US$2.00
together with your postal address to:

Vladimir Linder
3804 Yale Street
Burnaby, BC,
Canada, V5C 1P6
Phone/Fax: 1-604-291-8065



[email protected]

Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2005-2006 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.