Academy Students Win Second Place in „Unsung Heroes“ competition

Students of the Lutheran Academy find many opportunities to enrich their learning. One recent opportunity—the annual „Unsung Heroes“ project—even resulted in students wining an award for their efforts.

Students and teachers from across Slovakia attended the recent „Unsung Heroes“ conference and met with Andrej Kiska (center), president of Slovakia.

Students of the Lutheran Academy in Martin recently participated in the „Unsung Heroes“ project. Launched in 2009 by the Institute of National Remembrance, the civic association “Unsung Heroes,” and the Confederation of Political Prisoners in Slovakia, this annual event identifies individuals who “swam upstream against the current and paid a high price for it” during the communist regime.

The event includes a conference and a competition designed for student participation. It was the seventh year students of the Academy have participated in the conference, which this year was held in nobvember in Bratislava. And each year the Lutheran Academy fields a team of students for the competition. Inevitably, the team has won an award—and this year was no exception.

The six-member Lutheran Academy team won second place for their research into the life of Lutheran pastor Ľudovít Vajdička. Vajdička (1907-1990) was imprisoned during the communist era and was considered by the government to be among the “most dangerous people” because he openly challenged communist rule, opening protesting against the lies and manipulation of the communist regime. Vajdička also participated in the translation of symbolic books. Symbolic books as a one of the most important books for Christians wasn´t allowed at all. Through them, common people learn lot more about God by the reason that they read it in their own language for the first time.

Ján Drahoš at the tomb “unsung hero”

The Lutheran Academy became involved in the “Unsung Heroes” project to help students learn about the struggles of those who had experienced communist totalitarianism firsthand.

In its first year in the project, the Lutheran Academy team won second place with a paper on Pavel Uhorskai, the first bishop of the Lutheran Church in Slovakia. In another year, the team placed in the top ten with their paper on a Lutheran bishop in Žilina.

The next year’s team documented the life of the first Slovak Lutheran woman pastor, Darinka Bancíková. Last year’s team won first prize with its paper on Otto Vízner, a translator of Symbolic books.

Ľudovít Vajdička had a compelling life. A Lutheran pastor, he was imprisoned by Nazi Germany during World War II for a crime he didn’t commit. He was sended into a working camp through which was planned to sent prisoners to concenration camp in Mauthausen.

Evening before transport he survived and ran away.This survived his life.Returning to his family, he was ultimately arrested again—this time, for his work translating symbolic books and for speaking out against the communist regime during his sermons. He was released after serving 1 year in prison and returned to Martin, because he had stomach difficulties which was reason why he almost died. He did public jobs as a worker on Geodesy and Collective farming in Martin. In years 1969-1978 he was pastor in small village Jabloňovce. He died in 1990 in Martin surrounded by his family.

Students from the Lutheran Academy visited the Pribram prison, a facility that housed political prisoners during the communist period.

This year’s conference was highlighted by the appearance of Andrej Kiska, president of Slovakia. It was a huge honor for our students to meet the President at proceedings in the President’s Palace. In addition, during the proceedings the President posed a question that was answered by one of our students, who also referenced the Lutheran Academy in his answer.

Another highlight of the conference was the observation of Frantisek Neupauer, creator of the “Unsung Heroes” project, who said, „Students have been able to identify people whose attitudes and activities contributed to re-establishing freedom in our country.”

To date, the „Unsung Heroes“ project has showcased the stories of over 150 heretofore unknown heroes in the fight against communism.

by Ján Drahoš
Student, Lutheran High School in Martin

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