Through Dark, Rain and Mud
Jozef Hrdý belongs to the first Salesians, who, shortly after the communist takeover, realized that their priestly service might be freely done only behind the Iron Curtain. “I saw that it was all going to the dogs, but my superiors didn't want to believe it,” Don Jozef Hrdý recalled. The first attempt to cross the borders to Austria in August 1949 failed. Shortly before Christmas of the same year he, along with his friend and other runaways, plucked up courage to make another attempt. He didn't reveal his intent to anyone, not even his closest relatives. So that the camouflage was perfect, he even sent signed postcards to his friend in Prague and his parents received them in assumptions that Jozef lives there. On December 22, 1949 he left by train to Moravský Sväätý Ján. After some hours of marching towards the Morava river, the group of runaways finally came there around the midnight. “There was mud, it was raining, but it also started freezing… They had a boat, not a wooden one, but an inflatable dinghy. So we waited and at half past one we were already in Austria, on the other side,” he remembered. They found themselves in the Soviet occupation area in Austria; however, they managed to arrive in Vienna, where they got papers from an international organization for refugees. Certain time they were able to stay also in a Salesian house in the American zone in Vienna, although they were completely without money. They succeeded to even gain Austrian citizenship and thanks to the assistance of many religious men, they managed to arrive in Italy, to Turin at the beginning of the year 1950. They enrolled at the university and started studying immediately. In 1953 he continued his adventurous journey in Latin America, where he spent four decades of his life.