Forced Labor

The communists placed tight controls on the lives of sisters, determining where they would work and placing them in positions where they could not influence others; e.g. they were sent to work on farms, in factories, and in mental institutions.  There were large factories for example, in the former Czechoslovakia where hundreds of sisters were sent to work.

A sister from Slovakia recalls that in the factory where she worked “there were 400 sisters.”  Another sister remembered that “throughout all these years, all of us sisters wore our habits.  It was one way we had to protest.”  The supervisor in one factory, nothing the danger of wearing a habit near machines, approached a sister and suggested she wear another dress.  She said: “I have only one thing to say to you and that is no; so you need not ask me again.”

Labor in the forest was not unknown to sisters as a sister in Lithuania remarked: “We went to work in all weather. At the beginning our work was to plant nurseries of coniferous trees, mostly delicate little first-trees.  Later we used to go and work all over the forest.  We had to plant, mow the grass around the saplings, and of course do the pruning and clear the woods of fallen trees.  Often we would have to walk about nine kilometers before we arrived at the appointed place to work.  At the beginning they looked at us distrustfully, with doubt in their minds, as to what these woman in long skirts were doing in the greenery of the primeval forest.”