Kamil Andres

* 1955

  • "When I used to go to write restoration reports, I made a desk in my car and went to the mountains so that sitting at the computer wouldn't be so boring. I'd always pick a nice hill to look into the distance, write for two or three hours, then go for a walk, then back again. And when you get there at ten in the morning and you look out over the countryside, you can see the working life come alive, these people go out into the fields, they start working, by noon it calms down a little bit, then in the afternoon the hustle and bustle starts again. And then comes the early evening, it gets a little bit darker, the work in the fields dies down, people come home, the lights come on over there, in the cottage here, over there. And you say to yourself, I guess the farmer has come home, he has to stable the horses, or the granddaughter has gone to her grandmother's to talk in the evening. And suddenly it's evening, the stars are shining, and that's actually the nativity scene. And that's how these people saw it. Because they worked all day, they came home in the evening and created their own magical world free from the worries and pains of the day and everything, and they used to put these beautiful things there. And then when you come in front of that nativity scene and you can read it, it's so enriching."

  • "The military service has started. I went in quite young, in 1974, shortly after I turned eighteen. The boys and I had agreed that we would go and celebrate after the draft. Everything went well in front of the draft board until, as we were leaving the room, one of the officers asked if any of us had relatives illegally abroad. It was clear that there was no point in denying it. My cousin had fled to Germany in the 1968 and there was trouble. So I had to stay there and then I was assigned to the work unit VÚ3513. I went to Horní Počernice, and wewent through the initial process there. From there I went to Brno, where we were no longer soldiers, but a working unit, we went to construction sites. And I liked it very much, I did crafts, I went around the country. A lot of people might have taken it as a punishment, but the big advantage was that they set up saving books for us, and we worked and they put part of the wage aside, to the book. So it wasn't that much of a punishment."

  • "Towards Krňovice, at the crossroads, there were these Russian regulovtchiks, these soldiers, and they had machine guns. So we boys went there, and because we were learning Russian, we tried to talk. It was very difficult. Those poor boys had nowhere to go to the toilet, they had nothing to eat, so we always brought them a piece of bread, I remember once I poured some rum into a glass at home. They were so excited. When one of them saw that I had a bike, he immediately said, ‚Davay schlapayku' (Give me the bike). So I lent him the bike and he let me hold the machine gun. If it was today, he'd be in trouble. But we guys were excited. We were admiring the daggers, we just didn't get it, we perceived it in a different way."

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    Hradec Králové, 15.08.2023

    duration: 02:00:05
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - HRK REG ED
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He devoted his life to nativity scenes. He restored them in his living room

Kamil Andres at the military service from 1974 to 1976
Kamil Andres at the military service from 1974 to 1976
photo: Witness´s archive

Kamil Andres was born on 23 April 1955 in Opočno. From his earliest childhood he lived in Třebechovice pod Orebem, where he also attended primary school. He continued his education at an apprenticeship in Hradec Králové, first as a bricklayer and later as a tiler. After completing his compulsory military service, which he spent at the VÚ3513 work unit due to his cousin’s emigration, he returned to Třebechovice in 1976, got married and started working at the Antonín Zápotocký Tannery, which changed its name to TANEX TREKO after 1990. At the same time, from the mid-1990s, he also worked as a documenter at the Třebechovice Museum. In 1994-1996 he attended courses at the Hradec Photographic Conservatory and later completed his restoration education. He obtained a licence from the Ministry of Culture to restore mechanical parts of mechanical nativity scenes, including national cultural monuments, in 2008. In the Třebechovice Museum he took care of the famous Probošt´s mechanical nativity scene and participated in the preparatory stages of its complete restoration. In 2011, he ended his cooperation with the museum due to disagreement with the restoration concept. He continued repairing nativity scenes as part of his own trade. He has repaired more than twenty nativity scenes, for example the Metelka´s nativity scene, the Frýdlant and the Utz´s nativity scenes in cooperation with the Liberec Museum. His last and greatest work before his retirement is the fifteen-metre-long Svitava nativity scene.