Václav Bárta

* 1937

  • “Well, back then I would bring... there were those flea markets where records were sold, gramophone records. And I would bring records from Germany and go to this market where you could exchange them. Or even sell them. But I never got into trouble. Once I brought – and that time I was scared indeed – I brought... I knew Karel Kryl, among other people. And we met several times in Germany and he gave me this record and said: 'Vašek, take this with you.' And I said: 'Well, Karel...' And a book. And I went back, on August 28, by chance, I was crossing the border at Železná Ruda. And someone reported me, probably, as I had to get off the car, they searched the whole car, then I had to take it all out, we had to unload everything, I was with my son back then, as it was before he went abroad, and we had to take everything from the car to the customs house. They searched everything, and then they would search the car again, they did this twice, for maybe three or four hours. And I had this Karel Kryl record among all those records I was bringing with me. But Karel was so smart that he would change the sheet to some light opera or so. But there was still this book by Karel Kryl. Two men searched us, a policeman and a customs officer. And they searched just about everything. And as the policeman inspected all the books and so, he would just pass this book by Kryl like it was nothing.”

  • “What was it?” - “Bořek” - “They summoned me, and I could see it in broad daylight. The interesting thing was that they called me on the first day I had the phone installed, it was the first call I made, with this District Passport and Visa Administration.” - “The first call you made from home?” - “That's right, from home. So I went there, and there were those two gentlemen in leather coats. The man who summoned me was... I even knew him to some degree, as he was in contact with this friend of mine. And this Passport and Visa Administration director left, this chief or what, and there was just this man. He told me: 'My name is Berka, I would like to ask something from you.' And I told him, as I knew already, of course, I learned from my friends who got in trouble, so I told him: 'There's a problem, you know, as I would give everything away, as I just talk too much.' He said: 'That's not the case, I don't want you to ask... if you would come back from abroad... as you do go abroad from time to time, right?' And I said: 'Sure I do, as I have this job at the Passport and Visa Administration.' 'You know, we would like to ask you... I don't want you to report anything, we just need your help.' I said: 'How?' Then, for a while he would explain to me how the world was divided, and they, as intelligence officers, were just doing their job, and part of that job was that they communicated with people from the West, or maybe they would try to get someone working for them, and he told me: 'We need you, when you will go abroad, to buy some paper. Some notepaper, as if we would use our notepaper, it would be...' And I said: 'I could do that, I guess.' At that time, my brother - he is also on that list – who was in Pilsen, who would go abroad with his ensemble. Well, before that, I was abroad twice or so, in the 1970´s, with this ensemble from Horní Bříza. It was a folklore ensemble, I was directing their performances, so they took me with them. My brother was a singer in this ensemble.” - “You said that your brother was on the list – why? Was he a collaborator?” - “Well just like me, I would say, I didn't know what my title was, I just learned it from you.” - “You are listed as a secret collaborator, 'D' category – 'důvěrník' ('confident').” - “A confident? Does that mean I would have had to sign anything?” - “That wasn't necessary, to sign anything.” - “No, I never signed anything, in my whole life. I just met them in person, maybe we spoke on the phone on one occasion, and I met them, like I told you. To get some paper, some notepaper, but after that, they didn't contact me in this matter. And as I mentioned my brother, he told me: 'I had the same experience, but they told me to report to them, after we would come back with the ensemble, to report who we met and so on.' And he told me: 'I was so scared, I was so afraid of them, but they didn't call me again.” - “And you insist that they didn't contact you again? Not at all?' - “No.” - “In this file of yours, there are records of you meeting them maybe ten times or so.” - “Not at all, it wasn't like that. I never met them, never.” - “Not a single time?” - “No. And what evidence do they have? I would like to see that, as my memory isn't so bad, that I would just forget something like this. I never saw them again after that first meeting.”

  • “My father had two siblings. My grandmother was alone, as my grandfather, her husband, my father's father, he had been working in Horní Bříza, they called it 'the fireclay tuberculosis'... They made fireclay bricks by grinding quartz down to this fine dust. And as it was dusty, those men contracted this kind of secondary tuberculosis. Their lungs got dusty and they would die early. So they didn't talk about my grandfather much, but I knew that he died young. My grandmother had to take care of three boys. She had a house in the upper part of Hromnice, yet most probably they were quite poor, as my father told us that they had just one pair of shoes, all the boys. And the one who would get up early would get the shoes, the second one would get sabots, and the third one would end up barefoot. And from this poverty came the resistance against the capitalists who were having a good life. There was this poverty and then there was war. And what communism promised, this notion of equality, or some improvement of living condition, that also played its part. And of course there was this hatred in people towards the Germans and so, and that was also a factor. So many people who were friends with uncle Baxa, who was in a concentration camp, who came back and joined the communists, they would of course be convinced that... like many people... today, they say they were no opportunists, people like this, as they truly believed that that's how it's gonna be and that it was right.”

  • “At first, you could cross the demarcation line, it was just in the middle of the village. Interesting. It even went, as there was this handball field, like this line in the middle of the handball field, that was where the demarcation line was.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 13.08.2019

    duration: 01:40:58
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 29.10.2019

    duration: 01:25:31
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The demarcation line cut our village in half

Václav Bárta in 2019
Václav Bárta in 2019
photo: foto z natáčení

Václav Bárta was born on September 28, 1937, in Hromnice near Pilsen to parents with communist leanings. After the Second World War, the demarcation line cut the village of Hromnice in half. In 1952 Václav started to study at a military technical school, taking his leaving exams in 1956. After that, he was appointed to the Engineering technical school in Lotměřice, yet he was expelled due to lack of interest. He was more interested in writing, music and theatre. In 1960 he moved to Prague and started working as an instructor at Inklemo People’s Coop training school. With his pupils he founded an amateur theatre troupe. After this amateur group gained some recognition, Václav Bárta could meet people involved in culture and at last he could utilize his creativity. Since the 1970´s, he had been working freelance, writing for radio, co-founding the Chorea Bohemica choir, working for the Czechoslovak State Song and Dance Ensemble, and directing folklore inspired shows and other pieces for various organisations. According to State Security archives, he was registered as a secret police ‘confidant’ from 1983 to 1988. Václav Bárta was married three times and has seven children with five women.