Prof. Ing., DrSc. Luděk Bartoš

* 1948  

  • “They were Scouts. We profess that we are the Fifth River Scout Troop, that is, Fiver for short, and we are one of the longest existing Scout troops, which survived all the pitfalls of history. We have existed since March 1913 without a single break until this day. And this relates to the ingenuity of our founder, the writer Jaroslav Novák, who had the Scout nickname Braťka, and he was an ingenious person, who oversaw the upbringing there under the motto of ‘we’re education, not organisation’. And that helped us endure both the German occupation and then the whole Bolshevik period and everything, because we didn’t cling to - what we saw as - fancy stuff.”

  • “To place it into context - my father was ill and my mother worked at Tatra Wagon, and she had a co-worker there whose two sons were part of some group. And I found myself in this group roughly just before my twelfth year, and I personally consider that the second biggest piece of good fortune for my subsequent development. At the time it was a group that wasn’t even hinted at being a Scout troop, it was just some kind group. [Q: And what group was it, a tourist one?] At the time when we were part of it, it came under Slavoj Vyšehrad, and it was actually a yachting youth club. The interest in it was enormous, so there were some twenty of us applicants at the recruitment interview, and the level of selection was huge. And as I later found, there were several levels [of the selection - trans.], and one of them was also if you had a recommendation, because the main advantage of this troop was that it was something of an island of normality in a sea of abnormality.”

  • “When we joined Slavoj Praha, it was such an uncertain time, so the ‘Fiver’ was cut of from the call of ‘To the front, never relent, ever ahead, five, five, five’ [presumably the rallying call of the 5th River Scout Troop - trans.]. And it was such a terribly uncertain time. And back then... for instance, I found out that it was a Scout troop from one of my peers. So I came to the troop, where no one said: ‘Right, so we’re Scouts and we’re doing this illegally.’ That was connected to the philosophy of how to survive. So we did a hundred-per-cent Scout upbringing, Scout activities, but we didn’t call it that. And if we did, it was only when no one could here us. So yes, I think that most people understood it to be a Scout troop, or - that it had Scout roots, but you know, that is a part of... I know, I’m jumping between topics, but simply, the fifties set the direction for the following developments, and the Bolshevik was unpredictable. In other words, no one knew if so and so would come to power, or that other guy, if things would get tougher still, or what would happen. And we knew well enough from our childhood what it meant when things got tougher. So basically, in retrospect, perhaps, we behaved too covertly. There were troops that at least retained the fleur-de-lis or something. We suppressed all of those things so that they couldn’t catch us on something.”

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    Hroznová ul., Praha , 27.11.2016

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    Hroznová ul., Praha , 24.01.2017

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Scouting was an island of normality in a sea of abnormality

Luděk Bartoš in 2016
Luděk Bartoš in 2016
photo: sbírka Post Bellum

Luděk Bartoš was born in 1948 in Rakovník, although his family moved to Prague soon after. In May 1949 the Communist Party nationalised their family company - the Otto Factory for soap and edible fats. In 1961 he joined a tourist group under Slavoj Praha. The group was actually the 5th River Scout Troop. He became leader of the troop in the late 1960s. He studied at the University of Agriculture in Prague-Suchdol. He considered emigrating after the 1968 occupation, but decided not to in the end. Upon graduating from university in 1971 he took up a job at the Institute of Physiology of General Medicine of Charles University. He was active as a “commodore” in the Scouting movement until the mid-1990s. He founded the Department of Ethology (the study of animal behaviour) at the Institute of Animal Production in Prague. He is now a professor at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.