Miroslav Blažek

* 1966  

  • “My grandfather’s son, my mother’s brother, who died recently, had been in a Scout organization. The Scout organization in Nová Paka was very active. Back then young boys built a Scout clubhouse which was taken away from them by the Communists after 1948. Then it served as a House of the Pioneers and the Youth for several years. They protested against it, they were young, twenty/twenty-two-year-old boys. It became fatal for them as they got into the Communist show trials in 1952 and were sentenced to many years in prison. My uncle got about four years. Even though his father, my grandpa, had been in the Party; it didn’t help. But surprisingly enough, my grandpa remained loyal to the Communist Party even after my uncle had come back from the camps – he was in Jáchymov even. And my parents were so scared off because my mother was younger than her brother and remembers how they were in Prague on these show trials as observers and they were so scared off that they never ever talked about it in front of me, not even my uncle.”

  • “When they leaving to go to war, they even looked forward to it, to seeing places, because back then people didn’t travel like they do today. Grandpa told me how families had accompanied them to the train, one colleague showed him a bag full of cake, and they said goodbye to their parents and to the girls and said: ‘What a great time we’re going to have.’ Of course, when they arrived at the front line, the reality was kind of different. They got in the middle of the worst conflict of the 20th century.” – “Which front was he on?” – “He was in the South, on the Italian front. He told me that people were hungry and only those who went to the first line got to eat. But there were such great casualties and he was afraid, so he rather starved. He guarded an ammunition storehouse but when the enemy shot shrapnel at them and there was a risk of getting hit, he rather licked salt, got a fever and ended up in a military hospital in Trieste. Back then Trieste belonged to Austria-Hungary, we actually had a piece of sea. So, he remembered seeing the sea for the first and last time ever.”

  • “On the second day, the chairman of the factory’ Party committee arrived at our remote workplace. Back then there were district committees and regional committees and the district committee had all these local chairmen in companies and other establishments under its control. The chairman at our place was a certain Mr. Jakoubě but he was otherwise a relatively decent person because I know that when he walked in on guys on the afternoon shift listening to Radio Free Europe or the Voice of America, he dressed them down for the sake of appearance but he covered for them as he didn’t really want to have anything to do with his superiors, as long as it was possible. Now, so I was called to the office and the chairman was there and said: ‘You know, comrade, there is a religious group here in the projects, do you happen to know something about it?’ And it rang a bell and I had also been listening to Radio Free Europe and to Voice of America after my military service, so I was already kind of a different man in this sense. ‘I often go that way, comrades, but I go there to visit Mr. and Mrs. Lánský to rehearse with our country dance group.’ I don’t know if he swallowed the hook or what but he just said: ‘Well, I’m relieved then, comrade, just watch out and don’t get led astray, it’s a dangerous group.’ So I said: ‘Yes, of course,’ and I left and at that point I suspected that they would interrogate my friend and her husband, so I went to visit them straight away and told them they might be called for questioning and what the deal was. And they did interrogate them, they wanted to verify my testimony, to see whether I was really going there to visit them and then after that they let me be. In was in that moment that I realized how much the system was keeping an eye on everything and it really opened my eyes.”

  • “I started going to the Adventists in secret and I admired their bravery. I told the man who was initiating me: ‘You never know, I might be on your tail.’ But he said that he trusted me. It was a paradox. We had this meeting every two weeks. The same day I ended work at like three or four p.m. I had to go to a Party meeting and then I secretly went to the apartment where I learned things about God and then from there I used to go see our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lánský. Mrs. Jana Lánská has been my friend since childhood, we’ve known each other since we were about five. She lured me in back then. When I finished my military service and started going to the Adventist Church in 1988, I also started going to a country dance ensemble. They needed guys and I quite enjoyed it and liked to get moving. So the same day I would attend the Communist Party meeting, then take courses at the Adventist Church and then I’d go to Lánský.”

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    ED studio Hradec Králové, 15.08.2019

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I was afraid to say no

Miroslav Blažek, 5 years old, Nová Paka, 1971
Miroslav Blažek, 5 years old, Nová Paka, 1971
photo: Miroslav Blažek

Miroslav Blažek was born July 20, 1966 in Jilemnice but has lived in Nová Paka since early childhood. The family of his father had been persecuted by the Communist regime. Mother’s brother Jiří Nýdrle, a Scout, was sentenced in a show trial in the 1950s and was sent to the Jáchymov uranium mines. Nevertheless, the family has kept Miroslav in blissful ignorance and so Miroslav joined the socialist youth groups. He also acted as a leader of the Socialist Union of Youth at his vocational school and was a member of the Communist Party up until November 1989. Despite being humanities-oriented, he completed a technical field of study and has spent most of his life working in industry. His later attempts at university studies have been unsuccessful for various reasons. After one year of military service, he was transferred to a no weapon unit where soldiers built railways. He also encountered Christian faith there for the first time and started attending secret meetings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church after his return to civilian life. He became a practicing Roman Catholic and is the organizer of Christian Academy events in Nová Paka since 2005. He only learned more about the persecution of his family during the Communist regime after 1989 and got in touch with some of his relatives. He has raised several children in foster care together with his partner.