PhDr., CSc. Jiří Březina

* 1933

  • “The Party chairman Mr. Mrňa asked me: ‘Comrade, we shall not waste time and we will speak directly. What did you do at the American embassy?’ I replied: ‘I wanted to make my work better and I wanted to get books which I cannot request from you to have them at my disposal, and if I did, I would have to share them with somebody, and I wanted a specific book which I wanted to have just for myself. It is a working tool.’ He said: ‘So, comrade, you think that Czechoslovak geology is based on American geology?’ I took a breath and I said: ‘Comrade Mrňa, if you are not based on American geology, then you are based on shit.’ I am still convinced of that. Because you cannot do anything without American literature. You simply cannot replace it with Soviet literature in your scientific work, which is what they expected me to do.”

  • “I was known as a person who was always doing something else. As a result, I never got any parts from the West for instruments which I was designing. I always had to make them by myself. Only toward the end, before 1968, I received one part from America, a micronanometer, which I needed. But that was already the end.”

  • “On St. Nicholas Day, on 5th December, St. Nicholas rang the doorbell as usual, and I went to open the door for him, and there was St. Nicholas, but in civilian clothing; it was my dad who normally played the role of St. Nicholas every year, but this time he did not play anything, and he was all covered in blood and he had his teeth in his pocket. I will never forget it: as he was sheepishly pulling the teeth out of his pocket in order to show me what happened. What happened was that he had been interrogated by the Gestapo. One of his acquaintances informed upon him and stated that dad had been helping Jews. In his position, this was a punishable offence. The punishment for this was being shot to death.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 14.08.2016

    duration: 02:13:56
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha 10, 30.11.2018

    duration: 01:38:02
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Fascism and communism are the same dictatorships, they only differ in their colour

Jiří Březina, 1983
Jiří Březina, 1983
photo: Jiří Březina

Jiří Březina was born April 6, 1933 in Prague. His father was the director of the municipal council of Prague - Královské Vinohrady, and his mother worked as translator. Jiří’s father was persecuted during WWII for obtaining food ration stamps and altering documents for Jewish citizens and he even faced the risk of being executed. The head of the psychiatric hospital in Prague, professor Zdeněk Mysliveček, helped him when he provided a hiding place for Jiří’ father as if for a mentally ill patient at the clinic in Prague and later in Německý (Havlíčkův) Brod. Jiří and his mother followed him there and together they returned to Prague in January 1945. Already since he was a young boy, Jiří had a deep interest in natural sciences - botany, chemistry, geology and astronomy. After graduating from grammar school he was not admitted to his desired field of study - chemistry - at the Faculty of Science at Charles University due to his bourgeois origin, and therefore he applied for the study of geology, which was a course with a lesser number of applicants, and he was accepted. In 1955 he became employed in the Central Geological Survey in Prague where he worked until 1968. After the Soviet invasion in August 1968 he emigrated to Austria and then to Germany. While in Germany, he also became a professor of geology at the University of Maryland Europe. He developed several scientific instruments, such as a sand sedimentation analyzer. Jiří is the author of many inventions in the field of sedimentology. He also teaches the course of planetology for geologists at the Faculty of Science at Charles University.