Pavol Brunovský

* 1934

  • “I had some cadre scratches yet from my youth. In 1968 the cadre departments were closed and the cadre materials were handed over to personal departments. Then they restored the system, and moved materials back to the cadre departments. I was already at the Mathematical Institute and there worked one lady from Moravia called Weberová. She directed the whole institute and once she came and told me, ‘Doctor, you have there few things that shouldn’t be there, I will throw them away, ok?’ And she completely ditched that whole past of mine. Those troubles with my study. She simply threw them away. I just want to say one thing by pointing this out: the way such events took place, often strongly depended on how people in one’s vicinity worked. Of course, if there was someone very engaged, he/she was monitored very closely. For instance, it was a case of my boss, Štefan Petráš.”

  • “I would say I took it quite heavily. We were facing hard times in our family; my wife was a Czech growing up in Slovakia. We put up with it in a tough way as we had a conflict with our sons, who were unequivocally sure that such situation could not continue, that the Republic had to break up, otherwise it would be dysfunctional. Yet now, I have to admit, they were right. I made up a term of ‘Inevitable nonsense’. A daughter of my friend Juraj Hromkovič studied at a high school in USA and she was supposed to write an essay about the breakup of Czechoslovakia. I told her she could name it as ‘Inevitable Nonsense’. It was inevitable, as it was dysfunctional. However, ‘in the long run’ – as regarding the long-term period – it was a nonsense like every separation, when one middle-sized state was divided to two little ones. And today, the negatives of it become obvious. On the second hand, I admit that it simply wasn’t working. A man could have longed for good times of ‘if’, but such times never came. I see it as inevitable. We have to realize, it was a very short time interval, when this could have happened. If it happened after the Bosnian and Yugoslavian events, it wouldn’t be possible. My negative stand has been also influenced by remembering the people who promoted that. They didn’t want wellbeing for Slovakia, but for themselves. Anyhow, today I think it wouldn’t work otherwise either, what is a shame.”

  • “Several days ahead, we already heard the thunder as the battlefront approached. They were conquering Senica for three or four days. People said that there was a distillery near Senica, where they got really drunk, however, it might not be true. Well, so there was a German Army allied with Hungarians. The Germans parked their car with ammunition in our shed. Our house including the farm buildings was attacked for 9 times, moreover, there were air raids to support the battlefront. The bomb fell directly on their car with the ammunition and the stored hay started to burn. There was a fire and cows startled. There was a crazy chaos everywhere and one of the cows even ran inside our house. It was quite dramatic and that’s when we loaded our things on a wagon and we left from Senica. I don’t know where exactly we went, but we ended up in Skalica. There was a big monastery with a big cellar, where we were allowed to stay and wait until the battlefront passed.”

  • “Basically, I didn’t consider not coming back. My strong conviction was that all cannot leave. My basic setting told me to return. In August 1968 I was at a party at one Czech guy, a Jew, who emigrated yet before the war. As we opened his door, he told us that the Russians took over Czechoslovakia. Then one Romanian and I sat there for the whole time and watched, what was actually going on in our country. I was returning to Czechoslovakia and I belonged to the minority who did so. Majority of people went the opposite direction. Then again, I started to think about it when we were here and the situation worsened, and then also in 1980 when the university law was amended. However, my reflection was that I already knew how to manage it and I believed I can survive it somehow, but what about my children? I kept asking whether I should leave or stay and let them live in this system. Back then, my boys were already in age to be able to discuss such things and when we talked together, they didn’t want to leave as here were their friends.”

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    Bratislava, Slovensko, 06.06.2018

    duration: 01:57:28
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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When I was returning from the USA to Czechoslovakia in 1968, majority of people went the opposite direction. However, my strong conviction was that all cannot leave

Pavel Brunovský_portrait
Pavel Brunovský_portrait

Pavol Brunovský was born in December 1934. In 1945 he and his family witnessed the liberation of Senica by Romanian and Soviet armies. After the communist regime was established, his family members were labelled as ones belonging to the “bourgeois class”. Subsequently, they were economically punished and Pavol’s father, a judge, was dismissed from his work. Pavol applied for the study of math at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Comenius University in Bratislava, from where he graduated in 1958. He employed at the Institute of Technical Cybernetics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, where he also completed his doctoral studies. After the normalization, he transferred to the Mathematical Institute. In 1967 he attended the postdoctoral stay in the USA, where he was also during the invasion od the Warsaw Pact troops to Czechoslovakia. He could have stayed there, but he returned to Czechoslovakia. Later on, he worked at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Comenius University, obtained the degree of Doctor of Sciences (DrSc.) and in 1991 he has been appointed a Professor.