Josef Bubeník

* 1934  

  • "Before, I was full of complexes, that I was useless, I didn't know what to do with my life. When a person is not settled at work, he cannot even start a family, because an unhappy person is not able to make a happy family. And I was wondering if I should get married or not, and my dad scared me a little bit by the fact who he was. And I thought, rather than being like my dad, if I inherited it all from him, I wouldn't even get married, because why should I make another woman unhappy. And as I got to know life, I thought, no, no, I want to know love. I want to know love, and most importantly I want to love. And I said to myself... I made such a strong inner determination that I would find a wife and that I would do everything to make her happy."

  • "I had a classmate there, we went to Brno together from a town school, so we also imitated Udarniks and we performed some tasks at 120% and we were very proud that we are also Udarniks. At the beginning I was totally in line with the ideology of the Communist Party, because I came from the village proletariat and the start of the communist regime meant a very clear improvement in living standards for us. The communists gave mainly to large families significant family allowances, and my dad was often ill, especially when he returned from the war, I will return to his adventures there, so when he returned from the war, as I say, he was often ill and those allowances, the state contributions kept us on our feet, above water."

  • ¨"My mother bought bread from the baker Mr. Nohel, who had a bakery in Rousínov and rode around Rousínov with a horse and a buggy, and the housewives were waiting for him at the agreed places and took bread from him, and my mother stopped waiting for Mr. Nohel's bread, stopped taking his bread. And one day he banged on the gate and said, 'Mrs. Bubenikova, don't you like my bread anymore?' And my mother blabbered on, not knowing what to tell him. And he said, you do not have to say anything, I know what it's like. Your husband is in forced labor and you have a bunch of kids here. Here's a loaf of bread, I'll bring you one every day, yet we won't let the little kids go hungry.'

  • “(After the Soviet invasion in August 1968), the committee asked me two questions, and both were so tricky that I knew there was no way for me to get away. Their first question was: Name the person who was the greatest rightist opportunist at your faculty? This meant that I could either play it safe and inform upon somebody, sacrifice them, and save myself. Instead I said how it really had been and I also said that in our department we had often talked about these things in detail, and that we all had the same opinion: we all believed that the situation in our country needed to improve, and this would happen only if honest and erudite people got to become the leaders, and those who had made compromises ought to leave. The second question was: What do you think about the entry of the allied armies to our country? I answered this question in my own way, too – I said that I absolutely disagreed with the entry of the Soviet army. I could see that the committee was giving me ice cold glares. When I finished they told me to go out to the corridor and wait there for a while. I was waiting outside and then Zdeněk Rubáš came out and told me: ´Josef, try to come up with some socialist commitment, I think it might help you and you would still be able to save yourself.´ I was thinking it over for a moment, and then I said: ´Zdeněk, I cannot think of anything, I’m not able to formulate any commitment here. I work to the best of my ability, I think that I’m considered a good teacher, and I have already voiced my opinion and that of our entire Party group here. We have always shared this opinion, and I have nothing more to tell you.´ And that was it.”

  • “I was a member of the committee. I was sitting behind the chairman’s table next to the chairman Jiřina Heřmanová, and I was even asked to preside the meeting that day. So I opened the session, introduced the agenda, and so on. I knew that the main part was still awaiting me, and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Then the key issue on the agenda came up, that is the punishment for the culprits responsible for the so-called political crisis at the faculty. The Party authorities had declared the faculty to be a counter-revolutionary centre, and the Party’s representatives were threatening that if we had not dealt with this properly by ourselves, then they would dissolve the faculty. The voting about whom was to be expelled thus began. The party chairman asked me to count the votes of the people in the auditorium. We walked through the auditorium and we didn’t have to raise our hands, we only counted and announced the result to the chairman. When I came to the chairman’s table and announced how many people were in favour of their expulsion and how many were against, and how many refrained from voting, she asked me: ´And how have you voted, Josef?´ At that moment, cold sweat covered me from head to toe, and I looked at this chairwoman Jiřina. In her eyes I could see a glimpse of hope that she was still offering me. I answered: ´I voted against their expulsion.´ In an instant the light in her eyes turned into an ice cold look and I knew that my days at the faculty were now over.”

  • “Perhaps it was a quixotic act, but I was not able to turn coats, and if I had done so, I think I would have never been able to look at myself in the mirror for the rest of my life. I could not have decided otherwise; this was simply what the voice of my conscience dictated to me.”

  • Full recordings
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    Poděbrady, 26.05.2011

    duration: 02:34:27
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Hradec Králové, 09.07.2020

    duration: 02:34:39
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - HRK REG ED
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I was to be expelled from the Party and I did nothing to save myself

Josef Bubeník.
Josef Bubeník.
photo: archive of PB

Josef Bubeník was born April 24, 1934 in the village of Dubňany in the region of Moravian Slovakia. As a child from a poor family he had certain advantages in the time after the communist takeover of power in February 1948. He had to work very hard to complete his vocational training as a fitter and then at secondary industrial school. Since his early years he has been an avid athlete, and after graduating from the secondary school, he wished to devote his time completely to sport. For this reason, he chose to study at the Institute of Physical Education and Sport. It was at this facility where he was advised to join the Communist Party in 1957. When his classmates offered him membership in the Party, he turned the invitation down at first, but he became convinced after several days with their insistence that people with pristine reputation needed to get into the Party in order to outnumber the rogues who were already there.He worked as a teacher at the Faculty of Physical Education in Ústí nad Labem, and during and after the invasion of the Soviet army on August 21, 1968 .He was, as a Party member, invited to become a member of the Communist Party committee at the faculty. The committee immediately began discussing the issue of what stance the faculty ought to take towards the so-called revivalist period (which later came to be called counter-revolutionary), and who would have to be expelled from the faculty. Bubeník came up with his own amendatory suggestion to the committee’s decision: he proposed to lower all proposed academic penalties by one degree in severity. His proposal was naturally not approved. Because Bubeník openly voiced his disagreement with Soviet army’s invasion in front of the committee and failed to denounce the revivalist movement, he was expelled from the faculty and from the Party. He then taught at a secondary school of economics, and later he worked for the railways. Besides this he tried to work with children as a sports coach, but the regime repeatedly prevented him from this activity. In 1989, his son Jan Bubeník formed a student strike committee at the Faculty of Pediatrics of Charles University and became its chairman. With other student leaders Martin Mejstřík and Šimon Pánek, he became one of the leading figures of the student movement.