PhDr. Michal Čakrt

* 1948

  • “I was in my last year of secondary school. You can imagine that we did perceive it with great intensity, we lived by it and we followed the news. I remember that civics was our first class on Thursdays, and Thursday was the day when the ‘Literárky’ Newspaper (Literární noviny) was issued. I attended the school in Betlémská Street in Prague 1 and there was always somebody who was on duty and who would go to the ‘Československý spisovatel’ publishing house and bring a pile of these Literárky Newspapers and the class would then look as follows: We would be all reading the newspapers and then discussing it during the last fifteen minutes of the class. So that’s how we were experiencing it. The ČSP and the Czech Socialist Youth Union at school were abolished. Obviously, we were living by it and devouring everything and we were going to the meetings in Slovanský dům and in the building that used to be called ‘Fučíkarna’ at that time, and all this.”

  • “I was working in a research institute, and at the time when I was doing my military service, a friend of mine got a job there. He was a son of a minister from 1968. He successfully passed the interview but then they fired him within three weeks. As somebody told me, it was after a strong intervention by the StB police. I think it was in 1977 or so. He found some other job and I later became employed in the institute – somebody recommended me to apply for a job there - I think it was in 1983. I hoped that a long time has already passed since they had kicked him out and that matters have calmed down. So I started working there and the exactly same thing happened – I was fired during the trial period upon a fierce intervention by the StB. Somehow it leaked out, and my boss told me about it in such a way that I had to take it as an official notice. He claimed that I had actually violated the conditions of the recruitment process, which in reality I had fulfilled…That they allegedly discovered that…and so on. It is interesting that this boss was the chairman of the entire institute and it was the largest research facility in the country, employing 1400 people, and so he was quite a high rank. But this boss was a very honest man – if somebody wanted to discredit him, I would be the first one to defend him publicly. He himself wanted to keep me there, and so he kept prolonging my job contract every two months. At that time this helped me significantly, because my wife was having a high-risk pregnancy and she was lying in bed all day and the only thing she could do was to shuffle to the toilet. That was the only movement she was able to do, apart from being taken to some check- ups. On top of that, the local kindergarten closed down, and so it became complicated to take our older daughter to another kindergarten far away. It was a hard time. With these limitations, it was very complicated to ask for a job somewhere, because I could not even promise that I would be able to work eight hours a day. And so the boss was prolonging the contract for me while I was searching for a job. The only one who offered me a job at that time was Miloš Zeman, we were quite good friends back then, but the salary was even lower than I had had. And the previous salary was quite bad, anyway. So I was surviving somehow, and there was a gathering of such political bankrupts.”

  • “We were going to open the door for him and a neighbour, perhaps the caretaker, was just leaving the house. He let him in and he hesitated about what to do with the two of them who were following him. He smiled at him and said: ‘You can close the door. They are just cops.’ But the cops ran after him. When my mum was arrested, I ran to him, because we had no telephone at home at that time. But there were two cops sitting in front of the door of his flat, and so I pretended that I made a mistake. Luckily, my friend lived in the same house, and so I went to visit him.”

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    kavárna Eden, 01.09.2014

    duration: 54:09
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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A political bankruptee

PhDr. Michal Čakrt was born in October 1948 in Havlíčkův Brod. His mother Gertruda Sekaninová-Čakrtová (1908-1986) was a communist politician and diplomat who became a Charter 77 signatory and a dissident in the 1970s. In 1948-1957 she worked as the deputy of the minister of foreign affairs. His father was interrogated for involvement in espionage, and he committed suicide when he could not bear the accusations. In 1957 Michal’s mother was transferred to the ministry of education where she then kept working until 1969 when she retired after a political screening. After graduation from secondary school in July 1968 Michal went to the United States of America where he received a scholarship and after a one-year study he returned to Czechoslovakia in summer 1969. In 1969-1976 he studied sociology and political economy at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. In 1976-1977 he did his basic military training. His mother signed the declaration of Charter 77 in January 1977 and she became actively involved in the work of the dissent. Thanks to his mother, Michal was exposed to both the dissent and the underground movement and he anonymously contributed to several samizdat publications with his sociological studies. Michal Čakrt’s professional specialization was the sociology of housing and later he focused on work management. Until 1983 he worked in the Research Institute of Transport Engineering, and from 1983 onward in the Research Institute of Engineering Technology and Economics. After 1989 he established a consulting company, and he still engages in consulting services and management.