Ing. Ladislav Čáslavský

* 1942

  • "I witnessed when they shot up the White Swan [department store]. I was returning from work at noon because a strike had been called against the Soviets. I crossed the intersection to the White Swan, and Czech police were there. They said, 'Hide.' Sirens were blaring. There was a strike. 'Hide, they'll shoot!' So I drove into the White Swan. Across the street was the Red Law [editorial office] building they had occupied. Soldiers with machine guns were peering through the window, and armored vehicles were downstairs. In front of the White Swan, the blinds were closed. I stood with my back against the blinds, and suddenly a machine gunshot came from somewhere above. And then it was like the Wild West. They started shooting. The ones down on the sidewalk with the armored vehicles were shooting up into those windows. And the ones in those windows were shooting down at them. It was a madhouse. The people running away piled into the White Swan and hung on the bars. The administrator came there, and I asked him: 'Do you have the keys?' 'Yeah.' So he gave me one of the keys, and he went to the other entrance, and we unlocked the bars. As soon as we opened it, all these people piled in. And those smart guys, when they saw that movement of people, they sprayed all the glass show-cases with those machine guns until they were totally [broken]. I was lying behind a plinth, and the glass was falling on my head."

  • "I immediately joined the construction group there, and we worked on the Prague metro. At first, they were designing a so-called sub-surface railway but not a metro. It was a combination of a tram that was to run partly on the surface and partly underground. When it was at some stage of pre-design, the Soviet engineers, the experts, came in and said, ‚Ničego. Budět tol'ko metro.' That meant that everything we had was basically canceled, and we started designing the metro. It meant the stations went much deeper underground. It all had to go underground. And the first station that we designed for the metro was the Central Train Station. The fact that it's still so high today is just a remnant of that original sub-surface track. We couldn't do anything [about it] because they had already started digging."

  • "My parents were not supporters of the [communist] regime. And my father was arrested on 19 March 1949 and sent to a labor camp for two years for re-education without trial." - "Do you know any reasons why the arrest was made?" - "The reasons were that he allegedly did not report when he heard two people talking about escaping across the border. But he wasn't convicted, and no reasons were given, just that he was going to re-education for two years. He was in a labor camp in Jiřetín."

  • "My grandfather was a gamekeeper. And during the war, when you weren't allowed to have guns, he disassembled his German rifles and hid them in the cellar under the coal. And when they started doing searches of these houses - because there were former Czechoslovak officers living around again - my father wrapped the guns in rubber diapers, put Vaseline on it, put it under me in the stroller, and took it up into the woods to a hill above Písek called Amerika, and buried it there. The guns stayed there until the end of the war. After the war, they dug them up, and my cousin was still shooting them."

  • Full recordings
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    Plzeň, 14.06.2022

    duration: 02:06:26
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - PLZ REG ED
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I have been creating pictures of Nepomuk for sixty years as memories

Graduation photo of Ladislav Čáslavský, 1959
Graduation photo of Ladislav Čáslavský, 1959
photo: witness archive

Ladislav Čáslavský was born on 10 April 1942 in Pilsen in the Hamburk district. Until the end of the war, he lived with his grandparents in Nepomuk. His grandfather, František Březák, served in the famous Pilsen regiment of the Thirty-Five, and his grandmother, Magdalena Březáková, worked for 12 years in Vienna as a butler for the Nierenstein family. Ladislav vaguely remembers the liberation of Nepomuk by the American army on 7 May 1945. His father, Ladislav Čáslavský Sr., was arrested on 19 March 1949 without giving any reason and sent to the forced labor camp in Dolní Jiřetín for two years. He graduated from the eleven-year high school of Antonín Zápotocký, later the grammar school in Karlovy Vary. In 1964, he graduated from the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Prague. Before his one-year military service, he married Miloslava Blechová on 12 June 1965, and they later had two children. From 1966-1969, he worked as a structural engineer and designer at the Project Institute of Transport and Engineering Buildings in Prague, where he designed the first-ever metro station. At the time of the August occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops, he distributed illegal newspapers in Prague and witnessed the shooting of the Bílá Labut’ department store. Between 1968 and 1992, he worked at Agroprojekt Karlovy Vary as head of structural engineers, where he refused to join the Communist Party. Until his retirement, he worked with his wife in his own company Zesta. In 2022, he led Atelier-K in Nepomuk for the eleventh year and had a number of significant achievements in the field of art and sports.