“At about 4 a.m. I was woken up by a terrible noise. I ran towards the window to see what was happening. Ostrava Poruba’s main boulevard – the one leading to the old part of Poruba – was full of Polish tanks. The Polish logo was easily recognizable there. I thought, how is this possible, they wake people up so early in the morning to go to Svinov’s railway station? Back then there was some military training all the time. Then I realized that they have their cannons up front, ready for combat. I immediately ran to the telephone and called the regional military HQ. I introduced myself, claimed my ranking and expertise and asked when, where and how was I supposed to report. There was a moment of silence and then the officer said: ‘Comrade, why do you bother me? The Party knows well what it is doing.’ And that was the end of story. I was convinced there would be mobilization – we were invaded.”
“We came to an agreement with Ludvík Vaculík and Jiří Müller on what books we would publish in Brno. I was supposed to take care of the organizational matters. That meant paper, typewriters, and typists. Also ensuring bookbinding because we did not want it to end up a mess. At least a basic binding was necessary. Then we realized that the classical binding in hard cover was the easiest option in our amateurish conditions. So we had it all bound into hard cover. I ensured communication between these people as it was not a good idea for everyone to know everyone else in person. Also, it was necessary to transport it somewhere where someone else would take over, some ten or twenty prints, and distribute it further. By that time I was already working as a driver for the Red Cross and was cheeky enough to make use of my business trips to Prague. In the back I would have two medical kits in case of a traffic accident. I have had a medical training. I would add a third medical kit from which I allegedly had no keys. Inside it I would transport thirty to forty prints, depending on the size. I brought them to Prague where the Roubals took over. Pavel Roubal also served some time; I’m not sure if in detention or prison. They lived on the outskirts of Prague, I handed it over to them and they ensured distribution throughout Prague. These were the journeys in which Vaculík and his team had also participated.”
"When Charter 77 emerged, they told me that my signature had counted for something. I had signed the charter in front of two witnesses and they sealed it into an envelope. I do not remember how it was marked, but my name was not published at all since it had been a semi-illegal task. I was asked to prepare program materials on how to get rid of communism and how the Czechoslovak Republic could function following the fall of communism. I received a special task from Václav Havel whom I already knew at that time and who told me: ‘And, please, have a look on whether the country could function without political parties.’ Because at that time there was only one party here – the Communist Party – and it was the worst, nobody liked it. So we tested whether it would work without the parties. Based on my research I concluded that it wouldn’t be possible.”
One doesn’t become one of the elite by climbing the political ladder, but instead by becoming an expert in their field
Albert Antonín Černý was born on the 4th of February, 1937 in Bratislava. Soon after, him, his dad Augustin, mum Marie and her parents moved to Prague. They used to live on Jeronýmova street in the Žižkov district. Albert’s father had opened a bakery there and provided food to the partisans. In 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo and was sentenced to five years in prison. Albert and his younger brother Petr were thus looked after by their mum Marie and grandpa Antonín. At the end of the war his father managed to escape from a prisoner transport and take part in the Prague Uprising. Albert fell sick with tuberculosis, and at the end of 1945 he left with the other children in the family to live in a rehabilitation clinic in Switzerland. His parents decided to move to the border area where they expected better conditions for business. They settled in Krnov where Augustin ran road transport and a taxi service and became a co-owner of a large bakery and a cake shop. Following the communist putsch, all this property was nationalized and Augustin took up employment in a warehouse. As there were few taxis in Krnov, Albert’s father was later granted an official permission to drive a single taxi car. In 1955 Albert graduated from high school and begun studying acting at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts. After four semesters he was forced to suspend his studies due to his deteriorating health. He then decided to undergo compulsory military service before continuing in his studies. He was drafted to Klimentov and became a member of the military theatre ensemble Palcát. Despite having suspended his studies he had to once again go through the selection process and this time was rejected for political reasons. In the 1960s, he worked as a stage manager and actor in Opava, Český Těšín and in the State Theater in Brno. He co-founded the Club of Committed Non-Party Members. In 1970 during the state vetting he rejected Czechoslovakia’s occupation by the Warsaw Pact armies and was forced to leave Brno’s theater. All until the fall of the communist regime he had trouble finding a job, working as a driver and for five years as a clerk in Brno’s crematorium. He participated in the publication of samizdat literature, also signing Charter 77 and partaking in the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS). In 1979 he was arrested by the secret police and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. Following his release, he continued with his activities in VONS. In 1989, he was a co-founder of the Civic Forum in Zlín, participating in the negotiations with city and regional officials. In 1990 he was co-opted and later elected to the People’s Assembly of the Czechoslovak Parliament, serving as a member of the Defense and Security Committee. He became a member of the Association of Social Democrats and in 1992 unsuccessfully ran for the chairmanship of Social Democrats. Disheartened by the socialists’ policies he left politics and instead held offices at the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.