Vít Chaloupka

* 1960  

  • “Money exchanging was officially banned but I would like to emphasise that compared with today, we had nothing in common with any real criminal activity, it was just innocent. We kept the foreign currency in the country, just exchanged them — the foreigners were happy, we were happy, the country was happy. Compared to today’s shady business we did nothing wrong. Yes, our activities could be looked at askance, but all currency remained within the Czech Republic. Now all the money is gone, stolen and taxpayers must pay for sins of gangsters and villains. Nobody had to pay anything for me, I never stole anything, just exchanged money to foreign tourists at a rate that was better for them. Naturally, we used this to improve our standard of living but we never stole anything from anybody.”

  • “At the hotel I started as a potboy with a broom and, in livery, I had to sweep the place around the entrance, even when the Wenceslas Square was full of people. To sweep in livery was quite a horrible experience, passers-by sometimes laughed at me, but I suffered this through because I had my pockets full of foreign currencies; I just thought, ‘Just laugh, you idiots, you can see the richest sweeper in Prague.’”

  • “I wore only Western clothes — this was brought to me by bus drivers or foreign tourists I was friend with from the Europe hotel. Whether I saw this just for the rest of the society? Would you have thought about it like that yourself? I just did my work and never asked myself questions like these. I had what I got too and if someone else had been in my place, they would have had it, that is for sure. This was how it was and today it is quite the same, even more complex, it is not worth talking about. And justice? I had very nice clothes and was happy that I had something exceptional.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 17.05.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 01:47:57
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 09.12.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 48:38
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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You see the richest street sweeper in Prague

Vít Chaloupka (2016)
Vít Chaloupka (2016)

Vít Chaloupka was born on April 12, 1960, in Benešov. After studies at the Prague-based Academy of Art and Design he took a variety of part-time jobs. From 1983 he was employed in the hotel Europe, Prague, where he worked as a receptionist and exchanged currency for foreigners. After the Velvet Revolution he left the hotel, ran his own business and opened his own fitness centre. He was interested in body building since his youth, in 1990 he won the Czech Championship in the under 165cm category. Later he became a member of the executive committee at the Association of Body Building and Fitness (1999–2001), the spokesman of the Association of Body Building and Fitness (1999–2001) and the coach of the Czech National Fitness Team (1998–2001). He is the author of a number of books on healthy eating. Currently he works as a dietics expert and fitness consultant; in his free time he works with children and organizes summer camps inspired by the culture of Native Americans.