Jiří Chmel

* 1954  

  • “Došlo k soudu, ten byl myslím 20. října 1978, po uzavření spisu. Obrovské manévry po všech těch komunách, Řepčice, pozavíráno spoustu lidí, přesto jich k tomu soudu plno přijde, veřejnost je vyloučena, protože hrozilo přeplňování síně, obsadí to estébáci, aby se tam nedostali kamarádi, připuštěni byli vždy jen 2 lidé. 
Mým obhájcem byl v té době Josef Danisz, což je sám o sobě neuvěřitelný příběh. U prvního soudu dokonce dostanu společenskou záruku od ROH Geofyzika, jejímž šéfem je signatář Charty Komaško. Opravdu absurdita, kterou si člověk nevymyslí. Ale to ještě není zdaleka všechno. Dojde k soudu a k soudu přijdou ti dva kriminálníci, kteří mají dosvědčit, že jsem v hospodě pouštěl Kryla. To byla ta hlavní část obžaloby.” “To, že jste v té hospodě pouštěl Kryla?” “O to šlo. Oni mě nechtěli zavřít za Chartu, ale že jsem pobuřoval tímto způsobem. Kriminálníci přišli k soudu a řekli, že mě v životě neviděli. Jim se to rozpadme přímo při soudním řízení. Aniž by udělali ty konfrontace. Tak to hodili na tu druhou část obžaloby [hromadné podepisování Charty v jeho domě v Korozlukách]. V té věci vyslechli Klíra, Houdu, Holotovou. Tito tři řekli, že se to u mě odehrálo, jak se to odehrálo. Pak ale odvolali výpověď. A ostatní výpovědi - Skalický, Čuňas - prostě lhali, že se tam nic takového nestalo. Oni se o to začali opírat. Můj advokát tímto případem skončil svou advokacii. Takže jim se to začalo rozpadat, což je skoro nemožné, přestože jim tam posluhoval soudce Matěcha. Jim se to rozsypalo, oni vyslechli svědky, svědci odvolali své výpovědi, které udělali na Stb. A výsledek je, že oni uvěřili tomu, co řekli na StB a ne tomu, co řekli u soudu. Všichni dostali nepodmíněné tresty. Včetně mě, to bylo jasný. Jeden dokonce víc než já: Ouda, písničkář, dostal dva roky za křivé svědectví v mém příběhu, Josef Klír 18 měsíců, Holotová, které bylo osmnáct let, kterou tam Čuňas přitáhl, dostala 14 měsíců nepodmíněně. Ti kriminálnícim kteří měli svědčit, že jsem pouštěl Kryla, dostali každý kolem 2 roků. Advokát Daniš, který to vyprávěl Šabatovi, dostal později rok nepodmíněně za to, že Šabatovi vyprávěl, jaký prase je ten můj soudce. A já jsem dostal 18 měsíců.”

  • “To je mohutná vzpomínka [na podpis Charty], protože kvůli tomu jsem se později dostal do vězení. V Korozlukách se sešlo 20-30 lidí, v mém domě jsme právě v únoru 1977 včetně Skalickýho, Čuňase a všech dalších podepsali Chartu. U nás to bylo asi patnáct lidí a Čuňas to bude jistě vědět přesně. To proběhlo v těch Korozlukách v únoru 1977. Použiju Magorův příměr: bylo to to minimum, co jsem mohl udělat. Za prvé z vděčnosti, že někdo se byl ochoten zastat undergroundu. To bylo nesmírně důležitý. Přestože ten text byl byl - no… Zárukou bylo to, že pod tím bylo podepsáno velké spektrum lidí. Kdyby to byli jen ti reformní komunisti, možná bych to nepodepsal. Ale protože tam byla celá škála dalších lidí, které jsem už v té době znal, bylo to zárukou, že to je to minimum, co člověk musí udělat v tu chvíli.”

  • “We met up there in February 77, or perhaps mid-January - Čuňas [Porky, a nickname for František Stárek - trans.], Skalák, and a number of others - some fifteen people signed Charter 77 in my place, and that’s where the story of my prison time starts. I’d already been to a few interrogations before - they’d taken my exit permit in 77, or perhaps in 76, so the state didn’t want me to have any travel documents, I just had the exit permit, which I used to visit the “friendly” countries - so I made a lot of trips to Poland and Hungary to listen to jazz; and the last time I visited Poland, the group of us - Abbé, Kocour, Karásek, and Skalák - went to Czestochowa to see the Czestochowa festivals. It interested us somehow. They took Karásek straight out of the train, Abbé as well, maybe, and they let the rest of us go, but just two weeks after coming back home I received a letter: Come to so and so with this piece of paper and with your exit permit. And so after that I didn’t have any travel documents, so I was stuck in Czechoslovakia and later just in Bory.”

  • “Back then when I was struggling to get a blue book [official confirmation that the holder is not suitable for military service - trans.], in a moment of desperation, I signed up for ten years in the mines just so I wouldn’t have to do military service - but that’s a very long story for some other time. But at that time, when I went back there, so I worked in the mines, but only until the next draft, when I got a blue book, after which I immediately got myself out of it, out of that ten-year commitment. I’d only done that to avoid the danger of being sent to military service, because I’d received a summons, which I hadn’t actually seen, but at that point I had myself put into the lunatic asylum in Bohnice - well, the way it was back then, in the early seventies, when we all fought to avoid going to the army. Some people managed it with more courage - they had themselves locked up - say, my friend Aleš Březina was one such man; but a whole load of us obtained those blue books somehow in the end, through various tricks almost or actual lunacy. I staged an attempted suicide, and I spent one dismal week in Bohnice, then I quickly signed ten years in the mines and left Prague, that was in the year 74, and when the next draft came, I got a blue book, so I had it pretty easy, because I know a whole lot of my friends from back then who spent several months [in the psychiatric ward - trans.] and were sent to the army anyway. So I was pretty lucky in that matter. It went smoothly, I never needed a psychiatrist either before or after, but my blue book contained five lovely diagnoses, and my problem was solved. [Q: What kind of suicide did you stage?] An attempt to cut my wrists, overseen by two friends, who watched over me, fainting, the poor blokes, and there I was, hacking away at myself like a real loony - I was some 150 metres away from the Petřín Hospital, just to be sure - so they took me to the lunatic asylum, and things worked out like I said there. The nice thing was that the head doctor of [Ward] Seven, which was where the young people were kept who’d come in mainly for such reasons, then at the very first interview with me - because I’d never been to a psychiatrist before - he pulled out the penal codex and read mi the whole paragraph about avoiding compulsory military service, and asked me what I thought about it. And that’s really how it began, that talk with the head doctor Fojtík. Well, and then it depended on what I’d say or not say, and he’d decide whether I’d go to the army or not. Well, so I guess I managed to form my answer in a convincing enough way, or I was so lucky that I found some sympathy with him, I don’t know, I really never worried about it later - so I stayed in Bohnice instead of going to the army, and it worked out fine, from that point of view.”

  • “I got pretty lucky after that, I must say, it was amazing - they must have thought they’d punish me that way - that I spent three months surrounded just by gypsies. But that was the nicest part of my whole stay in custody! They didn’t whine, they were all guilty, that was clear beyond doubt, that they weren’t innocent like all those whites. They even sang songs, it was fun; I learnt their language, the one they spoke, thought unfortunately I’ve forgotten after those thirty years - but I could speak it really well back then. They were simpletons, true, but they were much more pleasant than the white inmates. Their punishment was positive in that it was much easier for me. I learnt their songs, I didn’t have any big conflicts with them - they behave differently in prison than outside - they compete, work, you’d be amazed. So I got a good understanding of the gypsy mentality, at its best. I’m a person who’s very close to what they are. I also organised a number of concerts in Nachtasyl, so I really am very close to them. Of course, it was a bit different back then than now, perhaps, but that’s another matter, we won’t talk about that. But this punishment - I pretended that it really was punishment - was the nicest thing that could have happened to me there.”

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    Praha, 27.01.2015

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    duration: 02:32:41
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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    Vídeň, 23.02.2018

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    duration: 01:44:19
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I would very much wish for Europe to stay social, and not asocial

Jiří Chmel - 70th
Jiří Chmel - 70th
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Chmel was born on 24 May 1954 in Most. He spent his whole childhood and youth in the nearby village of Korozluky. To avoid military service, he pretended to attempt suicide; he was put in the mental asylum in Bohnice and then worked as a mechanic in the surface mines around Most. In February 1977, he and fifteen of his friends from Korozluky signed Charter 77, for which he was sentenced to eighteen months of prison. He served his sentence in Pilsen-Bory. In April 1982 he and his family emigrated to Vienna during Operation “Asanace” (Clean-out). He found a job as a tool maker, and four months later he was awarded Austrian citizenship. He also attended cultural events in the Benedictine monastery in Röhr, Bavaria, which were organised by Abbot Anastáz Opasek together with the lay cultural association Opus. On 1 September 1987 he opened the club Nachtasyl, a meeting place for Czech and Austrian culture, where a number of Czech artists living in emigration performed and displayed their work. In November 1989 Radio Free Europe broadcast live from Nachtasyl, and after the Velvet Revolution the establishment was the first place in Vienna to be visited by the newly elected Czechoslovak president Václav Havel. In 2012 Jiří Chmel received the Gratias Agit award from Karel Schwarzenberg for his work in spreading the good name of the Czech Republic abroad.