René Dlouhý

* 1934

  • “He was a strong, tall man. It was in June, and he had his sleeves rolled up, his arms were hairy just like a gorilla has, and he had a broken boxer’s nose. I thought that this would be the end of me. At first he began on a good note with me. I was tied to a chair and he sat behind his desk, his back turned against the window with bars. He was alternately addressing me politely and informally, expecting this to have some effect on me. He ordered: ´Speak about your criminal activity.´ I replied that I have never hurt anyone, never stolen anything from anybody, and that I had no criminal past at all. He became mad, he came to me and grabbed my work overalls, which I still had on from the factory, and he tore some of the hair I had on my chest. That was the only pain I felt. But you don’t even notice it when you are so afraid. He began shouting at me. Then he returned to his desk, sat down, and said: ´You will speak about your activities against the state, then.´”

  • “At that time it was not hatred yet, but one was growing disgusted with the Bolsheviks. What they did was terrible. They were the scum of the society who assumed power, and when they got the power, they made us feel what their rule would be like. They spoke against the First Republic, against the Nazis, but what they themselves did... That was the reason why I began to think this way, and why we began to mobilize ourselves. At first it was just a boyish adventure, after the war we could get hold of many weapons easily, and thus we were armed, too. We had some hand grenades, a couple of guns, a firearm, a carbine... There was a certain Mr. Hoffman, a gunsmith, and when we came to him and said: ´Good morning, we need some 9 mm cartridges.´ – ´Yeah, the nines, for Luger.´ He opened a drawer and told us to choose what we wanted. For just a few pennies we could buy so much ammunition, and we were going to the mountains, and shooting in the forests. The grannies would always say: ´Oh, the boys have their field-day again.´”

  • “They furiously reproached me for what I had written in one of these pamphlets: ´Brothers farmers,´ which was addressed to the villages in the Pelhřimov region, ´don’t join the Unified Agricultural Cooperatives, resist the agricultural policy of the communists and so on.´ It was just a paper of the A5 size, but that was enough. They were even angrier because of my second pamphlet, which we issued after the death of Jan Masaryk; all of us who fought for this cause were affected by his death. I wrote in the pamphlet: ´Fellow citizens, do not forget the legacy of the tortured Eduard Beneš.´ They told me then: ´You don’t even know how to spell his name, his name was Edvard.´ I told them that I didn’t know it. They were also angry because I wrote: ´…and the murdered Jan Masaryk.”

  • “We managed to get hold of a mimeograph machine. It was rather like a stencil for children, we had bought it at the Exhibition Grounds in Prague. This was at the time when it was still possible to buy it, later it was banned. At that time there were no typewriters, or Xeroxes, that would have done the job in a breeze... I gave the pamphlets to Duda and he was to distribute them in Pelhřimov and the surroundings, and he told me that it was so. But he was in fact giving them all to them. They were watching me for one year, while I was still a minor.”

  • “Where did you get the mimeograph machine and the copying machine, and who was with you? My head was rattling as I was thinking what to tell him. The most important thing for him was that he made me confess right away. That was enough for them. They wanted to know other names, they were telling me the names of all my friends, even of those who were not involved in the group, and thus I could see that they were only giving it a try. He said: ´You will tell the truth, because all of you are detained here, and we can tell immediately when you say a lie. That’s why your eyes are covered so that you don’t see them.´ What occupied my mind most, and I can say it in all honesty, was that I have not given them a single name out of these fifteen boys. They were mistaken, they had been following me for one year, but they weren’t able to prove me of doing anything when I was no longer a minor. They didn’t find any firearms, nor the pamphlets, but I admitted to those. ´Where did you put them, and where did you hide the mimeograph machine?´ I replied: ´I burnt the wooden parts, and I threw away the rest. But the other boy actually had the machine at home. There was a pub in the railway station here, and this boy’s father rented this pub, and their flat, where we printed the pamphlets, was on the first floor. By the way, general Klapálek was also born there, his memorial plaque is there on the house.”

  • “They dragged me home and did a house search. It looked like in the films about the Inquisition to me. I didn’t know that they were after the pamphlets. They searched everything. They were taking books from the bookcase, shaking them and throwing them all onto one heap. Just like the Inquisition. Now, my cousin had a piano there. I played the piano. When you open the top of a piano and you see the frame and the strings inside, there is some space. I had always kept a gun in a holster in there. But when they arrested the boys, I covered the traces and I buried the gun in the ground. When they opened it, I thought, oh God…”

  • “She was munching a slice of bread and at the same time she was dealing with us. She was looking at my papers, and there had to be something about my family written there. That was also the time when I was about to finish school and start thinking about some job. She looked into my file and then she said: ´Well, Dlouhý, I can offer you only mines, ironworks, carpentry, brick-laying work and work in a foundry.´ I still have the documents that I kept. That was another blow from the regime aimed against me, a common man, who only had his naked butt, if I should say it colloquially. On top of that, I was from an incomplete family. And they treated one like this.”

  • “My legs started shaking like this, that’s understandable. There was silence, and the worst thing was that you don’t know what is coming. We knew that they tortured people... They fell silent again, and my legs were vibrating: ´Why are you trembling, are you afraid?´ – ´Well, I suppose you will start beating me.´ – ´What do you think, we re-educate people, we don’t destroy people.´ That was nice of them. Then I could see under the towel which was covering my eyes that it was written there: ´We do not destroy people, we re-educate them.´ Re-educating, just like the Germans did...”

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    Nové Město n/M, 01.03.2010

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    duration: 03:27:19
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It was a mimeography machine for children, purchased at the Prague Exhibition Grounds

René Dlouhý in the late 1940s
René Dlouhý in the late 1940s
photo: Archiv pamětníka

René Dlouhý was born February 6, 1934 in Prague-Vršovice. Soon after his birth, René’s parents separated, and he lived in very poor conditions with his mother and stepbrother. During the war his father convinced René’s mother to place the boy into his custody. When he was ten years old, René moved in with his father’s sister in Nové Město nad Metují. After the communist takeover of power, his uncle had to let go of his small grocery shop which he had set up. Due to his family background, René was not allowed to study at secondary school. All these experiences, together with the family’s National Socialist Party background, had a deep impact on the fourteen-year-old boy. Together with other friends who felt the same way, he purchased a mimeograph machine and began printing pamphlets calling people to resist the new political regime. They learned to handle weapons, and they tried to obtain some information about possibly crossing the state border. However, one of his friends informed the authorities, and René was put under the surveillance of the Secret Police. He was arrested in 1952, and sentenced for associating against the state. Due to the mitigating circumstances, (he was a minor, he came from a working class family, and he was not armed), René was given a six-month sentence. The StB however continued to monitor his activities untill 1986. In the 1990s he became a member of the Confederation of Political Prisoners. He considers it his moral duty to publicize communist crimes.