Karel Dolista

* 1921  †︎ 2016

  • “Us who had already graduated from high school were not sent to dig with a pickaxe but to work in offices. I was assigned to a department which stored supplies for the production of submarine pressure gauges. I stayed there for one year and paradoxically, I like to recall those times. I had friends there and we lived together. Later I moved to a private apartment of one old widow. Even though the salary wasn’t great, it was enough to pay for accommodation, food and sometimes, when we got a couple days off, for travels around Germany. We visited Potsdam, Berlin, Halle, Leipzig, Meersburg, Naumburg, Weimar, Erfurt; we saw the houses of Schiller and Goethe. For us who were interested in those things, it had a certain value.“

  • “We were summoned and had to answer some questions. Obviously, we would respond in a way to say something but retain our integrity. Then we all had to visit the dean’s office where they returned us our record books. A colleague who passed me my book said nothing but inserted a sheet of paper containing an assessment written by one communist into my record book. One could see that the students held together.”

  • “As a university student I did an internship at the Institute of History. Once a colleague came to see me and told me: ‘Today, we are going.’ That meant – we would meet at Charles Square and walk towards the Prague Castle. Plenty of us gathered. We walked through Resslova street towards the river, crossed to the other side – and there it got worse. Near the Music Museum the policemen barricaded the street with a garbage truck. We had to walk up the Petřín hill and return to the Castle Square via Pohořelec. By that time the square was full of other students who got there through Nerudova street. Both streams had merged there, we waited, people yelled, sang the hymn, hailed President Beneš. The militiamen then began to hit the first rows with rifle butts. It was dangerous, we had to pull back. We ran to Pohořelec, entered the trams… And that was the end of all democracy.”

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    Praha, 20.06.2015

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Historian by profession and by opposition

Karel Dolista (2015)
Karel Dolista (2015)

Karel Dolista was born on September 9th, 1921 in Kovářov. From 1942 to 1943 he was assigned to forced labor in Magdeburg. After WWII he studied history at the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, at Charles University in Prague. In February 1948, he took part in the student march to the Prague Castle. The protesters goal was to persuade President Edvard Beneš to stand ground against the Communist Party, but they were broken up by the police. After his graduation in 1951, Karel worked in the Institute of History, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and later in a museum in Milevsko. His professional interest was history of the Premonstratensian order and its monasteries. In a politically-motivated raid of catholic clergymen, Karel was picked up and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. At the turn of the 1950s he worked in both blue-collar and white-collar professions before finding a job in the Jewish Museum archive. He was fired following a fabricated accusation and in 1972 moved to Prague. At the end of the 1980s, he once again found a part-time employment in the Institute of History. After the Velvet Revolution he worked as director of a fund administering the property owned by the Catholic Church and participated in the drafting of two laws on property restitution.