František Dušek

* 1955  

  • “Maříž was designated for extinction after 1970. What you call the Iron Curtain was behind Maříž, between Maříž and Leštnice. Closer to Leštnice up to the year 1970. If you would go in a line, Staré Město, Kadolec, no one knew there was a wire fence there. In 1970 they came up with what they called a unified profile, and they moved it closer inland. Pointlessly, it just made people aggravated. It did more harm than help. That was during the normalisation, nothing could be done about it. And at that time they threw Maříž into a net of fences, so that Maříž had fences on both one side and the other.”

  • “In those days the manor house was still standing. Except the back part, where the towers leading to the manor pond, to the alley, those were gone. But there was the bell tower, the ballroom, the kitchen, everything worked. Then they started storing grain there, later saltpetre and all sorts of filth. Then someone came up with the idea that they’d shoot a film about the partisans there. A bunch of tomfools came from Prague, from Barrandov [the largest Czech film studio - transl.], and set it on fire. They made it a Gestapo HQ, the partisans assaulted it and they actually set it on fire. The manor house is completely taken apart, looted, everything was stolen, the parquet floors, the railings, bricks, everything you can think of. There used to be a chapel there with lead glass windows, huge and beautiful, like in a church; they had a tractor parked in the chapel. It was a garage, that’s how it was, no one had any use for it. It was okay after the war, it was a culture house, with offices, and even my parents still used to play theatre there; they held dances there while they had the money for it. It went to the winds. And finally, what’s in Slavonice apart from the historical centre, one third of it is built from the Maříž manor house, from the material, the tiles, everything.”

  • “My dad’s mother died, his father had died long before. And suddenly there was no one in the house with a permanent residency there. And we wanted to repair it. They refused to give us building permission, or the notice you put up when you patch up the facade, or replace a beam in the roof. And that was actually the impulse why we started looking into it - because for someone to forbid me from repairing the house I was born in, well I couldn’t stomach that. They didn’t allow anyone to choose it as their place of residency. Whoever was there, stayed there, and those were mostly old people, and the intention was for them to drop off one by one and for the village to die out.”

  • “We had to be in touch with the other side. That means that our office was responsible for the Austrian border, and we had to know what problems there are on the line, whether there’s a border stone missing somewhere or not. For example, there was one foreign poacher who would come poaching on our land. I don’t know if you know what profile the state border had. There was the forbidden zone, the border zone, then the signal wall, the so-called Iron Curtain, and behind that there was another strip of land. And they misused the fact that few people went behind the fence, and hardly ever. So they had their way with the place, the people on the other side - Germans and Austrians; I don’t mean in general, I mean the poachers. For instance, he’d poach a stag, cut its head off and zoom off home with it. That was the kind of problem we dealt with. Or we found out from our Austrian colleagues that one time they banned lorries from passing through Bratislava, so they had to go round, and there were two members of the Czech police who would escort the lorry drivers through the city, and that saved them a 50-kilometre diversion and some diesel, and they did that for a fee of 50 marks. So we did that kind of thing as well. We maintained order on the borders.”

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    Brno, 04.11.2013

    (audio)
    duration: 01:53:08
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
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The fact that the town of Maříž functions is, for the most part, thanks to my father, and then also thanks to me. After 1970 Maříž was targeted for extinction

František  Dušek
František Dušek
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

František Dušek was born in 1955 in the small border village of Maříž near Slavonice, into the family of a Border Guard. Although his family moved frequently and Frantisek studied and worked in various locations throughout the world, he visited Maříž frequently. After completing primary school in Slavonice, he trained to be a mechanic, fulfilled his military service, and got married. The promise of free housing made him decide to become a professional soldier. He began studying at boarding school, and as he received top grades, he was allowed to continue to university without having to pass an entrance exam. After graduating he was employed at the Office of the Chief Border Commissioner, where he was responsible for solving issues related to safety and security on the state border with Austria. Apart from that he also completed a postgraduate programme for diplomatic protocol in Moscow. Together with his father he succeeded in at least partially saving the village of Maříž, which was located in the border zone and was designated for a “dying out” of its inhabitants.