Jan Dvořák

* 1973  

  • "Although we lived in sight of Austria, we could not go there, we did not know what it looked like there. I first crossed the border after November 1989. At that time, the Austrians opened the border. You didn't even have to have a passport, you just drove by, we were welcomed everywhere and waved at. It was enough to wear the Czechoslovak flag on your lapel and you were let in anywhere. It was during Christmas, November, we received basically everything for free in Vienna. Some of their drinks, food, everything. As you had a flag or a tricolor on your lapel, it was worn then, so they were so happy that we get into their world, so they gave you a punch, wine, or a pancake. They celebrated it as emotionally as we did. They were happy that we came back because we lived together for a long time. When I remember, for example, my great-grandmother, she was a seamstress and sewed for the Czechs and Moravians in Znojmo, but also especially for the Austrians. But then there was another situation, then no one asked, so she could go over it, measure it, then go home to sew it and bring them the clothes back again."

  • "We went to Prague to see demonstrations. Of course, it was so exciting for us then - it was not yet completely known how it would end. And then came a disappointment. We returned from the demonstration, returned to school, and there the boys from the secret security, then the state police came for us. And all of us who were there, or all, who confessed to it, because some did not confess or say, did not show it (we were picked up). We reported it straight to everyone. I remember going to my classroom professor and saying, 'But we, Professor, would like to go there.' She says, 'Guys, don't be silly, do not let something happen to you. ‘She wasn't even worried that something was going on there, but that we might be harmed. But she said, well, you want to go, you want to go, I'll count on it, you will be apologized. That seemed to me as fair dealing from that lady. And then there were others who went there as if illegally. But for all of us who showed it openly, they came for us. Three cars came for us, they loaded us in; I must say that I was not completely well, nor the others. We were interrogated all day, from the morning, actually arrived sometime around half past eight and released us at about four. Because the situation was really different in the center to the one at the periphery."

  • "I remember that behind the train line, behind the station, was a border guard booth. There were always two members with sharply charged weapons, with submachine guns, and everyone who passed by was stopped. Well, of course we made fun of it. We cycled there almost every other day. Some already knew us, but when new ones came, they stopped us and drove us to interrogation again. Today, I have to say that sitting with the boys across the street and playing with a sharply loaded submachine gun, well, I probably wouldn't be able to stand it today. It seemed so funny to me then. As I say, I would probably beat my children today if they did something like that. But the time was the same everywhere, all the border areas were affected in this way, and great care was taken to ensure that no one, God forbid, approached the border closer than around five or ten kilometers, that was simply out of the question. In fact, we were almost in the border zone, or just behind Znojmo was the border zone and you couldn't go any further."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 07.10.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 43:17
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

There is little thought about information today

Jan Dvořák was born on February 6, 1973 in Brno, and grew up in Znojmo. His grandparents supported the communist leadership of the country, the great-grandmother was expelled from Znojmo to Brno after the secession of the Sudetenland in 1938, and she understood the Russians as liberators. His mother, on the other hand, protested against the entry of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Jan graduated from the Mathematical Grammar School in Znojmo and was actively involved in activities of the astronomical circle. He liked to provoke the soldiers guarding the border zone with his friends, which started close to Znojmo. In November 1989, he learned about the events in Prague only late, and the very next week he went to Prague with his classmates for demonstrations. When he returned, the state security came for him to school and spent the whole day being questioned. After the revolution, he moved to Prague, where he studied at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University, and did not complete his studies. Shortly after the coup, he also joined the ODS, where he was actively involved in the city council and various commissions. He recalled the partition of Czechoslovakia in 1992, as part of his family lived in Slovakia. He has been working as a teacher of mathematics and physics all his life, today at the Jeseniova Primary School in Prague. He has two sons, he lives in Kladno.