Ing. Martin Dvořák

* 1956  

  • "I was still in Prague at St. Wenceslas square when Dubček climbed to the balcony of the Melantrich publishing hosue, and there I understood that we would no longer build socialism. It was a terribly special moment. He climbed out and the whole St. Wenceslas square shouted: Dub Dubček, Dubček! ’And Dub Dubček to the Castle!’ And he began to talk about the fact that now we would... return to building socialism with a human face. And I physically felt the square crumble, as [people] suddenly froze that we no longer wanted to see or hear that vulgar word.”

  • "I also remember the wonderful moment when a civilian policeman, who had been with us until then, suddenly appeared in that fleeing crowd, and suddenly he began to act as a policeman. And at that moment he hadn't been able to stop any of the people who were running away. On the contrary, he found himself surrounded by a crowd of protesting protesters. Surely you know it, whether from cowboy movies or from real life, just before the first blow, the opponents are terrified, nothing is happening yet, but the atmosphere is becoming tense. And like with Indra, I saw the cop getting terribly scared, because there were a few dozen of us there. And then the circle was getting closer and closer, getting closer to him, and it seemed that he would be beaten, at best. And some chartist, the organizer, a decent man came and said: 'Please do not do this. I understand you, we would all like to punish him in some way, but don't do it, we are decent people, we will not do this, no violence. And now the alley just opened for him, and he walked out of the circle back to his people, who were still far away, and again I saw a change of his facial expression from, 'It's bad now,' to, 'See, you bastards, you have not even punch me in my face. And one of the protesters ran down the aisle and kicked him in the ass in a crazy way. And I felt, I am embarrassed to confess, a great satisfaction."

  • "My brother and I, we were the only ones who knew it in our family. One day he left saying that he was going to school. And in fact, he announced, it was in the summer of 69, after Palach, he announced he was going on a hunger strike. He simply demanded that the news would stop, that censorship would be lifted, that the Russians would leave, or something like that, I don't remember much. But he simply started a hunger strike. He became quite media-famous for a while, and held this hunger strike for quite some time, was almost in critical condition. And a study strike committee, or faculty committee, met, to discuss what to do with him. Because he was on a hunger strike there, in college somewhere in the hallway. And again, I was a young boy, my brother just told me about it before he went, but I certainly didn't get much sense of it. And there was a big meeting to decide what to do with him, because the next few days were already critical, and that would mean that it was an irreversible process. And my dad allegedly, because I wasn't there, he allegedly made such a defense speech that he didn't care that they, the young revolutionaries, wanted to let him die, but that he would rather have a living fool at home than a dead hero. And that he would have him declared legally incapable if he did not end the hunger strike."

  • "He joined the Uprising in Prague, he was on the barricades. He succeeded, he always downplayed it a lot. I don't know, but he said that he inadvertently just walked into some office of the Germans of the Wehrmacht and they immediately surrendered to him, because they were already scared that everything was already wrong and handed him the keys. They were the keys to the munitions, where the weapons were, including the Panzerfausts, and somehow my dad just called people out of the window: 'Come here, this is full of munitions stuff, come take it!' And again, my dad didn't really want me to talk about it as heroism, however, he received the Medal for Bravery after the war and became a formal participant in the resistance."

  • "I remember one of the evening meetings at the theater, when the news came from Prague that the parliament had just repealed Article 4 of the Constitution on the leading role of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. And at that time there was also a ČKD worker named Vašek Pluhař, such a giant, big guy, an honest worker, really like that. And I remember that he got up, tears flowing like this, and he said, 'This is a victory.' He could not speak."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Hradec Králové, 04.12.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 04:29:43
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - HRK REG ED
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The crowd running away from the policemen stopped and listened to the Modlitba pro Martu song

Martin Dvořák as a Scout boy, 1968
Martin Dvořák as a Scout boy, 1968
photo: archive of the witness

Martin Dvořák was born on November 11, 1956 in Prague, but he spent his childhood and early youth in Pardubice. At the end of the war, his father Vladimír Dvořák joined the Communist Party and took part in the liberation of Prague. In 1968, the witness became a Boy scout and his older brother Bohdan one of the founders of KAN (Club of Committed Non-Party Members) in Pardubice. After the entry of the Warsaw Pact troops, his brother went on a hunger strike and could not finish school afterwards. In 1970, his father was expelled from the Communist Party. At the end of the 1980s, the witness took part in Prague demonstrations against the regime. He took part in the events of the Velvet Revolution and became one of the founding members of the Civic Forum in Hradec Králové. In 1990, he became the first freely elected mayor of Hradec Králové. At the turn of the millennium, he was on a mission in Kosovo and later also in Iraq. He worked as a business counselor at the Washington City Council, the Consul General in New York and, since 2017, as an ambassador in Kuwait.