Karel Faber

* 1935

  • “I was supposed be ordained in 1990 when suddenly I got a call from the ministry and they told me that the minister wants to name me managing director of the South Bohemian forests. So I took the phone and called Vlk and told him, ‘look man, they just told me they want to name me and I…’. And he said: ‘Okay, okay. So I won’t ordain you.’ I said: ‘But wait. My family and I risked everything all this time and now you won’t ordain me? I’ll turn it down then.’ But he said I shouldn’t turn it down, that I should take it. He told me that if I had the people’s trust then I shouldn’t say no. And that nothing was over yet and I could always be ordained later. So, I wasn’t ordained. Five of us were supposed to be ordained but it was just four of them. I was there at the ordaining and my eyes were wet.”

  • “We studied and had to keep on the move, from one family to another. We couldn’t go to just one place. So, it was a university on the move, with great scientific minds lecturing us. There were seminars, exams and so on. That’s why we met with experts such as Zvěřina, Mádr and others. We studied, preparing ourselves for the underground church. And, naturally, we met with all the families that were a part of it, even though they didn’t study. But they were there with us. They heard the lectures, exams and everything. They supported us and provided a family background.”

  • “The officer was instructed to secure me and the workers with permits to cross the border. Not even the local workers received permits, but I did. And not only that – whoever was let beyond the wire had to have an escort with a dog. I got it without escort and without dogs. So I thought to myself – either they want to eliminate me and I could run away now and I’d be off their back, or I could cross the border and they’d shoot me.” – “And did you ever intend to emigrate?” – “No. Because in those situations one has to know what he wants. And I knew for sure that I wouldn’t run because I had my responsibilities here, and that they could try to provoke me, but would never succeed…”

  • “After that accident when our friend drowned, we were invited to Bartolomějská and we all got a reprimand from the prosecutor and they told us that our employers and universities would be notified. That was the end for me – I was just about to pass my final exams. I had to expect not finishing the school. But I kept preparing myself for the exams and I didn’t receive anything, so I went to my finals. I did it and when I got out of there, the chairman of the faculty Communist party called me to visit him in his office. So, I went there and he asked me what I had going with the Ministry of Interior. I started gibbering something and he said he didn’t care after all. He told me the papers from the Ministry were at the bottom of his drawer and that’s where they would stay. You could have knocked me down with a feather at that moment. So I thanked him. Suddenly I saw him – a communist, party chairman and he acted the way he did. I was so grateful that he had so much courage.”

  • “He was a medical student. A medical student, who jumped off the boat to save a girl who had capsized. He jumped to get her, but he never rose to the surface. His head probably hit a beam when he jumped in the water, and he didn’t surface. Because the police investigated it, it was a moment when they suddenly figured: ‘Aha, these are the ones we’ve been after. Who are you? This is not allowed - you’re not the Youth union.’” – “And you couldn’t say that he was just a friend of yours?” – “They knew we went to Vyšehrad for rehearsals every Saturday. They knew we drove around doing seasonal work, like haymaking, afforestation, hop planting and so on. We did it so that us Christians, boys and girls, could meet as we didn’t have any other opportunities to do so.”

  • “We lived as Christians; thus, our upbringing was Christian. When I was about seven years old, I started serving as an acolyte. In 1949 we moved from Letná to Dejvice. It was after February when my father was unseated, he was a section chef at the Ministry, working as a surveyor, and his main duties involved measuring dams, for example the Lipno flood area. He saw the borderlands in the state the Germans had left it. Even with the livestock that had been left behind, mooing with hunger and thirst. There were unfinished meals at the table, from when the inhabitants had to leave the house and go to a transport. So, when he walked around and measured with the others and when they saw cows mooing, they poured water to their mangers, so they could drink and so on. So it was nothing cheerful, really. We, that is my mum and her little boys, went everywhere our father did his measurements. We were always together during the holidays.”

  • “We were naturally searching in the environment close to the church. We thus established a choir in order to be able to meet regularly, and apart from singing to live there in the community of other young people. Later this became accompanied by summer volunteer work and other retreats and trips, and during these activities we were getting to know each other and sharing our opinions. We established this choir in Vyšehrad and it was literally an oasis for us. There were boys and girls together in the choir, and many marriages and Christian families later came from this community. Obviously, we were targeted by the Ministry of Interior. What kind of people were we? We were not organized under the Youth Union, and we were stepping out of line. They did not know how to deal with us. Later, during one summer holiday, an incident occurred and it gave them a special reason to focus on us: our friend, a student of medicine, was trying to save a girl who was drowning after she capsized with her boat, and he himself drowned. StB thus now had a reason to interrogate us about what we were doing and why, and those who were not sentenced were summoned to the StB headquarters in Bartolomějská Street. We received the prosecutor’s warning, because we behaved in a way that was not compatible with the Socialist mindset and proper conduct of young people. This warning was sent to our workplaces and faculties and we would suffer the consequences. Many of us were just about to graduate and we waited to see how this would turn out. In my case, I resigned myself to the fact that I would not complete my studies. I was to take the final examination at the faculty of forestry at the Czech Technical University. I decided that I would not take the examination, but they sent me an invitation, and I passed the exams. When it was over, the Communist Party chairman at the faculty asked me to follow him to his office. ‘What is it that you have with the Ministry of Interior?’ I mumbled something, but he said: ‘But I don’t care about it, I only want to tell you that the documents from the Ministry of Interior are lying here on the bottom of my drawer, and this is where they will stay!’”

  • “In the 1970s when I was transferred to the forest district in Krumlov, we moved to České Budějovice and we have been living there ever since. Just as we had been actively involved when we were young, we continued with all this throughout our middle age. We were living our faith without hiding anything, and we were publicly going to church and we continued doing all these activities in public. The State Security StB therefore continued to be interested in us and on various occasions we were being summoned to the State Security Regional headquarters in the so-called Lanovka building.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    V Českých Budějovicích v bytě pamětníka, 14.08.2015

    duration: 38:56
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    České Budějovice, 30.08.2018

    duration: 01:27:05
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

We thought we would not see the fall of the regime. That’s why the underground church was the only option

Karel Faber
Karel Faber
photo: Jana Červenková

Ing. Karel Faber was born on 10 July 1935 in Prague into a Catholic family of forest engineer Karel Faber. In 1937 the family lived in Podkarpatska Rus, in 1939 they were evacuated back to Prague. Karel studied at a grammar school, but for political reasons he did not get to a higher school. He trained as a forest worker, then graduated from the grammar school at night and was admitted to the Czech Technical University, Faculty of Forest Engineering. During his adolescence he joined the Vyšehrad church choir. It was basically a community of Christian youth, which met illegally and in other leisure activities. After a tragic accident in 1961, when a member of their fellowship drowned, Karel came under the State Security radar and a prosecutor’s reprimand put his state studies in jeopardy. After the military service in 1963, he was stationed in southern Bohemia, where he and his wife Helena moved, raised two children, and continued to be open about their faith. In their home they formed a Christian community, devoting themselves to catechesis, theological studies and spiritual practice. Karel studied illegally with Josef Zvěřina, Oto Mádr. He prepared for work in the underground church and for his secret ordination as a deacon. He faced pressure from the State Security. In 1990 he was appointed general director of the South Bohemian State Forests and also completed an eight-year theological education. In 1993 he was ordained a deacon. He worked in the spiritual administration of the parishes in Hluboká nad Vltavou, Pištín and Zliv. In 2018 he lived in České Budějovice.