Jiří Fabinger

* 1930  

  • “Around half past two in the night, an awful racket in the street outside. A whole unit charged into the street. They tore through one house at a time. There were so many of them that they took whole houses at a time, so no one could hide somewhere. Back then houses still used to have caretakers - they took those first, and they had to report who lived there. They broke through our door and went to search through the flat. We slept in nightgowns, they stood us up against the wall in those nightgowns, hands up, and they... that wasn’t searching, that was beating. Backs to the wall, and they roared at us to show where we were hiding weapons.”

  • “These Germans were to blame for Hitler, for everything, for us, our children, our deceased. So they were herded into the Botič [a stream in Prague], and they had to clean it up. They stood there in loafers, in what they’d been wearing when they were taken from their flats, in slippers. Dirty water up to the knees. And they cleaned the Botič. The stream flowed [into the Vltava River] at Vyšehrad, it was bridged over, and there was a railing at the end of our street and that was that. Germans stood up the top and pulled all the terrible mess out in big baskets. They suffered blows, keep pulling, no slacking, a whack on the head with a stick. They were bloody. Those who stood down in the Botič were pelted with stones and things. He’d be picking something up, get hit himself, and fall into the water. His shoulder was hurt so he couldn’t move his arm. So that’s what collective vengeance was like.”

  • “The tank that had stood in front of Bílá labuť [The White Swan, a shopping centre near St Wenceslaus Square in Prague - trans.] left, and they re-opened the printing shop for Rudé právo [Red Law, the main Communist daily - trans.]. Our bosses didn’t take part in that of course, they were Party members on a higher level. We were told to come to the editors’ office, that Večerní Praha would resume its normal publication again next day. Of course, these new editions already followed a concept that was... I don’t want to say defeatist, but it was a bit. Everyone said - we can’t win this, we’ll lose this. So the concept was basically a cautious one, and we kept quiet. We didn’t print bloodied flags and bodies lying in the street. There were more news pieces about what workers at ČKD think about it, and so on.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 09.12.2015

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    duration: 01:24:40
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    Praha, 10.02.2016

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    duration: 02:11:03
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We lived and breathed Sokol and nationalism

Fabinger Jiří – 1st half of the 60s, author Stanislav Tereba
Fabinger Jiří – 1st half of the 60s, author Stanislav Tereba
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Fabinger was born on 5 January 1930. His father Josef František Fabinger repaired refrigerating units, and his mother Jiřina Marie, née Slámová, was an assistant clerk and later looked after her son and kept the household. The family lived in Neklanova Street in Prague-Vyšehrad. All three of them were active in the sports organisation of Sokol; his parents were in a theatre troupe, and the witness did sports. He graduated from a grammar school in Vyšehrad in 1950. In his final, eighth year he refused to join the Union of Socialist Youth, and in connection with his Sokol activities and his membership in the National Socialist Youth and the American Institute in Czechoslovakia under the YMCA, this brought about a lifelong ban on university studies. The witness did various manual jobs. In the 1960s he was a sports reporter for the daily newspaper Obrana lidu (The People’s Defence), Czechoslovak Radio, and Večerní Praha (Evening Prague). When the Soviet forces occupied Czechoslovakia on 21 August 1968 and when offices and printing shops were also taken, he and five other colleagues managed to set up a backup printer, and they printed Večerní Praha with news and photographs from what was happening in the streets until the end of the month. He was later fired from his job by a political profiling committee, and he was served a lifelong ban on journalism. He began working as a tennis coach and a tennis court administrator in Prague-Pankrác at what was called Na Slepičárně (now Na Topolce). He published in periodicals and wrote books using pseudonyms. After the Velvet Revolution he co-founded the weekly news magazine Týden (The Week). He became chief editor of the magazines Revue tenis a golf (Tennis and Golf Review) and later Stadion (The Stadium). Currently, he continues to coach and do associative work.