Jiří Fajmon

* 1964  

  • “When I was twelve, thirteen, a group of us youngsters for together - we were really young, I reckon. We were in eighth year, and so we did all kinds of things, like exploring old attics, but we pretty much constantly listened to the BBC and the Voice of America in the evening - such a pretty jingle, such pretty songs. In fact, I think that even today there’s an ideology in some countries, say, to the east of us, simply that there’s some kind of freedom there, but the ideology is strong, right, so you can say what you like but even so, right, I’d say for instance Borůvka, right, you can’t say that Putin is stupid, for instance. You can here, but not there, it’s still strong there. But you a kind of feeling of freedom. So we were young, and so we wanted to use our freedom of sorts, and the society that had given us just one option, mandated that we should be Pioneers - I must say I wasn’t, I was very naughty, I had twos [bad marks] in behaviour from the first year to the ninth. I had that every year. Except one, which was a miracle. But that really was some kind of divine miracle, because otherwise I always had twos in behaviour, so I kept acting up and thinking up all kinds of nonsense. Not just at school but after school as well. I never skipped school, no, I always went to school, I learnt stuff, but my friends and I, eighth, ninth year, they started leading us somewhere else - that we were preordained for the SYU. That was the Socialist Youth Union. And that was kind of unacceptable to us. Say, we wore our hair long. That wasn’t allowed. We wore a cross round our neck. Or my friend had one of those ‘nukies’ [the nuclear disarmament / peace symbol - trans.]. That was completely forbidden. A member of Public Security [the police - trans.] would rip that off, right, he might not give the youngster a wallop with his baton, but he’d give him a telling to, and the school would get a letter, right.”

  • “So around 17, 18 years old, it was borderline; we were on our way from a wine bar, and although there might have been some alcohol involved, it was around August, and what got us boiling was that it was the anniversary of the occupation [the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia - trans.]. And not one of the hundred thousand inhabitants of the city, no one put out a candle, a flower, nothing. That would have been immediately punished. So actually I had an idea, one of the dumb, young, eighteen-year-old ones, that I wrote on the regional office of the NSC [National Security Corps, the police force - trans.], which is like the regional police authority now, I wrote a kind of ‘derogatory’ inscription: ‘Dubček didn’t call you here, so it’s time for you to disappear.’ Those were quotes from old newspapers, which were official back in 68. Yes, but in those days, in 83, 84 it was seditious. So it was clear that they looked for the perpetrator until they found him. They found him in my person. And so that was actually my introduction to the legal system, the prosecutor, the attorney, aged eighteen, trembling, but I had something in me that for four years already we’d been the kind of tough nuts who wouldn’t crap out just like that. So I didn’t. It was just before military service, so they gave me a suspended sentence. One of them wanted a harsher punishment, the other said: a young boy, a young man, so they wanted to give me a chance. They gave me a suspended sentence, sent me to military service, except you can’t keep it in in the army, either. When you long to do something, the desire will force you to do it.”

  • “At the time I made trips to Poland - I was about seventeen, eighteen years old, and I carried books there; I just smuggled in books by train and then brought back some magazines that were banned here, or books as well, either Škvorecký’s Prezidentův vězeň [The President’s Prisoner], or something by Škutina. Those are books that are freely available today and hardly anyone reads them, but I was active like that, that’s how I helped out.”

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    Liberec, u pamětníka doma a ve škole, 27.03.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 01:33:00
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Freedom is the most precious thing there is

Jiří Fajmon_dobový portrét.JPG (historic)
Jiří Fajmon
photo: dobové foto: archiv pamětníka, současné foto: z projektu Příběhy našich sousedů

Jiří Fajmon was born on 21 April 1964 in Trmice near Ústí nad Labem, where he lived for twenty years. In the 1980s he moved to Liberec and then to the nearby village of Jeřmanice. He worked as an engine driver at Czech Railways and listened to the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the BBC from his early youth; he distributed anti-regime pamphlets and samizdat literature, he secretly smuggled books into Poland and brought illegal magazines back home from Poland, he took part in demonstrations and also organised them. In the 1980s he was repeatedly interrogated and imprisoned for political reasons. In 1988 he signed Charter 77; he was in regular touch with the Chartists. He became a member of the Movement for Civic Freedom in Liberec District. In 2016 he received a memorial decree and Medal of Resistance Against Communism from Defence Minister Martin Stropnický. As of 2017, he lives in Kryštofovo Údolí, where he manages a guest house and serves as a deputy in the village council.