sergeant (today lieutenant) Martin Fejfárek

* 1973  

  • "Whenever one went to a mission or crossed the border - dunno about other colleagues and friends - well, I switched to a sort of another mode, some such different tension. We relied on each other. Sorta... automatically. It was different than here. And I perceived it, how is that even possible, after the horrors that had happened under Nazis during the WWII, how is it possible even now, to tolerate something like this. I just couldn't grasp it, how is it possible that things may go this far. The worst thing was how the civilians were affected, it was most apparent with the children. Those bore the grunt of it. And even those children were raised in hate towards the other nation. Since their birth. Since their childhood."

  • "And as dad was in the [National Security] Corps, he had to join the Communist party. Mom was not a party member. And she was, as they called it then, a housewife. And that was what the court verdict was about. (I have two more siblings.) And when the court would assign the children during the divorce proceedings, then, from that political view, my dad was in the Corps, the court awarded him the full custody of all three of us rather than to our mother."

  • "What was unpleasant... When the Serbians left their homes, there were Croatian units assigned. So-called cleaners. And they were cleansing the villages, the those cities, from the inhabitans who stayed. They, for example, chased them into some building, a barn or some such, they poured gasoline on it from a cistern, set it on fire and left. That was the sort of things that happened regularly there."

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    Brno, 04.12.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 02:01:47
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - JMK REG ED
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When I was born, everyone laughed and I cried. I want to live such a life so that, when I’ll be dying, I’ll be laughing and everyone else will cry.

Martin Fejfárek was born on the 17th of February in 1973 in Brno. His childhood was marked by his parents‘ dramatic divorce. His father was awarded full custody of Martin and his two siblings which was unusual for the time and there were probable political undertones to it. He lived alternately with his grandparents and with his father and his new partner. At the age of 14, he enrolled the Tank and Automobile Military High School in Nitra in Slovakia and he quickly got used to the school environment, far away from home. He recalls how the Velvet Revolution influenced the school life. After graduating, he spent several years at the army base in Boletice where he passed his officer examinations. He participated in two operations in the former Yugoslavia, the United Nations in the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the NATO mission at the Bosanska Krupa base in Bosnia. He assisted with uncovering mass graves, he searched for mines and for war criminals. He survived mortar bombing and a fall of a helicopter. Between 1998 – 2001, he worked at the air base in České Budějovice. After his position was dissolved, he left the army and struggled with finding purpose in civilian life. At the age of forty, he moved back to Brno where he was living in 2019. He participated by his experiences as a mentor in the My First Job project where he helped the disadvantaged with the employment process.