Mgr. Aleš Fetters

* 1933  

  • “A student festival, well, we organized the festival and it was… the students very actively criticized the unified school system and I don’t know what else and now there was also the second movement, the members of the Socialist Youth Union, who were trying appease everything. We gathered somewhere near the Old Town Square. We were to line up in the town square and during the day they changed the route of the march and so on. That was one of my experiences with the police, with the secret policemen, probably the first one. We had such an idea, inspired by the campaigns like The Youth Leads Brno, and so on, and so I glued a beard made from cotton wool to my chin and I put on a kind of suit and the girls were as if leading me on a leash, and I was, well, the old idiot that I was, I was making jokes such as how well off we pensioners were and people were reacting to it and as we were crossing the Letná Bridge, suddenly there were two gentlemen walking toward us. There was a space between some people and suddenly they grabbed me between themselves and they dragged me to other side and they tore off my fake beard and well, they did not hit me, or at least I don’t remember, but they made some threats to me and then they pushed me back into the crowd. I felt disheartened.”

  • “Well, searching for a job. I simply got an offer; well, it cannot really be called an offer. Well, it was a job in the heating plant in Náchod. There were two or three foremen and one of them was my former student. The technical school of machinery organized evening courses as well, and they had attended them. And then there was Vlastík Čejp, I had been his teacher at grammar school, and he worked there as an engineer, there were several people like this. And an order was issued, a Party order, to find a job for Fetters, since we are a humane society and we do not want him to… we just not allow him to work as a teacher, but apart from that… The chairman of the Party organization there was the late Pepa Rotr, he was a good guy and he really did start looking for a job for me. He found out in the community services company in Náchod that there was a job opening in the funeral service. I told him: Joska I would quite like to bury somebody. Well, he went there and they told him that this would not be possible. When he said to them for whom he needed the job, the leaders of the communal services company told him that this would not be possible, that speaking of political personal profile, the funeral service could not employ me. At that time, a new clinic was built, it was nicknamed Kremlin, and a house of political education was constructed as well. Joska came to me, saying that they needed a librarian there. I told him, are you crazy, Joska? Well, you could do the job, could not you? Of course I could work as a librarian. Joska was so naïve that he really did go to the district Party committee, to the comrade in charge, and when he told her about me, she looked at him and she said: Comrade Rotr, just think that you have only told me a good joke. And that was it. Well, the fact is that they were in the know and they were offering me a job of a hotel inspector. I told them, I will absolutely not accept a job like this, anyone can kick me down any time in a position like this. I do not understand these things, but those people, the bosses of hotels were very cunning, and they knew very well how to handle it, and I could get involved in something and I could even be imprisoned as a result, and so I started working in the heating plant. I thought, if my dad could do a blue-collar job all his life, why could I not do a blue-collar job as well?”

  • “The Czech grammar school in Trutnov got closed down in 1938. You know, I admire the professors from that year, especially at the end, in September, or in the first days of October 1938. They had to take care of their families, of course, and many went to Úpice, because it was the nearest place, and they managed to move the school there as well, or at least the basic things, I don’t mean the desks, and so on, but the school’s collections. And they moved them to the school Na Lánech in Úpice and they started teaching there. The school there was built in 1932 or 1933. Classrooms for the grammar school were thus set aside in that school building, but the grammar school was closed down soon after, about a year later. And therefore I really admire the people in 1938 who had to take care of their families, but apart from that, they also took care of the school… For instance, in front of the Czech grammar school in Trutnov there was a bust of Alois Jirásek. They transported the statue to Úpice and then in 1945 they returned it back to its original place in front of the school. I know this because other people told me about it. And the private entrepreneurs, too, people who owned lorries – during the couple of days in October 1938, they were driving the cars back and forth between Trutnov and Úpice in order to move the people and the other institutions, there was a Sokol organization, and so on. They had their centre in the National House in Trutnov; the Czech minority had it there even before WWI, the National House was constructed in 1900 or 1901 precisely for this very prominent Czech minority in Trutnov. And during the few days after the border regions had been gradually taken by Germans, all these people had to… you know, recently somebody told me that they did not have to, they went willingly. I replied, well, yes, the Jews went willingly, too, they were ordered to and they had to go, right, or they could have made obstructions, or hang themselves, or whatever else they could do and not go. What would have happened then? What could a Czech professor do in a German town where nothing Czech could stay anymore. You know. And so on.”

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    Kaštanová 125, Náchod - Babí, 11.08.2017

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Totality always progresses slowly

Photo from the graduating class at the Pedagogical Secondary School
Photo from the graduating class at the Pedagogical Secondary School
photo: archiv pamětníka

Aleš Fetters was born April 4, 1933 in Úpice in a family that revered the heritage of T. G. Masaryk. His father was a worker and a member of the Czech National Socialist Party. Aleš faced problems because of this during the era of the communist totalitarian regime. His mother was a seamstress. Aleš graduated from a pedagogical grammar school in Hradec Králové. After a complicated start of his studies, he eventually completed the Pedagogical College in Prague. He taught at many elementary schools in the Hradec Králové region and he worked at the grammar school in Náchod. At the time of the Prague Spring he was active in trade unions and he faced the consequences thereof during the period of normalization. He was being transferred from one school to another and he eventually spent more than ten years working in the heating plant in Náchod. After the Velvet Revolution he became the principal of Alois Jirásek Grammar School in Náchod. He suffered a heart stroke, and now he is retired and he focuses on literary research.