PhDr. Jan Foll

* 1951  †︎ 2021

  • "And then I remember on Friday, November 24, a week after the massacre on Národní třída, there was a press conference of the Civic Forum in Laterna magica already full of foreign television crews, the theatre was completely flowing over with people and I was standing there. And there came the report that Jiří Černý read at the time, and Václav Havel was on the podium, and I think Alexander Dubček was there too, and they read the fresh report there, that the entire presidency of the Central Committee, that is, the fifteen men of power, who indeed managed everything here, the then so-called Politburo, or the presidency of the Central Committee, it was the group of uncles who decided on everything so that they laid down their functions at some extraordinary congress they had somewhere in Vokovice. And that everyone put it down. And the whole Laterna began to shout with enthusiasm, people jumping, clapping, whistling, shouting, including me. Well, that's what I was thinking, come on, damn it, this is really about the end when they gave it up!"

  • “The school started, the third year of the academic grammar school, and I know that our then Russian woman, who was so very principled, let's say pro-Russian, kept stuffing Russian into us and she was such a dreaded professor, so after that invasion she also changed. She made a complete one hundred and eighty degrees turn and became sworn like... she just took the invasion as her personal... it just personally touched her and was terribly against it, against the invasion, and even told us publicly and kept emphasizing it. I remember that, it was so interesting. And I can say the name, the professor's name was Rakovičová and she was the dreaded nasty speaking woman, who then changed completely, after the year 1968, after the invasion. Suddenly, she just started cursing at those, and publicly massaged us. I say that because firstly, the shock opened the eyes of many people including my father, whi definitively turned anti-communist way and this gymnasium professor.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 18.02.2020

    duration: 01:38:53
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Czech society is fatally missing Václav Havel

Jan Foll in 1970
Jan Foll in 1970
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jan Foll was born on March 7, 1951 in Pardubice as the older out of two children; his sister was six years younger. Father Dobroslav Foll illustrated children’s books and mother stayed at home with the children. After the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops, his father withdrew from the Communist Party and had to cease drawing illustrations. He then collaborated with architects and drew architectural realizations for them until his death in 1981. Jan Foll graduated from the Academic Grammar School in Štěpánská Street in Prague. He recalls the breeze of freedom in the Prague Spring era and the shock of the Soviet occupation in August 1968. In January 1969, he attended the funeral of Jan Palach. From 1969 to 1974, he studied history and philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University and experienced the era of inspections. He was lucky to still be able to attend lectures by Jan Patočka, for example. From 1974 to 1990 he worked at the Central Film Rental in Prague as a dramaturg of film subtitles. In the 1980s, he met Václav Havel, with whom he later became friends until his death in 2011. He contributed to the samizdat Lidové noviny, read and distributed banned literature. In June 1989 he signed and disseminated the petition named A Few Sentences, in November 1989 he took part in a demonstration in Albertov. He was present at the announcement of the general strike at the Realistic Theater (now the Švandovo Theatre) and at the founding of the Civic Forum in Laterna magica. In the years 1990–1992 he worked as a dramaturg at Czechoslovak Television, after 1992 as an independent publicist and dramaturg. Until 1997, he ran the cultural section of Lidové noviny, contributed to many magazines (eg Xantypa, Respekt, Týden and others). He has written several books and played minor roles in films. He participated in the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary or Febiofest as a publicist. He lived with his wife in Prague and had a daughter, Klára. Jan Foll died on 13 April 2021.