Miroslav Grégr

* 1929

  • "On December 18, 1969, I was summoned to a meeting by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. At the time, it was chaired by Ing. Jung, who later became the Czechoslovak Minister of the Interior. There we had a verbal altercation so intense we grabbed each other’s lapels. So my end was sealed. I was removed from office by Demeber 31, 1969, given a resignation from Desta, and the tragicomic thing is that the man who made me production deputy and deputy director, whom I pulled out of a subalternative position as a young, capable technician, he was charged with interim management of Desta. Then he went to the district committee and said, 'Comrades, if you recommend me to the position of director, I will do as you tell me.' Somehow he proved how loyal he was, having a sign displayed at the gatehouse: " Grégr is forbidden to enter Desta."

  • "Then, when my father was imprisoned and my mother fought all the way to meet him [Zápotocký] was in the position of Prime Minister. And my mother somehow got to him. I remember her telling me that some secretary told her “Mrs Gregr, you have to watch your mouth, they could lock you up too.” She also said that she had literally scolded Zápotocký for praising Dad, and what he was like now, and that they had imprisoned him. [Zápotocký] did not promise her anything, he listened to her. My father ended up with a relatively shorter sentence, they were released from the Kapucínská prison, where a police car was already parked, loaded straight away and transported to Mírov for retraining. That’s where also General Klapálek ended up. I was then already employed at the Czech Shipworks, I was already expelled from school. My mother went to Kapucínská Street to wait in front of the gate for what would happen there. She said, 'I was surprised when the car arrived.' Because they were transporting them to Mírov in a police van. Dad was saying goodbye to those who ere in prison and he stepped out and nobody was there. He entered into normal life. We do not know, but we think it was only due to the intervention by Zapotocky. We don't know if we should be grateful or not, but Dad didn't go to Mírov.

  • "After fourteen days, suddenly someone was ringing at the door, it was Sunday. I went to open it and in front of me stood an officer in the rank of staff captain with the inscription 'Czechoslovakia' on his shoulder. He was my dad, I recognized him immediately, I threw myself around his neck with a shout: 'My daddy!' Dad was very moved by the meeting, too, because he didn't know if I would accept him after all these years. "

  • "So we came to say goodbye to them [grandparents]. I still remember that and I'm a little ashamed of it. My grandfather, who loved me so much, pushed me to him and said, 'I will never see you again!' I started choking, so I pushed him away. Today it's slowly bringing tears to my eyes because ... I'm saying, I was suffocating and he could have felt bad, that I was pushing him away. "

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 31.05.2021

    duration: 01:53:28
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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    Praha, 23.06.2021

    duration: 01:56:53
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 01.07.2021

    duration: 01:55:59
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We grabbed our lapels and my fate for the rest of the normalization was sealed

As the director of the Děčín Engineering Works
As the director of the Děčín Engineering Works
photo: Okresní archiv Děčín

Miroslav Grégr (Grünhut) was born on December 13, 1929 in Prague. He grew up in Kostelec nad Labem, where his father Emil Grünhut worked as a technical deputy director of a sugar factory. Emil Grünhut was an officer in the Czechoslovak army, a Jew who fled with an illegal Jewish transport during the German occupation. He joined the Czechoslovak foreign army in Palestine and took an active part in the fighting at Tobruk and was then transferred to the Eastern Front. Due to his Jewish origin, the witness had to interrupt his high school studies and was forced to work in a German engineering factory. The witness’s paternal grandparents were deported to Terezín in 1940 and perished in Auschwitz in 1942. After World War II, the family changed its name to Grégr. Emil Grégr was arrested in 1950 on the direct orders of Bedřich Reicin, subsequently investigated and imprisoned after a fabricated trial. The witness was expelled from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Czech Technical University, where he returned after two years to complete the degree in 1954. In 1962 he was appointed director of Děčín Engineering Works (later Desta). After the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia included him on the list of “representatives and exponents of the right.” In December 1969, he was expelled from the Communist Party, dismissed as Desta’s director, and fired. After the onset of normalization, he was imprisoned from August to December 1970. For the rest of the normalization, he was employed by the national company Roads and Railways Construction. In May 1990 he co-founded the Industrial Union and subsequently in June he was appointed Minister of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, initially as a non-partisan and from January 1991 he became a member of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD). On December 21, 1990, he signed a contract with Volkswagen for the privatization of Škoda and was subsequently removed from office on December 31, 1990. After being removed from the post of minister, he returned to northern Bohemia to the position of general director of Děčín Desta, which he led until September 30, 1996. In the 1996 elections he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies and after social democratic victory was named by PM Miloš Zeman as Minister of Industry and Trade. Under his leadership, two units of the Temelín nuclear power plant were completed and put into operation. He is also the holder of the infamous ecological award “Ropák” (“petroleum man”) of the Year, which was awarded to him in 1998 by the Children of the Earth association. In 2010, as a former Minister of Industry and Trade, he was invited to investigate a controversial case involving the privatization of the Most Coal Company. In 2013, President Miloš Zeman awarded him the Medal of Merit. He celebrated his 90th birthday in December 2019 and lived in Klecany at the time of filming (2021).