Marcel Hájek

* 1965

  • “I appointed myself head of the strike committee, by self-appointment. I stood up in front of the students and said we were establishing a strike committee and that I was its chief. No one debated it. But they already knew me quite well, and Zindr too. Together we established the strike committee, we took over the keys of the faculty [the FMCU in Pilsen - ed.]. At the time it was made possible by the dean, who was extremely polite and said that we had the right to decide our own future and that it was up to us. So the occupation strike began at the Faculty of Medicine, and then other schools joined in - technology, back then the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and finally the Faculty of Education, because that was strongly Bolshevik, deep red. Its dean, Brychta, was a proper crook, he wanted heads to start rolling, to expel students right as it was happening. We were glad that we experienced the revolution here, that we were part of it, that we weren’t somewhere abroad or coming from outside. Suddenly it was great. We travelled to Prague overnight. Say three times a night we were in Prague at the main strike committee and then back again. We took materials, printed [leaflets - ed.]. We got typewriters from all of the departments, everyone sat in one lecture room in Pavlov Institute and everyone copied out documents there. Down in the lobby people painted posters and plastered them all over Pilsen. The atmosphere was incredible. We felt joyful as we carried things along all the way to the general strike on 27 November [1989].”

  • “I didn’t copy anything out, I never was good at typewriting. But I tried to distribute samizdat literature. When someone wrote it out, I tried to get to where it needed to be. One time I distributed materials for the Jazz Section like that. A certain person, whom I knew and who knew me, brought me a stack of material from Prague, and I distributed it around Pilsen. You couldn’t send it by post. People knew me by then, they knew I was bringing them [literature - ed.]. It wasn’t just Jazz Section stuff, there were Infochs - Information on the Charter, or Vokno and Voknoviny by Franta ‘Porky’ Stárek. Then some events by the Jazz Section and the Jazz Section news. Everything was distributed like that. There were always people who distributed it, you gave them a stack, and they took it to other people.”

  • “We wrote a petition to Rudé právo to have Charter 77 published, and we gave it to students to sign it. [Vladimír Zindr - ed.] and I were the first to sign it, and then another seventy-two or so students signed it. When I was later called for questioning, I gave all of the documents to my friend Petr Götz in Slovany, whom [State Security - ed.] didn’t know about, so they wouldn’t search for them there. I didn’t keep them at home or even with my mum. I left everything with him - even the signed petition lists. Of course, we knew that Rudé právo wouldn’t publish the text of Charter 77, it was an act of provocation. And they found out. [At the interrogation - ed.] there was a stetsec [State Security officer - trans.], then the secretary of the Regional Committee of the CPC, Burian, and then the ideological secretary of the Municipal Committee of the CPC, [Jaroslav] Borka, [who is now a city deputy in Karlovy Vary - ed.]. These people wanted me and Zindr to show them the petition lists. We said: ‘No, we’ll only show you the text with our own signatures.’ The only names there were Hájek and Zindr. ‘Don’t even think we’d show you [the lists with all the signatures], when you’re making such an affair of it. All we wrote was that we’d like the full text of Charter 77 to be published. Seeing that so many things are being said against it, people should know what’s written in it, so they know what to oppose. Because everyone is damning it, but they don’t know the text. So the text of the Charter should be published, perhaps with some commentary. Gorbachev is in power now, there’s glasnost, perestroika, other documents have been made public, so let them publish the Charter, too. You have [the petition] here with our two signatures. Take it as if the two of signed it.’ And they said: ‘But where are the other [signatures]? We can also have your house searched!’ To which Zindr and I replied: ‘We burnt the papers with the students’ signatures.’ So they couldn’t search for them, wouldn’t know where they were. We said: ‘We’re not going to let anyone else get implicated in this.’”

  • “There was a concert of several bands in Služetín. Služetín is in Tachov District; it was a farm belonging to the dissident [Daniel] Mráz. [The event - ed.] took place in his barn. We have photos of it. We arrived there. We had a friend who had an old, rounded bus, which was used to transport the bands’ speakers. So we pitted in [for the travel costs - ed.], and he took about fifteen of us there and then back again. That’s how people gathered there. Several different bands performed there - Ženy, Suřík, Křížalovský fošna. The bands finished up, we left, and about half an hour later the cops trawled the place. We escaped that, we left in time. But the NSC [National Security Corps, the police - trans.] came in the dark and nabbed the people who stayed there.”

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    Plzeň, 14.03.2017

    duration: 02:17:07
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“I was lost for those brave new tomorrows.”

Old portrait
Old portrait
photo: archiv pamětníka

Marcel Hájek was born in 1965 in Pilsen. He was raised by his mother, who worked as a civil servant. He attended Third Grammar School in Pilsen and the Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Pilsen (FMCU). As a student, he was active in dissident circles in Pilsen, he attended underground-culture concerts, house seminars, and took part in the distribution of samizdat literature, especially the materials of the Jazz Section. In 1988, he and his friend, Vladimír Zindr, wrote a petition to Rudé právo (Red Law, the main Communist Party newspaper - trans.), in which they asked for the publication of the full text of Charter 77. The petition was signed by about seventy-two students of medicine. This was followed by disciplinary action, and the organizers were threatened with expulsion from the faculty. The witness was also questioned by State Security. In November 1989, he headed the FMCU Strike Committee and later the Coordinative Strike Committee. He was active in the Civic Forum. In February 1990, he was co-opted as a deputy of the Czech National Council, but he only held his office until the elections in June 1990. In 1991, he co-founded the Pilsen branch of the Civic Democratic Party (CDP). He was elected as a deputy to the Pilsen city council for the CDP and became a councilor of the city of Pilsen. He held this position until 1998. After completing his studies, he worked at the Institute of Anatomy of FMCU. In 1993-1998, he worked as a surgeon at the University Hospital in Pilsen. He and his family then moved to Botswana, where he was the head doctor for chest and abdominal surgery at Princess Marina Hospital in the capital of Gaborone until 2002. After returning from Africa, he joined the Czech Army, and in 2002-2011, he participated in five foreign missions - two in Iraq, two in Afghanistan, and one in Pakistan. He served as a chief surgeon in NATO field hospitals and head doctor in the field hospitals of the Czech Army. He gained the rank of major. The witness also takes an interest in religious studies, as he is a practicing Jew and a member of the Jewish Community in Pilsen. Besides Judaism, he also studied Islam and Christianity. He graduated in Evangelical theology from the Evangelical Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague. At the present time, he works for the Emergency Medical Services of Pilsen Region and lectures at the Faculty of Medical Studies of the West Bohemian University in Pilsen. He has published a number of expert medical studies and books.