Vladimír Hajný

* 1939  

  • “They brought a great number of dead soldiers to our backyard. They were lying on wagons. I remember them lying in chopped straw, and blood flowing from them. As the blood was trickling from them, the chopped straw was getting stuck to their faces. I watched this as a child. Later I learnt that the Bandera’s soldiers had cut stars into their faces. It was at the time when the Soviet Army was taking the area and the NKVD members began with purges. Bandera’s soldiers attacked them. Among others, there was the well-known Soviet general, Vatunin (Nikolaj Fjodorovič Vatutin), a hero from Kursk. He was in the area where we lived. The Ukrainians captured him and shot him. I remember this was a terrible moment. There were several wagons, some seven or eight Russian soldiers, who had been attacked by this patrol and killed like that. This was done in order to scare the Soviet commissaries who were also raiding the area. They didn’t waste time with long interrogations. If somebody was suspicious, he was sent to Siberia or something even worse happened to him.”

  • “I’m no philosophical type, who’d think deeply about things. I can’t think of anything profound-like, just, take me as an example. That is, not how I was a Communist, but how one can be mistaken in life, when he’s convinced, he believes in something amazing, and it turns out to be a nasty fairy tale.”

  • “Biľak, Jakeš, Indra, and monsters like them. Literally. When I was interrogated by the StB I said that it would end badly for them. I already dared to say this, after they had imprisoned me because of Zajíc. I was detained many times; here in Šumperk at the railway station when I arrived here. Whenever some event was expected, they would arrest me and keep me locked up over the night. They would often give me a hard time when I was in detention. Especially one time in Olomouc because of Zajíc. The interrogator didn’t attack me physically. I still don’t know who he was. I made a complaint about him to the prosecution office in Ostrava, because he mentioned that he was from Ostrava. He told me: ´I noticed that there is no Charter 77 in Ostrava. We have done away with it. We don’t treat them with kid gloves like they do in Prague. And this can happen to you, too. Just try to go to Zajíc and do something there.´ This was a big event, and even the army came in for it. My sister called me: ´Some woman from ROH (national labour union) called me to tell you not to go anywhere. She told me the army was there and they were preparing a massive attack against those who would go to the school to commemorate the death of Jan Zajíc.´ They kept me there till the morning, trying to prevent me from going to Vítkov. But I went to that school the day after as if nothing happened. Then I reported it to Radio Free Europe. As a stock keeper in the Konstruktiva company, I had access to a telephone. I read this article to Mrs. Ceřovská from Free Europe. It was about the 21st anniversary of our country’s occupation by the armies of five states and about the taking down of Stalin’s monument in Šumperk.”

  • “The way I experienced the razing of Český Malín was that we didn’t find out about it until a week or so later... We were even supposed to go for a visit there on Sunday, or something like that, my mum told me. So we might have stayed there overnight and been caught up in that. The whole of Volhynia was terrified - a village that had fulfilled all the quotas perfectly, was suddenly obliterated including all of its 134 children. That was a hard blow to everyone. Mum told me at the time, she reminded me of it later on, I was four years old: ‘If you see soldiers surrounding us, Vládík, you have to run and hide among the potatoes, don’t look for Mummy, don’t wait for Mummy anywhere, because you have to do it.’ And supposedly I said: ‘Come on let’s run!’”

  • “We got to about Laterna Magica, where we were met by cops with dogs, and they didn’t us continue. We wanted to get to Wenceslaus Square. I was pretty much at the front. We saw them surrounding us, dogs first, they closed off one direction, pushed us in the other. A bit like what they did the following year with the big, what was called a massacre. So we wondered how to skedaddle. Martinská Street leads off there, I didn’t even know it existed, so we legged it that way with Pavlíček [Charter 77 signer Jaroslav Pavlíček - ed.], except the cops had it closed off there as well, they didn’t allow the gathering to dissolve - that was how the Bolsheviks dealt with this type of gathering. If they could, they tried to catch the core, the last ones to stay there. Well, and they got us too, of course. We crossed over from the direction of Bartholomew Street, and I headed towards Máj [May], the shopping centre. And suddenly this crazy stetsec [State Security officer] rushes up at me, I know now that it was JUDr. [Doctor of Law] Major Zdeněk Šípek, born 1949, who was deputy chief of Prague State Security for combating the inner enemy. A person like that, with a rank like that, and he didn’t feel it beneath him to run around Prague beating up protesters and settling accounts with them manually.”

  • “There were only six issues, I was giving them to my family, to my mother. In the company where I worked I had only one man, who was taking two copies, and sometimes he didn’t even take them. He was a fairly regular subscriber. As I was traveling the country a lot, attending various events, I was changing trains often. I always tried to be the last one to leave the train compartment and leave a copy there. I distributed most of the copies this way. At the beginning it was only one page, then two, later three. It had no more than three pages.” Interviewer: “And what about the content?” V. H.: “Free Europe. London, naturally. BBC, Voice of America, Washington, and so on.”

  • “I remember the people from Brjansk. It was in 1947 after the war, in winter. They were riding on their wagons and heading to wealthier regions. They were coming from the depopulated Soviet Union to Brjansk. There were cities of Brjansk, Orel and Kursk. All these cities there were totally without provisions and they were therefore going west. They were also going to the Ukraine, because there were farmers there. I remember them, walking with bags on their backs. They were knocking on doors and begging: ´A piece of bread. Please, give us a piece of bread.´ My Mom would always give them something. There were crowds of them. It was in 1947. And when they came here, our Communist Party was celebrating and making proclamations like: ´Every third bread roll which you, the citizens of Czechoslovakia, eat, comes from the Soviet Union. Give them thanks.´ My Mom would say: ´If our Czech people knew about the suffering which caused the great hunger in Russia so that you might be able to eat this third bread roll, you wouldn’t even put it into your mouth.´ And she was right.”

  • “One day our parents were not at home, and I was playing with my sister on the bed. Only grandpa and grandma were there when we were playing. We were jumping over each other on the bed. Grandpa was lying on the bed with us, and beside him, there was one Russian citizen, who had run away from a Nazi concentration camp. He was a teacher. His name was Michael Suchobokov. He said: ´Děduška, já vám jišco opravlju sapogi.´ Offering to mend my Grandpa's shoes before he left. He wanted to escape, to move on. And as we were playing, a terrible shot was heard. One cannot forget such thing. I still remember it. This shot went right into his head. Michael Suchobokov was sitting by the shoemaker’s bench and he got a direct hit in his head. The shooter had removed the glass in the window. That person was a Bandera soldier, a Ukrainian, most probably, and he had been ordered to kill this officer. This Michael Suchobokov was allegedly an officer in the Orel organization. They found out about him; he was training them. He didn’t want to do this anymore and he was preparing to leave the area and move on somewhere else. Although he was not too keen on returning to Stalin, because all knew what Stalin did to those who had been captured. We, the kids, were sitting there and playing. As soon as the shot was fired, grandma shouted: ´Christ Jesus, they killed Miška.´ The voice told her: ´Shut up, old hag! Or I will kill you too.´”

  • “When I was working in Jungmannova Street, I was subscribing to many magazines. One day I got hold of Kansan Uutiset. That’s a newspaper of the Communist Party of Finland, and there was a large photo of Reagan on the front page. I cut it out. All over Czechoslovakia, people had portraits of Husák in their offices. I was the only one to have Reagan there. I don’t know how long his portrait hung there, but it was certainly for several years. The picture then turned yellowish from the sun. Konstruktiva is a huge company. Workers were passing under this picture of Reagan. Many people kept coming to me all the time.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Šumperk, 24.03.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 05:37:03
    media recorded in project Portraits of Prague citizens
  • 2

    Šumperk, 15.07.2015

    (audio)
    duration: 02:14:35
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“One had no idea what democracy or freedom was.”

Vladimír Hajný -1956
Vladimír Hajný -1956
photo: archiv pamětníka

Ing. Vladimír Hajný was born in 1939 in České Dorohostaje in Volhynia. In 1947, he re-emigrated to Czechoslovakia with his mother and sister. His father, a war veteran, was given a farm in Šumperk. Vladimír completed studies at the University of Agriculture in Prague. He was strongly influenced by the leftist views of his father and in 1964, he became a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He, however, lost his ideals in 1968 and left the Party after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies. In 1973, he began publishing a samizdat magazine titled Res Publica. He was interrogated by the STB due to his contact with his friend Čestmír Vaško, who had emigrated to West Germany. In 1984, he signed Charter 77 and after the initiation of Perestroika in the USSR, he became actively involved in the activities of the dissidents. He took part in several demonstrations aimed against the communist regime. In August 1988, he was brutally beaten by an STB major, JUDr. Zdeněk Šípek, during a demonstration on Národní Street. In 1994, Vladimír was the chief witness in the court trial against Zdeněk Šípek, who was sentenced to 14 months of imprisonment for the abuse of authority by an official person. At present, Mr. Hajný is retired and lives in Šumperk.