Ondřej Halama

* 1956  

  • “I replied to him: ‘In that case, I will not make use of my civil privilege, my civil right to vote, and I will not go to vote.’ I didn’t have a clue what my attitude would cause in the army. One simply cannot go there in civilian clothing, they register that he has not showed up, and if that person held some more important position, well, they would go after him and make his life miserable. If that person was let’s say, an ordinary worker, from whom they had nothing to take anyway, well, they did not take anything from him. Well, and then it all broke loose. They started interrogating me about everything and they began asking me about the military service and shooting and everything. And of course, they made me tell them my views, such as that being in the military was very disagreeable to me, and that I could not imagine that I would shoot at somebody or use a weapon against another human being. ‘What would you do then?’ And so I replied: ‘I don’t know, I would shoot in the air, I would not shoot at people.’ Where all this was leading to was that they needed to corner me into a situation when they would be able to get rid of me after I had already resigned to the fact that I would have to go and do the military service. And in the evening before the election day, a car with barred windows, a prison car, arrived to Kutná Hora, and they took me to the detention prison in Prague-Pankrác. It meant that I was discharged from that battalion or whatever it was in Kutná Hora and the battalion in Kutná Hora then had a 100% participation in the election.”

  • “He was really that type of a good fatherly person at that time, and he explained all this to me and he told me: ‘Look, I am able to - if you as if say that you are able to take the oath - then I will get you out of it. You will get some probationary sentence and they will let you go and then they will make you do military service again or something like that.’ I don’t know precisely. At that time, or now as well, I regarded this as a cowardly attitude and I felt that I had to hold firm to my beliefs and I felt like John Huss as if at the moment that he was going to be burnt at the stake he said: ‘You know what, I take it back.’ Because it was immensely unfair that although they had taken me away from Kutná Hora and my first talk with the prosecutor… the prosecutor is the one who accuses you, the state prosecutor, and his first question was: ‘Please, be so kind to tell me why you don’t want to go vote.’ It was clear that it was done in such a way that they would get rid of me because I didn’t want to vote.”

  • “So I tried to submit my application for study at the faculty of theology. Not that I would primarily want to study it, but the faculty of theology was a school where people said that if somebody applied for study of theology, then that person was lost for the regime anyway, and that person would not become a regime’s supporter anymore. And the faculties of theology were not administered by the ministry of education but they were transferred under the ministry of culture. And in case of a pastor’s son, that ministry of culture could say: ‘His father is lost, and the son is lost, too, so let him go study theology. The churches will perish soon anyway.’ That was the idea they had at that time. And so I passed the entrance examinations, but for I was not admitted for the first time. I don’t know the reason, there were not many applicants, but I was not admitted.”

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    dům pamětníka- Turnov, 11.12.2017

    duration: 41:53
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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“It was Kafkaesque.”

Ondřej Halama
Ondřej Halama
photo: Archiv - Pamět národa

Ondřej Halama was born on April 8th, 1956, in Prague, but he grew up in Mladá Boleslav. His father was an Evangelical pastor and the family was active in the community centered on the teachings of an evangelical pastor, Alfréd Kocáb. Ondřej wished to study at a pedagogical faculty, but he knew that the authorities would not permit him, so he attempted to be admitted to the theological faculty, but he was not admitted there either. In 1976, he had to do his basic military service. While in the army, as a form of protest he refused to vote in the election, and this resulted in his being taken to a detention prison so that he would not spoil his battalion’s reputation. Otakar Motejl was his defense lawyer while Ondřej was in detention. Ondřej was eventually released on parole. After completing his military service, he worked in the Automobile Company and in the 1980s, he was admitted to the study of theology. He subsequently served as a pastor in the Evangelical Church. After 1989, he was able to finish his studies at a pedagogical faculty as well and now, he teaches at a grammar school in Turnov.