Lev Havlíček

* 1960

  • "From there we went to Sokolov, where we were supposed to play with the Frog with a wallet on the back. We arrived there and the concert was already running. We played our section for about three-quarters of an hour. A band came after us and they only managed two songs. I remember that as the main organizer Tomáš Kábrt ran into the hall to the microphone. He shouted, 'There's a big green dragon here and he's going to eat us all!' And disappeared forward into the bar. There he sat among the pensioners and pretended to talk to them all evening about what the potatoes would be like. He wasn't picked up, but otherwise it was crazy. But it was purely for people to count people, and as far as I know, they didn't even arrest anyone. It sounds pretty absurd today, but we took that as if it was normal. That's part of it, and we all figured it would turn out that way. Which, of course, is not normal at all. But at the time, it seemed to us as if it was one of those parts of life and striving for something when one simply lived in totalitarianism. So one of those elements is that the police will just come. "

  • "But otherwise we didn't go there for those demonstrations. But we joined the demonstration on October 28, 1988. This was, I suspect, only the second such large demonstration. Because the first one was there on the twenty-first of August. I have two such experiences from this demonstration, because our friend Luboš Rychvalský was arrested there. He is originally from Karlovy Vary, but at that time he was already working in Prague. He moved and was associated with the publication of the Jazz Stop samizdat and had contacts in various circles. As you would say at the time, he was involved in these circles. They took him and accused him of assaulting a public official, for which he faced a possible prison sentence of one to two years, if I remember correctly. In prison, of course. I'm convinced that the STBs knew about him. They needed to get him for something, and now they recognized him there, so they ran after him. So Luboš had a trial, we went there with my friends after the first round and we registered with his lawyer as witnesses who were present when they took him, and that it was completely different than the accusation claims. So he managed to do the second round, postponed the trial, and we came to the second stand as witnesses. Even knowing that they could accuse us of having nothing to do there. Because: 'We challenge you to leave ...' and so on. So we were there illegally on Wenceslas Square. I said, 'We have to reckon with that. If they want to, accuse us of it, but there's nothing you can do about it. And we went to the court, they apparently were so sure they would imprison Lubos, that the brought just one witness, and he.... wasn't even involved in the intervention, I think.... he ... he looked like a twenty-year-old boy starting with the police. And that was the main witness in the prosecution. So, with our statements, we actually broke him there completely, which managed to save Luboš. But they still gave him the condition, yes. They couldn't let him go completely clean again. "Nothing happened, we apologize." They wouldn't do that. "

  • "I mainly started, in the year ninety, right away ... On the one hand, I represented the Civil Liberties Movement in the civic commission for examining members of the StB, or the police, when there was some information about them. They also abolished the StB by law. The commission was led by Zdeněk Hybeš - also a figure known from those times - he is called Kominík, and he then dragged me - in quotation marks, of course, I don't mean it that way - to the commission for examining prison guards. I worked there for seven months, when we were actually released from our jobs and we were working for the Ministry of Justice at the time. We did inspections in Vykmanov and Horní Slavkov. It was a very interesting experience, I would not want to repeat it. Because, you know, it's about people's destinies to be decided on the basis of a few things - it's clear that the relationships and revenge between the prison guards has come into play. There was an interesting thing to observe such a thing: in that Ostrov, in that Vykmanov, we worked, I guess, maybe five months, and then we only had two months to go to Horní Slavkov. And there was the difference, because we joined Vykmanov and they were not ready for it. They didn't know what to expect from us and so on. The members of the inspection commission - it was a commission with a larger number of people - and the prison guards were also represented there, who chose their representatives among themselves. But they didn't know who to expect. However, they communicated actively with that Slavkov, so then when we drove to Slavkov, they were already so perfectly prepared for us that I was there, I think, more or less a fool. "

  • “But it was only at the gymnasium that I began to perceive all is not right. I was mainly interested in swimming and music. And I liked the music so much, nowadays you find everything on internet, and we had to gather information from all kinds of sources back then. We heard a single sentence and immediately wrote it down to complete a picture, as we were interested in everything related; and of course everything going beyond music limitations. That was how we actually gathered information about what it looked like elsewhere. And I was studying in 1977, that was the Chart year and in 1976 there was the process with the Plastic People. Although I did not listen to the music back then and when I got to it I got to say it did not appeal to me much. But I was simply not mature enough for it yet. Various articles were published and I began to think about stuff more and more than in youth. So I was realising it was not quite all right to judge musicians for playing a certain kind of music. Those were the pieces of the puzzle, information that I believe began to influence and form my thinking about things and context. And then I went to the high college in 1979 till 1984 in Pilsen, where I chose to meet certain people to get various interesting materials to read. There my attitude was getting more distinct, as I did not want to like in the regime but at the same time I wished to live in this country. As it was simply my home, where I got born and just for the people, who were in the government back then I did not want to ran away and live elsewhere.“

  • “This was preceded by the fact that various protests started to take place in Prague just before 1989. Now I'm not sure if the first one was in August 1988, as it was the twentieth anniversary of occupation by the Soviet Union and other armies. And because we were also in contact with a lot of people in Prague at that time, so we knew about the events, we got to attend some, and other time it just did not work out. But there was a start and it began to reach Karlovy Vary too. Although there was just handful of us, but there were attempts to gather round, mostly in August and October, the establishment of an independent republic anniversary, which, of course, as the communists reasoned, was celebrated in a completely different manner and it had a completely different character, we still remembered this date. And in November we knew that something was happening in Prague. We were paradoxically in Horní Blatná at the brigade, you probably read in the book, and there we heard it on the radio. I do not know if it was the Voice of America or the Free Europe. But we perceived this, because we had experience with a demonstration in Prague, the people got a beating there, and we did not conclude that it could bring any changes. And so we arrived in Vary with the fact that there was a lot happening in Prague and we will see what happens next, and then it all went on very rapidly, all those events."

  • "I know only where our group learned from, as we were about to plant trees. It was an event of Jindra Konečný, who invented this really great event because it was such a three-in-one. First, there was an ecological point of view because we planted trees. Then we could also make money there, and some of it, after paying for the food and accommodation, we sent to the families of political prisoners, even if it was not much. And the third aspect of this event was that always there were people from Prague who came to Blatná, it was basically a ´meeting´ in its own way, but the expression for me has negative connotations for me still from the times of communism. When it was a meeting, it was rather crazy. But it was a meeting with the people who informed about what was going on in Prague, what was happening in those independent structures, and about the recent development. So it also served as a meeting place and information exchange."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Střední pedagogická škola Karlovy Vary, 04.04.2017

    duration: 01:03:59
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 2

    Rehau, 14.09.2019

    duration: 01:46:12
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Just to be clear, I do not consider myself a dissident

School photo of Lev Havlíček
School photo of Lev Havlíček

Lev Havlíček was born in 1960 in Karlovy Vary, where he has also been living almost all his life with only a short break. During his studies at the gymnasium music was his big hobby, through which he gradually started to get interested in contemporary activities in the Czechoslovakia. At the high school in Pilsen he used to meet a lot of people, who gave him various texts to read and when he came back to Karlovy Vary, he got engaged in organisation of protest events and demonstrations. In November 1989 he was at the tree planting brigade in Horní Blatná, where he learnt there was something going on in Prague. After returning home he started organising a demonstration with his mates immediately; first there were only around twenty people, but gradually people were joining in and events speeded up. Following the revolution he worked at the ministry of justice for seven months and then he moved to the field of culture.