Josef Havránek

* 1937

  • "We finally got an impression that the guard didn't seem to insist on it or wasn't that strict. So my mother thought she'd bring him [my father] cigarettes. When the moment came, she was pushing them over the top of the partition for him, pushing the cigarettes with her hand. And he was supposed to take them. But my father was so upset, even before that he was talking in an uncertain voice, broken sentences, and as he was so upset, he just... And his hand was trembling so much that he couldn't grab the pack of cigarettes. And when he managed, it was such a festive moment for us, because there was such an awareness at that moment that the family had come together. By means of one pack of cigarettes."

  • "Well, what happened on the twenty-sixth was that suddenly a meeting of the pupils was called. – I need to have a rest. - So at the pupils' assembly there was a worker, some communist worker at the vocational school, or whoever it was, spoke out. He said that our pupil here, Josef Havránek, is the son of an enemy of the state, and that's why we're expelling him from the vocational school. Well, that was a shock to me. I was a small boy, 16 years old, and I was as big as I am now, 160 centimetres, not a strong guy. I got already so stressed that tears started running. Well, it was terrible. I was completely broken down. Well, when it was all over, those tears - they weren't child´s tears, they were tears of the injustice that I felt as a boy."

  • "But he still didn't want to join, he thought that he could get away with it, that it was impossible. But they brainwashed him in such a kind-hearted way until three o'clock in the morning, and he told them at three o'clock in the morning: 'I won't enter anyway!' But they told him, 'Mr. Havránek, we'll give you time until nine o'clock, think it over properly.' And Dad was unhappy about that because the consequences would be terrible. It wasn't like he could keep farming, he wouldn´t be able to farm at all. Well, in the morning he got up and went and signed. So it was just a voluntarily forced signature to join the cooperative farm (JZD)."

  • "My mother got a letter from that machine tractor station which, as I mentioned, had been set up on our farm. They were not asking, but, 'We urge you to sell us your half of property number 4 because it is still in your possession.' And we all kept saying that, but they [the communists] didn't follow any laws. And suddenly it was discovered that there was a certain limit in the land registry that could not be falsely overwritten. It turned out that the property was still written in my mother's name, as she had acquired it when she got married, and that was still effective. Everyone was at a loss as to what to do about it. My father had already had the surgery and he was completely drained of energy. Well, it was hard. So we came to the hearing in Roudnice nad Labem, to some office, and there we were treated like our father in court. In the same way. My mother kept asking if she was going to get any higher compensation because she thought - what they were offering her was 20,000 crowns for the whole farm - so she thought it was disproportionate to what they were going to buy, what they were offering. Well, but my mother was still hesitating. I said, 'Don't sell it.' So they started at us, 'Mrs. Havránková, think carefully, because you might end up like your husband.' It meant she would be sentenced and imprisoned. And my mother couldn't stand it anymore and she signed. Those were the times, you see. It was terrible. It was a time without freedom, time of oppression, disregard for the law, and revenge and causing harm."

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    Ústí nad Labem, 27.05.2022

    duration: 02:18:46
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - Ústecký kraj
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We were deprived of our property, freedom and pride, and expelled from our native village

Josef Havránek at a hiking trip, 1970
Josef Havránek at a hiking trip, 1970
photo: Witness´s archive

Josef Havránek was born on 25 July 1937 as the third of four children in a family that had the largest farm in the village of Hrobce in Litoměřice. Although his father refused to join a cooperative farm (JZD) in 1950, he finally succumbed to the pressure and signed the application form. However, the people who were running the cooperative farm had no experience in farming. So farming soon went from bad to worse. The cooperative farm failed to hand in compulsory state contributions and therefore it was easy to blame the witness´s father, who had been taking care of most of the work himself. In a show trial in 1952, the witness´s father was sentenced to three years for sabotage, lost all his property and was never allowed to return to Hrobce with his family. Despite being the son of a class enemy, Josef Havránek managed to complete his education. He devoted his whole life to chemistry. To this day, he still feels a deep sense of injustice for being uprooted from his native village. In 2022, the witness was living in Lovosice. We were able to record the witness´s memories thanks to the support of the town of Lovosice.