Ondřej Hoch

* 1948  †︎ 2016

  • “Because the students went [on strike], suddenly a man came into the cell, a guard, he said: ‘You’ve got a visitor,’ in an annoyed voice. So they led me to the theatre room, I’d never been there before because I wasn’t allowed to come out of my cell. There didn’t even have a radio there, the only information was broadcast by a microphone above the door. I came there and sat down. Suddenly the warden brought [the visitors] up to me: Václav Havel, Petr Uhl, Anička Šabatová, Minister Burešová, the priest Václav Malý, and some other people. That’s how I say it nowadays, I didn’t know the names back then of course because I had only been in touch with Arabs. They sat down opposite me, there was one more person next to me who had worked for the German BND, Bundes Nachrichten Dienst, and he knew them, he explained it to me afterwards. Back then the president-to-be, not that it was uncultured, but he said: ‘My name’s Vašek. Václav.’ We said: ‘Okay, hi Václav,’ because I didn’t know who it was, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the impertinence. So we talked, and I even got a coffee. He [Havel] brought us bananas, we ate them there. And the guard was insolent because he [Havel] was a representative of VONS and Charter [77], so he said: ‘You did that well, they’re trained monkeys, so you brought them bananas.’ He simply wanted to insult us.”

  • “They said: ‘You have two options. Either you sign here what you told those Arabs, your wife is remand in Ruzyně right now, for two days, just after childbirth, we won’t put your children with your parents, don’t count on that, they’ll be put in an institute so you’ll never see them again. Your wife will collapse because of it, she’ll end up in a mad house, we’ll make sure of that; or, you sign this, she goes home, and we’ll allow you a one-hour visit.’ There was no choice. I ruined a part of her life, so I signed, they kept their word, and about a week later they brought my wife and she thanked me. She was crying, and she said: ‘I’m home now, my children are safe at home with me, we won’t forget you, don’t worry.’ So I signed it, and for Christmas, it was the end of November or beginning of December, I went to Valdice.”

  • “If they asked me whether my name was Rachman Weled, I would say yes, it was. And it registered that I really was called that. Lots of questions like that, and my brain remained unexcited. We were also trained during driving, because we had to drive cars often in dangerous circumstances. So I had some kind of monitor connected to me, and I had to drive in heavy traffic. And there was a psychologist sitting behind me, and one other, and they kept asking me, kept heaping questions on me, making me nervous, I had to watch where I was going so I wouldn’t run someone over, check the signs, then suddenly someone said ‘turn right now, we need to go right’, but there was a no entry sign, so I said no, that it was no entry. Simply, I had to react in such a way that the excitement and inhibition, as they say, that category of psychology, had to in balance. When there was some deviation, it had to be calmed down immediately. You couldn’t be nervous for ten minutes, no, you wouldn’t pass the test.”

  • “It happened to me that I was in charge of one Egyptian bank governor. And he said: ‘Your state is very attentive because when I was here many years ago, I was given a room with a beautiful view of your river and the castle where the president lives. Always the same room.’ And I started laughing and I said: ‘I’ll take away your illusions of the loyalty of this country; the reason why you always have the same room is that they don’t want to move all the equipment from room to room, when they have bugs and hidden cameras, so they keep giving you the same room out of so-called attentiveness so that, when someone comes here, they can record it.’ He broke out into a real fit and said that he wouldn’t come here again.”

  • “Some three days before they arrested me, the Iraqi military attaché said: ‘Things are getting pretty hot around us, here’s an Iraqi passport, hop in to a plane, you’ll be in Baghdad in five hours. We’ll get your wife there for you.’ I even had a job arranged for me there, I was supposed to be a military instructor. Iraq was approximately thirty percent illiterate, the Iraqi army, and this was odd, consisted of Turks, Iranians, Persians, Shiites - those are enemies of the Sunnah - and Saddam didn’t want that. No one had a driving license, for instance. So they said: ‘You’ll be a military instructor, you’ll teach people how to drive with trucks, with OT404s, you’ll have a huge pay, and in say six months we’ll bring you your wife and family via some country.’ But I was afraid, I thought to myself: ‘I’ll leave, they’ll bully her to bits and lock her up, and I’ll never get back in here, I’ll never see them again.’ So I said I’d think about it. But I thought about it for three days and ended up in custody.”

  • “Another fun thing was that someone checked me up. The gangsters locked me up in a room, so I thought, well this is bad. Someone came there and said ‘where are you from?’ And I said that I was from the correctional facility in Valdice, that was the worst facility in Europe. Because Valdice, Mírov, Leopoldov, people were hanged there. And the gangster, the professional killer, said: ‘That’s rubbish.’ And I was lucky because they called in someone, who was organising it, from a neighbouring office, and he came and said: ‘Heeey, we cut chandelier drops together.’ He was a Bulgarian that they shot later on, I can’t quite remember the name of the square where there was a shoot-out between the Armenians and the Bulgarians - I don’t want to say his name - so he died there. So that man saved me when he said he knew me from Valdice, and suddenly the doors were open to me everywhere. So I had bulletproof legitimisation because I had actually been there.”

  • “And it happened that, at a secret trial of the Military Court in Příbram, I was sentenced to thirteen years of prison in Valdice for espionage in favour of Iraq. And I’ll tell you nice one, it’s a very interesting fact, and it was quite funny, because I didn’t know what to expect in Valdice, otherwise I wouldn’t have been laughing. The chairman of the jury was speaking with the prosecutor, and the latter read out my personal data and said: ‘Well, we’ve got ourselves a really big scumbag here!’ Just like that, in front of the whole court. The jury was there, about forty intelligence people behind me, my former colleagues, you could hear a pin drop there. And the prosecutor said: ‘His grandfather was Moroccan, executed in the Bastille...’ That’s true, my grandfather was Moroccan, a black, I still have relatives there. Well, and they executed him in the Bastille, there’s mention of that in Victor Hugo’s book Arch of Triumph [sic]. His name was Hoch in French, I don’t know where the name comes from, it’s not Arabian. Well, and he said: ‘His grandfather a Moroccan, his grandmother’s brother Hugo Hrbáček was a British pilot who emigrated and worked for the intelligence service in London, his father-in-law studied for two years in France, his father was a dentists who worked at Charles Square for a Jewish organisation under doctor Löwi, and then during the war he was a member of Vlajka [The Flag], an anti-communist organisation’, well, and he read a few more points like that there and told the chairman of the jury: ‘Now tell me how a bastard like this could have gotten all the way into the Czechoslovak services?!’ And he looked at me and said: ‘What will you say to that?’ Well, I was insulted by his bad-mouthing and how he had slagged off my ancestors, so I turned to him and told him in these words: ‘Comrade colonel, that’s your profiling cock-up!’ I thought he would faint.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    v Praze, 27.02.2014

    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 24.10.2014

    duration: 02:13:56
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On Wednesday he brought his newborn son home, on Thursday he was arrested

16122-photo.jpg (historic)
Ondřej Hoch
photo: archiv pamětníka, Eva Kroupová

Ondřej Hoch was born on 6 December 1948 in Prague. His father worked as a dentist at the Ministry of National Defence, his mother was a theatre nurse. After completing primary school he attended a secondary vocational school and trained to be a scale technician. From his mother’s side he has Moroccan ancestors, and for this reason Ondřej Hoch attended a language-school course in Arabian and achieved an excellent knowledge of the language. In 1967-1969 he underwent compulsory military service, in August 1968 he was stationed in the Šumava Mountains. In 1975 he started working at the Department of Criminal Service of Public Security in Prague-Žižkov. He completed a correspondence course of warrant officer school in Zastávka near Brno, later, as an employee of the intelligence services, he studied at the Intelligence Faculty of the National Defence Corps University in Prague. In his profession he was mainly in touch with diplomats and students from Libya and Iraq. In March 1984 he was arrested, and in November of the same year he was sentenced to thirteen years in prison for espionage in favour of Iraq. He served his sentence at Valdice Prison. In 1990 he was amnestied as a political prisoner. After 1990 he worked in special services, for Interpol, and as an instructor of the Czech anti-corruption unit. Currently, Ondřej Hoch dealed in business consultancy. He passed away on June the 16th 2016.