Tomáš Holenda

* 1956  

  • “We had a great turnout for the general strike (November 27, 1989) in the Havlíčkův Brod town square. It was several thousand people from large state-owned companies and schools and people were no longer afraid. Since it was recommended to allow anyone publicly speak who wants a turn, we came up with a gag. We let some of the comrades speak who were bold enough to come up to the mic during the general strike. Since Jirka Černý and I moderated the event, I asked people to raise a hand if they didn’t agree with a speaker, to raise both their hands if it’s even more disagreeable and to turn their back to the speaker if they completely disagree. When the (General) Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party spoke, the whole square turned their backs to him. That was good.“

  • “I listened to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, so I knew about demonstrations. I was in Prague on August 21, 1988 and in October of that same year. During the Jan Palach week I was in the square several times. I saw peaceful demonstrations as well as police oppression at some – when the comrades with batons showed up. A guy, nearly my age, hit me across the back with a baton. It was underneath a building scaffold in Wenceslas Square. So I got angry and said to myself that I will express my protest. Honza (Jan) Schneider told me where the Uhl family lives and I visited Ms Šabatová and told her that I have decided to sign. We had a talk. I suppose she talked with everyone who came. She told me to think about it and that my signing will go public, but I was so determined to sign that I ended up doing it. I had a very good feeling about taking this step.”

  • “Being from Havlíčkův Brod intensified the victory of the Czechoslovak national ice hockey squad in Stockholm. Suchý and the brothers Holík, all Havlíčkův Brod locals, were on the team. When the first match ended 2-0 people met in the town square like in Prague. My dad took us to the celebrations. Someone had an idea to go visit the home of the Holík brothers that was across town. It was late evening and a large-scale disturbing-the-peace event as I recall. Suchý and the Holík brothers played a major role in it. We shouted ‘Guys from Havlíčkův Brod beat Karasov;’ ‘Tarasov, Tarasov, get ready and start packing for Siberia;’ and ’Tarasov, Tarasov, Brezhnev will punch you in the mouth!’ That was a fun experience.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 27.08.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 58:24
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 26.09.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 30:03
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We still have to learn about liberty

Tomáš Holenda in August 2019
Tomáš Holenda in August 2019
photo: Post Bellum

Tomáš Holenda was born in Havlíčkův Brod on October 23, 1956. His father was a laborer and his mother was a clerk. Tomáš Holenda was eleven years old during the time of the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968. He partook in the wild victory celebrations of the Czechoslovak national ice hockey squad beating the Soviets a year later. Three players from this squad were from Havlíčkův Brod. He began with Scouting at a resurrected troop starting in 1968. With the ascent of normalization Scouting was not permitted. Later he was in local Competition aerobatics club. He was national junior champion in 1979. At the end of the 1980s he befriended Jan Schneider, a dissident, Charter 77 signatory and former drummer of the band The Plastic People of the Universe. Holenda began going to demonstrations in Prague after one of which he became a Charter 77 signatory. He also signed the petition titled A Few Sentences (Několik vět). He was fired from Aero Vodochody and lost his pilot’s license. During the Velvet Revolution he co-founded the Havlíčkův Brod chapter of the Civic Forum and he was co-opted to chair the local national committee. In 1990 he was elected mayor of Havlíčkův Brod, and during the following election cycle he was voted in as deputy mayor. Later, he worked at the Ministry of the Interior on public administration reform. Today he works at the State Administration of Land Surveying and Cadastre. He is a flier once again and his other interests include astronomy. He is a member of Budoucnost, a beautification association in Havlíčkův Brod.