Petr Holub

* 1958

  • "I remember that at the time, I appreciated when Pinochet overthrew President Allende in Chile. It wasn't because I followed Chilean politics, but I knew that Allende was a friend of our government. He was presented as a communist. So, if someone liquidated a communist government, he must have been good. I didn't even believe the reports–which were to a considerable extent true–about the military terror in Chile. I don't know what year that was. But it was during elementary school - and I was already politically determined and I knew that some countries had a different regime than ours, and I considered those regimes to be better."

  • "I knew some of the people at the top. I wasn't dazzled by them in any way. Rather, I appreciated that they knew Jan Patočka and were able to mediate their experience with him. But somehow, I wasn't drawn to it. To tell the truth, Czech dissent was terribly weak. They really didn't accomplish anything. Now, I'm leaving aside the activities of Václav Havel, which were extremely successful in the end. But they couldn't change everyday life, let alone the social structure. They lived on the edge. Their social activity was more or less shadowy. After the fall of the regime, it was very fortunate that someone was able to take power at all, when the communists resigned. But until then, dissent had no direct influence on what was happening within the society."

  • "It happened that I was both a member of the underground and an active member of the church. The scales gradually shifted towards the church. It also came down to the fact that there were more interesting people in the church. The young Catholics in Prague had a romantic relationship with the church and God. The unequivocal authority was Pope John Paul II. Even as Cardinal of Krakow, he was already very popular among young Catholics. When he was elected Pope, it was seen as the beginning of new and better times. Someone who had the same clear attitude towards communist regimes as we had became Pope."

  • "It's been about ten years since I met a guy from our former underground crew. From him, I learned that most of those people are either dead or outright criminals. Like, they got run over by a train while walking home drunk from a party. One became a kleptomaniac who never got out of prison. Although this one came from a better family. So surviving the underground wasn't a given. Especially since there was constant pressure from society to dispel and deny it. Which, on the contrary, led to one becoming even more committed to the underground."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 22.07.2022

    duration: 01:43:42
  • 2

    Praha, 01.09.2022

    duration: 01:49:43
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He was a garbage man and a math major. He knew he was doing it his way

Petr Holub / circa 1963
Petr Holub / circa 1963
photo: Witness archive

Petr Holub was born on 26 October 1958 in Prague. He grew up in Dejvice. His father, František, was a lawyer. After three years of his membership in the Communist Party, he was expelled from the party and worked for the railways or as an asphalt paver. His mother, Jitka, née Berounská, came from a large landowner family whose estate was nationalized in 1945. Petr Holub was not allowed to study at secondary school, so he studied at the communications apprenticeship in Prague. He became involved with the underground, refused to join military service in 1977, briefly fled to Poland and was exempted from the military service upon his return. Over time, he left the underground life and joined the Catholic community around the Týn Cathedral. He earned a living as a garbage collector, graduated from high school and studied at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University. He participated in the house seminars of the philosopher and Chartist Daniel Kroupa and other dissidents. Under free conditions after November 1989, he became a journalist and joined the weekly magazine Respekt, which he headed as editor-in-chief from 1998 to 2002. In 2022, he lived in Prague.