Pavel Horák

* 1954

  • “Only two of us went up to that square, me and an unknown person. And there we saw a police cordon, people were looking out the windows. With the other one we went there, and my thought processes were like: 'What are you going to do now? You have to go on, you just have to go. You must go to the Castle to see Husak and you must tell him to resign!' But what the fear it was, as it vibrated inside! So the young man we talked to, the other one who came up with me, then he went right, along the houses, avoided the cordon and went on, slowly, watching, not knowing what was going on. And I went to the cordon. I was terribly afraid, but I thought, while you're here, you can't fail completely. There stood a cordon of the cops, they were closing the street, and their commander with a lot. And there was a lady beside the commander. I thought he was from the presidential office. My thoughts were flying inside my head regarding who might have been there. I was approaching the cordon totally freaking out that I had to tell them something. Their commander stepped out against me and said, 'Stop, step back!' Or something like that. 'What do you want?' 'I'd like to talk to them.' The cops, the cordon. And he sayd, 'No, there is no such thing. The woman standing next to him, while the Communists were still in full power, had all these files under them, she said to the commander: 'Let him speak.' That was incredible! Nowadays nobody can even believe it. The commander stepped back and said nothing. The woman stood looking at me. And now I was supposed to go to the cordon and tell them something. Because I had a student statement, I read a student statement on the events of November 17th. I couldn't do anything more. They were all young boys, all scared. They just stared. No one said a word. When I finished reading the statement, I looked at the two, the commander with the lady. They stood still, nothing. I just turned round and went to the right where the other one went, with whom we arrived.“

  • “After several months of investigation, I was taken to Teplice for trial and the lawyer Beneš, who was appointed to me, he did not do anything for me, my mother gave him all the gold she had and a wedding ring. Such bent kind of people, I kept meeting them all my life. He did not help me in any way, the judge gave me fourteen months of hard core jail. So I went back to Litoměřice, those terrible days again, mother did not know, where I was when I was taken. They didn't tell her anything. For a few days she was worried about what was wrong with me. And in Litoměřice I was waiting for the Court of Appeal hoping that somebody might have reason. And after a few months' trial in the regional court, I was escorted there. For the second time, they gave me a ´bear´ as the greatest criminal! 'Bear,' that's a belt, and you're strapped like that to your body. So I went through that court and there Judge [Vaclav] Nygrin - he was the killer of all these political ones. Today he works as a lawyer. He sentenced me to four more months, so I got a year and a half to serve in prison. He justified this with hostility and hatred for a socialist system, and that the Western media used this case to unleash a campaign and so on. But if you could see those looks! There was absolutely no chance. The defense attorney freaked out, he would not go against them because he's also a communist. The whole Senate were communists. And you would stand against them there, and no matter what you say, they just would not listen to you.”

  • “Then came eighty-six when Jaroslav Seifert died, and again… He was a national artist, a signatory of Charter 77. I was stuck to Free Europe, so what could follow? Leaflets regarding funeral - death of Jaroslav Seifert. There was a part of his poem up there, there was some talk that a Czech poet had died, and when and where he had a funeral, in Markéta and then in Roudnice, or actually in Kralupy nad Vltavou. It was a terrible affair at the time, and I distributed those leaflets all over Teplice. But I've always been alone in everything, I've never had anyone to confine what I did. It was such an initiative on my own, when I say it, I was pissed off about how they treated him. The town of Teplice was full of secret policemen, and it took them fourteen days to get me. And they actually got me because I had some papers that were dirty from that copying machine, and I burned them in the garbage. A friend came up and asked: 'What are you burning?' I had a trabant car at the time, so I said: 'My brakes have been frozen, so I have to warm them up.' But the neighbor - they walked everywhere, all over Teplice, there were tens and tens of stubs, reinforcements from Prague - so my neighbor finally told on me that I was burning some papers in the garbage. And coincidentally, the garbage man just didn't come and the police found there pieces of charred text, paper, in that trash bin, at the very bottom.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 03.10.2019

    duration: 01:04:32
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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Secret police didn’t believe I did all this by myself

Pavel Horák during recording
Pavel Horák during recording
photo: sbírka Post Bellum

Pavel Horák was born on April 8, 1954 in Pilsen, and the family soon moved to Teplice. When he was seven years old, his father died, and his mother, a nurse, took care of him herself. In August 1968 he witnessed the arrival of the occupation troops in Teplice, which caused spontaneous and lasting hatred of totalitarianism. He trained as a turner, was interested in photography, composed songs on political and environmental topics. In 1977 he produced and disseminated leaflets informing about Charter 77 and was never caught. He tried to repeat the success of the event in 1986 when he printed and distributed leaflets informing about the funeral of the poet Jaroslav Seifert. This time, however, police uncovered him and he was sentenced to sedition for 14 months unconditionally. The Court of Appeal has further tightened the sentence to 18 months. On 12 and 13 November he participated in ecological demonstrations in Teplice. He stood at the birth of the Civic Forum in Teplice. In 2017 he won the Injustice Stories Award.