PhDr. Marek Irgl

* 1965  

  • “We had agreed in advance that we would meet in Dresden with my wife Jana and a friend of hers and that they would help us with the luggage. We arranged it over the phone during the journey. We had already known that we would have things that would be problematic to smuggle across the borders. So, we arrived from Hildesheim, the German customs officers did not check us thoroughly because they did not care about the books that we were carrying, they did not understand it. We met with my wife and her friend Alena in Dresden. We spent there half a day. They came by train in the morning and we planned to go back by the one in the afternoon. They pretended to be the usual young women who went there to buy lingerie or what you bought in Eastern Germany then, shoes or something like that. So, we handed them over big luggage where the problematic things were, the records and books and it was a huge bag and we only kept the foreign records and nothing that could upset the customs officers. However, we did not realize the risk we were taking. Somehow, after the month of travelling in freedom, everything seemed fine to us, that nothing could happen and why some books should mean a problem... After all, they were sold in a shop and so on. Nonetheless, our caution was worth it. Because they travelled in the first carriage and we in the fourth one; the customs officers came to their carriage, looked at customs and foreign exchange declarations which was another nonsense at that time that you had to fill in that you were carrying two pairs of shoes for children, three bras and I do not know that else. So, they controlled them thoroughly and they did not notice the big bag because they probably though that it had been filled with the goods. While when they came to us and saw our passports, saw where we were going from, so they spent thorough half an hour looking through everything. We had to completely unpack the backpacks. They went through one record after another, they even took them out of the covers and looked. So, we were really relieved when we crossed the borders. Because I think that we would have had a hard time explaining mainly the Kryl´s manuscript. So, we got home and started to copy the records happily and lend them to friends. And the books as well. And I would say that it was the beginning, that it motivated us that it was possible to do it."

  • “Karel Kryl was not coming and when we wanted to leave after half an hour, a short man appeared out of nowhere. He went straight to us and said: ‘You are the young men from Czechia, aren´t you?' So, we said yes. ‘Come with me!’ He took us to the nearest restaurant, ordered us meal because we were hungry and it could be seen, and he ordered us a couple of beers. And after two hours he said: ‘Do you have somewhere to sleep?’ And we said: ‘Well, we don´t,’ we slept in the station in Munich then, ‘so we think...’ He said: ‘No, come to my place. We will solve the issues and you will come to me.’ So, he took us home and we spent a very pleasant evening there, he was sitting in front of the table almost till the morning and he spoke till dawn. I think that the moment he understood that we really... It was quite unbelievable that two students in 1985 managed to go abroad, to a foreign country and that they were not members of Union of Youth nor agents. And I think that he understood also because of the topics that we spoke about that we were such a miracle. And that is why he invited us home. He played dozens of songs, talked a lot, brought us food and drinks all night. And before we went to bed, slightly drunk yet - we had brought him plum brandy, he took out a liquor that he had from a farmer - he started to trade with us. He opened a wardrobe where he had his records and said: ‘Guys, it is, however, expensive, it costs twenty marks. So, choose what you want.’ So, we chose everything. Both of us chose five records that he, I think, had published by then. Well and he said: ‘OK, hundred marks, hundred marks.’ And he was looking at us and said: ‘And wait, wait.’ And he started to bring books, his own illustrated books, precious prints, magazine Svědectví (Testimony). And he said: ‘Choose here.’ And he gave about twenty books to both of us. And finally, he gave it to us, and he said: ‘You know what? Keep the money as well!’ We went to bed and he said: ‘I need to go to the radio early in the morning so just shut it here and bye.’ So, we woke up in the morning, had breakfast that he had prepared for us, shut the door and we felt as if it had not been truth. And if we had had doubts until then that it had been different so the visit to Kryl... Because Kryl was pictured as a national enemy at that time... As the biggest agitator. And instead, we met an extremely sensitive, fair person who was so frank and honest that you wanted to cry because of it. And also because of the fact that you could feel his sadness for Czechia.”

  • “When the demonstrations repeated every day, we read declarations, then the students who had either witnessed it or who brought documents, supporting leaflets, or who brought video of the intervention started to come. So, the programme was clear, and it was extended, and something was added every day. Well and then the town hall in Valašské Meziříčí, the town council, made a statement that was called ‘Statement on evens of the 20th to the 22nd November in the square in Valašské Meziříčí.’ It was a defamatory article, it might have had ten points and the usual staff was said there: ‘We want to work honestly, dishonest elements’ and so on... ‘Effort to disrupt society, we need to go back to decent life’ and so on. And I would say that it added fuel to the fire because people who came there knew that they had not been elements etc. They did not even mention the intervention on the 17th of November in the leaflet. So, in a way it helped us. And on Thursday there was, I would say, really a crowd of people and they could not ignore them even in the town hall. And we demanded to meet the town administration. And surprisingly enough they accepted it. And I want to remind you that it was before the general strike. It was highly uncertain time when nobody knew what would happen. There was a political commissar in the city. Since there were barracks in Valašské Meziříčí, there was a political commissar. A convinced, ardent communist, completely convinced as far as ideology is concerned. Later, he was a member of ODS (Civic Democratic Party). He walked around the square and shouted. He was walking in brown officer leather riding breeches as if he was a SS man and was shouting: ‘Every one of you will hang! Every one of you will hang!‘ He was such a fanatic. So, nothing was won.”

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    Prlov, 03.07.2019

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Time that you devote to your children is the best used one

Marek Irgl during military service in 1989
Marek Irgl during military service in 1989
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Marek Irgl was born on the 26th of August 1965 in Valašské Meziříčí. His parents Emil and Zdena Irglovi had a well-supplied library at home and they presented their love to literature to their sons. Marek had read dozens of books when he was only a child. He loved adventures and Jaroslav Foglar became his most favourite author. However, Foglar´s books could not have been published during normalization which lead him to read and look for literature which was on a list of forbidden literature at that time. He became fond of The Beatles and of other bands of forbidden Western culture thanks to his older brother Richard. He discovered the work by Josef Škvorecký, Milan Kundera and Ludvík Vaculík when studying at grammar school. He decided to connect his hobby with other education and after Secondary-school leaving exam in 1984 he started to study the Czech Language and History Teaching at Faculty of Arts in Olomouc. He was fairly disappointed by the fact that there were a lot of high-quality works of world and Czechoslovak literature missing in the curriculum because of the forbidden books. He started to meet a dissident and a Charter 77 member from the area of Valašské Meziříčí Jaromír Čechura and he immediately started to take part in copying and sharing of books that could not have been published in Czechoslovakia. He and his friend Jiří Majdloch set out for Munich in 1985 and they met with exiled singer-songwriter Karel Kryl there. With help of Marek´s future wife and her friend, they smuggled his Krylogie and other books that they had bought in a Munich exile bookshop Dialog to Czechoslovakia. Marek Irgl took part in a similar smuggling mission twice more. He and his wife Jana set out for Munich to see Karel Kryl again in 1988 and he recommended them Swizz exile publishing house Konfrontace (“Confrontation”) where the married couple got hold of The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. For the third time, they smuggled printed materials that they had gained during a folklore festival in Budapest in 1989 where Jaroslav Hutka or Zdeněk “London” Vokatý performed. Thanks to the access to a room with a Xerox during his military service from 1988 to 1989, he was able to copy a complete text of a novel Black Barons by Miloslav Švandrlík. In November 1989, Marek Irgl participated in the genesis of Civic Forum in Valašské Meziříčí and he took part in political-social meetings with the communist town officers about handing control to democrats. He appreciates that his wife Jana supported him even in the uncertain revolutionary period. They have raised two daughters Markéta and Zuzana together. Markéta became a well-known musician and she is Oscar winner for being a co-author of the Falling Slowly song.