Ing. Pavel Jajtner

* 1947

  • "And so I asked that they put me somewhere nearby. For example, the military garrison was in Havlíčkův Brod in no way. So they put me in a top-secret military unit in Rožmitál pod Třemšínem, where rockets were aimed at the other side. Of course, my report said that I was not allowed to be trained as a reserve officer, even though I had completed that training at university, because it was the law, so luckily, I served for one year, which I partly spent in Rožmitál pod Třemšínem. I witnessed how bad the army was, even though the attack plans that my friends, who trained as officers, had access to, stated we would be in Nuremberg in three weeks. It went like this: when we went out somewhere for practice, the best vehicles in the best condition drove half a kilometre - and that was about it. There were no spare parts; there was nothing. We just pretended we had everything. And the paradox is that I, as an enemy of socialism, ended up in a top-secret research institute in Jinonice because they needed a qualification and an engineer who was supposed to develop at that time, that was a novelty, the predecessors of today's mobile phones were being developed at that time. They were larger devices, but nevertheless, the military and police were supposed to have them available. And the second thing, they were also developing radars there."

  • "My father refused to teach history the way it was written in the textbooks of the time, completely one-sidedly. He lived through the First Republic and didn't feel like preaching falsified history, so they've been after him for a long time. Then it was very convenient for them when he was already working in Žďár, and they were sitting in a compartment on the train, and the Hungarian events just took place. When Soviet tanks entered Budapest when there was a real threat of a coup. They discussed it in the train compartment, and my father uttered the unfortunate line, 'The more cultured a nation is, the easier it is to yoke.'"

  • "I don't remember it precisely anymore, but I know that the elections (the so-called elections) were held every four years, and it was necessary to elect the so-called candidates of the National Front. If anyone managed to avoid it, it was a brave person, as the turnout was usually 97.7 per cent. So in 1971, there were elections, and they were watching us, that was strange. We had to vote in Brno, although according to the place of residence, I should have been written in the voter list in my place of residence, which was Přibyslav. But the reason was clear – they had to check us. Everyone, at that time, I was already in the fifth year, and we had a weak current as an electrical engineering faculty for five and a half years, so we had to participate in the elections. I bore it as a great disgrace. On the other hand, I was aware of abandoning my studies just before the end... Because we practically already had an assignment for the diploma thesis, and it was clear that sometime in the second half of 1972, we would finish if we completed everything that needed to be completed. So I went through the election, and I consider it one of the most humiliating moments of my life, I have to say, but I've forgiven myself."

  • "On November 17 – they started to organize the civic forums here, at the St. Wenceslas Square. And then, out of sudden, they had appeared here, saying: ´Mr. Jajtner, we already know what to do about it. Would you like to join us?' Well, these young boys were just doing the recruitment, but, of course, all of us felt helpless. So, it worked out quite well, as I replied 'Of course. Here we go. Let's do that.' My wife was already working for the People´s Party at the time, so we were able to get the cyclostyle. So, we borrowed a cyclostyle from that office and started to issue leaflets and organize civic forums here in Přibyslav. It had started somewhen around November 12. We did not know back then that we were making history, so we did not take any notes, only shards of memories have remained. More and more people had gathered together, and the weather was getting worse day by day. So, someone had an idea that we should move to the Cultural House in Přibyslav – there is a cinema hall with around five hundred seats. Then professor Kasal joined us as well, he was a good person, more or less, who had been very active in terms of the amateur theater. So he was to one who gave a script to it. And by that time, these civic forums were running already in accordance with the professor Kasa's script. And then Roman Podrázský, an academic sculptor. Roman made a portrait of Václav Havel that was absolutely perfect. I do not know how he made it, but, such a huge portrait of Václav Havel that was hang at that Cultural House in Přibyslav. And we were inviting the Communists there then. The local and the ones from the district as well. Someone whose name was Bičík, for example, as I remember, he later became a representative. He had privatized some deals in Brod. These Communists, they just knew the ropes. "

  • And so I was very unpopular again, as I had strived for moving the psychiatric hospital in Želiva, located in the Želiv Monastery, back to Havlíčkův Brod, where it was established originally at the time of the First Republic. Moreover, I was pushing the decision on the enlargement of the regional hospital in Havlíčkův Brod – and again, many people took it amiss, because they lived a very decent life there in Želiva. I remember quite clearly when the psychiatrists from Želiva with their huge mustaches came to the district office in Havlíčkův Brod. They looked perfectly the same they patients did, and so I was waiting for them to pull out a straitjacket… Then, they were trying to persuade me that everything was all right, that it could stay that way. I told them: ´No. Firstly, it is a theft, I presume. It is the church property; moreover, it is also inconvenient, as the buildings are hundreds of years old.' Thus, Havlíčkův Brod will only benefit from it. ´ And it turned out to be that way eventually. And eventually, at the time I continued to serve my mandate of the appointed Vice Chairman of the Federal Assembly, I managed to… Well, I do not want to talk just about myself, but people tend to easily forget that I was the one who managed to make a deal with then-Vice Chairman of the government, Mr. Stánský, to get the first money needed to start building the new hospital in Havlíčkův Brod. That was a great man, able to push these things through – to influence the way where these means would head. So, the first millions went to Havlíčkův Brod, thanks to my lobbying."

  • “Then the year of nineteen-fifty-six had come, the Hungarian events, and one unfortunate conversation on a train, in which my dad talked about the Hungarian events with a few colleagues of his. It happened that one informer had listened to this conversation and denounced my father, so my father became a victim of a political process; that was in 1956. I still have his verdict written somewhere in the documentation I obtained after my father's death in nineteen-ninety-nine. Unfortunately, I do not have it at my disposal at the moment, but I remember its content roughly. Even the law code was extremely unfair, it was just stemming from the principals of that Communist regime, and my father was convicted of inciting subversion of the Republic, yet, the sentence he had proclaimed there, and on which basis he was convicted then, bore this message: 'The more cultured the nation is, the easier is to tie it apron string.'“

  • "That canonization itself, that was a huge ceremony, of course. The Basilica was full, and such a great joy it was! Moreover, as the Czech pilgrims, we had - and Slovaks were there too, but the Czech mostly - we had a colossal hearing at the Paul VI Audience Hall, which can hold up to 10 000 people. And there, someone named Tomáš Halík had a speech; I did not know who he was. He had a very wise and nice speech, and then, I had figured out quickly who Tomáš Halík was, as it was about that time when he declassified himself – he was a secret priest, and he did… Well, you probably know who Tomáš Halík is and what his past was like.“

  • "Just upon our meeting, somewhen before my departure to Vienna with Karel Schwarzenberg, who was a chairman at the time, Václav Havel and Magda Vašáryová…and the discussion - about what the mission of the just newly consolidated Czech Republic in Austria should look like - went on. And Magda Vašáryová made an unforgettable statement, as she said: You know when it had happened that I did not know something, I just kept smiling. Thus, they were thinking that I had some secret. One woman's smile makes up for two hours of diplomatic talks. So we laughed at that together, yet, it holds up to these days. "

  • "President Klaus was already in office, and the end of his mandate had been approaching slowly, and just like that, he decided he would like to take a picture with the Pope. He was going to Italy for a visit, and, just like ‘by the way, he sent a word he would love to meet the Pope. And that is something the Vatican diplomacy is extremely sensitive to; therefore, it was unacceptable that someone who was just visiting would meet then newly elected – Mr. Naplinato was elected new president there - and Václav Klaus just decided to make a visit. And he stopped by Rome, just as if nothing was going on. And then, they were pushing me to arrange it somehow. So what was I supposed to do? I told that officer from the Castle – it would really take me a long time to remember his name now – that it was absolutely unacceptable. It was obvious that they were scared to tell this bad news to Mr. President. And would not it be possible somehow? And I - as it really was not possible to do it somehow – I said: 'Alright then, I will request to the State Secretary‘ – the one who served at the Holy See back then. So, I arranged an audience for Saturday, as it was not possible any other day. That was a critical moment already because I think the visit was supposed to take place on Monday. And that was the moment I experienced how the first line Vatican diplomacy actually works. The Secretary of State had a hearing with me and said that it was very unusual and that they would let me know. I came back around lunchtime, thinking: 'And now, now I will enjoy the clerk from the Castle.' So, I told the secretary that I would not be at the office until 2 PM, even though I was there. And he had called four times in the meantime, as he was scared of being beaten. And when I said finally: 'Ok, I will talk. I was told they would make a statement; however, I suppose that it will be via a diplomatic note on Monday afternoon when it all appears to be futile already. Then he said: 'That's what I should tell Mr. President?' And I said that I did not have any better news. It took me by surprise when the Secretary of State called me that they had found a brilliant solution. That, as the request was submitted at the very last moment, the Holy See itself was to decide whether the hearing would take place, or not."

  • Full recordings
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    Přibyslav, 06.01.2020

    duration: 03:01:15
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Přibyslav, 20.01.2020

    duration: 02:37:55
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Jihlava, 07.04.2022

    duration: 02:27:40
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A timid harvest

Pavel Jajtner swearing an oath as an electrical engineer graduate, Brno, October 1972
Pavel Jajtner swearing an oath as an electrical engineer graduate, Brno, October 1972
photo: From the private archive of Pavel Jajtner

Pavel Jajtner was born on December 31, 1947, in Havlíčkův Brod. He grew up in Přibyslav, in a family of teachers. His father, Albín Jajtner, was convicted of subverting the Republic in a fabricated political process at the end of 1956 - an event that had a direct impact on Pavel Jajtner’s studies. At first, he had to get trained to become an electrician in Žďár nad Sázavou. Later, he finished the secondary general education school in 1967. In July 1968, he attended the International Building Students Camp in Gerlingen, not far from Stuttgart, where he was offered to stay along with other students from Czechoslovakia after the Warsaw Pact troops invaded his country. However, he returned to Czechoslovakia as his siblings studied there at the university. Later, he also started his studies at the faculty of electrical engineering at the Brno University of Technology and completed his studies in 1972. In 1973, Pavel contributed to the development of military radars and the first police wireless phones at the company named Tesla I, located in Pardubice. Despite being seen as a class enemy, he served the military service in Rožmitál pod Tremšínem, and also took part in the developing activities of top-secret radio engineering and radar components. In 1976, he started to work at a supplier plant at the company named ŽĎAS, where he was also appointed a chairman of the trade unions in 1989. Along with his colleagues, he organized a general strike at the company. Since 1987, he started to become more politically active, entered the Czechoslovak People’s Party, with which he organized a journey to sainthood of Saint Agnes of Bohemia. No longer after, he became one of the founding members of the Civic Forum in Přibyslav, and the first mayor elected in free elections there (after the Velvet Revolution). From 1990 to 1992, he served as a chairman of the district office in Havlíčkův Brod. He was appointed a member of the Czech National Assembly and the Federal Assembly, where he served as a Vice-Chairman until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. On June 1, 1993, he became the first Czech ambassador to Austria and stayed in office until 1998. He also served as an ambassador to Morrocco, and from 2004 until 2008, as an ambassador to the Holy See. Above that, he ran for the European Parliament office in 2004 as a nominee of the Czech People’s Party. After leaving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2009, he served shortly in the Brno bishopric as a pastoral assistant, providing education to laypersons. He lived in Přibyslav in 2020.