Jiří Ježek

* 1941

  • “Before we lived in Na Rafandě, we lived under the church by the little square. It was an old house, and there was a tailor downstairs, a man named Jirouš. Someone reported that he had a pistol at home. So, the Gestapo came there. I know the details from my mum´s and dad´s narration. They searched it there. I remember that my mum burn something rapidly in the stove, I do not know if they were leaflets. (It is) just a flashback. Then I remember screaming, stamping and wellington boots. I was a little boy; it could have been in 1943 or 1944.” – “What happened to your neighbour? Did they find the pistol?” – “Thank God, they did not find it. He had it sewn up into the board, which is used to iron the shoulders and he had it sewn up into the padding. They ripped everything, the blankets, the mattresses, they did not find anything, but he had it there. They moved to Jablonec after the war. I had a grandmother in Jablonec, so I know it from my grandmother’s narration. I remember the second experience of the war vividly. I remember the air raids on Dresden. In hindsight, when we got back to it with my family, my mum told me about it, and I remember that she held my hand and the whole western horizon was completely red, and you could hear rumbling. And it was the bombing of Dresden.” - “We had to climb up the hill, Železný Brod is in the valley.” – “It is in the valley but the horizon above the hills was red, and you could hear rumbling.”

  • “By coincidence, I had a technical emergency on 20 August 1968. I received the last Mig-15 machine, which returned at around eleven o´clock in the evening from Slovakia. We attended to it, I closed the hangar and went home. I had a Javetta there, so I rode it home. A messenger rang our doorbell at one o´clock p.m. (and said) that I had to go to work immediately. I asked what was going home. He said that I just had to come to work. My heart skipped a beat, the first thing that came to my mind was that something might have happened in the hangar. I got dressed, got on my Javetta, and went there, and as I was going to the airport, it seemed strange to me that I did not see any cars, messengers or someone taking someone else to the airport as it was happening during the practice alarm. Nothing was going on. I could only hear an unfamiliar sound that something which I did not know by its sound was flying above the airport. I arrived at the squadron and the commander, Major Kašpar, and my chief of ground staff, Major Mohyla were sitting there. I asked them what was going on. Mohyla took me to the window and told me to listen to what was happening. It was horrible. It was a shock. It was an awful shock. Our biggest friends attacked us as robbers. I´m sorry… it was horrible. You know, that feeling of helplessness. We were constantly expecting that something would happen, that we would fight back. Then an order came on 21 August in the morning that we could not do anything. A regiment of Soviet ‘seventeens‘ from Poznań landed there.” – “Do you mean Mig 17?” – “Mig 17, advanced fighter planes of the time, fully armed with bombs and rackets. A demarcation line was drawn at the airport (marking) where we were allowed to go and where they were. We could not fly at all at the beginning, no plane could take off. It was horrible.”

  • „Vlastimil Hrada, a famous artist and his son worked there. At last, he got a permanent exhibition in the Museum of Železný Brod. The whole Železný Brod breathes magic, there are old log houses. When you mentioned glassmakers, as a little boy, I used to go to visit Mr. Kleinert who created blown figurines. Beautiful things. I used to go to a man who pressed beads. I know the handmade production of beads, and how they were produced in “driketa” which is the name for a workshop where the beads were produced. I knew the artist Tochstein, between you, me, and the bedpost, he was a boozer but a fantastic and acknowledged painter, he taught art education at the Art and Industrial Glass School in Železný Brod. Professor Brichta and Mrs. Zahradníková-Brichtová also worked at the school, I knew those people and was in touch with them even later in my life when I was not a child anymore. My friend Jirka Žanta worked as a foreman in the glassworks by the glass school, so I got to know the production of blown and hollow glass, vases and figurines. It was in me, I knew it. I was fascinated by the Jizera River. Below Spálov, when you walk along the riverbed to the Semily weir, there is hardly any water flowing, the Jizera is led to the power station below Spálov. That is where the Rieger Trail is. It is magical and I was fascinated by it even when I was a little boy. When I started painting, I looked for such secluded places, painted and was happy.”

  • “When my son was ending (primary) school, he was interested in studying at technical school, (he wanted to study) communication technology in Pardubice. He passed the entrance exams; he was the fifth best out of one-hundred and six applicants. However, they did not admit him because of different reasons. That is where the persecution of my family started. It was repulsive and against my son. That is when I started to look for all the possibilities how to make it possible for my son to at least learn a respectable trade. Thanks to my friend, I managed to see the headmaster of the technical school in Liberec Jiří Skopový. I told him straight what was going on and that they did not admit my son. There was hope that we would move. Back then, I was still living in a company accommodation in Stráž, I still had an apartment from the uranium company there. The headmaster advised me a trick to place my son in a different region at the technical school in Liberec which worked out and they admitted him there. The headmaster Skopový asked me to come shortly before his secondary school-leaving exam. I went to see him; it was already just me and my son back then. He told me: ‘Mr. Ježek, I got a letter from the local Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from the Zálabí Elementary School in Hradec Králové saying it is undesirable for your son to pass the secondary school-leaving exam, how can you comment on that?‘ I told him: ‘What can I say?‘ Imagine, his class teacher from the ninth grade was signed at the end of the letter. She was such a b*t*h. The headmaster Skopový took the letter and tore it up to pieces in front of me and told me: ‘Mr. Ježek, I don´t give a damn about it. If your son has the necessary knowledge and passes the secondary school-leaving exam, he will pass it and will have my recommendation to study at university, I can promise you that.‘ – “Was your son admitted to university?” – “Yes, he was. He graduated from it, and he is an electrical engineer. He also lives here in Liberec.”

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    Liberec, 15.03.2022

    duration: 02:15:47
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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He did not agree with the occupation. He had to finish in the air force and worked in the mines

Jiří Ježek on Il-18 bomber in Hradec Králové, circa 1965
Jiří Ježek on Il-18 bomber in Hradec Králové, circa 1965
photo: witness´s archive

Jiří Ježek was born on 20 September 1941 in the maternity hospital in Semily; however, his family lived in Železný Brod. He spent his childhood and youth there. His father was sent to forced labour in Germany during the war, and he built shelters for war submarines there. The witness painted since childhood, and both surrounding nature and the tradition of glass in the town influenced him. He won a regional contest at the vocational school in Varnsdorf and exhibited his works. He decided to train to become an aircraft mechanic in Košice in 1958. He and his wife Marie got married in 1962 and had their son Jiří. He joined the army prematurely because of the escalating Berlin crisis. He worked for the 10th Air Army in Hradec Králové, first as an armament mechanic, then as a gunner-radar operator in a bomber. He took part in international military exercises. He experienced the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops directly at Pouchov military airport. Even though a member of the CPC, he refused to agree with the entrance of occupation troops later in 1969 and the communists expelled him from the Party, army and also from extramural studies at Military University. He changed different blue-collar jobs and from 1967, he worked until his retirement in the uranium industry in Stráž pod Ralskem. His wife became ill with cancer and died in 1980. Jiří Ježek stayed on his own with his son whom the regime prevented from studying. At last, his son graduated from university and he later became a mayor in Liberec. The witness worked as a trade unionist and participated in negotiations on the decline of uranium mining after the Velvet Revolution. He lived in a retirement house in Vratislavice nad Nisou in 2022.