Václav Jozefy

* 1934  

  • „We shared our cells with the worst criminals. I shared it with Tonda Vrba, who killed fifteen people. He wanted to cross the borders and killed everyone who wanted to stop him. When he was cought he was too young to be hung. There was another one who beated to death his sister with a chain because she hadn’t let him rape her. Sometimes it was a drama. There were inspections checking the walls and looking for things hidden in them. Every evening there was a control checking the prisoners’ presence. There were some warders who checked the boots with a glass pin-head. We gathered beets and you can imagine how the boots were dirty after returning from the fields. When warders found out a piece of mud bigger than the pin-head, a prisoner who was the owner of these boots had to clean halls during the night. And in the morning he had to be back at work. I didn’t experience corporeal punishments but only persecutions similar to the one I’ve just described.“

  • "He was a real phenomenon. After 1948, he became a municipal librarian which suited him well because he was a speed-reader. He would bring home a pile of books be able to read through them all in a weekend. He was interested in art, as well, and printed monographic books. This fact is not widely known (…) During his life he printed dozens of books and it took hundreds and thousands hours of work. He printed books on a very rare paper from Japan and he left its edges clean. He tempted young artists to tint or decorate them. Thus, he found Váchal, Zrzavý, Braunerová, Konůpek, Lízner etc. (…) He also had a vast collection of original paintings which were not framed that were hung one next to another on the wall, so that there was no empty space. There were 60, 70 pictures in our flat. Everything else was stored, for example there were 420 original paintings by Svolinský stored in a pile, interleaved with blank paper sheets.“

  • „Váchals’s drawings were well-known among artists for quite a long time. In 1945 Nejedlý became the Minister of Education and Arts and the following situation occured: Nejedlý wanted to show Váchal’s drawing to his foreign guests. Josef Portman indeed hated Nejedlý for his communistic inclinations and for his inability to finish anything. He wrote a bibliography about Smetana, but he didn’t finish it. (…) It was summer and I was at home. Josef Portman liked sunbathing in the garden that was behind the house, in front of which there was a road. And when Josef Portman was sunbathing he was wearing a swimsuit. And having a leaf on his nose protecting it against sun, he was sitting on a chair. Someone rang the bell and he said from distance: ‚Marta, answer the door.‘ (…) My mother left the kitchen to answer the door. She opened the door and Nejedlý said: „Is Mr. Portman at home?“. I was staying and listening in the hall… She said: „I will have a look“. She came here and opened this door: „Minister Nejedlý is here. Are you at home?“ He turned round and said so loudly that Nejedlý must have heard it: “Tell the minister that I am not at home.“ My mother turned round and said: „Minister, he is not at home.“ And she closed the door. And this irrelevant situation played a role later, when I applied for the university before entering to the compulsory military service. I applied several times… Finally I had a meeting with the minister Nejedlý. His grandson was my schoolmate at the Real Grammar School. But at the moment Nejedlý saw me, he turned red and threw me away. After the second world war, the situation in the society was like this.“

  • „There were going to be the elections of the members of the school presidium of the Czechoslovak Youth Association (ČSM). Persons who were nominated were true communists and they were leaded by Pavel Nádvorník (who died recently). I was in the 5th year of the Real Grammar School and my classmates and I didn’t underestand it, but students from the 7th year did and they said they would not accept it. They arranged an action called ATA. I seized my opportunity and made a class survey; who is who and I prepared the elections. ATA had nothing to do with Střítecký. (…) I remember only one thing: our goal was to prevent communists to be leaders of the School board of the Czechoslovak Youth Association.“

  • “1989 was a great relief from the stress brought by the communism. I was surprised that it has really happened, that the ice really began to thaw and the communists lost their grip. They kept us isolated from the outer world. We didn’t really know what the world on the other side looked like. So 1989 was a promise that has become almost fulfilled. Not in every aspect. We couldn’t follow up with the democratic tradition of the First Czechoslovak Republic because the communist ruled far too long. The birth of the new democracy naturally brought a lot of flaws, mistakes and misunderstandings, but as a whole it is just incredible. Instead of desperately trying to get some toilet paper, we can fly to America any time we want.”

  • „I didn’t say much because I was the youngest there. (…) I remember the atmosphere and surroundings. I remember what the conditions in Litomyšl were. The women that worked in factories were indoctrinated and they shouted and spat at us. In the Smetana House they could also use their umbrellas to hurt us. 'Hang them' they shouted and pointed at us. This situation was a result of the effort to make a monstrous process.“

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    pracoviště pana Jozefy, 13.08.2008

    duration: 01:34:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Litomyšl, 21.09.2009

    duration: 03:46
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Chrudim, 18.03.2019

    duration: 43:55
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Women who worked in factories were indoctrinated and they shouted at us, “Hang them!”

jozefy_mladi.JPG (historic)
Václav Jozefy

Václav Jozefy was the stepson of a well-known bibliophile, cultural patron, and municipal librarian of the town Litomyšl Josef Portman as of 1948. In 1944, he entered the first class of Litomyšl’s grammar school where he studied until May of 1950. He was one of the best students. During this time, he sympathized with the “Scouting Movement,” although he never actually joined a Scout organization. In 1949, however, he joined a student group called “Hvězda” (Star) at age 16. Under the direction of a fellow student, Miroslav Kohout, the objective of this group was to resist the activities and pressure of the newly established Czechoslovak Youth Association. Jozefy was responsible for making a list of students who had resisted signing membership into the Czechoslovak Youth Association who could support non-Communist candidates to the School Board of the Czechoslovak Youth Association in the following elections. The group was not able to exert any major influence, however, because Miroslav Kohout was arrested during an unrelated incident just before the summer of 1949. Václav Jozefy attended school for one more year to follow before he was expelled for his discovered involvement in a fabricated political trial against rector Stříteský and other grammar school students. After spending the summer working in a sugar refinery in Cerekvice, Jozefy and 25 others were arrest on September 26th, 1950 and taken to court. The State Court sentenced him to six months of imprisonment for what it deemed to be “grouping against the state.” Jozefy served his prison sentence in the Institute for Juvenile Delinquents in Zámrsk. Josef Portman, Václav’s stepfather, was absent from the court hearing because of his alleged health problems, but in fact he saw the actions of his stepson as a discredit of his own name and consequently renounced him. Afterwards, Václav Portman took the name of his departed father - Jozefy. Václav Jozefy was musically gifted and began playing the piano at age five. After he entered the army in 1956, he won the army music competition. This finally allowed him to gain back his status as a second-rate citizen and was permitted to study again after a previous eleven failed attempts to do so. In the years 1958-1960 he managed to graduate from grammar school and continue his studies at the Chemical-Technological University in Pardubice. With his new engineer degree, he became a manager in the food and sugar industry.