Professor, PhDr. Richard Jung

* 1926  †︎ 2014

  • “Before we went to the harvest, around five o’clock in the morning, we played tennis at the Sokol [gym] hall. Professor Znojemský lived across the road, he was a well-known history teacher here, and it was because of him that I chose to study social sciences. A grammar school teacher. We were quite good friends with him. He ran out of the house and said: ‘Drop all of that and come listen to the radio!’ So we literally dropped the rackets and ran to him. And that was the news that the Germans had attacked the Soviet Union. That was on 21 June. And that was the day I founded the resistance.”

  • “We were locked up, of course. I was to be executed, I had already handed in my shoes at one o’clock in the afternoon. I sat on the bunk, on the third or fourth courtyard, on top, so that my lice would fall on to the others - I was a high-ranking prisoner by then. I swung my feet about and wondered where I would make my attempt to escape. So they’d shoot me on the run, because I didn’t want to go there like an ox... like a lamb to the slaughter. I wanted to escape. That was because I had been assigned the category of RU – Rückkehr unerwünscht. So they decided, before [we] escaped, they’d have to execute us. That was all according to the rules, which is something that people who experienced the Communist and Soviet occupation don’t understand. Because that period was, in my opinion, characteristic in that, on the contrary, there were no rules. That the Communists ruled with uncertainty. That no one knew, not even in the higher echelons, when they would be suddenly accused of something...”

  • “When we arrived in Czechoslovakia, it was changed beyond recognition. Overnight. The faces were rigid, mirthless, exactly the way it was under the Germans. The very first night in February. [...] I came back for two reasons: one was that I wanted to see if it was possible to organise a resistance here. And two was that I wanted to get my parents out. I quickly discovered that organising resistance was out of the question. Because some of my best friends, who were still anti-Communists... I suddenly found out that they’d already joined the Party. Without telling me. So already back then in 48, right after the February [coup], I quickly became convinced that no one could be trusted here. All the while, various ridiculous demonstrations were going on, like one time in front of Melantrich - I stood on the edge - there was a group of students there, shouting: ‘The whole world can see that we miss Beneš!’ I didn’t miss Beneš, for one. And I could also see that the whole world wasn’t really interested in us. Back then people thought, as is usually the case, that the Czech Republic is centre of the world. That it’s the most important thing in the world, which everyone cares about. And yet the reality is that no one cares at all.”

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    Kutná Hora , 31.08.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 04:56:25
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I had a loaded Beretta in my pocket during Gottwald’s speech, and I wondered whether history was made by people or by some kind of currents

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photo: archiv RJ

Richard Jung was born on 19 June 1926 in Čáslav, into the mixed Czech-Jewish family of Ladislav Jung, a patriot and veteran Czechoslovak legionary. He grew up in Kutná Hora, the home town of her Jewish mother of the Korec family. The witness attended a German grammar school in Jihlava, but he returned to Kutná Hora in 1938. In 1940 the Gestapo arrested his father for the first time for being a member of Defence of the Nation, a resistance group. In June 1941, a mere fifteen years old, Richard established the Czechoslovak Youth Resistance, and he was active in the movement until 1944, when his half-Jewish origin caused him to be deported to the concentration camp in Postoloprty together with his father. From there the Gestapo took him to the Small Fortress in Terezín under suspicion of resistance activity. Richard Jung kept silent about his activities throughout the brutal interrogations he underwent, and he and his father both survived in Terezín until its liberation in May 1945. After the war he studied abroad. In 1948 he managed to legally travel to Finland, and from there he fled to Norway. He studied political science and sociology and worked as a university assistant. Following a 1953 workshop in Salzburg organised by the Americans, he received several scholarship offers from prestigious American research institutes. In 1954 he emigrated to the United States of America. He worked at Vassar College and then at Columbia University, where he continued his studies of sociology. He studied social and clinical psychology and social anthropology at Harvard. After completing his postgraduate degree, Richard Jung worked at several academic institutions, the most significant of which was the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where he was tenured as Professor of Sociology and Theoretical Psychology for two decades; he was also the director of the Centre for Systematic Research. After the Velvet Revolution he returned to Czechoslovakia and settled down in the family farm in Kutná Hora. He remained publicly active, gave lectures, and published articles until a very high age. Died on 30th March 2014.