David Kabzan

* 1969  

  • “At Bartolomějská street, there were long hallways with doors. Each had an ear drawn on them. Those were the interrogation rooms. It was a narrow, long room, with a window opposite to the door, a table with a typewriter on the right hand side. A policeman in civilian clothes would sit there, taking notes. Next to him, there was Beran’s table – the guy who always questioned me. This guy would ask question and the other one would just take notes, not intervening. A long, narrow room and by the door, there was a tin cupboard, a chair and a bed. This is what any interrogation room that I’d been to looked like. I would sit in the chair, having the bed and the cupboard next to me. The interrogator would always walk by me, between the chair and the bed. I think the point was to ask questions behind my back. He would always walk towards the door, ask questions there while I wasn’t allowed to turn around. It was a psychological game of theirs. At the time of the biggest interrogation, Václav Havel was already arrested and I was about to be the star witness in his process, though I didn’t know that. In fact, until the last moment, I didn’t know what they wanted to hear from me. For a while, it appeared just like any other interrogation that I’d been to. But suddenly, as Beran stood behind my back, he pulled out his baton and hit the tin cupboard just above my head with all his force. I remember that at that moment, I lost it. Those were psychological games. Before he hit me, he hit the cupboard. It was the first time he did that. They would also trip my chair or do other things to put me under stress during a normal conversation. Causing a shock, hitting something, tripping the chair, beating the cupboard… One would start stuttering, act differently. That’s what they were after. At that moment, they were able to extract more information.”

  • “Just before the revolution, my mum moved to Prague and I stayed with her at a lodging house. Suddenly, three Volha cars arrived. I knew that they were after me so I jumped out of the window and ran away. They got mum. She said she didn’t know where I was. I knew this was bad. Instinctively, I knew I had to escape, so I went to Tanvald to the cottage of our friends. I spent about a month there. During that period they detained my whole family and my friends. They claimed that I ran over a pedestrian somewhere in Svitavy. That was quite serious, that would have been attempted murder. But I never drove a car in my life; to this day I don’t have the license. It was absurd. They claimed to have a witness, a lady whom I was supposed to buy window cleaning sheets at. While still at Tanvald, I met Petr Placák who told me that this was a common strategy, to make up a cause for arrest. So I hid in Tanvald. When I returned the next month, it was October or November already. I was summoned because of the claimed car accident and there was about to be a trial. As I walked to the court room at Ovocný trh to testify, a hundred thousand people walked past me to demonstrate. I rang the bell and asked whether I was going to be interrogated. They just laughed and sent me off.”

  • “A couple months before November 1989, we, the dissident youth, decided to create an opposition organization to the Socialist Youth Association, establishing the Independent Students’ Association. We gave it such an ostentations name but there were only about five of us. We began to set it all up. It was before the anniversary of Jan Opletal’s death, 17 November, so we planned to organize a public march through the Wenceslas square to Opletal’s street. However, we found out that the official Youth Association was also organizing something. Those people were to us what the communists were for the signatories of Charter 77. We found out that they were about to gather the night before in the wine bar u Bílého koníčka, and finalize the practicalities there. So we decided to meet them there, distribute leaflets and invite them to join our event. Our idea was to disrupt their event. I don’t remember exactly who was there apart from Monika Pajerová and Martin Mejstřík. We handed out our materials telling them that they can meet us at Albertov but that after that we would march downtown. They said, no way. So we brought our own statement to their event. As Pajerová began reading their statement, I stood some five meters from her. I saw secret police everywhere, even my agent Beran. I knew they couldn’t arrest us there since it was a permitted event of the Youth Association. I just stood as close to Pajerová as I could, knowing that they wouldn’t go after me there. She was reading her speech, not knowing what was going on. Then the agents moved to the city walls, but still, everything was legal. At that moment, we got hold of the loudspeaker and started reading our statement. We told them that it was necessary to set foot and march through the city, not go home as intended. For several hours we would read this statement over and over again. Then I and my brother found a path leading from the city walls towards the main road leading to Národní třída. Our aim was to make people demonstrate. Using the loudspeaker we convinced them to march towards St. Wencelsas statue. This was our last successful dissident intervention. We disrupted a different event and managed to gather people at Národní třída. I think most of the credit for that goes to us. Apart from me, there were David Lipovský, leading member of the Independent Students’ Association, my brother and a couple friends. Two girls whose names I forgot. There were about six of us. I think that if it were up to the Socialist Youth Association’s representatives, there would have been no march.”

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    Praha, 06.10.2015

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From the age of seventeen up until the velvet revolution, I had a tail on me

David Kabzan in 1979
David Kabzan in 1979

David Kabzan was born on 9 October 1969 in Krnov and grew up in Ostrava. His mother publicly disagreed with the communist regime. In 1984 he moved to Prague to attend a boarding school, studying exotic animal breeding. He got to know people from the dissent and himself became one of them. He used to attend lectures held at Václav Havel’s place. The secret police would frequently interrogate him. In January 1989, secret agent Petr Beran beat him up during questioning, thus forcing him to give testimony which was about to be used against Václav Havel. However, David Kabzan filed a criminal complaint stating, that the signature of the testimony was forced upon him by the use of force. The case was only heard at court in 2014. The former secret agent Petr Beran and his colleague, record-keeper Kamil Líbal who was present during David’s beating, received suspended sentences.