Jan Kalina

* 1935  

  • "No, it didn't affect us at all in that village, that year 1948, it didn't affect our family. My father worked as a carpenter and then he held of job of a road worker and my mother worked too, because we had a farm, and when the cooperatives were established, we had to join it too. The mother worked in the cooperative for a short time and the father worked as a road worker until retirement. When I returned from the war, my mother fell ill, she had a stroke and was half paralyzed and could do nothing, she had just learned to walk, she could walk and talk. That was really something... But it was beneficial because she taught me to cook, I had to do everything. There were no washing machines at that time, they did the laundry washing in a washtub. I learned to cook and I still enjoy it and I like cooking."

  • "And there I met a colleague from České Budějovice, named Evžen. And he was there for the mustard, we happened to meet, so we talked as we were colleagues. And we walked along the Wenceslas square, we crossed the underpass and then we went up on the right side. And there, when we came over Wenceslas Square, he said he was going to the station to catch a train, so we said goodbye, and there was such a fountain under the Museum and there it was reconstructed, it was divided, and there was a fire. And as we said goodbye, suddenly a fire rolled down from that fountain. And when the fire ran out, there was the switchman's booth, so the switchman ran out of the booth and had such a coat and threw it into the fire and suddenly the fire went out and we saw that it wasn't rubber, but that it was human. And because there was still a fire up there, we went to the terrace in front of the Museum, there was such a stone railing, and there was a burning fire and there were about three or four boys, then called 'the hairy ones', they had long hair, and there they read a kind of statement that there was a protest against the invasion of Soviet troops that someone had burned himself."

  • "During war we walked on foot taking a shortcut through the forest. And when the German youth was there, they had classes from eight in the morning to eleven or noon. And we had one to six. And then they were scaring us from going through the woods because there were guerrillas there, then. And so we collected or found two quartz stones at home. We had them in our pockets, and when the last three of us went home, it was already dark, no cars drove past, so we could mentally endure it, so we clashed the stones together and they flew off sparks. And that's how we endured the way home. It was pretty bad."

  • Full recordings
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    Humpolec, 26.05.2021

    duration: 01:18:41
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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He saw the burning of Jan Palach with his own eyes

Jan Kalina (en)
Jan Kalina (en)
photo: Paměť národa

Jan Kalina was born on December 21, 1935 in the village of Vřesník, near Jičín. He trained as an electrician in Ledeč nad Sázavou and then graduated from the industrial school in Valašské Meziříčí. He served in the military in Litoměřice and later started working for the Jihlava Woodworks. After his wedding in 1963, he joined the District National Committee in Pelhřimov as an energetic. In January 1969, when he was in Prague, he was a direct witness to the burning of Jan Palach on Wenceslas Square. In 1970, the Kalin family’s first son, Jan, was baptized by Bohumil Vít Tajovský. In 1996, the witness retired. In 2021 he lived in Vřesník.