JUDr. Jiří Kašpar

* 1953

  • "We went in a sleeper car and there were four beds and two older Lithuanian women went with us. We were already talking on the way there, and we were thinking for the first time that maybe things were somehow different from what we had thought, because these Lithuanian women were completely open with us. So that was kind of a point of departure. Then we got there and we met people and everything was different. A year before that, a student had burned himself to death there, in Kaunas, and as we would travel on weekends, we were also in Kaunas, so they told us where the place was, from a distance. So we walked past the place. As usual, there were these two grey-haired gentlemen, just sitting there reading a newspaper, it was like in a movie. So we would pretend we weren't looking, we would just walk past the place. No one would talk about it in fact. So there was this anti-Soviet or anti-Russian... it was still there, getting momentum, but no one would talk about it here.”

  • "And during the break I couldn't stand it any longer and went to see him with the daughter of a friend of mine from Slovakia. I patted him on the shoulder from behind and told him, 'Thank you for what you've been doing for us', and asked him if he would give me an autograph. So he took the thing and signed it. And then a girl named Kateřina came in, and he gave her an autograph as well. And the second half of the concert was just great. Joan Baez came out, and she passed greetings from Wałęsa, I think in Polish, because she came from Poland. And people had already been roaring. And then Ivan Hoffman came on and sang a song, and halfway through the organizers turned him off, they didn't let him finish singing, he sang four or five verses, and then suddenly they cut the microphones off. Then there was a whistle and the whole hall, there could have been three thousand people there, started chanting 'Charter! Charter!' After that, we walked all around Bratislava until two o'clock in the morning, that was on 10 June 1989, before 'Just a few sentences' came out, shortly after Havel's release, he was locked up for about two months for participating in the Palach Week. And then there were petitions for his release, and he came to Bratislava maybe three weeks after he had been released. So at that time it was still... an amazing experience!"

  • "There were about 40 to 50 long-haired people sitting there in the meadow, drinking, having fun, and suddenly a bus full of police officers arrived and they started to gather them into the bus, saying they were going to take them away. So I was filming it and all of a sudden somebody twisted my arm from behind, the arm with which I held the camera- It was the local cops who started questioning me about what I was doing there. I had to... which was a bit of a stunt because I was ostentatiously cranking film out of the camera as people streamed past there as festival goers. I thought that would be the end of it. It wasn't. We had to go to a police station, and they interrogated us, my wife and myself, and then they would let us go. There they told me that this footage I made was terribly dangerous. As some time before that, after the arrest of ten people associated with the Charter in 1979, West German television had filmed this programme with Vaculik and maybe four others - about what they thought about it. And the police officers argued that I would send the footage to West Germany and it would be used for propaganda purposes. That's why they detained me, they argued. Then they would let us go, but they passed it up to the district administration of the SNB Hodonín, and their director wrote a letter to our chairman of the advocacy in Prague, stating that I was filming a raid against the so-called free youth there. And that this was unacceptable and that they were asking for a communication of measures taken against me."

  • "Our friendship was very strong, however, we had a law advisory centre in Svitavy, and every two years our manager would be summoned by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, by this comrade Kopec, who was in charge of these administrative organizations. And because there was an informant living in a house next to the Homolas, this information, that we were associating with them, got to the Communist Party Central Committee. At first, the director would just reprehend me, saying that this Kopec had asked her, and that she didn't want any trouble, so she would reprehend me. And later, it was that I didn't stop it and that I wasn't behaving like a socialist lawyer and that Kopec had been giving her quite a hard time. And that she had to punish me. It was quite an absurd punishment, because I was working here in Polička, alone with my secretary, there were three lawyers in Svitavy, and I was punished by having to go to Svitavy every Friday to their office, to just sit there on a chair. I had no clients there, so I would just sit there, read, or take my files there to study them. But as a punishment, it was utterly absurd. That was in 1986 or 1987, and then it would just fade away.”

  • Full recordings
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    Polička, 26.09.2020

    duration: 02:09:52
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - HRK REG ED
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One of the Brave Ten

Jiří Kašpar in Vilnius, 1974
Jiří Kašpar in Vilnius, 1974
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Kašpar was born on 23 August 1953 in Rychnov nad Kněžnou. He spent his childhood and youth in Kostelec nad Orlicí, a town famous for its underground scene and anti-regime activities. In addition to his studies, he was a musician and a sportsman. He dreamt of becoming a sports journalist, but in the end he obeyed his father’s wishes and went to study law. During his studies, he visited Lithuania, one of the countries of the then Soviet Union, as part of his summer activities. This trip confirmed his belief that not everything in the Soviet Union was as presented by the media of the time. After graduating from law school, he started working as an attorney in Polička. He and his wife founded and ran a film club in the town for several years. At the beginning of the 1980s, he met the Charter 77 petitioners, Mrs and Mr Homoala from nearby Pomezí. Their friendship did not escape the attention of the State Security and the subsequent reprimands from their superiors. Attorney Jiří Kašpar got off with only a mild exemplary punishment. After the crackdown on Národní Třída (National Avenue) on 17 November 1989, he became involved in the process of political change, was a founding member of the local Civic Forum and a city councilor after the first elections. He later joined the newly formed Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA). He continued to actively follow political events after his retirement. He retired from the practice of law in 2019 due to health reasons. In 2020, Jiří Kašpar lived in Polička.