František Kinský

* 1947

  • “We had a bit of ‘fun’ in the evening of 20 August, and at three a.m. the express arrived from Prague, bringing some of the soldiers from their leave. They started shaking me and saying: ‘Get up, get up, it’s war, the Russians and the Germans are here.’ I said: ‘For goodness’ sake, what kind of nonsense is that, what’re you blathering about, Russians and Germans?’ And dazedly, I got out of bed and looked out into the courtyard of the barracks where we were lodged, and there really were Russian tanks there. We didn’t have even the slightest idea what was going on, what it meant. So we rushed off to HQ with the man who was in command there, I still remember him, Sergeant Graduate Welser, a friend from Budějovice, and we rushed off to HQ to ask what was going on. And there was no one there, just the standard, without which the battalion would be dispersed. And there was a Russian soldier standing there, guarding it. So we reckoned: ‘Oh, it seems the army’s finished, we’re going home.’ And we went back, and on the way we met a wide-eyed lieutenant, the battalion’s commander, who had no idea what was happening, and he looked pretty funny with his peaked cap on squint. And he went to find out what was going on.”

  • “Back then the reactor chamber was being built with the help of something completely new, a network chart. That was already with the use of IT. A network chart shows exactly what connects to what and how much slack time there is. And it is proven that when a project has more than thirty-six per cent of activities on a critical path, that is without any slack, then the construction project cannot be successful. And when I was leaving Kovoprojekt, they kept on saying that the construction work would be completed on time, and yet ninety-two per cent of all activities were on a critical path, and we were acting as if everything was okay. So I enjoyed my share of the seeing the joys of a Socialist economy in its naked truth. And I had no doubt at all that it was going to be an enormous mess-up, and that if everything is done like this, then it’s all just one big bubble, which has to burst sooner or later. And it did.”

  • “When you watch the night news, or when you can’t sleep because of some worry, and you say to yourself: I need to wind down, I’ll watch something interesting. The television often broadcasts interesting documentaries at night. And by chance you find yourself in parliament. You can’t believe your own ears, is that how people talk to each other? That’s called political culture? It’s enough to make one sick. They attack and insult each other in person. Adults! If that was ever to be my role model... thank God it’s not, is that how I should learn to deal with people, to behave politely? And these are people, some of which I myself had elected. So there was this moment of disillusionment, but on the other hand, when you do your best, when despite all this you do your best and you do what you can in all honesty, you are rewarded. And it’s a pleasant reward. You’re walking along the park, people stop you and say: It’s lovely here, you did a wonderful job of it. And for me, that is one of the biggest rewards. I then tell myself: it was not in vain. And that is important.”

  • “The people in Kostelec ‘spat’ at him, and this made him all unhappy because, as he said: ‘I haven’t done them any wrong.’ And at the time my father’s eldest brother said: ‘Wait until you’ll have nothing left, everything will change.’ And the moment that happened, as if by the swish of a magic wand, everyone started being very respectful to him, everyone called Count, everyone in Kostelec from the oldest to the youngest would greet him. And when things got really bad because they didn’t have anything at all, people would secretly bring them food. Either they were afraid that someone would see them, or they didn’t care for gratitude, so they would leave it on the window ledge or some place.”

  • “Of course, when they locked Dad up, we had to leave our villa in Košeca, our home, which was no luxury estate, it was just a house, but we had to move out and leave the district within forty-eight hours. So my mother with a small boy - me - she packed everything, loaded it on to a cattle wagon, and we left Slovakia. Where else to go but to Kostelec nad Orlicí. Granddad, although the whole estate in Kostelec had already been confiscated, nationalised, he was still allowed to live in three rooms of the residence. The rest of the stately home was made into a museum for a short time. And those are where my first memories come from because I can still remember the room we lived in with perfect clarity, even the furniture...”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 16.07.2014

    duration: 01:33:47
    media recorded in project Bohemian nobility
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“Ours is a society without positive role models. Until that changes, the problems are here to stay.”

František Kinský - chidren's portrait
František Kinský - chidren's portrait
photo: soukromý archiv pamětníka

František Kinský, full name Maria František Jan Emanuel Sylvestr Alfons, Count Kinský of Vchynice and Tetov, is the descendant of an old aristocratic family. He was born in December 1947 in Hradec Králové, where his parents happened to be staying - although they normally lived in the village of Košeca in Slovakia. His father was the director of a local paint factory, and his mother was the factory’s main shareholder. After February 1948, his father continued to direct the factory, but he was soon placed on trial for fabricated political charges. He ended up spending several years in the Jáchymov uranium mines. František Kinský lived with his mother at his grandfather’s family estate in Kostelec nad Orlicí, but they were then forced to leave Kostelec, and so they moved to Prague. He attended a secondary technical school of construction. He applied to study journalism, but he did not complete his degree. During Prague Spring and the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies in August 1968, he underwent compulsory military service, with the “road corps” (unarmed, practically non-military road workers - trans.). Upon his return he was employed at Czechoslovak Television; he then worked at a construction office of the Kovoprojekt enterprise. In 1980, he left the construction business and moved to the advertising firm Merkur, changing his focus to marketing. After 1989, he worked as the creative director of Ammirati Puris Lintas, and then in the same position at the multinational advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. František Kinský is now an active businessman, the owner of the firm Písník Kinský, which mines sand from his family’s estate, and the one-third co-owner of Cihelny Kinský, a subsidiary of the Austrian concern Weinerberger. In 2004, he assumed responsibility for the family’s stately home in Kostelec nad Orlicí after his father. In 2010, he also began taking an active part in local politics in Kostelec nad Orlicí, where he lives.