Mgr. Jiří Klíma

* 1942  

  • “He (father) still had options in 1948. He considered it for a while, but he was settled here, he had parents and us - his family here. Professor Scheler, a Swiss from Bern, offered him to come there and to stay there with him and he offered to take care of us. He was an amazing man, I remember him as well. He had been there for a few days and he was already speaking in Czech with us. Those people were philologists, my father could speak about ten languages and could not get lost in Europe. Well, we stayed at home. However, an interesting thing happened. The caretaker, a woman who looked after the whole building and gave report to relevant places about how people behaved and what they said, reported us saying that we were planning to emigrate because there were two big suitcases behind our door. However, there was clothes meant for mangle in them. So it was such a situation. And it was always immediately checked.”

  • “I went to work to Research Institute as every usual Monday and my ex- student Honza Čermák, whom I taught at Budějovická Grammar School, came to see me in the morning. He was a distinctive student but he was a good person. He came and he showed me how he looked. He had been directly in Národní třída and he was beaten and black and blue. He told me what had happened there, about the injured and how they chased them along Mikulandská street. He came to see me both to tell it to me and to ask me for advice on what they should do. I told him based on my experience with Club of Committed Independents that it was complicated and that if we wanted it to succeed, we would have to go to factories and to villages. In 1968, it failed because it was happening more or less on an intellectual level and even though there were other employees, it would not succeed without having people from different jobs and fields. Moreover, I told him to be careful because people who were unsuccessful or had been expelled in 1968 would join them. They would be active now because they felt injured and humiliated. I experienced it also in Club of Committed Independents. When we had meetings of Club of Committed Independents in Prague 2, all of sudden people, who had been expelled from various parties in 1948, spoke there. You could see that they were there to build a career.”

  • “I was lucky that I taught at a vocational school so the fact that I had founded Club of Committed Independents was not topical anymore and I did not say it anywhere. When the Russians arrived, nobody was interested in me talking about it. There were screenings at school and at the grammar school. Well, not screenings - communist had to pass those We had interviews. Nobody asked me whether I agreed with the arrival of the Soviet army. They asked communists about it. They had to answer it and they suspended their membership or they expelled them according to their answer. However, headmistress Pelcová was a trained dressmaker, she did not have further education and she built her career step by step, she even got doctorate at Evening University of Marxism-Leninism. So, when she was interviewing me, she asked me if I was a member of any anti-socialist organization. I answered truthfully that I was not . Firstly, Club of Committed Independents had never been validated de jure, so technically speaking it did not exist and secondly, I did not consider Club of Committed Independents to be anti-socialist. We did not want to be anti-socialist. So I answered truthfully that I was not a member of any anti-socialist organization. Well and that was it. They were interested in Club of Committed Independents and in K231, those were two anti-socialist organizations for them. So she was satisfied with it, she wrote something down and she left me relatively alone.”

  • “Any member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party could not be there. Ludvík Rybáček also writes that he saw in Alexander Kliment´s article in People's News that there were many people who were apolitical, moved aside. When someone was not a communist, they had nothing to do with politics, they only had to vote. So we said to each other during the time of liberation in Spring that we as independents should join together. That we should do something to participate in political life. We definitely did not mean to ruin socialism and to start capitalism here. Naturally, none of us believed the communists, however we wanted the situation to improve a little bit. It was a great event during the May Day parade when Club of Committed Independents marched with banners on its own.

  • “After the Germans did it, they went down to Horní Bousov and they dragged all the adult men from the buildings, my father was one of them. It was early in the morning, he was still wearing pyjamas and he had to line up. They made them face the wall. Around 14 men were standing there. My father was standing at the edge. My father several times demanded in German that he wanted to talk to the commander. A soldier really brought the commander of the unit. During the conversation, the German asked him how it was possible that he spoke German so well. Father told him that he was born in Vienna and that he studied in Leipzig. The German asked him what he studied and father told him that he studied Cuneiform law under professor Koschaker. They way fate interferes is fantastic. The German was surprised. Did you study under Koschaker? I studied under him as well. So we are colleagues...‘“

  • “In Horní Bousov, on 8 May, at the end of the war, some young men from Horní Bousov went to the road above Horní Bousov which led in the direction of Mladá Boleslav, and there were Germans escaping to the West there. Those young men from Horní Bousov attacked a lorry, took some guns and when a convoy of German armed tanks was driving by, they fired at a tank but missed it. Unfortunately, the way it ended was that the Germans jumped out of the tank, they took the young men captive and because in their eyes, they were partisans who fired at them, they shot them dead. They executed them.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 26.08.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 02:03:43
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I behaved in such a way so that they would not approach me with an application to the Czechoslovak Communist Party but so that they would not fire me at the same time

Jiří Klíma´s graduation photo, 1959
Jiří Klíma´s graduation photo, 1959
photo: Pamětník

Jiří Klíma was born on 31 December 1942 in Prague to a family of Josef Klíma who was the first leading Czech Orientalist, historian of Cuneiform, of the Ancient Near East, translator from the Sumerian and Akkadian languages. His mother Věra, née Erbenová worked as a Latin and French teacher at grammar school for three years, she later worked in National Medical Library as a professional librarian. Jiří grew up with his older brother Pavel and younger sister Ludmila. The family spent the end of WWII in Horní Bousov where during the last days of the war father Josef Klíma interceded on behalf of the villagers on whom the Nazis wanted to take revenge for an attack on a tank. He taught at the Faculty of Law of Charles University until political cleansing in 1948. The same year, Jiří started to attend first year of Church school in Ječná street. In 1959, he and his schoolmates from the last year of secondary school started the first rock band Sputnici that was highly popular until its dissolution in 1963. He studied at Institute of Physical Education and Sport and the Czech Language from 1959 to 1964 and he got a placement as a teacher in Plasy. He experienced politician liberation and Prague Spring there and he started a local group of Club of Committed Independents (KAN). He returned to Prague in 1968 where he spent a year teaching at a vocational school and then he started to teach at Budějovická Grammar School where he worked until 1986. He was employed at the Pedagogical Research Institute (VÚP) in the last years of the 1980s. In November 1989, they were active during the general strike and participated in the origin of Civic Forum at the Pedagogical Research Institute. He led Civic Forum in Prague - Modřany until the elections in 1990. He joined the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy (now the Security Information Service, BIS) after the revolution and he worked there for 17 years until his retirement.