Pavel Kmoch

* 1968

  • “November 17th was Friday, it happened at night, and I had a night shift from Saturday to Sunday, and they always came to us, at two in the morning the trains arrived, and they brought fresh newspapers. And suddenly there was a report in two newspapers that was simply true, which did not happen under the Bolsheviks. There was simply a short message about the fact that there was a demonstration, that it was unauthorized and that brutally suppressed by the police. So I thought to myself: 'Um, something is happening.' Therefore, the second morning after my shift, I immediately went to Wenceslas square. Moreover, that was actually the first demonstration that was; no one had organized it yet. There were no speakers, just people, who were quite angry. And they were angry in the way that there was a police camera, the one that stared at the horse on Wenceslas Square, someone climbed up to the newsstand and grabbed that camera by the cable and threw it away. The cops stood around, watched, and did nothing. So I was like, 'Good, good! It's off to a good start.' But we were still worried the whole time, yeah, if we didn't get it right, at least. Then someone came up with the idea that we should go to Prague Castle, so it went. There were already thousands of those people. We barricaded the trams, simply trams scribbled with candles, and as a matter of fact you could feel that suddenly something was happening, just in two or three days. We came to the bridge, which is near the Faculty of Law, that we went to the Castle to see Jakeš, who was coincidentally not there. Well, we got halfway to the bridge and there was a double cordon of cops, armoured personnel carriers with nets, and they just stopped it there. So we kept standing, it was cold in November. Then we sat on the ground. We did not know what was going to happen, we could not go back; there were people everywhere. I was looking at the river, it was already dark, and I said: 'If I have to jump, should I swim the fifty meters to the other side, or not?' We really thought they would start beating us. But they had orders to do nothing, so they just waited until the people cared no longer, and all gradually left.”

  • "We have always been the so-called defective youth. We did not take part in any organized resistance, we were very afraid of that, because they would kick us out of school, right, and possibly lock up our mother for not looking after us. Still, on the one hand, we went out for tramp wandering, which the communists did not like very much, because we wore American rags and long knives and we did what we wanted and slept in the forest and so on. Well, for one thing, at that time I was a punk, so I listened to music that was quite often banned. The Bolsheviks didn't like that music at all either, because according to them it was dirty, it was loud and all about things that the communists didn't like. So we were, as I say, defective youth.'

  • "Actually, I started when I went to that daycare center in the zero school, so it was like one day a week we had studies and otherwise we had to work at that daycare center. So I was cleaning. Then, when I finished there, I was supposed to serve in military, which of course I did not want to do. Having two years somewhere in Slovakia, simply on the other side of the country and so on. So I looked for ways to avoid it; of course the usual ways were medical postponements, which I succeeded in, but that still didn't solve anything, because the issue was just a postponed. This still did not mean a blue book, which meant incapacity for military service for health reasons. And at that time there was such a thing, it was called the five-meter, that instead of serving in the army for two years, you could work somewhere in some company of strategic importance lacking working staff. One worked there for nineteen months and then went to the army for another five. So I thought, come on, five months are manageable. So I went to work as a wagon cleaner at the station, which was a job that not many people wanted to do. It's such a rather ugly and unpleasant job. However, I worked there for about three years and I somehow managed to avoid the army service."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 14.12.2021

    duration: 50:44
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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It’s terrible when you can say certain things only at home

Pavel Kmoch (en)
Pavel Kmoch (en)
photo: archiv pamětníka

Pavel Kmoch was born on July 26, 1968 in Prague. To avoid compulsory military service, he worked as a laborer at the railway station for several years. From the age of sixteen he went out with tramps and also participated in anti-communist demonstrations and banned concerts. After the revolution, he made a living by selling antiques. In 2021, he lived in Prague.