Prof. PhDr., DrSc. Josef Kolmaš

* 1933  †︎ 2021

  • “They gave me a great welcome in Kyjov, they were nice to me. They sympathized with my fate when I had lost half a year of school just for nothing. While we were in Klíčava, they were bringing girls from the Youth Union to us, and they made friends with us and danced with us, and so on. They simply wanted to re-educate us. That was a shame. We were building a dam and a road around the water reservoir. The road continued to Lány. And just beyond this road there was already the Lány park with the presidential residence. So that was what we did. There was no cultural life, apart from the Union girls who had been sent there to seduce us.”

  • “In 1959, when the tensions in Tibet began, I was in China already for the second time; I was sent there by the Academy of Sciences. When I returned, I became a member of the Academy, and I was ordered to go to China for a short time. I tried to get to Tibet as well. But I only reached the city of Lanzhou, which is the capital of the Gansu province. I already saw streams of train cars carrying cannons and tanks. The ambassador advised me not to continue my journey. And I did well. I would have experienced the massacre which occurred in Lhasa. But I enjoyed compensation for it many years later when I was able to get to Tibet legally. But back then, for security reasons it was not possible to include it in my study plan and to arrange it. I was not able to witness what was happening there.”

  • “It was an international exchange. A cultural agreement was signed, and it stipulated the number of students sent by the Czechoslovak party and the number of students sent by the Chinese party. A head for head. There were two groups of students. There was an older generation of students, those who had been sent to China immediately after 1949, 1950, when china was liberated. At that time, it was Václav Kopecký who was promoting this. He had a speech in the Lucerna Palace about the People’s Party in China and about how its victory had tilted the Earth’s axis. And since the Earth’s axis became tilted, many students were thus admitted to study sinology.”

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    Praha, v bydlišti pamětníka, 15.05.2014

    duration: 01:18:11
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The first Czech tibetologist

kolmas dobovy orez.jpg (historic)
Prof. PhDr., DrSc. Josef Kolmaš
photo: dobová archiv pamětníka, současná foto A. Jelínková

  Prof. PhDr. Josef Kolmaš, DrSc. was born August 6, 1933 in Těmice in the Hodonín district. In 1945 he began to study the church grammar school in Velehrad which was established by the Jesuit Order. On 13th -14th April 1950 during the so-called operation Action K, which was to disband the Catholic fraternal orders, Josef and the other novices of the Velehrad grammar school were interned in Bohosudov, where they spent almost six months, and then he worked on the construction of water reservoirs in Klíčava and in Hájek u Prahy. In autumn 1950 he transferred to the grammar school in Kyjov, from which he graduated in 1952. In 1952-1957 he studied Chinese studies at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. After graduation he received a two-year postgraduate scholarship for study in Beijing, where he focused on the study of Tibetan language. After his return from China in 1959 Josef began working in the Oriental Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague, and in 1994-2002 he served as its director. In 2003 he was appointed a professor. Prominent Czech tibetologist professor Josef Kolmaš is an author of many academic books, articles and studies. He translates from Chinese, Tibetan, English and other languages. He lives in Prague and he still actively works in his academic field.