PhDr. Martin Komárek

* 1961

  • “Back then, there was an understanding that different things are being said at home; that it was also allowed to say pretty much anything out in a pub… But biographies were being altered. My dad taught me that and as much as I respect him I am a bit angry with him because of that. Hadn’t I learned this, I could’ve gotten wiser sooner. I mean writing that one is from a blue-collar family, from a harmonic family environment, aiming on building socialism… One would learn this kind of bullshit and the right places and times to say it in order to have a peaceful life. It was a mantra of sorts which enabled us to live in that society. And this was already at the time when we would speak completely openly about the regime at home and when I began arguing with my dad. Especially later at the university I discovered a liking for the USA and Ronald Reagan and found this game of socialism stupid. But I respected completely the fact that this could be discussed at home or in a pub while at the same time stating that mantra in public which allowed for an official functioning of the society.”

  • Jan Palach’s funeral. I remember that it was very cold and I went to the demonstrations, also publishing interviews with those present there. I always went with it to the editor-in-chief and he always said: ‘No, this can’t get published.’ It made me a bit desperate. I was an editor of the foreign section responsible for the Soviet Union. My job there consisted of following the official press agency, editing the news and adding headlines. I had an idea to make the first page on the Palach week, and so I altered all the headlines to hint towards it. Water cannons, tear gas, beating people… I took for instance news from Korea, the so-called capitalist world of violence and injustice. But I inserted headlines describing the situation on the Wenceslas Square. When I went to the typesetter who was supposed to set it with lead, he told me: ‘Martin, don’t be stupid, you’ll serve time for this.’ But I was either lucky or unlucky. The deputy editor-in-chief who was on duty and responsible for the print was not feeling well or was just so stupid that he didn’t realize what was going on. So it all got published the other day. But the people at the Central Committee of the Communist Party or at the politburo got the point and gave an order to have me fired from the paper.”

  • “It was absolute euphoria; it made us all so terribly happy. It was something we were so looking forwards to and when it happened, it was a great party. An amazing experience. It was for the first time in my life when I felt I could be really useful. Up until then, one would write some novels and stack them at home, not believing they would ever get published. Work, as I described earlier, was a farce. Back then it was possible to actually do something, arrange something, and go places. We began organizing the newspaper according to our preferences. We started writing freely which was a thing that attracted and entertained me the most. Free writing and the opportunity to describe reality and to produce real newspaper – that was something we dreamt of but we didn’t believe that such a radical change of regime could take place. Up until 1989 there were few people who did. I think that there were really just a handful of people who believed it would lead to something else than easing of the regime’s pressure.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 25.02.2016

    duration: 50:02
  • 2

    Praha, 03.03.2016

    duration: 01:25:28
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Normally, I don’t deal with the past; I’m forward-looking

Martin Komárek
Martin Komárek
photo: natáčení ED 2016

Martin Komárek was born on 13 February 1961 in Prague. His father, the economist and politician Valtr Komárek, was born in 1930 to an unmarried couple of Jewish origin. All of his relatives died in concentration camps. Valtr’s foster parents protected him against deportation to the Terezín ghetto throughout the war. After its end he followed his ideals and joined the Communist Party. In the 1960s the whole family lived in Cuba where Valtr worked as an advisor. He became one of the faces of the Prague Spring and later of the Velvet Revolution. Valtr and his wife Alena, née Müllerová, brought up their sons Martin and Michal towards conformity and obedience of the communist regime’s rituals. The goal was to guarantee them the possibility to study, find a decent job and a calm life short of conflict with the authorities. Following graduation at a grammar school, Martin Komárek began studying at the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, Charles University in Prague. He graduated from Marxist-Leninist philosophy and political economy. He developed a serious interest in philosophy and also studied it at seminars organized in private homes by dissidents led by Egon Bondy, Pavel Bratinka and Daniel Kroupa. Yielding to the pressure of his father Martin hadn’t signed Charter 77. He entered the Communist Party since he was convinced that only gradual internal reform could change the general situation. His party membership was also a condition for lecturing philosophy at the faculty. He left the position of an assistant professor in 1985, realizing that it was impossible to work freely. Moreover, his meagre salary didn’t allow him to provide for the family. He joined the editorial board of the Mladá fronta daily, covering among other things the Soviet Union. He was fired following his publication of information on repressions during the Palach Week in January 1989. Immediately, he joined the Central Committee of the Socialist Youth Association. During the Velvet Revolution he returned to Mladá fronta. After the takeover of the daily by the editorial board he was elected deputy editor-in-chief. In the late-1990s he left the managing position and became the daily’s chief commentator. He stayed there up until 2013 when he decided to enter politics. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament from the top of the ANO 2011 movement list in the Liberec region.