Zdeněk Koukal

* 1954

  • "It was the 22nd, the 23rd, my mother took me to my grandmother because she needed to go to Moravia for her brother and my father was at work. Well, to be able to watch over me, Grandma tied my leg by the strap to the table so I wouldn't run away from her. Well, the boys from the barracks, I knew them, they went to see the waterworks for tanks, and the one never came back. And he was fifteen years old. He was shot there. He was tying a shoelace and they allegedly thought he wanted to throw a paving stone at them, so they shot him dead right on spot."

  • "Later, when I served in the military, it was in the year 1973, so the first political training of the team, it was just such a lecture by Comrade Politruk that he started explaining something to us there, and the first thing he said was that in 1968 the counterrevolution in Prague took place, and that the Soviet army liberated us. They must have hammered it into your parents' heads all their lives in schools, they tried too, but no one ever convinced me. That they didn't shoot anyone and that they were just defending themselves. So I got up and told him: 'Uncle, what are you talking about, my friend was shot!' I was let out again in the morning because I didn't have an oath, nothing, and he was decent... probably one of the few decent people."

  • "Well, when they gave us the newspaper, he wanted to let us out, and he pulled us back as the Russians were passing by. And suddenly the car stopped there, and I saw it from my window, I really saw it, and there was a young man walking by, the Russians stopped him and there was a sign written: 'Go home, Ivan.' It was in Russian. And Moscow and there was the number of kilometres. And they gave him a brick to erase it. But of course it can't just be whipped out. Well, they shot around the boy´s head; they didn't shoot him, but they shot him twice and shot him around the head like that. The holes have been there for a very long time, for a very long time. There were such holes for a real long time... even in the 1970's."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 27.11.2018

    duration: 39:25
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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He apprenticed a plumber not to have to learn hateful Russian

photo: archiv pamětníka

Zdeněk Koukal was born on May 16, 1954 in Prague. He hated Russian and refused to learn it – he almost got expelled from primary school. To get rid of the hated language, he resigned from high school education and trained as a plumber. In Prague he experienced occupation in August 1968, he was at the radio station and he also experienced gunfire at the Libeň railway station, one of his friends even died there. In the early 1970’s, during political training, he objected to the official normalization interpretation of the Soviet occupation, and since then he has carried the label of politically unreliable in the cadre materials. He took part in anti-regime demonstrations in January 1989, known as Palach Week, and in November 1989, when he enthusiastically welcomed freedom.