Bedřich Koutný

* 1954

  • “So three secret policemen picked us up and drove us to the town hall, to the municipality in Zlín. There, an authorized clerk handed it over to us officially – that based on a decision of Prague’s municipal authority the assembly was forbidden, that we had thus been informed about it and about the consequences in case we would not respect it… Naturally, we went to Prague. They let us in that one time. We had a meeting in the apartment of film director Andrej Krob who lived just above Wenceslas Square. All of the activists have met there. We were looking out of the window and saw all those police vans, one next to another. At the agreed time we came out with flowers, to lay them next to St. Wenceslas. Naturally, as we were arriving, they arrested us like sheep, one after another. They drove us around police stations and I got lucky. I was detained at Vinohrady, there were fifteen of us in a cell for two and they were great company…”

  • “They had a permit to search through the whole apartment as well as the basement. They showed it to me and I said: ‘What can I do, just carry out your duty.’ They searched through the whole apartment. I had no idea that in the meantime my father who had a small distillery, distilled some calvados there during my business trip. It was a kettle with some tubes, a cooling device and so on; he kept it in the laundry room. When I came to tell him that they were about to search the basement, the poor man almost had a heart attack, he knew they would find it. They had spent an hour in the laundry room, going through shelves, looking for documents… Then they came to the machine and said: ‘And what is this? Fuck, boys, this is distillery, put out your cigarettes, quick!’ So after an hour they found out about this illegal distillery. That was a great success for them, of course, finding at least something, discovering this distillery.”

  • “At that time, the State Security made plans with the Czechoslovak Television to uncover an anti-state center in Zlín. They would record it all and make a deterring example of it for the youth throughout the country. We were naturally ready for it because at least a month earlier they pulled off surveillance officials from the whole country. There were some thirty active dissidents in Zlín – people who participated in samizdat, who were politically involved, including Czech-Polish solidarity. We collaborated with the Poles in information exchange. A lot of people brought our samizdat to out Polish friends and returned with information on what was going on in their country. In 1985 this monstrous crackdown was being prepared. Each of us around twenty-five people were followed by three vehicles with three people in each.”

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    Zlín, 16.04.2014

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“Not to fear and not to steal.”

Bedrich Koutny.jpg (historic)
Bedřich Koutný
photo: Paměť národa

Bedřich Koutný was born in 1954 in Zlín. After graduating from high school in 1972, he was rejected from the University of Aeronautics in Košice, Slovakia. He then began to work as a surveyor and in 1974 began studying geodetics at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague. He graduated successfully and served his year-long military service as a field surveyor with the Military Project Institute. Ever since returning to Zlín in 1980 he became active in the dissent, collaborating among others with Jaromír Němec, Bohuslav Obdržálek, Stanislav Devátý and Jan Ruml. He printed Samizdat literature and periodicals - information on Charter 77, Sport, SPUSA magazine. In 1985, a crackdown on Zlín’s dissidents, the secret police carried out the first house search at his place. When he became a known figure for the secret police in 1987 had he signed Charter 77. In the same year, he and Stanislav Devátý established the Society of Friends of the USA (SPUSA). In 1988 and 1989 he was one of the spokespersons of SPUSA, co-organizing the Palach week and other events. In 1989, he became one of the coordinators of the Civic Forum in Zlín and participated in a citizens’ commission vetting members of the secret police. In 1990, he left his surveyor job and took up employment as police director in Zlín. Later, he served as head of the Police Presidency of the Zlín Region.