Daniel Kříž

* 1967  

  • “I remember how the crowd crushed me against a parked car. Luckily, someone jumped on to the car and gave me a hand up. The situation was stressful and unpleasant. Riot-squad police in white helmets were advancing against us. I was close to the front, so I saw that they were boys perhaps younger than we were. Some of them were nervous, some looked angry. Some behaved aggresively, others less so. I also noticed certain individuals scattered among them, mostly bulky types in red berets. I was later told they were paratroopers. They behaved much more viciously than the emergency squad because they’d single out people from the crowd. Those were often people who were recording or taking pictures, who were dealt with very roughly and dragged off somewhere. When the situation became unbearable, people were screaming because there wasn’t even enough room to breathe, they opened up a passage through the arcade, which is walled up now - where the little memorial used to be. They let all of the demonstrators out through there. They ran through, policemen standing on both sides smashing almost everyone on the head with their batons. It was bad luck for anyone who fell. I was lucky enough to get through, so I ducked down the first side street and practically survived without any serious damage. But my friend who was there with me tripped up, and they beat him real bad on the ground so he couldn’t even move for two days.”

  • “Of course, I always found history interesting and enjoyable. The difficult thing was to decide to go study history in those times. Because it was assumed that you wouldn’t be able to teach history the way you’d perhaps like to. You couldn’t give all the information. In the end I chose to study Czech and French. Luckily, I started teaching after it was already allowed to say what you considered suitable, when political censure had basically ceased to exist. I consider that lucky because I think it must have been very difficult for every teacher, especially of the humanities, to withhold or avoid speaking about some things. To explain to students how things were without getting tangled up in it.”

  • “Groups were formed that were to travel outside of Prague and provide information about what had happened and what was happening, because the television was controlled by the regime, and the news reports were not objective... Each group usually had someone who had actually been in National Avenue, plus another student, and plus some well-known actor, who was to help gain attention. Naďa Konvalinková was assigned to my group - she was very outgoing and helped us a lot. Especially in the situation when we came to Příbram to inform miners at Háje mine shaft. They had just come topside and were tired, and didn’t look like they were in the mood to listen to someone from Prague. Naďa Konvalinková was small and wanted to be more visible, so she climbed up on to this small knob of dirt that was by the car park. It had just snowed - she slipped, fell down, her feet shot into the air, and she started to roar with laughter. That broke the ice. They saw a familiar face, a woman they knew from the telly, laughing, and that helped ease up the atmosphere. They then heard us out without much trouble.”

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    Příbram, 12.12.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 33:27
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Stating one’s opinion or the truth under Communism? There was the occasional slip of the tongue

Daniel Kříž on graduation photography, 1986
Daniel Kříž on graduation photography, 1986
photo: archiv pamětníka

Daniel Kříž was born on 14 August 1967 in Příbram. As a child he believed the propaganda, which was confirmed by his school education and blared at him from all sides and all mass media. It seemed more logical to him than the anti-regime opinions held and taught to him by his father. But he came to see the truth in his parents’ stance at grammar school. He graduated in 1985. He worked for a year and then enrolled at the Faculty of Education of Charles University. He studied Czech and French. He participated in the demonstrations of Palach Week, during which one of his university friends was arrested and promptly expelled from school. In summer 1989 he visited Gdańsk and saw with his own eyes the wondrous political transformation that gave him new energy and hope of change in his homeland as well. On Friday 17 November he joined the protest march from Albertov to Vyšehrad and all the way to National Avenue, where he remained until the crowd was violently dispersed by the police. He was fortunate not to have suffered any serious injury. In the following week of strikes he joined one of the many forming groups of three - a student who had participated in the demonstration on National Avenue, another student, and a well-known person, usually an actor or actress - who were to inform truthfully of the events outside of Prague. Together with a friend and the actress Naďa Konvalinková they spoke to various groups, including miners from Háje mine shaft near Příbram. They were chased out of the Orion chocolate factory in Modřany by armed security staff. After completing his studies he worked at Rainbow Home, where he helped people with mental handicaps assimilate into society. He taught at several schools in Prague. In 1995 he returned to Příbram and was employed as a teacher at Holy Mountain Grammar School; he has taught at Legionaries Grammar School since 2005.