Karel Ležák

* 1928

  • “1989 came. I knew about the events in Slaný only from what I heard from other people. Although I was asking questions and gathering information, I was avoiding any direct involvement. Several times people encouraged me to apply for rehabilitation and financial compensation, but I always refused, because the only loss I have suffered was the loss of the past twenty years, which nobody can ever compensate for me. Moreover, I wasn’t able to forget the long-time surveillance by the police. I was present in several gatherings on Letná; our centre in Nové Strašecí organized bus trips for us to go there. But still I was interested in what was happening in Slaný. The main organizer in Slaný was a former ČSAD (bus company) worker Mr. Josef Šanda, who organized several public gatherings in front of Grand and gatherings for students in front of the grammar school. As for myself, I didn’t get involved in any of these events in Slaný. After the establishment of the Civic Forum, Mr. Šanda later withdrew and didn’t participate on the subsequent development. He was not interested in joining the Civic Forum. When I was researching documents from 1968, I contacted Josef Šanda, asking him to write about his memories, and then I gave this article he wrote, together with other documents from 1968, to the archive of the municipal museum. ( note: Vlastivědné Muzeum in Slaný) Unfortunately, Josef died tragically not so long ago, and therefore it is no longer possible to obtain other documents from a direct participant. A short film sequence from those days had also been preserved, it is a shot from one of these gatherings, and the film is now in the possession of Mr. Aleš Hezký.”

  • “Night and day watches were organized, in the monastery, the Svazarm room, interpreters were provided for interpreting the negotiations with the garrison and the municipal council – at first it was student Pavla Kramosilová. The representatives of the Soviet army later refused to deal with her, arguing that she was being arrogant to them. Mr. Holík, employee of the archive in the ČKD factory, helped with the request for entry to the factory. Signs and slogans protesting against the occupying armies were made in the Tatra factory, and a so-called militia of young students were asked to display them in the town. This militia was led by the local police chief, captain Rudolf Kafka, who forced his way into this position. I went with this police chief to the Soviet army command in Slaný (the negotiations took place U sloupu behind the bridge in the direction of Trpoměchy). That was when one of these students got caught when displaying a poster. (His name hasn’t been recorded, however). The student was taken to the Soviet army camp and we demanded his release. The camp commander refused to release him, claiming that this was a counterrevolutionary act. Only after negotiating, which took about an hour, after we threatened to report it on the municipal radio which would stir unrest among the inhabitants, he agreed to release the student. The same situation occurred when a rhymed poster aimed against the Soviet army appeared in the display case in the Husova Street. A representative of the Soviet army came to the municipal committee and threatened that if we hadn’t removed the poster, he would do so himself, using tanks. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow this news leaked into the national radio, and the radio broadcast a distorted report that the city of Slaný was to be destroyed by the Soviet army tanks. The army forced their entry to factories. They demanded to speak with the workers, which we tried to prevent. One such case is recorded in the book by Dr. Horák (Vladimír Horák: The days of August 1968 in Slaný). I recall another case, when representatives of the Soviet army came to the gatehouse of the Tatra company and requested entry, and I refused. Certain Mr. Pivarči, a former soldier who returned to Czechoslovakia with Svoboda’s army and was decorated with the Hero of the Ssoviet Union medal, worked in Tatra at that time. Mr. Pivarči came to the gatehouse and wanted to return his decoration to the Soviets as a sign of his disagreement with the army’s entry to Czechoslovakia. The army representatives refused, saying that they were not authorized to receive the decoration, and they left the factory.”

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    Vlastivědné muzeum ve Slaném, 09.06.2010

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Dismissed from work for “involvement with the rightist forces”

Karel Ležák.jpg (historic)
Karel Ležák
photo: archiv pamětníka

Karel Ležák was born June 18, 1928 in Horažďovice. He completed his elementary schooling in 1943 and began working as a trainee in the ČZ Strakonice factory. After finishing his training he studied the lower secondary technical school in Kladno from 1947 till 1948. In 1950 he married Eva Kotešovicová. From 1950 he was working in the state company Tatra in Slaný as a standardizer, planner, technical head of the production department, and as a deputy to the director. In 1966-1970 he worked as an external representative for Yugoslavia in the Motokov company. After the invasion of the Soviet army in August 1968 he became the leader of the coordination committee for negotiations with the occupation armies. In the ensuing period of normalization, he and his wife were dismissed from their jobs for their political opinions and they were under StB surveillance. In 1971 he began working as a clerk in the state-owned company Regional Road Administration Prague, located in Beroun, where he eventually retired in 1991. In 1994-2002 he served as the mayor’s deputy in Slaný.