Pavel Macháček

* 1921  †︎ 2008

  • “He pushed a table away from the wall and I laid down on it. He had a stick about a meter long and two and a half centimeter thick. And he started beating me with it. First on my trousers. Then, when it was something around one hundred already he said: Hosen ab! (Trousers off!) So I took my trousers off. And I was being beaten naked. He called a friend to come. And as I lay across the table, his friend squeezed my neck with his thighs so that I couldn't move. I continued counting and I got up to one hundred and sixty-nine. And because the pain became unbearable I had to concentrate not to scream and I stopped counting. In about an hour and a half I was taken next door and it was a bathroom. There was one more well-built guy there who went into the bath and held a kind of a loop, a rope about an inch thick in his hand. The loop can easily stick to your backside. The other guy changed the stick for a stockwhip. Well, if you know what it is at all. It is a dry penis of a bull when you thresh corn. And it clattered one after another...”

  • “I think that society should provide prerequisites, conditions so that people could influence its development. It seems that I can go to vote, to drop a voting card after four years. It is basically a punt. His wife Božena butts in the narration of Mr Macháček. “Can I, can I!? I would love you to finish it soon!” “It's about to finish,” Mr Macháček says. “Yeah, yeah, it's almost finished,” adds Mikuláš Kroupa, the author of the record. Mr Macháček continues: “I dare say I had no chance to step into the social development all my life, eighty-seven years. If I countenanced the February (the Communist revolution in 1948, author's note) or was against it, it was exactly the same stemming from my position. I had no chance to apply my ideas. And if I applied them, many powers changed them into the opposite. It was the same case as with Stalinism. My vision of just society will probably not be able to be realized for a very long time.” Božena interrupts her husband: “Well, definitely not at our time. When I remember his coming home during the week! I mean after the revolution in 1989. He was not at home for the whole week! He expected - I don't know what from it! He nearly died because he neglected his pleura pneumonia. He has been an ill man ever since. And it has been, well – how many years, hasn't it. He has always longed for just society but it has never come yet.”

  • “František Listopad was quirky, to be polite. When my documents were already signed, the secretary was called to the boss into the next office and he had nothing better to do than take all my documents and the round police stamp, that I own till the present day, and leave. He had to know that the Gestapo would pursue me! I was in the post office in Uhříněves (at that time), those were provable alibi. Well, but why should my documents head at the police station and the stamp got stolen there?”

  • “We were taken to a forest trail. We got there sometime around one or two o'clock (in the afternoon, author's note). They decided we wouldn't march at daytime but would wait until the night comes. Of course you always loose discipline when waiting. So the formations (five-in-lines) parted and we sat on the side of the road, on the grass and such. We were given a command to line up again at about four o'clock, so we did. However, there was a Czech guy in his twenties. He got sick at the moment when he was supposed to line up. He was not able to join the formation in three-meter distance and he remained on the spot. The nearest one (guard, author's note) shot him dead. In quarter of an hour we parted again and waited till the evening.”

  • “We had an anthem in Terezín (Pavel Macháček is singing): Terezín prospects, you I've never liked. I'll always remember you in my life. When I went here with my friends through thick and thin, I'll remember you. - I mixed up some words.”

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    Praha, Czech rep., 27.02.2008

    duration: 04:29:19
    media recorded in project Portraits of Prague citizens
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It was a betrayal! My friend Listopad threw me to the wolves... But I survived

machaček foto ořizle.jpg (historic)
Pavel Macháček
photo: Mikuláš Kroupa, Pavel Macháček archiv

  Pavel Macháček was born in Prague on August 15th, 1921. He died at the end of 2008. His father was a school director at the First Republic times. His mother co-founded an organization for mother and child protection where she later worked as a secretary. She passed away when he was 9 years old. His father lived till 79 years of age, he died in 1953. During the war he was hiding his Jewish classmate Jiří Synek (a world famous poet these days, his pen name is František Listopad), whom he provided with his own Protectorate documents. He was arrested by Gestapo for an alleged theft of an official stamp in 1943. The truth was, though, that the stamp was stolen from the Gestapo office just by his friend Jiří Synek. Synek stole the stamp in a watchless moment right after the Gestapo copied the initials from the borrowed documents. Synek wanted to help home anti-Nazi resistance movement with the stamp. Macháček was tortured in the investigation jail in Karlovo Square in Prague in order to tell who stole the stamp. Nevertheless, he never told who it was even if he suffered inhuman torment. (František Listopad comments on Pavel Macháček’s narration, see Additional materials. Please feel free to register, free of charge.) Pavel Macháček was on the basis of that case transported to the concentration camp Terezín in April 1944. He eye-witnessed the Nazi massacres and brutalities done to the prisoners there. He was later transferred to Flossenbürg. In April 1945 he was marked as a prisoner capable of walking and was included in the so called death march. He was at the point of absolute exhaustion after three days of walking. The crowd marched about a hundred kilometers. He was rescued by the American Army near the camp Dachau. He joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia on May 23rd, 1945. He served as a professional soldier of the Czechoslovak Army in the field of political education till 1970. After 1970 he failed the Army examinations as “politically unreliable.” He was fired from the Army and shortly worked as a warehouseman and then as a security and fire technician in the post and newspaper services. He changed many different working and administrative jobs. In the meantime he finished his studies of Adult Education at Charles University. Shortly before and after the revolution in 1989 he became active on the political scene - he became a member of Obroda movement - a Club for Socialist Restructuring. Members of that political initiative were mostly former members of the reformatory wing of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The initiative didn’t have any important influence on political and economic reforms after November 1989.