Ing. Miroslav Machotka

* 1946

  • “The conversations were interesting, even about politics. And a sentence that I did not understand and to some extent still do not understand stuck in my mind. He [Bohumil Hrabal] said that if someone guaranteed him that what he wrote would stay the way he wrote it and that everything would get published we would join the Party. So I gasped and he said: ‘I know that it seems horrible but you will understand one day that it is not important if I have somewhere signed a paper saying I am in the Party when I am writing something compared to the fact that I can publish what I want to publish and that people will read it.‘ It really surprised me back then and I understood him to some extent, I did not to some extent.”

  • “My friend owned a Eurofon radio, it was Italian radio which was sold here and which had an extended FM range. And policemen were broadcasting in that extended FM frequency modulation range. And they had headquarters in the RCA not far from here, where they coordinated the interventions in Wenceslas Square, in which street, which troop, you move there, the A-troop will go from the left, and so on. And we could listen to it on Eurofon. And she always said: ‘Please, turn it off, at least turn it down.‘ She closed the window. And I said: ‘This radio is sold here and it is their problem that I can tune in policemen and (listen to) who should they beat and use water against.‘ No, no, they will fire me from work, close the window.‘ So we listened to the course of demonstration and Havel and Kořánek were writing Charter two floors above us.”

  • “They pressed us there so we climbed over the fence to Petřín and went around the lookout tower round the back to the halls of residence, however, they (the police – trans.) meanwhile also surrounded the halls of residence. They had the antons prepared there yet. And they tried to stuff us into the halls of residence so that we went inside. But the crowd could not walk through the door so the glass broke and there were glass fragments everywhere when we walked around. And there was a bit of a massacre there, they did not write about it at the time, but a lot of people were left lying there with kidney traumas and with fractures. We called, there was a phone booth or a pay phone in every hall of residence so we called the ambulance. The ambulance arrived and took people away. They (policemen) caught some people, they caught those unlucky ones who were at the back and took them to Bartolomějská street. Some of them underwent treatment for a long time because they had health problems. People used to wear nylon jackets back then, and I can still hear the sound of them beating the nylon jackets, some people were hit so hard that they were left lying down. So it was the infamous end of the events happening in Strahov.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 04.02.2022

    duration: 01:58:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 11.03.2022

    duration: 02:00:34
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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He can still hear the sound of batons that were beating the students in Strahov

Miroslav Machotka, photo for the Host magazine, 2000
Miroslav Machotka, photo for the Host magazine, 2000
photo: witness´s archive

Photographer Miroslav Machotka was born on 22 May 1946 in Roudnice nad Labem. His relative Otakar Machotka was a co-worker of Milada Horáková who escaped arrest in 1948 by fleeing across the borders. He graduated in electrical engineering from Czech Technical University in Prague. During his studies, he was increasingly attracted by photography and he joined the Strahov photo club. At the time, he was strongly affected by Epos formation and the prevailing arranged photography, he gradually gained his style. He participated in the events happening in Strahov at the end of October 1967 when a spontaneous student demonstration took part on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. He spent the August occupation at first in Vienna, and he quickly returned home after the shocking news. He worked all his life in technical positions in Czechoslovak and later in Czech Television in Kavčí Hory. When he was offered to join the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia shortly after starting work, he flatly refused, just as he refused to agree with the entrance of the occupation armies in 1968. In the 1970s, he was gradually gaining ground in the world of photography, he exhibited and published. In the 1980s, he started to cooperate with art historian Anna Fárová and a Polish gallerist Jerzy Olek who was looking for eligible candidates for his project on “elementary photography”. At the end of the 1980s, Miroslav Machotka actively went to demonstrations, for example during Palach Week or the anniversary of the August occupation. He also took part in protests, demonstrations, and strikes during the Velvet Revolution. In November 1989 in a studio in Kavčí Hory, he recorded the first concert of Jaroslav Hutka after he arrived from abroad. He had many exhibitions both in our country and abroad. He was one of the founders of The Caucus of Free Photography and the Prague House of Photography. He lived in Prague in 2022.