Ing. Jiří Marel

* 1936

  • “My wife then moved out of Prague with both our children to the apartment that we were given there. I experienced the occupation in 1968 there. For about a year they were waiting what attitude people would take towards it, and then, during the normalization period, as it was called, they decided to do personal interviews with everybody. We had to reply in writing, too, and in about four pages we had to write our answers to various questions about our views on the issues. During the interview, I simply told them that I didn’t agree with the entry of the Warsaw Pact Armies, and I even added that the Russians had been always blackmailing us, that we had been forced to supply them with uranium ore and steel for their tanks. They expelled me from the Party and then from the army as well. About one quarter of us professional soldiers left the army, there were many of us.”

  • “At the end of the war when the Russians then arrived there, our parents invited a captain of the Russian army to stay in our flat. He lived with us for two more months before they left. There were interesting things. My mom naturally cooked simple meals during the war, and we had meat only once a week or once in a fortnight. She cooked at home, and I remember that we even made our own soap or black beer at home. When the Russians arrived, one of the things that happened was that he asked my mom to give him ten eggs, and he drank them, raw as they were. He made two holes in them and he sucked them out. Of course she didn’t have so many of them, and she told him. He had another soldier as his servant. He gave him an order and after a little while the soldier brought in a basket with about sixty eggs. The same happened with cucumbers. He wanted some cucumbers, my mom obviously didn’t have them, and the soldier fetched a bag full of cucumbers.”

  • “There was martial law – nobody was allowed to go out. But even the Russians knew that we were coming from the train and our police was there. They accompanied us – our policemen – and we ended up in Vinohrady near Flora. There is a hotel there and we spent the night there until five in the morning – they didn’t allow us to leave earlier because there was fighting going on close to the Radio building. We spent the night at the reception. About one hundred people were sitting there at the reception and on the stairs, wherever they could. In the morning we walked past the Radio building. I saw a bus destroyed by shooting, cars smashed by tanks, a burnt tank, a house with a hole which had been probably hit by a tank. Then the Museum building, and we walked over Wenceslas Square and the Museum building had holes from shooting. We lived in Bělohorská Street, and I thus had to walk through Wenceslas Square, and then cross the bridge to Klárov and walk up Nerudova Street and I reached home in the morning (I could have walked some ten or twelve kilometres from Malešice). I immediately went to stand in a queue for bread. My father-in-law had been standing there before and I went to take turns with him.”

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    v Lounech na ZŠ Prokopa Holého, 09.11.2015

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I said that I did not agree with the entry of the armies in August 1968, and they expelled me from the Party and from the army

Jiří Marel - Dobová fotografie.jpg (historic)
Ing. Jiří Marel
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Jiří Marel was born as the second of twins on May 21, 1936 in Písek. He experienced the Second World War and his childhood years there. While in Písek, he also witnessed the retreat of the German army, the liberation of the town by Americans and the arrival of the Red Army. He studied secondary technical school and then military engineering in Brno. Subsequently he worked as a technician in a tank battalion in a number of places in the country (such as in Tábor or Jindřichův Hradec). A turning point in the lives of most of the Czechoslovak citizens at that time was marked by their declaration of approval for the entry of the Warsaw Pact armies in August 1968. Jiří Marel, who was still a soldier at that time, did not sign the declaration of approval with the occupation and he was dismissed from the army. He then worked in Milevsko, in Chlumec nad Cidlinou, Hradec Králové and Prague. He had problems finding employment in his profession because his negative personal-political references followed him. In the early 1990s he was allowed to return to the army where he continued working until his retirement. After retiring, he and his wife moved to Louny where he now leads a club for model railway hobbyists in the Prokop Holý Elementary school.