Miroslav Matějka

* 1932  

  • “I remember that we came up with our own peculiar way how to protest against the events of February 1948. We formed a line on the square, bought the “Rudé právo” newspaper (the official newspaper of the Communist party – note by the translator), put it underneath our feet and stood on it in a provocative way. That was our involvement in the February events. After February 1948, we did other things as well. Above all, we detested the Union of the Czechoslovak Youth (the so-called “svazáci” - note by the translator), that was gaining ground at the expense of the Boy Scout movement (called the Junák movement in Czechoslovakia – note by the translator). One of the “svazáci”, a boy in a blue shirt, came to our director Obdržálek – who among other things was a zhupa leader, a high ranking member of the Junák movement – and told him: “You, comrade”! We were stomping and whizzing... He changed very quickly. But there was an interesting thing about him. He wasn't appointed director but stayed a “provisional administrator” even though the minister of education – Zdeněk Nejedlý, a native from Litomyšl – was visiting the Obdržálek family every time he came to Litomyšl. It's interesting that he wasn't nominated director. He stayed a provisional administrator – it was even stated on our certificates. It was very hard for us that the Union of the Czechoslovak Youth was taking over the positions of the Junák. In the beginning, it was rather slow and just a few people joined them. We hated them and that's why we started our activities aimed against them. That's how it started.”

  • “The three of us really trusted each other. Me and Jirka Kopřiva also trusted that Jindra Vícha, but one punch was enough for him to tell them everything. Of course, we talked about all kinds of things, about how to do certain things, etc. We had even heard about the “budislavští Jánošíci”, so we knew where to get weapons and so on. I think that a large part of it was rather romantic day dreaming but afterwards, in the investigation by the StB, it was all taken seriously and used against us. It was qualified as anti-state conspiracy – we were regarded as a conspiratorial cell.” “So you know that he let you down?” “Yes, we of course knew and during the trial, we often said “Vích, Vích”, but the guards always shouted at us not to even say that word, they didn't want to hear it.” “They didn't want to include him in the trial, right?” “Of course, he wasn't tried at all. He went on studying. I can not prove it but I think that it wasn't for free. He must have rendered them a service. This can't have been for free...”

  • “How did the interrogations look like?” “The first one was in June. Thereafter all was quiet till March 21. They caught me when I was on my way to a basketball training. I was playing for the junior team, we had some good basketball in Litomyšl. I was sitting on the train to Litomyšl and when it stopped at a crossing and a car crossed the tracks, I noticed that it had the number P 55 554 on its plate. I knew that only the cars of the StB had this sort of numbers so I immediately got wind that it may have something to do with me. They drove ahead and waited for me in Litomyšl at the railway station. From there they took me to the grammar school building where they interrogated me until the late evening. Of course, the news had by then spread around and the agents paid a visit to my parents. My father was taken to the school. The interrogation was finished off in an interesting way. While standing in the presence of a young StB agent, who was their boss, I had to report to my father -who was sitting - my criminal offenses. The StB agent was giving me clues about what to say and he was giving me the adult prison terms for my offenses. Taken together it amounted to something like a hundred years. When it was over, he exclaimed: “And the workers' class forgives him all of this, even though you're a Kulak, a class enemy … that's how generous we are”. I don't know what they told the others, but that's how it was. So had some hope that they'd make some gesture of good will. On the other hand, we were afraid that they'd ask for something in return. However, it probably was some kind of a gesture – maybe the prisons had just been crowded at the moment. Anyway, they waited from March 21 – it happened on the first spring day of 1950 – till September 16, when they came and arrested us definitely.”

  • “My father, he was a very thoughtful and respected man in the village. He was musically gifted and originally wanted to study at the music academy. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford it. Additionally, he had to take care of the farm, because his father had been a sick man and died when he was 19. My father was in charge of the whole farm since he was nineteen years old, so he had a whole lot of other things to worry about but he remained an amateur musician. However, he was a good musician and he was running all the cultural and musical activities in the village and the surroundings. Of course, we all knew from literature, what Bolshevism was like, we knew what was happening in Russia. We were aware of the threat Bolshevism posed – what would happen if they came to power in Czechoslovakia. We knew that our fear of the Communists is justified. Of course, we also thought that the Czech nation is better off then the Russian peasant and that the chances of it happening were lower. We were wrong.”

  • “In the meantime the affair started. On the day of the school-leaving exam, after the examinations had started, I was “withdrawn from education”. This was a genuinely Bolshevik invention, one of their technical terms, like for example an “interrupted flight” when they shot down a South Korean airplane. They wouldn't simply expel us, no, they would “withdraw us from education”. And I was prepared for the exam, dressed in a black suit and a white shirt... and it took an inglorious end because I didn't even make it to the exam. I completed eight years of grammar school but I didn't graduate, which was a problem.” “So they announced it to you on that day?” “Yes, after the examinations were inaugurated. We left to have an ice cream while the first four were taking the exam. When we returned the director was already waiting for us – the infamous Obdržálek. He said: “Matějka, come into my office”. There he told me that they had received instructions to “withdraw us from education”. I objected that I was there to take the school-leaving exam, not for education. He claimed that the withdrawal applies to the exam as well. I was dismissed on the day of the state-leaving exam, I wasn't allowed to take it. I was expelled on June 12, 1950, and I was supposed to take the exam on June 13, 1950, at 1:00 p.m. I would have been the 13th to take it.”

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    Květná (u Poličky), 07.08.2008

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    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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    Květná u Poličky, 24.01.2011

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You should be glad it’s only three years!

matějka.jpg (historic)
Miroslav Matějka
photo: autor: Ondřej Bratinka

Miroslav Matějka was born in 1932 to a farmer in Morašice. The roots of his peasant family go as far back as the 17th century. Being a catholic, a boy scout and a peasant son, Miroslav Matějka opposed the Communists as early as February 1948, when they usurped power in Czechoslovakia. As many other students of the grammar school in Litomyšl he participated in the boycott of the general strike of the trade unions. In 1949, when he was in the seventh grade in grammar school, he joined an opposition group founded by his friend Miloslav Kohout. The objective of this group was to conduct activities in opposition to the Union of the Czechoslovak Youth, a Communist sponsored organization that was putting a lot of pressure on the Boy Scout movement. Besides his activities in this group (the meetings of its members were called - in a conspiratorial fashion - ATA) Matějka was meeting two of his friends for discussions in one of the restaurants in Litomyšl. After the group had been accidentally exposed to the secret state police (the State Security Police - StB), a large-scale investigation was launched. The investigation by the StB gradually involved many bystanders, mostly friends of the members of the group. These people were mostly latent opponents of the regime, for example students who were involved in the distribution of anti-Communist fliers in 1949. In the course of the year 1950 the StB produced background documents for a large-scale show trial with the accused group members and others. The main culprits of this “monster process” were the rector of the Piarist faculty in Litomyšl and a professor of the Litomyšl grammar school František Ambrož Stříteský. Eighteen-year-old Miroslav Matějka was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, he was deprived of all of his possessions and he had to pay a fine in the amount of 10.000 Czechoslovak Crowns. Eventually, he only had to serve 20 months of his term in the juvenile penitentiary in Chrudim and Zámrsk. After he returned home from the penitentiary, his father was arrested for “disturbing the unified economic plan” - this simply meant that his father couldn’t deliver the overblown quantities of agricultural produce required by the farmer’s cooperative JZD.