Ing. Milan Mátl

* 1935

  • “Towards the end of the year 1968, in September or in December, I was elected the head of the local trade union and I was there for about a year. Then, a new factory director was installed and a counter-reaction came, the Communists were taking revenge left and right. They had free rein, the army had their back, they had all they needed so they could do whatever they wanted regardless of the laws. If they did not manage to change the laws right away, they just ignored them. When I got my notice, I asked my friend who still served as an advisor in the district organisation of the union whether I could try and sue them because it was entirely illegal. It was back in the day under Mr. Kanopa. He told me: ‘You might win at the court but it’s not going to be worth it.’ At the end, I did this thing, I went around various companies and asked them whether they would employ me there. At two or three places they told me that yes, sure, they’d give me a job and later, I got a letter saying that due to a considerable number of more qualified applicant, they would not employ me.”

  • “We lived in the Laxenburgerstrasse and the house got a direct hit from an American bomb. Ours was a corner house, with the Luxembourg café on the ground floor. At first, the house across the street fell and then we got a similar hit. We lived in the first floor so some of our furniture even remained in one piece. All what was above us was turned into rubble. We were down in the cellar, me, my mom and several of our neighbours. The rubble landed just about two and half metres away from me. But we did manage to get out, the staircase was not blocked.”

  • “My dad held the same job as before until around 1942. I don’t remember the exact date. Then he was drafted to the army but when the draftees were summoned and they were asked whether someone has a reason for not serving in the army, he said that he was a Czech and the Führer had claimed taht he wanted no Czechs in the army. That was enough for not having to join the Wehrmacht and to tell the truth, most Czechs did not do that. When they were drafted, they were scared to say that they were Czechs. I’m not actually surprised because it is easy to be scared when there’s a unit of, say, 100 persons, and now you have to stand up and say ‘No, not me.’ I know it from the Communist times. It was not any better here.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Šumperk, 20.05.2022

    duration: 02:02:57
    media recorded in project Stories of the region - Central Moravia
  • 2

    Šumperk, 27.05.2022

    duration: 02:50:53
    media recorded in project Stories of the region - Central Moravia
  • 3

    Šumperk, 01.06.2022

    duration: 01:57:07
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

From one dictatorship to another

During WWII in Baběnice by Prague
During WWII in Baběnice by Prague
photo: Post Bellum

Milan Mátl was born on the 30th of October in 1935 in Vienna. His family was a part of the local Czech minority which counted about fifty thousand. His father refused to join the Wehrmacht during the WWII and was sent to work for the Technishe Nothilfe. Milan witnessed several bombings of Vienna, in one of those, his eight-year-old friend Pavel Kudrna perished. In the summer of 1944, the house where the family lived suffered a direct hit by a shell and they were nearly buried the rubble. After the war, in 1946, the family returned to Czechoslovakia and they settled in Šumper, in the Moravian borderland. Milan Mátl attended secondary school in Šumperk and then he studied at the College of Chemical Technology in Pardubice. After graduating, he got a job in the First Five Year Plan Factoryin Šumperk, a producer of cemented carbide implements renamed Pramet in 1966. During the political thaw in 1968, he became active in the Revolutionary Unions Movement (RUM). In September 1968, just after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies, he was elected as the head of the local organisation of the RUM in the research institute of powder metallurgy in Pramet and later, he became the vice-chair of the District Council of Trade Unions in Šumperk. The following year, his activities got him fired from his job and for several years, he was under surveillance of the State Security as a person hostile to the state. Until the Velvet Revolution, he worked as a field geologist. At the beginning of 1990, he was offered the post of the secretary of the District National Council, later the district council, when the whole council was replaced. He accepted the offer and stayed in the council until the end of the year, then he returned to his job in field geology. He was active in politics and got elected vicechair of the Moravian and Silesian branch of the Green party. He kept this paid post for several years and then he worked as a chemist in the ABA company until his retirement. In 2022, he lived in Šumperk with his wife Helena.