Zdeněk Matuszek

* 1960

  • "Sometimes it was adventurous. When we wanted to commemorate the executed scouts at the stone cairn in Ivanchen, we were not allowed to do so. On the bridge over the river in Frýdlant nad Ostravicí there were Public Security officers standing and checking everyone. Anyone who did not have a permanent residence in this place on their ID card or who did not own a hut there was turned back."

  • "I went to see the writer Ivan Klíma to get acquainted with the contents of the Charter 77 declaration and to sign it. Apparently, he talked me out of my intention at the time, I was young and my signature would have complicated my future life. When I found out years later that I was not registered among its signatories, I took the first opportunity in 1989 to sign it. Not only did I sign the Charter, I also signed petitions for the release of Václav Havel from prison and a few sentences, which I spread further."

  • "I didn't finish my studies, I was expelled. I was always a rebel. It was 1977, in January, Charter 77 was founded and a campaign was launched against its signatories. No one knew what the text contained, but everyone protested against it. I didn't like it. Proportionate to my age and capabilities as a seventeen-year-old student, I decided to oppose the regime. In the early hours of the morning, I took portraits of the then president Gustav Husák out of their frames and destroyed them in several classes of the gymnasium. I threw a plaster bust of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin out of a second-floor classroom window and wrote the words Vivat Charter 77 in one-metre letters on the wall of the connecting corridor between the principal's office and the assembly hall. An investigation was launched, the StB was looking for the culprit. I was outed, and as a result I was expelled from the school."

  • "Thank God for the developments after 1989. What we wanted, we got. There are no borders, we are free to read and listen to the music we like, I am happy. But if someone had told me in 1990, before the first free elections, that after 30 years we would still have communists in parliament, I would not have believed them."

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    Ostrava, 08.02.2022

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    Ostrava, 24.02.2022

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On the wall of the school corridor he wrote: Vivat Charter 77

Zdeněk Matuszek, 1977
Zdeněk Matuszek, 1977
photo: archiv Zdeňka Matuszka

Zdeněk Matuszek was born on 4 June 1960 as the eldest of three siblings in Frýdek-Místek in the working-class family of Bronislav and Hilda Matuszek. Charter 77 became a crucial event that turned his life around. The regime’s shameful speeches against its signatories on television, radio and in the newspapers aroused his sense of justice and as a 16-year-old student at the local high school he decided to express his opposition to the communist regime. He destroyed the portraits of the then President and Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Gustáv Husák placed in the school classrooms, threw a bust of V. I. Lenin out of a classroom window, and wrote the inscriptions Vivat Charta 77 and In God We Trust on the door of the assembly room and the wall in the school corridor. After he was denounced by a classmate, to whom he boasted about his acts, the district court sentenced him to a suspended sentence. He was expelled from school and given a lifetime ban from high school. He joined Slezan as a worker and later worked in the sheet metal mills and the bridge factory in Frýdek. In 1989, he signed Charter 77, took part in two anti-regime demonstrations, and was involved in the dissemination of a petition for the release of Václav Havel from prison and the declaration Several Sentences. After the Velvet Revolution, he was dismissed from the bridge factory and started a newsagent business, which he ran for 20 years. In 2022 he lived in a house on the outskirts of Frýdek and devoted himself to travel. He has three children.