Jiří Novák

* 1937

  • „They were told that when they didn’t learn it by heart what the interrogators under the influence of Soviet advisors... when they don’t learn it by heart what it will be like at a trial, then they can even get a death penalty. And then it happened, a person rebelled and said it was not true and all he said and admitted to was forced by beating and he does not agree. And on the second day he was not at the trial and died escaping. I don’t have to talk anymore, who helped him, but I know he was a healthy man.“

  • „I come to a high school to a classroom and there was about eighteen names and my mine was crossed out. Well ok, so I got crossed out, I didn’t really give much attention to it, young boys don’t care... And the lady from school department came and began to give out papers and I got none. So I said: ‚I am here too.‘ ‚I don’t have you here, go to the faculty and to the dean.‘ So I went and they told me: ‚But you wrote us a letter: Jiří Novák, born and resident. Let me excuse myself from an entrance examination, as I am starting a basic army service.‘ It was written on a thin paper, I can see it even today. And silly me replied: ‚Well that must be a mistake, that is not possible as my signature is false.‘ She compared it and found it was different and told me: ‚You know want, there is less of them so go in there.‘ She had no clue at the time such manners exist. And I went over there and somehow I managed to score good points, I am not trying to praise myself, but I had knowledge the others did not and the examiner told me straight away: ‚You´re in, don’t even wait around.‘“

  • „I got a real sad memory. When we came to the cloister in Jihlava, there was a kind of an entry and the commander put us along the fence and said something I remember almost word by word. There were nine expelled students and he said that he wonders why the regime let us still breathe as if it was up to him, he´d take a machine gun and shoot us all down. Nineteen or twenty years old boys took it harshly and now the bullying, people were screaming at us who could not even sign themselves. We understood there was bullying in the army. And a boy, who got expelled in the second year from the Mathematical Physical Faculty, he was kind of... But when we saw the bullying before, so we promised to help each other and the boy didn’t get over the gangster, pardon my language, and hanged himself by the morning.“

  • „I served with the auxiliary technical troops and have to say that the worst was actually to be there together with the criminal cases. It was highly unpleasant. They had a knife and I remember we had to clean up something and I got to do the hall and suddenly something stabbed me and saw a long ranger´s knife: ‚You know who cleans the loos.‘ So I cleaned it all right as I was sure there was no point in arguing. There were such issues with those bullies. That boy ended up bad as he had a short temper and he eventually stabbed someone to death. He killed a stab head so was sentenced to serve life and apparently they shot him during transportation. He tried to escape maybe, but I don’t believe them a word and I was not there to witness, as when they needed, they´d just say that he got killed trying to escape.“

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 07.03.2013

    duration: 01:50:53
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The coup should have come in 1968, because in 1989 we were already too damaged as a nation

Jiří Novák - portrait
Jiří Novák - portrait
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Jiří Novák was born on August 18, 1937 in Prague as the eldest of four siblings. His father was a history professor Antonín Novák, who had a scrape with regimes during the first and second world war. The family had to move involuntarily several times and in 1953 father Antonín v was arrested due to his anti-communist opinions. He was sentenced to eighteen years of prison a year later in an artificial process. Jiří Novák experienced the first repressions still as a student, had to be interrogated and later during graduation and entrance exams to high school. When he had to go to the army service, he was selected to the auxiliary tank troops. He experienced bullying at work too. He worked in a health hazardeous operations of a chemistry factory in Pardubice. After the atmosphere got more relaxed in 1960s he tried to study again and was accepted to the High School of Chemistry and Technology, which he managed to study along with his employment and finished in 1970. In August 1968 he was at traveling on business to Yugoslavia, but decided to come back to the republic. In 1979 he finally got a qualified job in Kamenoprůmysl. At the moment he´s an active member of the Prague Academic Club 48.