Professor, PhDr. Bohumil Nuska , CSc.

* 1932

  • “An appalling thing would happen back then. Once I witnessed this action in the field – he died as well, it was the Inspector for Culture, a horrible man, his pockets were loaded, biscuit in one, revolver in the other. I was the Culture Heritage Conservator, so I would go with him. We would come to some village and he would summon a teacher to the Local Committee and he started to yell at him like he was some kind of serf. Well he – there was chapel there, today, it has been a historical sight. I am not giving you details. The teacher couldn´t stand the shape the chapel was in, so he would paint it white and he would fix the roof. And there had been no religious motive for it. Mr teacher just couldn´t stand the sight. Teachers were always a part of the nation´s intelligentsia. It was them who saved us. Then the word would spread out, and they would make such a scandal of it. And I witnessed the inspector yelling at him: 'We will deal with you!' And he would beg, asking form mercy, he was standing, he didn´t kneel, that they wouldn´t fire, that he would never do it again. That he would never do it again! He would paint a historical sight white! Today, everyone has been grateful.”

  • “The employees who would withdraw books from the shops... First of all, they would take them from libraries. The libraries had been completely emptied right after the system change. But every week, all the shops, in Kutná Hora, in Liberec, in Plzeň, would send a list of books they had bought, giving a title, a summary and a price, and they would mark the titles that should be handed over. And the store had to do that. So the second-hand bookshop was a loss-making enterprise in general. And it hadn´t been a secret that its purpose was political: to purge the nation from the harmful literature. And they would monitor whether it would show up on the list. So they would send these cops, who would sell Hovory s TGM (Talks with TGM), for example. And they would monitor whether the bookseller – in České Budějovice for example – would list it. And if he wouldn´t, there would be a problem. As he could fake it somehow and sell it to his friends. So people would get into real trouble and they would even get fired.”

  • “I also came into contact with antiquarians and other people, as far as it goes, the whole organisation, as I would get in the repositories, where the forbidden books had been stored, to the so-called Ústřední sklad knih (The Central Book Repository), USK, in Laub Street. There were some older pieces, but mostly they had recent literature. They had some older books, from the 19th century, but mostly they were recent. And I could buy there, as I did have the card, for the assessment price, and that was something. As I loved to build my collection of books so I would surpass my father. Maybe I could say that it had been run by Mr Pešek. You had to put slippers on, you would go with a cart, those were beautiful underground halls. And there were shelves reaching up to the ceiling filled with books, books on the occult sciences for example. Freemasonry. Rosicrucianism. Nazism. Italian fascism. Fascism of the Balkans. Social Democracy. Social Democrats had been under tight surveillance. More than... Then there was communist literature published outside the centre. These were under the tightest surveillance, and there would be a massive commotion it some of it would disappear, anything that wasn´t published in Berlin. That would mean in Moscow. Or in Leningrad. Trotskyism. Various branches of anarcho-syndicalism. So one would get a decent insight into political sciences. There were quite rare prints. Mussolini for example was a considerable writer, he had been interested in Czech history, he wrote this play, Mistr Jan Hus. Žižka. I bought it. It had been really cheap there, and I could be in the records till it would be written off, at least some of the book; Masaryk, of course, Beneš, Štefánik, it was all there. Soukup, the whole... But also Pražák had been unwanted. But that would be changing a bit. For some time, there were all the Arabs, and then, as Nasser would become friend, Nasser would disappear. And Jewish literature, of course. Just everything. Zionism, but also the Kabbalah and the occult. Both books on politics and non-political ones. Works on religion or the Jewish state, in the first place, the Jewish state, oh yes! Even the Seven-Day War (Six-Day War) had already been there. And when the Arabs would start to behave... Or Tito. Yugoslavia had really been a problem, but then, they would regret the mistakes they made while dealing with Tito´s Yugoslavia, so the books would disappear from the forbidden literature section. But some topics were invariable. Religion, just about everything. All the sects. From the Seventh-day Adventists on, just everything. The Orthodox Church. In all languages possible. Writings by Ante Pavelić, a Croatian fascist. Mein Kampf in Czech, Russian, in every language you would imagine. All that had been there. It was all there. That was just terrible!”

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    Liberec, 19.09.2019

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Education is something you can protect yourself with

Profesor Bohumil Nuska in 2019
Profesor Bohumil Nuska in 2019
photo: natáčení Post Bellum

Prof. PhDr. Bohumil Nuska, CSc., an art historian and a cultural anthropologist, was born on November 5th of 1932 in České Budějovice. He grew up in a middle-class family as his father owned an ironmongery, however, his parents separated during the Second World War. In his early teens, he was a Scout Group member which had a strong impact on him. He graduated from gymnasium in České Budějovice and from the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, in art history and history. During his study, he took interest in rare antique prints and above all the Renaissance-era book binding to which he dedicated most of his professional career. After completing his studies, he had been working at the Severočeské muzeum in Liberec (Museum of North Bohemia), trying to protect both the sites of cultural heritage and rare books from destruction as a committee member. After 1969, he had been investigated by the Secret Police, he befriended the Charter 77 signatories and gave clandestine lectures. After November of 1989, he co-founded the department of philosophy at the Technická universita Liberec (Technical University Liberec). He wrote several scientific monographs and books of fiction, he has also been a theatre theorist.