Ladislav Nykl

* 1944  †︎ 2016

  • "My mother was a nurse. My father’s name was Ladislav Kříček – he had already been married at the time when I was born. So I'm actually an illegitimate child and my mother had enormous problems because of that. At that time, an unmarried girl with a child had a difficult time. Everybody would point their finger at her. I experienced lots of different insults and later they would shout at me that I was a bastard and things like that. So I went through quite a bit of a hassle already in my childhood. My father promised her to get divorced, but he didn’t and thus my mother then moved to Karlovy Vary."

  • "In the spring of 1963, the beet campaign began. Everyone capable of working - and sometimes even those who weren’t – got a hoe to dig beets. We stood next to each other on the field, lined up, and each one went down his line and had to clear the beet of weeds. The end of the field was out of sight. On each side of the field, there were guards with rifles who patrolled us. I hadn’t been growing up in the countryside, so I had no idea how to do it. I would just dig out everything that was green. When they found out what I was doing they wanted to punish me because I had plundered so many beets. I tried to explain to the guards that I came from the city and therefore did not understand. He told me I was an idiot urban dweller and left me alone. I wasn’t punished. Then they actually had to show me what a weed is and what a beet is and only then could they send me back to work on the field."

  • "We were constantly out of money. My mother arranged bricklayer’s job for me. In the fifties, lots of houses were built, blocks of flats and lots of various buildings – construction was at its height. Therefore my mother arranged an apprenticeship as a bricklayer for me in Královské Poříčí nearby Sokolov. That was in 1958."

  • "I was terribly interested in tramp music and singing. I played the trumpet since I was ten years old because my uncle played in the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra. He was also the director of the music school in Karlovy Vary. My mother was afraid that I would get involved in some mischief, because she had to be at work from dusk to dawn and I basically grew up on the street. So that's why she put me into the music school. I learned dixieland there and fell in love with it. On the contrary, I stopped to like brass band because it was forced on us."

  • "In the summer of 1961, we went tramping to the region of Berounsko. Our sort-of a sheriff said that he knows somebody there who should be able to help us cross the border to the west. Here, in the region of Karlovy Vary, it was almost impossible to do that because if you just showed up somewhere around Aš there were barbed wires everywhere. Most importantly, you had to have a friend who showed you the route and so on. We were like fools, bragging in front of the girls that we were about to escape across the border. The police later made a nice affair out of it. We then wandered for a while and when we ran out of money two of the guys took two cans and some sweatpants in one of the cabins. The police turned this into theft of private property. And since we didn't work for about three weeks, they could say it was parasitism. Somewhere, outside of some pub, we once did sing loudly, so it was rioting. On the way back, we had nothing to eat, so we stole three bottles of milk costing 11 crowns and 20 pennies in a dairy. For this I was put on probation and after a few months, when I turned 18, I stuck to repeated parasitism, because again I didn't have a job for about two weeks. They even wanted to try my mother for having supported me because in this way she was helping parasitism. In the end, they left her alone because she was a communist and I went to prison."

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    ?, 02.03.2013

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Together with the guys, we were making plans for an escape to the West. But it wasn’t about politics; it was about romantic ideals and adventure

Čtrnáctiletý Ladislav Nykl (výřez z rodinné fotografie)
Čtrnáctiletý Ladislav Nykl (výřez z rodinné fotografie)
photo: Ladislav Nykl

Ladislav Nykl was born on 3 July, 1944, in Prague. His childhood was heavily influenced by the fact that he was an illegitimate child. He completed an apprenticeship as a bricklayer; his great hobby was jazz music and tramping. At the age of seventeen, he became a member of the “Outlaws” (Psanci), a group of youngsters who liked to spend their free weekends outdoors, wandering about the countryside. During one of these hikes, a boyish plan that pre-determined the future of most of the youngsters was born. They started to dream about what it would be like to run away to the west, and they began to make plans how they could escape. Although they never actually carried out their plans, they were accused of subverting the socialist order and had to go to court. They were all put on probation. Ladislav Nykl, however, failed to comply with the terms of the probation and thus he was arrested again just a few months later. For the breach of his probation and for recurring parasitism, he was sentenced to two years and ten months. His served his term in prison camps in Sýrovice near Podbořany, in Vykmanov and the last few months of his term, he spent in the Plzeň-Bory prison. He was released in the course of an amnesty in 1962. Mr. Nykl has been for a long time already engaged in studying the history of western Bohemia and the recent history of the period which he experienced himself.