Jiří Očenášek

* 1928  †︎ 2022

  • “In the Janka Radotín firm where my father used to work during the war, the Germans set up a military production. My father managed this production while sending the project documentation to Britain and receiving it back with small amendments. Components created based on these amended plans turned out to be useless. The conspiracy worked so well that nobody was prosecuted. Still, my father faced great danger because the defective components were tested in his presence. If there was to be an explosion, he would have lost his life. A few days after liberation, my father served as the head of an armory in Střešovice where acquired weapons were stored. Us Scouts helped sort the weapons, serving as guards or liaisons with the unit headquarters, laying telephone cables and thus using the wires we stole throughout the war. Suddenly, the liberation army’s intelligence people arrested my father, locked him up at Hradčany and as I went to ask the prosecutor what was the deal, he told me that my father would be executed the very next day. Svoboda army’s intelligence knew nothing about my father’s collaboration with London. Obviously, I wasn’t happy about such injustice, so I made use of my contacts within the resistance, asked my acquaintances among the higher-raking commanders and agents who ensured a suspension of the execution. Meanwhile, I managed to get hold of the documents from the Radotín factory, proving that my father secretly worked for the resistance. This way I saved his life. This whole affair stained my father’s attitude towards the army. He didn’t want to have anything to do with the soldiers ever since.”

  • “I witnessed a lot of absurd things during my military service. For instance, I was the only one in the unit able to cipher. When the commanders found out they called me up and I – a thoroughly non-vetted person – got assigned to the most secret of departments. Then, the commanders were obliged to pass high-school leaving exams, lacking knowledge in Czech, physics and other subjects. They asked me if I was willing to give them lessons. I agreed and whenever I entered the classroom, they had to stand up and greet private Očenášek. Since the minister of national defense awarded me the Medal of Merit for my war and post-war activities, during military parades I was repeatedly placed at the tribune among the officers, despite having a bad ideological profile. There is a law in the army that decorated soldiers have to be present at tribunes during military parades.”

  • “We Scouts entered the Nazi youth association in an organized manner. We were trained as firemen and during the shelling of Prague they deployed us around Karlovo náměstí. In Faust’s House there used to be an armory of the German soldiers and the wounded had to turn in all their weapons there during hospitalization. We dragged the hoses to the house, pouring water from one side and loading guns to the fire truck from the other side.”

  • “Recordings of political speeches used to be stored on tapes in the vaults of the Czechoslovak Radio. In a way, this was compromising material. One day, someone decided that the tapes had a short life time and that in order to preserve the speeches for future generations they had to be pressed on vinyl records. Because of that, our vacation was cancelled. Instead, secret police agents arrived to Rudolfinum, brought in the tapes and we had to create matrices for the pressing factory in Loděnice near Beroun. This was quite a political crash-course for me: in my working hours I would listen to all those speeches which were forbidden for quite some time, realizing just how untrue they were. Those were all the famous communist speeches. I have an impression that after the reliable workers in Loděnice pressed all of them on vinyl records, the original tapes were destroyed. I have no idea what happened to the records, then. They took all the vinyls with them; nothing remained either in Loděnice or in the archive. It was probably an order of the Central Committee in cooperation with the secret police. The secret policemen guarded us not to make copies of the records even though we told them: ‘Please, if we feel like making a copy, we will and you won’t know about it.’ But frankly, we were not so interested in that and most of all it was a huge amount of material.”

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    Praha, 05.10.2015

    duration: 01:56:03
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It was my mission to work as a sound director

Jiří Otčenášek (2015)
Jiří Otčenášek (2015)

Jiří Očenášek was born in 1928 as the only child of army officer Jindřich Očenášek. In the late 1930s he was a member of a boy-scout club which was part of the 11th Scout unit in Dejvice. Following the official ban of Junák, the Czechoslovak Scouting organization, he decided to carry on with those activities illegally and up until the end of the war he led a club of some 25 children. During the late years of World War II he was also active in the resistance organization Bílá hora. Along with his friends who were former Scouts themselves, he joined the official Nazi youth organization to carry out sabotages. During the Prague Uprising of 1945 he accompanied a tank convoy from Dejvice to Staroměstské náměstí. Thanks to his contacts in the resistance he was in May 1945 able to save the life of his father who was about to be executed as a result of a mistake of the Svoboda army’s intelligence. Approximately a month after the end of the war, Jiří Očenášek worked as a motorcycle liaison of the army. At the time of his grammar school studies he used to participate in figure skating races, representing Czechoslovakia at the 1948 European Championship. Accordingly, he developed a liking towards mixed music and began to mix music himself in the recording studio of Jiří Řípa located at Václavské Náměstí. Later, he was assigned to produce music for Jiří Trnka’s animated movies. After the nationalization of the studio he became an employee of state enterprise Supraphon. Up until the 1990s he worked as sound director responsible for recording live broadcasts, concerts, poetry readings and theater plays.