Ing. Jiří Paroubek

* 1952  

  • “I was out in the countryside, there weren’t any soldiers there. I only listened to the radio, the television had stopped working. A few days later I met up with some friends in Prague. I went to Prague, and we walked around the city. That was interesting, the whole of Prague was full of Soviet forces, and we discussed with those Soviet soldiers. It was kind of pointless, but at least we did it. We tried to make them see what a mistake it was. Well, but those were people who were caught in the grinder of that machine, that Soviet totalitarian machine. They had no say in the matter anyway. If they’d rebel, all they’d get would be a charge of high treason and probably a bullet, because they were basically in combat service, like somewhere on the battlefront. But those were interesting times, nonetheless. I remember walking up Wenceslas Square or along Na Příkopech [Street] and hearing gunfire. That’s something that would only invite a smirk if I told it to young people today, it would be something they would consider hardly imaginable. But such were the times.”

  • “So in that year 1978, I had completed my compulsory military service about a year before. I was working in the office of the managing director of a large restaurant enterprise, I had an interesting job, I think I actually appreciated that I could do an interesting job. And then I was approached by this one stetsec [State Security officer - trans.]. He behaved very decently, nicely, he showed me his badge. Well, I got all wobbly at the knees, of course, because a twenty-six-year-old boy has no experience of this. I couldn’t tell my parents, because they’d be worried sick. Luckily, I had one female colleague, who I knew had a very close relationship with the managing director, so she’d blab it all out to him. Which I considered to be right, for the managing director to know that something like that had happened. She was an experienced lady who’d worked as the director - until 1969 - the director of the Research Institute of Trade; she’d seen the world, she had excellent class. She liked to talk; in this case, I think she only told it to her nearest colleagues, that is, the managing director and his deputy. The latter advised me to say I wasn’t suited for it, if I didn’t want to collaborate. That I shouldn’t tell them: You bastards, what, do you think I’m some kind of snitch? That that probably wouldn’t be suitable. I came to the same conclusion, that it wouldn’t be the best idea to present myself so strongly. So I said: ‘Well, you know, I’m not really suited for it, I’d feel strange to tell on the people around me, it’s not in my nature. Besides, I have some reservations about the regime.’ And he said: ‘We found that, on the contrary, you have a good political orientation.’ I said: ‘Well, perhaps I am well, well oriented, but I wouldn’t be suited for it.’ So we met twice, he paid once, I paid once, to be even, but perhaps he counted in my expenses as well. And then he stopped bothering me.”

  • “At the time I realised, about two years before I quit, that the Socialist Party was controlled by State Security. As I was told by that man ten years earlier, when he tried to get me to collaborate, they protected the party, in a way. The protection was broadly defined, and then, as it came to light in Rudá Kráva, practically all the leading members of the party were collaborating with State Security. I sensed that, although I hadn’t known for sure, of course, back then in the mid-eighties. From my point of view, there was no point in me being somewhere where people were playing with you like a cat with a mouse.”

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    Praha, 22.09.2016

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There was no sense in me rebelling during Socialsm

Jiří Paroubek, 2016
Jiří Paroubek, 2016
photo: autoři natáčení

Jiří Paroubek was born on 21 August 1952 in Olomouc. He graduated from the University of Economics in Prague. In 1970 he joined the Czechoslovak Socialist Party. Already as a young man he took an interest in politics, and because he disagreed with the Communist ideology, the Socialists seemed like a suitable alternative. At the time, he had no idea that the party was controlled and overseen by the Communists. He worked as an economist at Restaurants & Canteens; eight years later he switched to a similar position at Prefa. In the mid-1980s he left the Czechoslovak Socialist Part because he was disillusioned by the way things were done there. He never joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, but he never openly opposed the regime. He claims that he stopped believing it would ever fall. He was convinced there was no point in rebelling against it. After the 1989 revolution he joined the Czech Socialist-Democratic Party and started a political career. In the years 2006 to 2013 he was a member of the Czech Parliament; in the years 2005 and 2006 he served as the country’s prime minister. In 2011 to 2014 he was active as a politician for Lev 21 (Lion 21) - National Socialists, which he established. The party was unsuccessful at the general elections.