Petr Payne Pazdera

* 1960  †︎ 1960

  • "In my first year at the Faculty of Theology, I went to Slovenská street with the philosopher Lenka Votavová [Karfíková] to a lecture given by Professor Hejdánek. More people gathered there and he still hadn´t come. It later emerged that he had been detained by the State Security. As we were leaving, we were caught at the entrance by the State Security officers. They arrested us and took us to Bartolomějská street. I was in the same car with Tomáš Havlíček. They interrogated us for quite some time. They tried to find our weaknesses. It was absurd and sometimes incomprehensible. It was a pretty steamy summer then. I was wearing sandals and dirty feet in them. Suddenly they told me that they would call a photographer to document my feet and send it to the dean of the faculty. Then they asked me what my parents would say when they found out where I was. I didn't mind at all, but I started to get a little worried when they threatened me with psychiatry. I had long hair at the time and was an introvert. Then they said we were going, and it looked like we were going to some cells in the basement. At the gatehouse, however, they handed me my ID card with the words: So, go ahead and go away! So, I've never experienced the forty-eight."

  • "Petr Uhl started typing a report, as it was the case at the Eastern European Information Agency. There were phone calls from various foreign journalists asking if it was true that someone had died there. These were legitimate questions, because not only information about Martin Šmíd was going around Prague, but also other news that someone had seen people covered in flags in the streets. I remember being surprised when Petr Uhl started to confirm this. In my opinion, there is no consensus that this is credible news. Impressed by the questions, it probably closed him, so he read part of the draft and finished the rest without reading. He talked about the darkness of the arcade and dramatized everything a little more. In the end, it was broadcast this way."

  • "At Národní třída street we met Luboš Rychvalský, whom we knew from a court. Then we went to the Slavia café together. I know that Sasha Vondra and maybe someone else joined us for a while. At that time, Luboš presented to us the intention to establish the Společnost za veselejší současnost and immediately also presented a proposal for the first event, ie a run through Třída Politických věznů street for the release of all political prisoners. We did it on the May 1st, and since then it has been run every day until November 1989. The upper part of the street is Petschek's palace, where we met. Then we ran all the way to Jindřišská Street, where we threw papers and postcards into the mailboxes of political prisoners. Thanks to the connection with Petr Uhl, I provided their lists. In this way, I was simply able to restore an overview of contemporary political prisoners."

  • "In the spring, I started working for Petr Uhl. I even had the key to their apartment and went there to write news. The Czech branch of the Eastern European Information Agency issued a service once a week, which included all the main news. I wrote them down on a typewriter. If I didn't put a thick piece of paper at the beginning, it was possible to create ten copies. Petr Uhl had such a strange, non-office style. The individual copies were being hidden in various places in the apartment. They were usually attended by people from various civic initiatives. Standa Penc of the John Lennon Peace Club was taking it from under the closet. Standa Ninth or Honza Ruml were taking it from different place. This distribution was part of my job. Then I was making phone calls to the so-called annoying radios: Free Europe, Voice of America and others. Sometimes the news was also spoken and sent, for example, to Ivan Medek in Vienna. Petr Uhl had such a special apparatus where it was possible to insert the cassette and broadcast its contents to ten places, for example. So, there were a total of ten memories on which the stations were stored."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 08.10.2020

    duration: 02:01:33
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 30.10.2020

    duration: 02:04:02
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 26.11.2020

    duration: 01:57:12
    media recorded in project Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
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I think I’m the cause that the message about the dead student got among people

Petr Payne Pazdera, Prague, the end of 1980s
Petr Payne Pazdera, Prague, the end of 1980s
photo: archive of Miroslav Kamil Černý

Petr Payne Pazdera was born on June 28, 1960 in Prague. His father’s name was Donald Harry Payne after his emigrant father living in the USA. Although the family did not have a stronger anchor in the evangelical religion, Peter and his older brothers were still sent to the religion classes in a nearby church every Sunday. In this way, he also became close to the organization of evangelical youth. At the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, adolescent Petr then began attending residential lectures by philosophers influenced by Christianity and the interpretation of the Bible. In 1981, he successfully enrolled in Comenius’ Evangelical Theological Faculty. A year later, due to the revealed participation in Ladislav Hejdánek’s lecture, he had to stop his studies and start making a living as a fireman and security guard at the National Museum. However, he continued getting closer to the group of evangelical and Catholic intellectuals and returned to university in 1983. At the end of the 1980s, he took an active part in a number of opposition initiatives and took part in most important Prague demonstrations. In the winter of 1989, thanks to an event by the Independent Peace Association, he met Petr Uhl and began working for the Eastern European Information Agency. After the events that took place in Prague on May 1 of the same year, he founded Společnost za veselejší současnost (SVS - an unofficial anti-communist organization) with Bára Štěpánová and Luboš Rychvalský. In the summer, after completing his studies, he was granted state approval and a place at the parish in Kadan. At the same time, he also attached his signature to the Declaration of Charter 77. On November 17, 1989, he was present as a protester on Národní třída and reported on the SNB’s intervention the same evening at the Synod of the Czech Brethren Evangelical Church. The next day he made a well-known recording with a false testimony from Drahomíra Dražská and handed it over to Petr Uhl. After the revolution, he lectured on chapters in the history of Christianity and an introduction to philosophy at the Czech Technical University, founded the Medard publishing house and worked for People in Need.