Bohdan Pivoňka

* 1940  

  • "The reasons that led us, me personally, to sign, were simply that strangers cared about religious freedom there. And even atheists and maybe some former communists, Catholics, protestants, just people from different sides. And they were simply advocating religious freedom. So it occurred to us - we had always strived for that - on our own or in our seniority. But it has occurred to us when strangers are advocating for religious freedom in our country, and we are silent, that we simply have to take a stand. So we approached it so that we - sometime in February or how - we got together and visited Láďa Hejdánek together with Pavel Hlaváč and signed it there with him.

  • "How do you recognize conversion? Because something else is the effect where a person sees that something is simply happening to that person - but we do not see into the heart. And unfortunately, there have been a lot of such cases where they have been able to play conversions perfectly, for some purpose, of course. Maybe to gain some benefit. The pastor was so excited when he found out the convict had converted and brought some food, for example. Maybe cigarettes or something, so… and he was already kind, maybe he was already accessible to some of my other needs, when I converted so nicely. For example, in Valdice we found out in those early days that - I will not say which part of the church, it was one smaller church - the representatives of this church there were completely enthusiastic and brought food, and even someone brought a radio there - under certain conditions… Then another day the convict told us that when these convicts returned from the visit, they laughed at how well they… they made fools of them. And they even turned the cross upside down to a satanic position. So that's it. So it's not easy to tell if they… usually it’s not so effective. ”

  • "We did not have Russians there, there was a part of the Polish army with tanks. So it was a very unpleasant awakening on the morning of the 21st. A neighbor came, banged on the window – an old lady – and she said, 'Mr. parson, there will be a war! There's going to be a war!¨ So we turned on the radio and there was this broadcast, that is still played now in archive footage, that we were being occupied and that it was without knowledge of the government and the party. Well, there were Poles, I had such an opportunity for the first time to make a public decision when the principal, the head of the school in Svratouch, came and asked if we just… how to do it, the soldiers were thirsty and if we could give them a drink. And that people didn't want to give them a drink, because there were slogans at the time that they wanted nothing to do with the occupiers, people would turn around signs and so on, so that the soldiers would be confused and go elsewhere. So, I recommended that it's not human, that even the enemy deserves water. This was my first encounter with public service in Svratouch. "

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 13.06.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 01:59:24
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 10.07.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 01:58:47
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 16.01.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 01:54:11
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Democratic regimes must make sure that one does not get out of prison in a worse situation than one was before

Bohdan Pivoňka in 2019, current photography
Bohdan Pivoňka in 2019, current photography
photo: Během natáčení

Bohdan Pivoňka was born on July 2, 1940. His father František Pivonka [written without a caron] was a high-ranking representative of the Salvation Army, a Christian organization that, in the spirit of the motto “Heart to God, hands to men”, is still dedicated to social service. The Communists declared the Salvation Army a spy organization, and in 1959 František Pivonka was arrested for alleged foreign exchange fraud (the Salvation Army had a leadership in London and members saved for retirement at English funds). He died in jail in unclear circumstances. Bohdan Pivoňka graduated from the Comenius Evangelical Faculty of Theology and became a pastor of the Czech Brethren. During the normalization, he worked in the village of Svratouch in the Vysočina region, signed Charter 77 and the so-called Letter of Thirty-One, in which Czech parishioners and lay people criticized the situation in the church. In the 1980s, he organized seminars and lectures for young people in Svratouch. He was monitored and repeatedly questioned by the State Security. After the revolution, he initiated clerical care in prisons, was for many years the chief chaplain of the Prison Service of the Czech Republic, and also personally led pastoral talks with prisoners.