Josef Rössler

* 1956  

  • “I already described this first experience of mine somewhere, perhaps it’s even in my book, that it was like a revelation. Because of course, when they began to play, I sat down on the stairs so as not to disturb, because Mejla didn’t like it much when someone else attended the rehearsal, but I gaped at them because I’d never heard music like that in my life. I was completely taken away. And it occurred to me: “Damn, I’d like to play with them sometime.’”

  • “The one stetsec [State Security officer - trans.] said: ‘Such a trifle, you disappoint me, I thought goodness knows what...’ They really expected to find some seditious activity [and they found marihuana - ed.]. True enough, they did rustle up some foreign magazines that I had there, a letter by Václav Havel, that was in seventy.´-six, the Plastics were already locked up by then. And now they wanted me to collaborate, otherwise they said they’d hand it over to the criminal [police], the weed. I was completely dazed after the whole day, so I reckoned the only thing important to me at that moment was to get out of there. So I signed it, the collaboration, and they started giving me instructions, which way I should go home, what I should do. I came out of the house and said to myself: ‘You ass, now you can just about go jump under a train.’ So I first went to the pub, where they had draught Krušovice, there were some boys sitting there who said: ‘You look a bit green.’ I was completely out of it, and as I walked back home, I reckoned: ‘This won’t do, this just won’t do.’ So I went to Dana Němcová in Ječná [Street], and I puked out the whole story to her. She said: ‘So we’ll spread the word everywhere that you signed it, and they’ll find out, and then you’ll see what they do with you.”

  • “That was the only way how to get out of it. Basically I did very well. The stetsec who was my contact bloke, as they called it, hassled me a few times on the phone, he always wanted to meet up somewhere, I always excused myself that I was ill or couldn’t come. After about half or three-quarters of a year they discovered that everyone knew I had signed it, so they as if gave me peace. I think he gave me a dressing down one more time. I was a complete wreck in that period. That year, that was crazy. I got stomach ulcers from it, of course, people knew about it, so some of them didn’t trust me, so I was kind of half-outcast. I know that around that time Loony [Ivan Magor - Loony - Jirous, a prominent figure of the underground culture - trans.] came back from some prison, and I was in Ječná [Street], we were waiting for someone to bring him there, and Věra Jirousová came up to me and said: ‘If you’re a cop, get the hell out of here. If you’re not, you can stay.’ So I stayed.”

  • “All of the buses from the pub in Postupice suddenly stopped, the cops chased us out, checked our ID. I still reckoned it was no big deal, eh, just the cops playing up. Around that time they had already started forming a database. Still nothing happened to me, I guess I still wasn’t interesting enough to them, so then in seventy-six, after Bojanovice, when the arrests began, I lived in the fear of when it would be my turn to be interrogated, but still nothing happened. I guess I still wasn’t quite important enough to them.”

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    Praha, 16.09.2016

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To hear the Plastics was a revelation

Josef Rössler
Josef Rössler
photo: archiv pamětníka

Josef Rössler was born on 7 April 1956 in Prague. His grandfather, Josef Rössler-Ořovský, was a prominent promoter of sport, and sports (especially sailing) and Scouting were important to the Rössler family. After primary school he trained as a mechanic at Czech Boatyards Prague in the years 1971-1973; he was then employed at the company. He later worked as a maintenance man at various firms. Thanks to his uncle, who owned the Golden Hill “community house”, he was introduced to the Czech underground scene in the mid-1970s. He was active as a musician in several bands (Goldberg Grass Band, Dr. Prostěradlo Band [Dr Bed Sheet Band], B Band), he participated in music festivals and concerts that were observed by State Security. The campaign against underground music culminated in the trial with Plastic People of the Universe (PPU) in 1976. The same year - but with no connection to the PPU - State Security arrested Josef Rössler, and after harsh interrogation he signed a collaboration agreement. He immediately informed his friends from the dissent of the signing, he was contacted by State Security for about a year, but there was no collaboration. In 1978 he was investigated, but the charges were dropped. In 1981 he played with Plastic People of the Universe (Co znamená vésti koně - What Does It Mean To Lead a Horse), but for the most of the 1980s he lived outside of the dissent for family reasons as well. In the 1990s he returned as a guest performer with the Plastic People, in the years 1998-2008 he performed with DG 307. Josef Rössler works as a joiner, a musician, and a photographer. In 2009 he published a book of prose titled Obraz doby aneb Chaotické vzpomínky na život v českém undergroundu 70. let (A Picture of the Times, or, Chaotic Memories of Life in the Czech Underground of the 1970s).