Emil Rýva

* 1933

  • "Those who were deployed, for example, with construction units, could learn a lot there. And they could then use that in various constructions, installations, and adaptations. Whereas I practically didn't learn anything there that I might need in life because I went mining, which is only hammering away. For about half a year only, then I saw that in such a way if I did it for two years, I would probably damage my health. Earnings were never a decisive factor for me at that time or later in life, so somehow, I don't even know how I managed to get transferred to mine transport. That is, I was a conveyor belt operator or a turnkey operator. I was launching carts and so on. So, unfortunately, I couldn't get anything out of this acquired experience."

  • "I perceive it sub specie of my eighty-four years in such a way that he succumbed to the pre-war and then the post-war euphoria. It wasn't pre-war euphoria, but he, like most visual artists, tended towards left-wing political thinking to appear progressive. After the war, as a result of the euphoria that others also succumbed to, he remained in this political thinking. And he even improved it afterward when he became a kind of a politically exploited, recognized artist. He also supported this later, for example, when he received the Klement Gottwald state award. It was because he painted views of Prague from his studio, which he magnified by the fact that there was always a star shining on some object in Prague, similar to the mine in Ostrava, so he placed there as such a decoration, those five-pointed stars. So he was trying to fit - today it's called the mainstream - into the mainstream, to flow with the mainstream. Otherwise, I don't know if he harmed anyone. Maybe he could have harmed some of his colleagues with some of his strong political positions, but I can't judge that. They would have to comment on that. They are practically no longer alive today either, so... His image, as I have fixed it, is that he was a person of a broad, basically benevolent nature."

  • "That was the fall of 1953. I was assigned to a special facility, which was not even established in the military law. That is, it was an act or a facility that was completely outside the laws, decrees, and regulations in force at the time. And it came down to the fact that persons who, according to the party or municipal authorities, were objectionable in some way or had an objectionable class origin were practically put to forced labor, either in mines or the construction industry, on road construction and the like." - " You were assigned there directly?" - "I was assigned directly there. And this facility had such a peculiarity that whoever entered there did not know how long he would stay there because it depended very much on how he would be politically vetted. I could never imagine that because I was there due to my class origin. I could not imagine how I could be vetted for this class origin, which was virtually unchangeable. How could it change? So it was a rather unpleasant circumstance when someone is deployed somewhere and doesn't know for how long. There was a lot of seniors who had been there for maybe the fourth or fifth year, or maybe even longer."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 21.03.2018

    duration: 02:04:53
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 23.05.2018

    duration: 02:21:19
    media recorded in project Memory of Prague 6
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The next generations have been more or less unteachable since time immemorial

Portrait, circa 1962
Portrait, circa 1962
photo: witness archive

Emil Rýva was born on 19 December 1933 in Prague. He was orphaned shortly afterward and raised by his grandfather and aunt. As the sole heir to a large estate in Štolmíř, he was deprived of his property rights after 1948 and later expelled from the gymnasium. He worked in the national enterprise State Farm in Štolmíř and completed his military service in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions for forced labor in the Ostrava mines. Between 1961 and 1962, he served in the carpentry crew on the youth construction site at the company Kaučuk Kralupy. In 1962, he married and moved to Prague, where he worked as a stoker in the Kinsky Palace and later in the installation crew of the Czechoslovak Association of Visual Artists. From 1970, he worked as a stoker at the national Farm of laboratory animals in Lysolaje. And together with his wife, he raised a daughter. After 1989, he restituted his property, but in a devastated state. Even so, there were people around him who were able to envy him.