Jan Slezák

* 1961  

  • “The emergency policemen usually intervened in the cordon. That means that the boys of the emergency police were in cordon, and they had those white long batons and shields, and they went either with shields or batons. That was a common practice. And then there were those with short black batons, mostly the guys from the local departments who had to get on too. We were supposed to push those people somewhere. As for the other interventions when someone was arresting, they were mostly boys from the local department. Our boys usually did not arrest anyone. Or when they used batons in a way to beat someone, frankly speaking, it was mostly because someone threw something at them and so on.”

  • “We had a hard time bearing that for people we were the bad guys who caused the massacre on Národní třída (November 17, 1989 - Ed. note). Which wasn't true. And then we started saying it out loud, because we didn't want to leave it as it was. We didn't beat people into blood. These were the 'red berets', URNA (Rapid reaction unit – Editor´s note), who made an aisle there and beat people who had to walk through that aisle. Despite the fact that the boys who were there were with the police for two months. They started on the first of October; they did not even have a basic training. So, we thought we just couldn't leave it like that. It was convenient for someone to ascribe it all to the emergency policeman, because they were supposed to take action. But no one wrote about the fact that the boys of the local departments intervened, that URNA intervened.”

  • “We were called “threshers”, an emergency policeman was perceived in this way, even though when there were some brutal interventions, for example stáťáci (StB officers – editor´s note), civilians or local boys were the ones who did it. As I said, when someone is watching a documentary or an authentic footage, it is necessary to distinguish what baton those people got. Whether it was a white baton or a black baton. The emergency policeman hit with white batons, everyone else had black ones.”

  • “You've never been in a skin of a cop. The cop must obey the laws and follow orders as in the military. I already mentioned it in the interviews. That's what the Gestapo said, too, that they were following the law, even though they were killing people. We didn't kill anyone, but we had to obey the order and the law.”

  • Interviewer: “How do you view your work today in the emergency regiment? Do you have a moral problem? Is that something you might be ashamed of? ”JS:“ When I came here, I was wondering if you would ask me such a question. And I tried to answer it myself. If I would do what I was doing, when I knew what was going to happen. I would. Because I wouldn't know what it would be. And as for the morals ... There are morals and morals, right? How would I put it ... In terms of morals, it is that at that time the things we were doing did not seem immoral to us. I guess that's how I put it.”

  • “When we were about to finish, I was called by the company commander and asked if I wanted to stay on the ready (SNB Emergency Regiment - ed. Ed.) as a deputy platoon commander. I asked what it meant, and he says, 'This, this, this ... And you get the apartments fast here.' I was just married at that time, so I thought it would be great to get an apartment - moreover people were waiting for flats in Prague for a long time. So, I nodded. Because the idea of prostituting somewhere did not take me at all.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 07.01.2019

    duration: 02:00:49
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 08.01.2019

    duration: 01:15:24
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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They called us threshers, but it was a job like any other

Jan Slezák in the 1980s
Jan Slezák in the 1980s
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jan Slezák was born on April 13, 1961 in Litomyšl. He lived with his parents and two younger siblings in Česká Třebová. The witness experienced the Warsaw Pact troops as a seven-year-old, but politics had never influenced his childhood, they never spoke about it at home. After graduating in 1980, he decided (partly out of spite his father) to go to the Public Security SNB. He completed five-month replacement service with the troops of the Ministry of the Interior in Frýdek-Místek and then eighteen-month training in the emergency regiment in Prague-Hrdlořezy, which served as a police school. He planned to enter the criminal service after graduation, but after the training he stayed with the emergency regiment. He joined the Communist Party and as Deputy Commander of the platoon with the rank of commissioned officer, then supervised the education and training of adepts, which focused on interventions against demonstrators and terrorists, the closure and evacuation of areas, etc. The year later he was in charge of platoon. As a reward for good performance he received the rank of commissioned officer soon. The first real intervention of his unit against demonstrators came in August 1988 at Prague’s Wenceslas Square, then he intervened also during Palach’s week in January 1989 and autumn 1989. He took part in the intervention on November 17, 1989 only in reserve, his unit was on a training. After the revolution, the Emergency Regiment changed to the Secondary Police School, Slezák became deputy commander of that year. He was involved in police unions, and left to civilian life at the end of 1995 with the rank of captain. He joined the CSSD and worked in municipal politics. He became an influential figure of the Prague Social Democracy (mayor of the Prague district of Újezd nad Lesy, councilor at the Prague city council, chairman of the ČSSD Prague 14 district organization), and resigned from political positions in 2018.