Pavel Šremer

* 1946  

  • “It’s a bit of a pity that nowadays they commemorate two anniversaries on 17 November, but they don’t recall what that date meant to my generation. In sixty-eight the students put on a big occupation strike, with discussions held at the faculties with people from the creative unions and politics. The workers supported the students with a symbolic strike, sirens were sounded. No one knew if the People’s Militias would intervene, because this was all taking place in an occupied country. That was a serious matter. It formed our whole student generation. The people who came to the fore after 1989 often had their beginnings on that occasion.”

  • “I admired one of my colleagues. Although we were imprisoned in Ruzyně because of our opposition to the Soviet invasion, he was able to smuggle out materials from the local archives. They showed how the regime actually behaved to the underprivileged, despite its claims of being socially just. I admired him immensely for that. He even managed to place a phone call from there. He had one friend there who was allowed to access the office part of the prison. And one Saturday, when there weren’t many warders there, he risked it, dressed up as his friend, and phoned his loved one. Not just as a personal matter, he also told her information that he needed to get out.”

  • “In 1990 President Havel’s big advisers dismissed my proposal to more deeply investigate the problem of air pollution in northern Bohemia. That got me angry. In the end, thanks to some friends I got the information through to Olga Havlová, and she served it to the president during lunch. I don’t know how the president took it at first, but the truth is that he phoned me, I explained it to him, and he understood immediately. And we set off there. [...] We organised a trip there because it was necessary to have the moral support of the local people, who were suffering under heavy, constant inversions. He met with students from Děčín and Ústí, that was very interesting. [...] We were driving by gas compression plant, Havel was intrigued and said: ‘Stop, I want to have a look.’ We stopped, he gave his bodyguards the slip and was the first to reach the entrance. ‘Wait, where are you going, you can’t go there!’ the doorkeeper shouted at him. But she recognised him after a while, and he smiled at her.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, Zbraslav, Eye Direct, 18.11.2014

    (audio)
    duration: 01:41:09
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I wouldn’t want to be ashamed to look myself in the eye, that’s about it

4864-portrait_former.jpg (historic)
Pavel Šremer
photo: Eye Direct natáčení, 2014

Pavel Šremer was born on 24 February 1946 in Benešov near Prague, into the family of a teacher. His father was not a member of the Communist Party, and so he was not allowed to make full use of his expertise as a secondary-school teacher, but instead his family moved with him around various primary schools of the Podblanicko District. One of Pavel Šremer’s teachers at secondary school introduced him to the wonders of natural sciences, leading to his studies of biology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Charles University in Prague, which he completed in 1968. He specialised in genetics, and began working as a researcher at the Institute of Microbiology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. During this time he was active in the Movement of Revolutionary Youth, which - albeit a left-wing organisation - protested against the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies. For his activities in criticism of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia he was imprisoned for twenty-seven months, and after his release he later worked at Research Institute for Antibiotics and Biotransformation. After marrying and moving to Bratislava he worked at the Research Institute of the Poultry Industry, but he was forced to leave after signing Charter 77. In the late 1970s he joined in the voluntary protection of the environment in the Bratislava branch of the Slovak Union of Nature and Countryside Conservationists. He co-authored the proposal for the institution of the Podunají national park and a number of nature reserves around Bratislava, the Little Carpathians, and Záhoří. He was an active member of the initiative Bratislava Aloud!, which formulated the city’s problems; he himself also brought attention to problems with the planning of Gabčíkovo Dam and the preparation of an experimental nuclear reactor in Slovakia. In November 1989 he co-founded the Green Party in Slovakia and served as its vice chairman for one year. In January 1990 he was co-opted into the Federal Assembly as a representative for the Green Party. He was a member of the environmental committee. He also served briefly as a deputy of the federal minister of the environment, Josef Vavroušek. From 1992 he was the programme director of the American Peace Corps in the Czech Republic, from 1997 he worked at the Czech Environmental Inspection, and then at the Czech Institute of Ecology. In the years 2006-2010 he worked at the Czech Republic’s Ministry of the Environment as the director for ecological policy. In 1992 he was a founding member of the Society for Sustainable Life, and from 1997 to 2006 he was its chairman.