Martin Štainer

* 1967  

  • „V rámci toho, že jsme dělali studentský časopis, tak jsme měli přístup k cyklostylu a poté, co jsme zkoušeli přepisovat Několik vět na psacím stroji a šlo to hrozně pomalu, tak jsme zjistili, že nám to cyklostyl může značně zjednodušit a urychlit. Takže se napsala jedna ta blána a už to jelo. Udělali jsme asi čtyři sta kusů a roznesli jsme to po kolejích. A mysleli jsme si, že nikdo nezjistí, že to děláme my. Ale když chodíte v noci po kolejních chodbách a ke každému pokoji jsme dávali za kliku srulovaný papír, tak stačí, když narazíte na jednoho nějakého studenta, který se tu zrovna promenáduje po chodbě a už to stačí, aby to věděla celá fakulta.“

  • “One time I wrote the minister of education an angry letter. It was in the period of Gorbachev, glasnost, and perestroika, so I wrote the minister a letter in which I criticised the state of Socialist university education etc. She did send a terse reply, but they took the matter up with the rector of the university, who sent it on to the faculty. Sometime in summer 1989 I was invited to the head of the department; when I arrived, I found the Party chairman of the faculty there as well. They started reasoning with me, what had I done, that I couldn’t behave like that to the comrade minister, that I was an embarrassment to the whole university, etc. I was such a dolt I just couldn’t understand that something bad had happened. I had expressed my opinion; I thought I had the right to do so. It might sound very naive, but I didn’t really consider that it might cause trouble. I wasn’t a bad student, I fulfilled my duties, and although I wore long hair and had problems because of it, I always reckoned they couldn’t do much to me because they didn’t have anything to stand an argument on. But I was wrong, of course. Because I often spoke out openly, and I enjoyed attending the union [Socialist Youth Union - trans.] meetings at the faculty. I spoilt the atmosphere for them. But on the other hand I increased their attendance rate, because whenever there was a union meeting, my thirty-odd classmates knew it was worth finding the time to go there.”

  • “I knew people who had problems because of their cultural activities, but that’s one thing. I also saw there was a heap of other people who got in trouble for their civic opinions. And of course, it was an obvious thing that people sat in prison for their political views. I saw Chartists, and the problems they had. Or the problems of people who spoke out about 1968, and of their children, my classmates, who were barred from studying, for instance. They were excellent students at secondary school, but the regime decided that these people can’t have a university education. Those were all issues that I was well aware of, that bothered me a lot. That was one thing. The second was that I was studying at the Faculty of Education, and at the time I couldn’t imagine not becoming a teacher, but at the time I kept getting signals that perhaps I wouldn’t complete the school, simply because I wasn’t worthy of a degree in education, or that because I wore long hair, I didn’t behave like a proper student of the Faculty of Education, a future teacher. But it got worse. Towards the end... I’d say that the fear was subdued by the anger, the degree to which the authorities were arogant. And that you kept coming up against human stupidity and you suddenly came to know more and more people who had Party functions but were terrible teachers, and they were important, and I don’t know who they brown-nosed and so on. And there were more and more of them, so that when you looked around, you couldn’t see any real personality among all these functionaties. I was disillusioned. I didn’t like the idea that I was to just come to terms with the fact. Because that would have probably meant that the friends who’d been blocked up after sixty-eight, I would have pretty much joined their ranks, regardless of whether I wanted to achieve something, whether I was dull or not, what I could or couldn’t do. Simply, that a person is predestined to being a manual labourer in some chemical plant or something just because he has an opinion.”

  • “One thing that did work out was that I have an excellent opportunity to live in a different regime than the one I had to before, one which I was worried my children would have to live in - in conditions ruled by such stupidity. On the other hand, the longer it is from the revolution, the more I feel that the stupidity is coming back to power. I think that the main thing is that few people, decent people especially, are willing to enter the public scene and do something for the community. The way the democratic elections are done, the political plurality, those are things that simply ruins intelligent, honest, and capable people. You have to go through several moments of voting - will it be you, or the other guy? And now, it often doesn’t matter if you’re intelligent, capable, educated, experienced, hard-working, honest, but the question is who has more friends in the vote. When you secure yourself the people and give them small quid pro quos, then the day comes when they will vote for you. Yes, that is a pseudodemocratic method, but it allows those who have the audacity, the impudence - cheats, manipulators - to gradually get above those who are decent and don’t have such mean tactics.”

  • Full recordings
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    Olomouc, 11.08.2017

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    duration: 02:01:40
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Olomouc, 03.10.2018

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    duration: 02:03:53
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
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Speak up when something bad is happening

Martin Štainer, the student
Martin Štainer, the student
photo: archiv pamětníka

Martin Štainer was born on 25 November 1967 in Valašské Meziříčí. During his childhood and adolescent years he formed close connections with the local culture scene and made friends with a number of musicians who were persecuted by the regime or under surveillance. He was also active in both the Pioneers and the Socialist Youth Union. However, for a long time he did not see the organisations’ connection to the Communist Party. His first clash with the state came at grammar school, when he wrote an article for the student magazine. He did not hide his opinions. In the 1980s he performed a pantomime caricature of a Party meeting with his friends at Rockfest, which was officially organised by the Socialist Youth Union. State Security threatened to charge him with defamation of the state symbol. He came under regular surveillance at university in Olomouc, and he was repeatedly threatened with expulsion from the school. In November 1989 Martin Štainer was one of the student leaders of the Velvet Revolution. He now directs his own company and lives in Olomouc.