Vladimír Stanislav

* 1958

  • “Boot camp, it’s a kind of prison camp, the first wave of brainwashing. Constant yelling, yelling, yelling; hands out of your pockets, run, stop, run, wait... You’re thrown into an environment where you don’t know what to prepare for because the things to prepare for are unimaginable for a normal, reasonable person. There’s no logic to it, it’s just a medley of unceasing, nonsensical jogging to and fro, yelling, swearing. The word ‘bullying’ comes to mind. But that wasn’t individual bullying, the bullying was systematic. For instance, it was given that the stoves in the barracks can only heat until ten p.m. And at ten p.m., the stove had to be swept and cleaned - from the inside - so they were spick and span! But that wasn’t just some one time thing someone made up, it was an unofficial rule. That was just one thing of many. This system of requiring nonsensical activities, its purpose was to teach people to stop thinking about why they were doing something. To stop them from thinking. Don’t ask and don’t laugh. In Slovak: ‘What are you asking? Time to laugh? You have time to laugh?’ It was whitewashing people’s minds...”

  • “An amazingly paradoxical situation occurred in Kbely, when a group of guards from Kladno or somewhere simulated the crowd. They brought in two cars of guards to act as if they were some crowd, which we were to go to and forcibly dissolve. For greater effect, they had a jeep, a radio car with a loudspeaker. And they played the noise and whistling of a crowd from it. The boys were supposed to pretend they were making threatening gestures at us, or something. I didn’t hear any order, but suddenly a few idiots with initiative charged out from our cordon and started fighting with the boys. They mashed them up with batons. I stared at them and wondered: ‘What’re they doing...?’ Of course, the [Kladno] boys started to defend themselves, that’s instinctive. When someone starts beating you up, you try to protect yourself. So it turned into a brawl, and no one knew how to stop it because it was total chaos there. After a break, we repeated the exercise. They gently notified us that this was only a practice simulation and that the group was not our enemy... But those boys were just as crazy after the break as well. They charged around with their batons. I remember Pavel Rýdl. He stood leaning there, pale all over, he was a very decent boy... So I asked him: ‘What’s going on, Pavel?’ He said: ‘Do you see? What they turned us into? How did they manage to do that?’ That experience showed it worked. That you really can manipulate people.”

  • “Even dearly paid knowledge is knowledge. That’s the only benefit, I guess. And if it is a benefit to life to know that human vileness, stupidity, anger, the ability to betray and backstab goes much deeper than I thought possible before starting military service, well, then that is knowledge. But I think you can live quite well without such information. To find out that people who are on their knees, no matter how good they look, suddenly do something that you could never even imagine... There is no need for such knowledge, surely. Then you some radio station does a poll, and the result is that nine out of ten boys, or men, phoned in to say something along the lines that Socialist military training was useful in some way. What do they mean by that...? [laughter] They’re making excuses for themselves, for losing their humanity. And now they need to tag it with a pretty label. So they shout: ‘It was useful...’ They shout: ‘The youth of today, they’d need some of that.’ But that’s nonsense. Every human group contains the same percentage of bastards and fantastic people. And those bastards remained bastards, whether they did military service or not. And all the army training did was to turn the normal ones into people who struggle their whole life to come to terms with the fact that they were perhaps the bastards [during military service]. Out of necessity, out of fear...”

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    Praha 5, 28.10.2016

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    duration: 02:33:28
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I was a guard for Husák

Vladimír Stanislav 1976
Vladimír Stanislav 1976
photo: Vladimíe Stanislav

Vladimír Stanislav was born on 22 July 1958 in Polička. His father, having quit the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s, worked in uranium mines; his mother was a housewife. Vladimír attended a railway school in Liberec, and he has worked as a train dispatcher at Hostivice Station near Prague for the past 30 or more years. In 1978 he was drafted into compulsory military service with a section of the Ministry of the Interior, the Castle Guard, and so he was forced to serve in the army whose ideology he hated. In his memories he thinks back on how he and his colleagues were affected by this process of “enslavement”, which was to culminate in their complete obedience. His worst experience was undertaking training to combat the inner enemy, that is, to restrain civilians. He was afraid that he would have to fight civilians, which he considered unacceptable. He regards the Socialist military training to have been destructive, unproductive, and useless. During the revolutionary days of 1989 he helped distribute leaflets around the country through his job at the railways, and he prevented a collapse of passenger train transportation ahead of a general strike.