“I refused any offers right from the start, saying I was too afraid. I was interesting for them because of my language skills. They wouldn’t have probably asked me to inform on my neighbour but, rather, they would have sent me somewhere abroad. But I told them I was afraid. I made them think I was a chicken, but I preferred the Secret Police to think I was a chicken than to be asked to follow somebody abroad.”
“I watched what was happening and as I lived in the very centre of the city then, I tried to talk to the Cubans and to remember how people behaved a day before the outbreak of the war. The Cubans were willing to fight but had no idea what a huge force they were facing. Instead of being a tourist trip with bathing in the sea, it was a journalist experience although I was no journalist. Since I spoke Spanish well, the locals were favourably inclined to me and talked to me. Moreover, Czechoslovakia was on the side of the Cuban revolutionaries. That is why they did not perceive me as an enemy but as someone who was on their side. Fortunately I returned alive and in good health from this dangerous situation.”
“In 1968, on August 21, i.e. on the day of the key significance for our country, I was in Japan, at a conference. On TV I suddenly saw the Prague Castle and tanks in the streets. People of various nationalities started coming to me, saying they were sorry, but also they wanted to help. The Americans offered me a ten year stay, the so-called green card, a place in the university and a salary that cannot bear comparison with ours. A similar offer came from Australia. But I am a Czech, I was born in Czechia and I want to die in this country as well. So I just didn’t accept. To leave the country at this moment would have been reasonable. Moreover, I would not have had to do anything as I was abroad already, I could have been given a citizenships, I could have started teaching, all social matters settled, but I didn’t do it. I wanted to live here. I want to die here and not somewhere else.”
“By returning at this time when everybody was leaving, I perhaps scored another white point with the regime. I had no problems to travel. Moreover, each of my journeys had some financial benefit for the country. And I think that the regime kind of boasted by my work, as it showed to the world: ‘Look, how many languages our people can speak, they can get tenure in America and travel wherever they like, even if they come from a communist country.’ I was a kind of the regime’s flagship and they allowed me to go abroad.”
Humanity is above all nations. I believe in humanity
Miloslav Stingl was born on December 19, 1930, in the Sudetenland town of Bílina to the family of Jan Isidor and Hedvika Stingls. He grew up with his sister Hedvika, who was four years his junior. His father worked as a mining engineer and, therefore, the Stingl family often moved where his father got a job. During the war they stayed in Rakovník, then he spent a large part of his life in Karlovy Vary. He has lived in Prague since 1980. Since early childhood he has had a deep interest in geography, history and study of languages, he had a gift for writing. He studied international law and ethnography. In 1962 to 1972 he worked in the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences, where he was responsible for research of non-European nations, their cultures and art, then worked as a freelance traveller and writer. He spent nearly twenty years travelling. He took fourteen trips around the world, visited 150 countries. His main interest was focused on the spiritual live of indigenous people, such as Mayas, Polynesians, Aborigines, Inuits, tribes of American Indians. His main source of income, which he used to finance his travels, was from writing popular science. He is the author of forty-three books that were published both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Despite the fact that he lived in the country ruled by the totalitarian regime, he has retained his political independence thanks to his diplomatic abilities. He never entered the Communist Party and has never been politically organised. In the 1950s he was approached by the Czechoslovakian intelligence service but he refused. He is a patriot and never thought about leaving the country.