Josef Sýkora

* 1925  †︎ 2015

  • “They set everything up to make it look like I wanted to kill the president and place a bomb in Wallenstein Palace, where I’d been working since my release, when the government was in session. They interrogated so many people, heaps of them, it wasn’t until I got the interrogation documents that I found out that a lot of my fellow students who studied at the same school as me were also arrested, without me knowing anything about it. All that time, until I got the documents, I didn’t know that those people had been interrogated, I didn’t even know the names. Everyone gave me pretty good results, but you can tell that [the interrogators] were looking for an excuse, and they found the scapegoat that fitted the role.” (Q: “And you were preparing something?”) “No.”

  • “The trial took place on my name’s day, March 19th. Then I stayed about two days at Charles Square, then to a cell in Pankrác - there they grouped us into buses to various work destinations for each of the convicts. When the group for one bus was complete, everyone was given civvies to change into, because they didn’t want us to be in prison garb when they took us through town. They made it up like a tour bus, they would even have signs saying ‘Tour’ - and they were off to Jáchymov.”

  • “Right until the trial I didn’t know I was being held in Bartolomějská (State Security headquarters in Prague - transl.). I was in solitary confinement for several months. The interrogations there were pretty tough. Not that they’d beat me, when they threatened me, they would make as if to slap or hit me, but nothing happened. Mentally it was much worse. I don’t know if they put something in the food, but I felt so feeble. I knew the situation from radio, from Russia, how things went. So I said to myself: ‘You’re alone, you have to hold out, hold out at all costs.’ ”

  • Full recordings
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    Bojanov, 24.07.2012

    duration: 02:20:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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They accused me of planning to assassinate members of the government and (President) Zápotocký

Sykora Josef dobovy orez.jpg (historic)
Josef Sýkora
photo: Martin Reichl

Josef Sýkora was born on the 25th of November 1925 in Bojanov, in the district of Chrudim. His family was rather poor, his father was a labourer, his mother was often ill, and so Josef was brought up by his grandfather, a forester. After his grandfather’s death, Josef took up the craft. He held the position until 1945, when he became enchanted by painting and decided to study the art. He was accepted to the Ukrainian Academy of Visual Arts in Prague. During his studies, he earned his keep as a crane operator at ČKD Praha (an important engineering firm - transl.). In 1953 he was arrested and interrogated in connection with the protests against the currency reform, although he did not take part in them. Although he was arrested by mistake, he had to give up his job at ČKD. He moved on to construction work with a company that was repairing Wallenstein Palace. In autumn 1953 he was arrested again and accused of establishing a seditious group in Bojanov, that he had been illegally gaining arms, and that he was planning to assassinate members of the government and President Zápotocký. The trial however only succeeded in proving he illegally possessed arms in his home, and he was sentenced to 16 months of prison. Exhausted by the interrogations, he fell ill and spent part of the time in a prison hospital, upon recovering he was transferred to Kutná Hora. After his release he worked in various labouring jobs. He also did painting. Josef Sýkora died in 2015.