Tomáš Tichák

* 1957

  • "It started when a kind gentleman came to me and said, 'You know, I'm from State Security, if you could come with us, we just need to clarify something.' So I got there and now I walked into the room and there was this guy, a gorilla, and he yelled at me, 'Hands against the wall and get everything out of your pockets!' And now they started yelling at me, taking my fingerprints and stuff. So I was like, this is stupid, like, we were the only thing we were doing at the time, we were publishing a magazine called Ječmínek, a literary samizdat, would they know that? And now he hits me, 'Now describe exactly what you did last Friday minute by minute!' And I thought, I just didn't do anything dishonest and I couldn't remember at first, then I thought, well, I'll just tell them, which was just a mistake, because I told them: 'Well, I went in the afternoon, my friend Emil Pospisil was playing here with Merta, so I said I'll go and see him and now I went and I wasn't at home and then I found out that he had followed me and that I wasn't at home either, that we had missed each other.' - 'And what did you see on the way? Who did you meet?' I still didn't know that they were after some leaflets, so I said, 'I met a friend of mine, Peter Večera, who was coming from the station because he was working on a job at the train post office.' The result was that at eleven o'clock in the evening they came to Peter Večera's house to search his parents' house. Emil Pospisil was living here at that time in the apartment of Vladimir Fajt on Strossmayer square, and they got into a volga, six State Security officers, and drove all night. At four o'clock in the morning they broke into his apartment at 9 Strossmayer square, which they searched to the extent of throwing coal over his cellar, taking photographs. The only thing they found was that he had a pillow at home with an English flag embroidered on it, so they put it in front of him like that and photographed him with it. That was like the end of it, so I blamed myself for causing them this trouble."

  • "And there, actually, in that interrogation, for four and a half hours, they read to me what they had recorded, and they wanted me to explain to them every line of what I meant. So there was like a line, that was the Maugli play. "There's only been monkeys here for at least 1,000 years." What did you mean? ' I said, 'Well, what I meant was, it's a comedy, isn't it, it was the jungle town,' so I said that. 'Okay, let's move on.' And then they said, 'You know what gave us the biggest chill?' Because he's this Mowgli genius and he ends up getting all these awards and he gets an honorary doctorate from some university in Islamabad or something. And that's what gave them the biggest chill. I really didn't know why. He said it was a clear allusion to the fact that he got an honorary doctorate from Reza Pahlavi from Husak. Well, and then they found out because they got hold of the script of the play King Kong, which was an apartment show that we did three times in Olomouc and once in Prague, and it was actually all about King Kong. In the end, it turned out that it was actually set in the belly of the King Kong that swallowed us, and they found out that that was the worst part. As they said to me afterwards in the interrogation, they had it worked out by university-educated experts. They found that it challenged the ties with the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact - King Kong is the Soviet Union, yeah, and the contract to buy, sell King Kong is the Helsinki Accords. That's all the university experts sort of found there. And they told me that they were giving me a choice: either that I confess to it, and that as a young person, I had the right to bump my nose, as they said, or that I had finished my degree."

  • "We received all the Charter documents and reproduced them, transcribed them. I used to read it in class, completely in secret, to my classmates. And we had a lot of fun, even the other ones, like the feuilletons and stuff like that. Of course, to those who I could see were interested. But we certainly normally talked about it during break. I remember one time I had a folder full of samizdat under my desk and we were having a civics class and the teacher came up to me like this and said, 'What's that under your desk?' and then fortunately he changed his mind."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 26.06.2023

    duration: 02:03:51
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 05.09.2023

    duration: 01:53:03
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We wanted to be legal but play free

Tomas Tichak, 1978
Tomas Tichak, 1978
photo: Archive of the witness

Tomáš Tichák was born on 14 May 1957 in Olomouc to Milena and Milan Tichák. In 1963 he started primary school in Olomouc. In September 1968, he began studying at the experimental eight-year Slavic Gymnasium, which closed after two years. He finished primary school in the Hejčín district of Olomouc. From his youth he was culturally active, in 1969 he started publishing a student magazine, a year later he founded a band with friends. Because he burned a Soviet flag during a break, he had problems with admission to high school. He studied an apprenticeship for a year and then was admitted to the Secondary School of Electrical Engineering in Olomouc. At high school he became involved in the spreading of samizdat. In 1976 he founded the unofficial Bernardýn Theatre in Olomouc, for which he wrote texts. Although he was humanities-oriented, he could only study a technical field, so after graduating in 1977 he entered the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Brno University of Technology. In 1981 he founded the samizdat literary magazine Ječmínek. Because of his theatre activities, he was interrogated several times by State Security Service (StB) and had to appear before a disciplinary committee in his last year of university. He was suspended and successfully graduated in 1982. In 2023 he lived in Olomouc.