Karel Vacek

* 1940

  • "In the year sixty-eight, my wife and I were on holiday in Bulgaria and we were returning, it was on Wednesday on August 21st, and we were returning on the night from Sunday to Monday. We went by train from Burgas to Brno via Yugoslavia. We didn't know what it was yet, even though we lived in Sozopol near the Black Sea - we lived with a family and he [a member of the family] was a colonel in the Navy, so he already knew that something was going on. But he couldn't talk much about it. Well, he said he was scared of it. So we got to know each other better, they were about as old as we were. We liked each other, so it was good. Well, so they were afraid when we left that something wouldn't happen to us here, because they thought it was going to be a war here or something. So we arrived to Brno on Monday morning, I know that there were painters still in the barracks, it was being painted, well, and suddenly boom. I lived in Černovice, and it was already heard at night - as far as I know, after one o'clock at night or at two o'clock at night there was a terrible hum and planes landed in Slatina at the airport."

  • "We survived the war. The end of the war in April, when Brno was liberated, on April 26, so I experienced it for about three Sundays or how long it took, down in the basement. The Romanians then came to the barracks, they were allies of the Germans, and they came with a truck at that time. We had a barn by the barracks, so they drove in there and they had a barrel full of oil there, so we were afraid that the Russians might start bombing, that they wouldn't throw it there, that it wouldn't fly into the air. Then came the Russian general, he had a beautiful wolfhound. His mother had to cover his pillow in white damask. The dog was lying on it. But the general was there for two or three days, and then they left."

  • "It can be said that ninety percent of this nation lived just surviving. We made some money, it wasn't that expensive then. Well, it's a fact that a bunch of things weren't as they are now. For example, in the 1962 or 1963 - there was a terrible poor meat supply. There was already President Novotný, so he promised all the time that it would improve, but it was really... I went at six, so I went a quarter to six and my grandmother - she was over seventy, about eighty then -, so she went to the queue to the butchery, there in Žabovřesky on the main street. There was a queue until I came home from work around half past two or three-quarters past three. The poor man almost stood there. So I replaced her for about an hour and a half or two. Then her mother came home from work because she was buying something and so on, so she just went there and bought what was left for her in the queue. I do not know why. Everything was planned, and yet there was nothing. So it was badly planned."

  • Full recordings
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    Brno, 09.01.2020

    duration: 55:08
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Everything was planned, and yet there was nothing

Karel Vacek during his life
Karel Vacek during his life
photo: Karel Vacek

Karel Vacek was born on September 6, 1940 in Brno. He spent his whole youth in the Žabovřesky district. Even though he was only a small boy, he vividly remembers the end of the Second World War and the liberation of Brno, which took place on April 26, 1945. He also went to primary school in Žabovřesky and was directly affected by the education reform in 1953 - instead of four other classes, which he was to attend he did only three classes at Sirotkov Elementary School. Subsequently, he graduated from the age of eleven and completed his technical education and then completed his technical education in mechanical engineering at Sokolská in Brno. After that, he joined the then world-famous Brno Zbrojovka, where he held various positions, until he finally became the head of the department of work plans and wages, and he remained working there until his retirement. In August 1968, he and his wife and colleagues returned from vacation in Bulgaria. He remembers that fateful night on August 21 mainly because he was awakened by the massive noise of planes landing at Slatina Airport near his residence at the time. He personally took part in a demonstration in November 1989. In 2001 he retired. He has two children and lived in Brno at the time of the filming.