Dušan Vaněk

* 1963  

  • „Austria cancelled the visa requirement, the Czechoslovak Republic didn't cancel it for Austrians yet. So they couldn't come over to the Czech territory but we could go to the Austrian one. And the Austrians invited the people, like, “Do come!” and they meant, come over to us, we have goulash, wine and the like for you and they thought that we go only across the rampart demarcating the border. However, when I came last, and looked at that horizon, I saw that crowd, those four and half thousands of people who walked towards Austria, and there was such a little hill and at the end, a flagpole stood, the flag suddenly disappeared down in Austria and it was clear that the people will go on. I broke in cold sweat, obviously, well, surely it did happen, he came, they have the Gendarmerie there, right, so their deputy arrived and started explaining that this is an international problem, for reals, that those four and half thousand persons crossed the border, that the visa requirements were cancelled but there is no border crossing. So, in fact, it was illegal crossing of the borders, the largest that ever happened in Czechoslovakia. So, I can say that the adrenaline was… or… flooded. So, there, at the end, the police boss sat us, me and Jirka Kučera, to the police cars and the police rode us all over Reintal, Berhnardsthal and other villages in around there and we shouted in the speakers: “Czechs, please, return, we have a need that you return before four in the afternoon, back to the Czech territory.” Because the boss of the Austrian police said that the Minister of Foreign affairs already knows about that, he said, if the Czechoslovaks disappear from the Austrian territory by four in the afternoon, he will pretend it did not happen. But if it took longer, it would be an international conflict and he would need to act on it.”

  • "The 17th November came. I had no TV, I only had a radio, and that weekend I somehow did not listen to that, even, and I listened o the radio on Sunday, Voice of America. And suddenly, it caught my attention, what's going on, I thought to myself, and I arrived to school and obviously, the pupils were curious and wanted to know what's going on, then, and what about the students' strike and the like, and I tried to explain that it's not their problem, they're still small, it's a thing for adults, adult students and adult people at work, but then, we kept that spirit… so we had those five-minute [incomprehensible] and I said Alright, one hour of discussion and then we will study and we will study very Well, obviously, as I had a file at Leninka, I was under surveillance. Leninka is the place where in Brno the Secret Police had its headquarters. So they had me under surveillance and someone invented some assholery, that I'm calling the pupils for a strike and that I spout some nonsense at school, so I was summoned to the district council and the boss of the school department gave me a dressing-down and I got terribly angry and ttold him: “Yes, I talk to them but I never called them for something like that and don't lie about me!” And it was an unpleasat debate and it gradated, understandably, because I had had more issues that he had to deal with, and I was so angry that I grabbed my stuff, left the council building and we to the square and then I stayed there. And I waited until the evening when others joined. Logically, those who were interested in some of the things came there and then we made a decision to start the Civic Forum. So the Civic forum of Břeclav was the third in the country. It was established in Prague, then in Brno and then in Břeclav.“

  • "I fell asleep at a certain moment; although I was very active in that 1989, there I woke up and I was like a Claymore mine, so after, when actually the situation settled in the most strange conspiracy of the opposition agreement, so, I fell asleep. I stopped being interested in things, political, I stopped being an active citizen and I fell asleep. I am an example of how I slept and slept and slept again. And I woke up in the autumn of 2017 and I was surprised to what I woke up and the signs were very similar to that time. People have to tend to democracy. We thought in 1989 that we won freedom, we won democracy and they will stay with us and we do not need to do anything about it. But it is about some everyday activity. It is about that one is interested, that one does something in some way, and I admit that my awakening in 2017 was very, very surprising for me, so I was looking for a way to do something to get out of that mess, which was a logical solution that I joined the bunch, Million Moments for Democracy, and, actually, I found out that I have to, again. The same way I had to in 1989, when people asked, 'Why you go for it, Why are you doing this?' - 'Simple, I have to.' I simply feel that I have to do it. Now people ask me again, 'Why you do this, for goodness' sake, why you spend so much time with that?' - 'Because I have to.' I think people should be active, they should be interested, they should deal with things and that democracy is not what many people imagined, let's say, in the nineties or at the beginning of the millenium, that sort of democracy when you cast a ballot and don't care any more.”

  • Full recordings
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    Brno, 08.10.2019

    duration: 01:49:35
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - JMK REG ED
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To be courageous in truth and love

Dušan Vaněk in 1985
Dušan Vaněk in 1985
photo: archiv pamětníka

Dušan Vaněk was born on the 26th of September in 1963 in Modřice u Brna. After graduating from the Faculty of Education, he became a teacher in Lanžhot close to Břeclav. In November 1989, he was active in the events of the Velvet Revolution in Břeclav. He was one of the founding members of the local Civic Forum, he participated in organising the general strike, he and his collaborators renewed the magazine Moravský jih [The Moravian South] and they distributed the fliers in the Břeclav district. In December 1989, he helped to organise the event Ruce Evropě [Hands stretched towards Europe], during which the inhabitants of South-Moravian Břeclav and Austrian Reintal met. From January 1990, he worked for the Civic forum as the district electoral manager. In 1996, he left politics to spend more time with his family. In 2018, he started actively participating in the events pertaining to the Million Moments for Democracy organisation.