Jiří Veselý

* 1938  

  • “Then, without even telling me, they called my parents. They summoned my parents to Uherské Hradiště to talk me out of it. My parents came, I had no idea they’d come. Suddenly I was called for, that I had visitors. They were given the task of talking me out of it. It was a really difficult conversation because Dad didn’t fight me in questions of faith, he didn’t dictate what I should or shouldn’t, but he appealed to the emotions. He asked if I want him to have a son who was a criminal, for everyone to ridicule him. I said I couldn’t choose any other way. I was surprised that Mum didn’t react, that she didn’t speak up for me. Then when she shook my hand, she passed me a scrap of paper. When I read it, it said that she had promised not to talk in my favour. So I understand. The next day I was taken to Brno to the prosecutor’s office.”

  • “The trial was closed to the public but ran with full pomp. I remember the names of the judges, and I remember that during the discussion, my counsel ended up joining the judges and the on-lookers to speak against me. He was there as my defender ‘ex offo’, by appointment. When he spoke against me, saying I wouldn’t ever leave jail, that there was no solution, then I don’t where I found it in me, but I told the judge that I was dismissing my counsel because he wasn’t defending me but speaking against me. They had accept that. They were surprised. So I defended myself. Basically, I said those were my convictions, why did they want to break me? Why do they want to make a spiritual cripple out of me? I had applied to be assigned to a medical unit, I could serve there, no problem. If someone has one leg short, that’s taken into account as a matter of course. But when they try to change someone’s character, it’s not visible, but it’s worse than that short leg.”

  • “The place where we lived in that new house was passed over by the front twice. It got pretty dramatic. The Red Army was just approaching when my brother was born. It was preceded by terrible rumours. So in one of the tunnels that was being built as part of the track to Tišnov, there were bunk beds, two stories even. Almost the whole of Husovice sheltered there, in that tunnel. Then we heard the news that our baby brother was born, so my sister and I went [to see] and we were actually shot at from Hády on the opposite side. It was a tremendous experience.”

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    Praha, 07.05.2018

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    Praha, 07.05.2018

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I didn’t understand why it was such a problem that I wanted to live honourably

Pamětník při základní vojenské službě
Pamětník při základní vojenské službě
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Veselý was born on 7 August 1938 in Brno. He joined the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which caused him numerable difficulties under Socialism. In the late 1950s he was drafted into compulsory military service. Because his church observes Saturday as a day of obligatory rest, he refused to train or obey military orders on Saturdays. For this he was sentenced to a year in prison. He was released in 1958 and then had to serve another two years in the Auxiliary Engineering Corps. His faith caused him trouble at work as well. He was employed as a fire extinguisher inspector. He then graduated from a long-distance course at the Theological Faculty of Comenius University and became a Seventh Day Adventist preacher. He ministered in various cities and also served as the head of the association that connected all the Adventist congregations in Moravia. His activities in the church also made him a target of State Security surveillance and persecution.