Pavel Veselý

* 1942  

  • “CAPE (HSTD) was the Central Administration of Press Evaluation. They were censors, something you wouldn't encounter nowadays, luckily. But I didn't take it too hard, maybe I was shielded by the church and the parish office, maybe it was my character. So we had to bring, not just us but everyone, we had to bring everything we wrote, that had something to do with theatre or literature, to the CAPE (HSTD). It was a department at the National Committee, it wasn't a Party business. And it was annoying, of course. But we knew our CAPE (HSTD) man, he was even kind to us sometimes. He did almost no editing, he just inquired sometimes, wanting to know what we meant by this or that. It was annoying and also degrading in a way. As you had created something, and after that, you had to go to this office to get it approved. So it could be performed in public. In the end, we would just laugh about it. As it was a symptom of that time, it was a part of it.”

  • “Ivan Binar was living in our house, just beneath us. And we met almost every day, thanks to that and also to the history we shared. When they came to search his flat, no one knew why it happened. We didn't know the circumstances, no one thought of 'Son of the Regiment'. On the contrary. I was already packing my stuff as I thought that in a few days they would come to our flat. And as we were meeting at Eda Ovčáček´s, an artist, where we would talk and discuss politics, I thought that it had to do something with Eda. After that, they took Petr Ullman and Eda Schiffauer, and even after that, we were told that it had something to do with Waterloo Theatre, so I knew that most likely I wasn't involved in that. I would relate that to the fact that Ivan had given me all the info. He told me right away that his house had been searched. So you would keep an eye on such things. At first, you just wouldn't believe it, as you would think, 'They would sentence them for theatre?' First they would ban a play, then they would shut down a theatre maybe, but to imagine that they would lock up someone because of few songs and some writing? For quite a long while, no one could believe that, even after the boys were arrested and there was a trial. I went to see the proceedings once. Then they went to prison. It was just terrifying. As you would perceive it as some kind of revenge. As some quite unnatural thing, that went past me, fortunately.”

  • “In 1969, this good friend of mine visited me, he wasn't a Okap (Okap Theatre) member. I had this Škoda Tudor that my father lent me, a car made during the war which was still going. And the friend of mine told me that he got this long-range radio transmitter from his friends who were in Svazarm. And he said that we could take my car, go somewhere outside the city and just broadcast the appeal. It sounded as quite a bizarre adventure to me, but he got my attention to some degree. We were discussing it several times and then we agreed that we could do it on the first anniversary of the invasion, in August 1969. He told me this in April and maybe three weeks later I was summoned to a police station. And this major from State Security introduced himself to me. He asked me if I knew Mr This and That... I told him I did indeed. This friend of mine had been showing off and someone turned him in. The policeman interrogated me for quite a while. I told him how we came up with the idea, and he knew already, so I just confirmed what he was told before, more or less. He said that we were lucky that they found out and we didn't have a chance to do that, as we would get into some serious trouble for sure.”

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    Praha, 26.02.2020

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    Praha, 26.02.2020

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They would lock up my friends for a song or two, those were terrifying times indeed

Pavel Veselý / Ostrava / the early 1960s
Pavel Veselý / Ostrava / the early 1960s
photo: archiv Pavla Veselého

Pavel Veselý was born on April 27th, 1942 in Zlín to a family of an Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren preacher. He grew up in the city of Opava, destroyed by the war. At the age of sixteen he moved to Ostrava with his parents. After graduating from a secondary school he studied at the Technical University of Ostrava. With his schoolmates, Luděk Nekuda and Edvard Schiffauer, he founded Divadélko Pod Okapem, a theater troupe, later known as Okap Theatre. He switched schools, joining the Institute of Education. The theatre was one of the most expressive ones in the region. In August 1968, he was serving at Přerov airfield and he witnessed the Warsaw pact invasion. Okap Theater ceased its activities, and his former colleagues, Ivan Binar, Edvard Schiffauer and others, founded the Waterloo theater. In the early 70s they got a prison sentence for a cabaret performance. After doing his compulsory military service, Pavel started to work at Ostrava’s Večerník newspaper, but had to leave the job due to political reasons. After that, he was a reporter for Zemědělské noviny (Agricultural Paper). In the 1980s he moved to Prague. He was working as a night watchman and wrote articles and screenplays for television. After 1989, he was working as an independent photographer and journalist. During the socialist era he was repeatedly interrogated by the State Security (StB) which tried to recruit him as an informer.