Miroslav Wanek

* 1962  

  • “Then it was announced that a new FPB band was formed and this was their first concert. We were on the right side of the podium, on the right side there was a ladder, as was sometimes the case. And we were on the footbridge and in the meantime, we changed into the white one. We had such cans of Hoffman drops filled with metal nuts. We held them in our hands. The song started on the drums. And because we had only one song, we told Milan to play for ten minutes. Long! Listen… he started playing the drums, people noticed that something else than normal was happening, so they rolled forward. And they expected what would happen. There was only a drummer and he played for so long! Ten minutes is an incredibly long time. We climbed those ladders, first I went, then Ruzicka. And now we came in those nightgowns with those whitewashed faces. And people already knew something extraordinary was going to happen. And we were rambling those cans for another ten minutes, which was completely absurd. So the concert lasted twenty minutes. And then the rest of the band joined, we started to play the song that lasts a minute and a half. And I sang the lyrics, we were there for a while, and then we left, that was the end. But those people, I thought the hall would blow up. Surreal turmoil. They were still applauding, they wanted an encore, but we had nothing else to perform.”

  • “I made my blue book in Bohnice. Another phenomenon of the time. I didn't want to undergo any military service, the idea that I should have been somewhere for two years, my opinion had already crystallized a lot at that time - I had already mentioned samizdats, illegal music performances - so I was quite strongly against the establishement at that time. I'm definitely did not want to supporting any army, violence, moreover, the communist army with those agitating things, I didn't want to participate at all. However, it was an obligation, so I had to avoid it somehow and one way was to pretend a mental illness. That was why I borrowed a college book from a friend, books that were available about various diagnoses, and finally I was intrigued by one sentence: that paranoid schizophrenia could not be shown. And not refute. That if there was suspicion - just suspicion was enough. It can only be latent for several years or it can completely fade away, or it comes back more often, it is just something that can be suspected. Just a suspicion is enough so that no one can give a gun into a man's hand. When maybe tomorrow, maybe in a year, maybe that person never gets into another consciousness and becomes someone else. I studied it carefully, all the symptoms, I knew the terms, I'd say I could almost teach in college at that time. And finally I did it.”

  • “The stadium took place on the 20th (November), but with the Communists already in charge of it. When somebody wanted to talk, they turned off their microphone, only the one-by-one speaking, the classic-by-one speaking. But the crowd didn't give in, the stadium was totally full. And it kept shouting: 'Who's to blame?' For example, the secretary said: 'We had an inversion here, there were so many and so many percent of oxides…' And people kept saying: 'Who's responsible?' Then a guy picked up a microphone and said, 'Everything here was under the Communist rule. In every factory, office, anywhere, from the smallest units to the largest, there was an organization of the Communist Party that led everything. Even the factory director had to follow the instructions of the Communist cell. So, who is actually responsible? Only the Communists, because they led it here. ‘Well, all of a sudden a student who came from Prague took the microphone. They did not know as he normally subscribed to the discussion. And the student said: 'Ecology is important, but I would like to inform you that this and that happened in Prague on November 17th… and now he revealed it all. In the middle of the speech, his microphone was muted and people started chanting, "Let him talk!" Everything they had planned totally collapsed, the whole script. And the crowd from the stadium, when it was over, moved and continued as a demonstration back to Zdeněk Nejedlý square. There is a fountain in the middle of the square and the student climbed up there to read the students' statements. But there was a really huge crowd. Almost the whole square full. And he spoke very quietly. And as I stood by the fountain, those people who stood around me dropped me on the fountain and said, 'Let Míra read it, he has a strong voice.' I was resisting a bit, but within the whole euphoria? I took the statement from the student and yelled at the square in the strongest possible voice. And because I was angry with the stadium, I added some more sentences. And that was the beginning of my participation in the revolution.”

  • “One experience that suddenly frightened me. Maybe it started there that I did not accept the offer to be the mayor of Teplice or to go to parliament. Luboš (Voleník) and I were invited to Ústí nad Labem to approve a statue. Somewhere in blocks of flats should be a statue of a horse. There was a commission, a sculptor, a little model - a horse lying on his back. We came there, we had no idea what it was. From time to time, they invited us like that. And we were like the new power. And now that commission, the people who used to do everything with the Communists, were waiting for what he said, the Chief Master, a kind of secretary, knew it was no longer so they invited the Civic Forum. We didn't know what it was, so we came there. And now they began to analyze if the horse was a suitable statue, how much it would cost… And at each interstage they looked at us, if we agreed and if they could move on. After some quarter of an hour or twenty minutes we could not stand it, we looked at each other and Luboš said: 'Look, neither of us both understand it, we are not architects, we know nothing about it professionally. Why are we even supposed to be here?´ They said: 'Well, we thought you would approve of it. On he went on: 'But we are not elected representatives, I am the spokesman for the environmental section of the Civic Forum. What do we have to say about this? Ask those people in the housing estate if they want horses or not. Or ask architects, any experts. And that's all. You don't need an ideologue. That is already over.´ It sounds funny today, but at that time it was so rooted in people's minds that they made us — suddenly I was a fake with a snap of my fingers.”

  • “Just below us lived a man I quite liked in such a huge villa. He was such a nice, very old man. His name was Němec. Now I don't know if that first name was František, I think František Němec was his full name. I knew him only as a neighbor, such a pleasant man. One of the Russian tanks stopped in front of his house and the soldiers were ordered to bring him to Prague. Apparently, no one told them why, so they were quite violent and arrogant. So, they rushed into the house, not that they were going directly to the door, but they were very violent. And this old gentleman, already in the evening, had to get dressed, they put him into a tank and took him to Prague without any explanation. He didn't know what was going on, of course, he was a little scared. In the end it turned out that he was a deputy of captain Jaroš. At Sokolov, I do not know the whole story exactly, when Captain Jaroš died or fell, so allegedly this Mr. Němec was his deputy, then he became commander of the unit. Such a great hero. None of us had any idea about that. The Russians remembered him, somewhere in Moscow, some officers, maybe generals. And they wanted to honor him, make him a hero. But they didn't tell the soldiers in the tank. They just said, 'Bring Němec!' So, they treated him like someone who… he might have sensed they were going to execute him or something. But in the end, he was brought to the Prague Castle and some occupation leaders received him with great honors, probably some of his friends from the fighting near Sokolov. So, it was just such an absurd event with this František Němec. Only then did we find out in Dubí that someone like that existed. Then he used to go to schools for several years and held such discussions with the witness.”

  • “The chairman of the committee (for qualifying musicians) was some Štolba from Ústí Radio, the head of regional cultural department. And he invited us there and I had the feeling that he had already received a message from the state police that he had to demote us. He first took me and began rehearsing me for music and music theory. I was already quite good at that time, so he didn't get me. He was angry, it was apparent that he was angry, he did not expect such youngsters. He called the deputy band leader, which was absurd because we were three, me, Romek and Milan. But officially Romek was a deputy. And Romek had nine years of guitar lessons, he knew music much better than I did. So, he didn't get him either. And he started with the lyrics. He started flipping through the stack of lyrics and said: 'Well, the lyrics, the lyrics. This is all vulgarity. That's vulgar, this one. ‘ I was a little puzzled because from the very beginning, and to this day, I'm not prudent, but I don't like vulgarity in the lyrics. Not even with strangers, let alone with myself. If it was necessary for an artistic intention, I would probably not resist it, but I have never had such need and I felt it that way. So, it really made me angry despite the game we played there. I told him to show me what a vulgar word is or where that it, because I really pride myself on not having written anything vulgar there. Now he flipped through and finally pulled one text out of the pile, coincidentally the Blind. It was not stated, not intentionally, that it was a poem by Jiří Wolker. And Jiří Wolker was at that time an exposed author for the communists. He should not offend Jiří Wolker at the time. Of course, I liked him for a completely different reason. But he grabbed the text, now he waved it in front of me like that and said, "Here is a vulgar text!" And I said: 'But this is Jiří Wolker's text'. He stopped as the times were such that fear was spreading everywhere, nobody knew who could tell on anyone, so it upset him that I got him, even if it was unconscious on my part, he said a memorable sentence to me today, took all the lyrics like this and smashed the papers on the table and said: 'The lyrics are vulgar, shit!' So, the only vulgar word was spoken by Mr. Štolba himself. And of course, they didn't allow us the replays.”

  • “I lived a in the street, which is still called Russian until now, a little cynically, given what happened on it. Later the infamous E 55. And on this road leading from Cínovec to Teplice, the main stream of Russian tanks arrived in 1968. It was August 21, of course. It was just a little over a week before my first school entry. I should have gone to first grade. I was sitting in the kitchen, and as the kids used to do before school, I tried to write some letters or elementary math examples. I was writing letters in the kitchen at my desk, my mom, my grandmother, my grandfather, and suddenly I found that the house was shaking completely. My grandmother put the lights off instantly, probably a learned tic from the war, which surprised me, and lit up the candles. They were terribly scared, me too, because I didn't know what was going on. And it was really rumbling, the house was shaking like that. Something was obviously thumping on the road, driving. I remember sitting at the table, there was a window on the left, and there were curtains on the window down to three quarters of the windows. Grandpa put the curtains there, but watched it with my mom, I got up and went to see. And now I saw the tanks passing one after another, and it really took - I can only estimate - but at least three or four hours at a time, they were still going on and on, the endless procession of tanks. I remember the tremors. My grandmother lasted only a moment, then sat to my right and cried, quite heartily.”

  • “This percentage... I don’t know, say 50% of them... will be replaced, without elections, undemocratically, by representatives of the Civic Forum. Except the Civic Forum wasn’t a party, no one was elected to it, it didn’t even have a hierarchy, a structure. I would be sitting in the office there, and a person would come in whom I’d never seen before, and he’d say: ‘Hello, I’d like to help you.’ That was the only qualification. I had no way of... I couldn’t even... [verify] if he was a crook who’d bashed someone in the day before, or if it was a provocateur or some former cop, if it was a really honest person... I just didn’t know.”

  • “And right with this concert... this utterly innocent, boyish prank... we found ourselves on the list of illegal bands - an antisocial element. We were immediately called for questioning - especially seeing that Růžička had already been in prison for a year. So the cops made it up like that, and they immediately shoved us into that antisocial, anti-Socialist category. But that really never was our intention, we’d never spoken of that... not that we were big fans of the system, by no means, but we didn’t feel the need to stand up to it, to fight it or anything. We just wanted to do the music that we wanted to do... and we wanted to do it the way we liked it at the time, which meant in this zany way with the costumes and the paints and so on... and all that was so terribly liberating... so infectiously, contagiously liberating... that the cops and the Communists considered it terribly dangerous, and they potentially saw in it something that wasn’t there at all, actually. They basically manipulated us into the role.”

  • “That there was some kind of universal fear that people had of each other. No one knew if they other guy might not be a snitch. And at the same time the schizophrenia of what you could say officially and what you might actually think... and that it was normal... and yet thanks to all these people, the teachers, at home, the wider family or friends... it was perfectly clear that it wasn’t normal. I don’t know what things are like in North Korea right now, but back then I’m sure the brainwashing wasn’t so thorough. Because in reality, it was as if everyone knew of the game. I almost reckoned... who had actually created this situation? Who actually wanted to say these lies? When everyone acted like they were only saying the lies because they had to.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Jakub u Kutné Hory, 14.06.2017

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    duration: 02:45:57
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 04.01.2019

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    duration: 02:03:36
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 04.10.2019

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    duration: 02:03:36
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 4

    Praha, 11.10.2019

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    duration: 02:22:02
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We didn’t want to fight the system, we just wanted to play the music we liked

1982 Wanek
1982 Wanek
photo: archiv M. Wanka

Miroslav Wanek was born on 6 April 1962 in teplice. He grew up in Dubí near Teplice, without his father and from when he was 9 also without his mother, who died tragically due to a work accident at the glass works. From then on he was raised by his grandparents. During a visit to Yugoslavia, enthused by a concert of the rock group Bijelo dugme, he decided to start his own band. He trained as a glassmaker in Nový Bor, where he became acquainted with the unofficial, “underground” culture. In 1981 he established one of the first punk groups in Czechoslovakia, named FPB. Their very first concert earned them the attention of State Security. He also took an interest in literature in a writers’ club, which officially published unofficial poetry collections and samizdats for two years. He was a member of the Pataphysical Collegium, which was led by Eduard Vacek. In 1985 he joined the band Už jsme doma (We’re Home Now), which he plays with to this day. In 1989 he acted as the spokesman of the Civic Forum in Teplice. After the revolution - besides performing at concerts and recording albums - he composed the music to several films, published the poetry collection Máj (May), and taught at Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín and at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.