Mgr. Tadeusz Wantuła

* 1950  

  • “When the situation was the worst, we got drunk a bit at some place. I walked over the border and I got into a train. Suddenly I noticed that people were leaving and moving to other seats to get away from me. I had a large badge with the Solidarity symbol and the people were scared.”

  • “During the times of Solidarity they took away my border permit since I was allegedly a dangerous person who was smuggling something, and so on. Above all they tried to force me to sign a collaboration agreement with the StB. I decided that if I did not have a border permit, I would then cross the border using my passport. I arranged to have my classes fit into just two days, I purchased a twenty-five Crown fee stamp and I used my passport to go to Poland and stay there overnight. I delivered all my lectures and then I went back. This went on for about three months. I was routinely searched at the border checkpoint every day. Before I would go to Poland, I would always properly check everything to see if somebody had not inserted a few dollars into my pocket, for instance, in order to give them some pretext. I had to be absolutely blameless.”

  • “There was probably not a single Polish rock or pop band from the Polish Top Ten that had not appeared in our festival. Rock concerts were prohibited all over Czechoslovakia, the Jazz Section had to close down, but in Bystřice we have had the Zlot festival since 1975 and bands like Budka Suflera and Perfect played there. We displayed a sign there: ‘For Peace!’ What happened? (Did not you get in trouble?) We did not get in trouble, but there were threats. They always cautioned us not to do it otherwise we would get right in the shit, but we somehow managed. The local PZKO (Polish Cultural and Educational Union – transl.’s note), under whose auspices it was always held, discovered that the festival brought a great revenue, and so they kept the Party members in check and they claimed that this would generate money to build other things.”

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    Český Těšín, 19.11.2015

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I will not have children until the communist regime collapses

Tadeusz Wantuła
Tadeusz Wantuła
photo: archiv pamětníka

  Tadeusz Wantuła was born August 5, 1950 in Bystřice, a village located near Třinec close to the border with Poland. Both his parents were Polish nationals. His father Josef joined the Polish resistance organization Union of Armed Struggle during the Second World War. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 and he spent nearly three years in the concentration camp Auschwitz. During his studies at the Technical University in Brno, Tadeusz Wantuła became a member of the strike committee in 1968 and 1969 and he took part in several strikes and protests against the Soviet occupation. He was not expelled from the university thanks to a scholarship from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where he successfully graduated from film studies and philology. After his graduation Tadeusz lectured at the affiliated branch of the Silesian University in Polish Cieszyn. During his work in Poland he was bringing over the border samizdat publications and books that were unavailable in Czechoslovakia. Tadeusz Wantuła was primarily active in the cultural scene. He was spreading Polish culture to the Polish minority in Czechoslovakia. During the normalization era he organized a music festival called Bystřický Zlot in his native Bystřice where the best Polish bands performed. As one of the officials of the Polish Cultural and Educational Union he was able to influence tens of young people during the communist era thanks to his open approach to politics and society. The StB security police kept him registered as an enemy person due to his activities and StB members repeatedly arrested him and tried to persuade him to collaborate with them. Tadeusz Wantuła did not give in to the pressure, and although he was already married for a long time, he refused to have children while the communist regime was still in power so that the StB would not be able to use his children to blackmail him. His first daughter was born nine months after the protests of students in Národní Street in Prague. Mr. and Mrs. Wantuła then had four other children in rapid succession. He became one of the founding members of the Polish section of the Civic Forum and the chairman of the Council of Poles. In February 1990 he was co-opted to the Czech National Council and in June 1990 he became elected in the first free election. Tadeusz Wantuła now lives in Vendryně and for the past seventeen years he has been the director of the film festival Babí Léto which presents unsubtitled Czech, Polish and Slovak films in the cinema in Bystřice every October.