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Svatopluk Holec (1933) - Biography

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From Marxism to mycology

Svatopluk Holec was born on 7 April 1933 in Pilsen. He grew up in the village of Korunní on the northern edge of the Doupov Mountains, where his father Emil Holec worked as a clerk at a mineral spring and where his mother Eliška Holecová served as postmistress until his birth. After the Munich Agreement, when Czechoslovakia ceded its border region to Germany, the family had to swiftly moved inland. After a brief stay in Pilsen his father found employment at a spa in Běloves near Náchod, where he was joined by the witness and his mother. Svatopluk Holec experienced World War II in Náchod; he lost his mother to a fatal illness at the age of ten. He completed elementary school in the town and then attended the local grammar school. After the war his father, his step-mother and his little brother returned to Korunní, but Svatopluk Holec stayed with his aunt in Hronov and commuted to the Náchod grammar school. He rejoined his family in late 1947, when he switched to the newly established grammar school in Kadaň. In 1948, at the mere of fifteen, he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC) and was active in the Czechoslovak Youth Union. After graduating in 1951 he worked as a propagandist at the District Committee of the CPC in Kadaň. After a year's study of philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague he continued his education at Lomonosov State University in Moscow. He completed his studies in 1959 and earned the degree of Graduate Philosopher. In the years 1960-1967 he worked at the Department of Ideology of the West Bohemian Regional Committee of the CPC in Pilsen. In 1967-1969 he functioned as an assistant lecturer at the Faculty of Education in Pilsen. At the time of the Prague Spring in May 1968, he was chosen as a candidate of the Regional Committee of the CPC in Pilsen (RC CPC) and subsequently assigned to the post of member of the Secretariat of the RC CPC in charge of ideology. He only held this post until September 1968. The occupation of Czechoslovakia by forces of the Warsaw Pact made an end to the witness' Party and academic career. Following the 1970 purge he was expelled from the CPC and fired from his job. After a long search he found employment as a patient inspector, meaning that he checked on people on sick leave. He then worked at the railway post, where he stayed until 1990. Throughout the normalisation period he was under State Security surveillance and was listed as "Class I (later Class II and III) Hostile". The witness found space for personal improvement in mushroom-picking. He joined the Pilsen Mycology Group and worked his way to the position of a respected expert in mycology. In 1989 he joined the opposition initiative Revival - The Club for a Socialist Reconstruction. In 1990 he received academic rehabilitation and returned to the Faculty of Education in Pilsen, where he taught philosophy and mycology until his retirement. As of 2017, the witness lives in Pilsen, where he enjoys his pension time and continues to prepare programmes on mycology and other topics for Czech Radio Pilsen.

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