“After Stalin’s death, the situation escalated up until the year 1967 or 1968, when the political thaw reached its peak, censorship practically disappeared and it was possible to publish and engage in politics, so it was the period of time when I started to be politically active. We, I mean my generation, had already sobered from that communist craze. We knew the circumstances, we knew a lot about gulags and political trials and we gradually awake to it and had a critical view. However, we were still living in a communist bloc. That bloc was seemingly invincible and the invasion of the troops just confirmed this fact. Even though we were a sort of sober Marxists, we were still thinking in such dimensions that those were the boundaries which we were unable to cross. This way also the idea of Dubček’s socialism with human face arose. As we were forced to live in socialism because we actually had no other alternative, we thought it was better to make it tolerable, so that we were able to breathe freely at least a bit. That’s why that human face, it was what we wanted. It was the leitmotif of the year 1968, of all those debates. I started publishing the political press at that time, in the year 1968 I wrote about 250 articles. Later, when I tried to put it together, I couldn’t believe that there were so many of them.”
“They led us out of the building. When we were leaving it, we saw the two men in leather jackets waiting for us, who told: ‘Mr. Kusý, come with us.’ It was not unlawful. I was released even though I spent only a minute of few seconds at liberty. Then, I was arrested again for the next 24 hours.”
“I had many friends in Prague, because I spent seven years there. The representatives of the democratization process, many of them were friends of mine as we belong to the same generation. I mean my generation and the older one, and it lead to the fact that when the military troops came to Czechoslovakia, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, when the purges appeared, I was excluded from the party as the first one. As a consequence of being childless and as my divorce was in progress, I agreed to enter the politics with Husák and I accepted the position of the head of the department of ideology. It was the part which was supposed to go through several changes and which was eventually transformed. Dubček came there, and thus we had naive visions that something could be done in this sense. Then, after the arrival of military troops, there was freedom of press, which actually took until February or March 1969, it was still going on this way. Husák invited Bohuslav Graca, the head of the Vojensko-histotrický ústav (Institute of Military History), who also was my friend, to be the head of the department of ideology. Graca belonged to the progressive-minded people, so in the party we were divided into conservative and progressive communists, liberal ones, as we usually called it. And he was a representative of this part. Graca came on the condition that he would be the head of the department of ideology, though he was expected to get the post of the department secretary, which finally happened. And I was chosen to be the person responsible for the entire ideological sphere. I was a representative of the stream, which was used to publishing on that topic, I mean the topic of resurgence of Marxism, what could be done in that regard, and we criticized the conditions and the entire regime then. We still worked in such relations. Considering that I had no commitments, I was willing to do that, to take part in such adventure. I thought of what could be done. Though, there was not much to do. I accepted that position after an agreement with Husák, in which there were expressed two basic rules. The first one was that on Dubček we stood and fell, it actually was the first publicly admitted rule and the second one was that we would never make concessions as for the Action Program of the Communist Party.”
“When the Chart was created, I felt really close to its principles and many of people who initiated the Chart and signed it were my friends. For instance Zdeněk Mlynář, who came to see me in December 1976, shortly before the Chart was brought to light, wanted to persuade Dubček to join the Charter; however, he didn’t manage to meet him, so finally Dubček was not involved. Of course, it was kept top secret, the initiatory group did so, because there was a real chance to make it successful, if they managed to prevent the security and other state authorities from seizing it. Actually, I didn’t know about the Charter until it was officially declared. Then, I became one of the signatories in the next round. I was not among the founding members, but people who were not in Prague at that time did not manage to get among them. However, it was not important; the only important thing was that I signed the Charter and there also ended the period of my documentary work. Then, I was working in the University library as a documentarian and suddenly I became a manual worker.”
“Well, the 1950s were really turbulent years. Stalin’s death, then debunking of Stalin’s cult, heated debates on all these issues and that solid communist building was nearly about to be pulled down. Even though I entered the communist party during my university years, actually, at that time people didn’t enter it. Then, people were invited to join the party and simply weren’t allowed to refuse. However, I didn’t think like that, I was really confident young communist, because then we knew nothing about all those horrors of communism. We were listening to the trials which were broadcasted through the loudspeakers in the streets and we believed that those people were betrayers who publicly confessed to their crimes. It was outrageous, but we said ourselves that if they hadn’t committed it, they surely wouldn’t have pleaded guilty. We learnt the entire background of it only after it had been revealed and debunked.”
“You know, at first I was threatened: ‘Mr. Kusý, you know, you have to be aware that you have children, so if our debates appear in the Radio Free Europe broadcasting, something might happen to them. Angry citizens who will listen to that on the Voice of America or Radio Free Europe could break your windows. Is it really necessary?’ And the only thing I did was that I called to the Free Europe. I told them about it. I told them everything I was supposed to keep for myself. And when they realized I had made it public and that I intended to broadcast it all on the Free Europe even with those threats, they stopped.”
The basic complex of human rights – it was what we wanted and eventually reached in revolution. However, the way we treat it is something different.
Miroslav Kusý was born on December 1, 1931 in Bratislava into the family of a manual worker. He passed the leaving examination in 1950 and left for Prague to study at the University of Political and Economic Sciences, which ceased to exist shortly afterwards, so after the second year of studies, he moved to the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University. There he graduated from Marxist philosophy. He joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, but under the influence of various circumstances he started to rethink his attitude to the communist state. He worked in Prague as an official at the ministry of education until the year 1957; however, he accepted an opportunity to move to the Comenius University in Bratislava and to return home after several years. Miroslav Kusý worked as a second lecturer at the Department of History of Philosophy and Logic, later called the Department of History of Historical Materialism, until the year 1962, when he was forced to leave the university. In 1968 he became the head of the Department of Ideology of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Slovakia, but as he was critical about the regime, he was excluded from the party and also lost his job as a university professor at the Comenius University in Bratislava. He became a documentarian at the Novinársky študijný ústav (Institute of Journalism Studies) in Bratislava, later he managed to get a job at the University Library. Another important milestone in his life was the Charter of the year 1977. Signing the Charter was a radical change in his life, because he suddenly found himself in the centre of the State Security‘s attention, moreover, he lost his job. Later, he was only allowed to work manually, though considering his personal history it was really hard for him to find any job. Persecution and repeated investigations by the security authorities became an everyday part of his life. In the late 1980s he started to use Radio Free Europe as a vehicle for sharing his attitudes, because at that time security authorities stopped interrupting its broadcasting. He regularly met other Charter signers, writers, and intellectuals. In 1989 he had to stand trial and he also was imprisoned for his activities. Miroslav Kusý was accused in the case of the so-called Bratislava five for repeated publication of his commentaries in the Radio Free Europe and was sentenced to nine months of imprisonment. He was tried literally few days before the outbreak of the revolution. During the Velvet Revolution he held a post of the vice-chairman of the Public against Violence movement and in December 1989 was appointed to a post of the head of the Federal Press and Information Office. Until the election in 1990 he also worked as an MP of the Federal Assembly and then he became an MP of the Slovak National Council and a member of its board of chairmen. In 1990 he became a rector of the Comenius University in Bratislava and also worked as a head of the Department of Political Science at the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University. Miroslav Kusý was also a founder of the Slovak-Helsinki Committee and a member of various organisations for human rights protection.