Frode Bakken

* 1950

  • “In meetings of delegations in Czechoslovakia or delegations in Norway, and other bilateral meetings, the Norwegian government all the time had expressed their views on different things. In the case of Jan Hájek, for example, which was an important thing for the movement, the Norwegian government put a lot of pressure on the Czechoslovak government. When we had this big concert in the beginning of 1987, where the Norwegian foreign minister Knut Frydlundt also took part and was speaking, he told in an interview that the Czechoslovak ambassador had contacted him an asked him not to be part of this. But he told this openly to the Norwegian public and a newspaper and then we got some more information about how things actually happened. That the Czechoslovak government tried to hinder free speech also in Norway. But that was refused by the foreign minister. Actually a very good person, Knut Frydlundt. I remember when Jan Hájek arrived in Norway, afters some weeks he was invited and I was also invited to a meeting with the foreign minister in the official building of the Foreign Ministry. And he was very personally engaged in Jan Hájek´s case.”

  • “Of course there was always a police car standing outside and I was told by Janouch that this is, what it is. You just walk in and they can’t threaten you because you are a Norwegian citizen, so there are no problems for you. I knocked on the door and Jiří Hájek opened. You know, he learned Norwegian during second world war when he was in prison in the Hamburg area and where they were working during night, he together with Norwegian citizens. He was a language expert so he talked with me. He had never been in Norway. But he talked with me in Norwegian. It was not perfect but it was absolutely possible to understand. And it was then that he said that he has this big problem with education of Jan Hájek. I just also said hello to Jan in the room but then he left. Jiří Hájek said that when Jan should go to gymnasium, he was refused a place, even if he was a very clever student. Then he was invited by Kreisky to Vienna and then, after that invitation, he was allowed into the gymnasium in Prague. But then they had already got messages or hints that he would not get into the university, Jan, if his father was to continue in the Charta 77 movement.”

  • “During these years we asked private persons to give every month money, we asked companies to give money, also municipalities, for example Oslo. The municipality of Oslo gave 20.000 Norwegian crowns, which could be over 4.000 euro, 5.000 euro. During these years, we collected and send to the people from Charta 77 233.000 Norwegian crowns, which would be today the volume of 50.000 euro. So we managed to collect some money and we also did a lot of work towards the press, Konůpek did and excellent job. He had a lot of contacts and developed other contacts. And he had his contacts in the Charta 77 movement in Prague, so we covered a lot of Norwegian press with articles, discussions, etc. That was another very important thing. And we had an exhibition of prohibited books which was at the university library in Oslo. And then, at the 10th anniversary of Charta 77 in 1987, January, we had a big concert at the national theatre with foreign minister talking, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in parliament talking , Janouch talking, our new leader Torkel Opsahl, famous professor of law, made speeches. The audience was absolutely full, 700 people or so. And very much good press. It showed in a way that the Norwegian public was supporting Charta 77and democratic movement in Czechoslovakia very well.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, 30.01.2023

    délka: 01:33:06
  • 2

    Praha, 01.02.2023

    délka: 47:54
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I voluntarily worked for Czechoslovak dissent and democracy seven to eight hours a week for seven to eight years

Frode Bakken, Prague, 2023
Frode Bakken, Prague, 2023
zdroj: Natáčení

Frode Bakken was born in northern Norway in 1950, but grew up in Skien near Oslo. His father was an officer in the Norwegian army, and during the Nazi occupation of Norway he was a member of the resistance. Frode Bakken was therefore brought up in opposition to dictatorships, gravitating towards left-wing views. In the first half of the 1970s, while studying library science in Oslo, he became involved in the activities of the local Maoist cell, which he later regretted. In 1980, on the recommendation of Soviet dissident Boris Vail, he came into contact with František Janouch, who had just founded the Charter 77 Foundation in Stockholm. Frode Bakken was then one of the main operators of the Norwegian Charter 77 Support Fund in the 1980s, which, in cooperation with the Foundation, politically and financially supported Czechoslovak dissent. He became personal friends with the family of the former foreign minister, one of the leading figures of the Prague Spring and one of the first spokesmen for Charter 77, Jiří Hajek, who learned Norwegian from his fellow prisoners during the Second World War. Frode Bakken is credited with making it possible for Hájek‘s son Jan to leave Czechoslovakia in 1986 and study at university in Norway. The interview for Memory of the Nation was conducted on the occasion of the debate Help from the North, which was organised by Post Bellum at the Václav Havel Library in January 2023.