Pavel Bartovský

* 1936  

  • “I arrived to the border in a car packed with things that I intended to bring home to Pilsen. At first they said that all of it was being confiscated but that they would return it to me – which they did for the most part. A German friend drove me there in a car which I sold to him, and I stayed there with the stuff which got initially confiscated. The border police generally treated me very decently as long as this German acquaintance was present to whom I was selling my car for two hundred marks. As soon as he drove away I was told to get undressed. In horror, I found out they would do an inspection of all my bodily cavities. It was the first time I realized I may have been making a mistake.”

  • “I was one of those who skipped school, and my friends and I went to have a look what was going on in the city. So the Škoda workers, all in a fury, were burning posters with slogans like ‘With the Soviet Union for all times’, and the such. I didn’t want to be left out, so I also burnt myself a poster. That was at Masaryk’s statue, where Masaryk Grammar School is today. I don’t know if anyone saw me. When I came home, Mum and I set out to the square, where people were throwing the devalued cash out of the city hall and expressing their anger with the regime and its government.”

  • “The police came to our place. My son was telling me this later on. Someone rang the bell – a policeman. He asked my son: ‘How many cars do you have? How much money do you have?’ He simply interrogated a minor. As soon as I found out I set out to a police station located nearby. I went there and told them that there was a guy dressed as a policeman wandering in the neighborhood, investigating such stuff from children. The policeman I was talking to replied: ‘This probably isn’t anything serious. Franta, Venca? Have you already visited the Bartovský family?’ – ‘Yes’ – ‘Then don’t worry about it, that’s normal.’”

  • “Sometime around the end of June - we were still attending school, so it was towards the end of the school year - we received a notice. I came home from school, Mum was in tears, and she said: ‘We’re out now. It’s our turn.’ We had to be ready at seven a.m. next day, everything packed, what we were taking. We were supposed to move to northern Bohemia, to some hut. Dad managed to negotiate that we didn’t have to move to northern Bohemia. I guess he played it out that I was attending technical school at the time. So we didn’t have to go so far, but instead we moved into the loft of our cottage in Nová Huť.”

  • “As soon as it got published in Svobodné slovo magazine a cadre officer came to see me, saying: ‘You shouldn’t have written that. We would have shown it to you. Come to see it, you’re allowed to.’ So I got to see everything that was written about me – all of the good stuff. They probably hid the bad stuff. Then I told the officer that I wanted a bit more. ‘I want everyone to have the right to read those assessments.’ He said: ‘That can’t be done.’ I said: ‘Then I will write more articles.’ And so it went into print that everyone in Škoda factory could read their cadre assessments. It was my first victory over communism.”

  • “Back then there was no problem going out into the West. So I said goodbye to my mum and mu sister, and I set off as a member of the Slavie tennis club to undertake a friendly match with a tennis club in West Germany. I didn’t come back from there, I stayed and lived in the Bavarian Forest.”

  • “In the end, my daddy made sure that we were allowed to move to the attic of our cottage which was for the most part occupied by the Socialist Union of Youth. So we moved the furnishing from our three-room apartment to the attic of our little cottage. We couldn’t really move around there. We spent two or three winters there – the cottage didn’t have insulation and it was cold in there. We tried to make it weatherproof but dad was clumsy and so was I. We didn’t really make it work. My dad was putting moss into the fissures. It was impossible to live there normally over the winter. Then my father got a notice that he was no longer considered an unreliable person and that he was allowed to move to Pilsen. So we found a room in a house in Prešovská street and moved in. It was my graduation year, my sister was attending school. We lived there, I studied. We had to wash ourselves, eat, and sleep there. It wasn’t pleasant.”

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    Dýšina, Nová Huť, 11.12.2015

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Into emigration and back again

Pavel Bartovsky
Pavel Bartovsky
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Pavel Bartovský was born on 27 November 1936 in Pilsen. He comes from a well-to-do family, his father Ing. Karel Bartovský managed a cloth and rope shop in the centre of the city. However, the shop was nationalised by the Communists in 1948, together with the Bartovskýs‘ house and car. In 1950 the Czechoslovak Youth Union also confiscated the family‘s cottage in Nová Huť. In June 1953 the witness took part in the so-called Pilsen Revolt. A few weeks later his family, deemed „unreliable“ by the state, was evicted from their home in Pilsen under Operation B (Bourgeoisie) and forced to live in the loft of their cottage in Nová Huť, where they suffered under tough conditions. They were not allowed to return to the city until 1955. Pavel Bartovský completed a secondary technical school of mechanical engineering and then graduated from the University of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in Pilsen. He then started work as a construction designer and calculation engineer at the Škoda Works. In 1968 he took an active part in the liberalisation of Prague Spring. He also confronted the factory‘s profiling department regarding the possibility of viewing the background profile kept on his own person. He achieved success, but this success backfired after the Warsaw Pact occupation of Czechoslovakia, as he bore the brunt of anonymous threats sent by post. Fearing for his safety, he emigrated to West Germany in September 1968. He settled down in the town of Zwiesel in Bavaria, where he worked at a factory that made furnishings for school lecture rooms. He later moved to Munich, where he obtained the post of programmer at Siemens. In 1972 he returned to Czechoslovakia for family reasons. This brought him to the attention of State Security, which investigated him, repeatedly interrogated him, and continued to monitor him in the years to come. After a long search he got a job as a programmer at Office Machinery. After the Velvet Revolution he worked at the Pilsen city hall. He retired in 1999 and now lives with his wife in Nová Huť (Dýšina) near Pilsen.