Svatoslav Böhm

* 1934  †︎ 2023

  • "Every visit from State Security gave me goose bumps. I was scared. I was always shocked that they knew everything about me, who was coming to see me, who was leaving. But I'll tell you a funny story. It was the eighties, I don't know exactly what year. There were always two of them coming to see me. They sat down and I said the obligatory line, 'Gentlemen, what would you like? Would you like some coffee or tea? That's all I have.' They asked all sorts of questions. They were uncomfortable questions, but I don't want to say anything about that. Then I said, 'What's wrong? What have I done?' They said, 'Mr. Böhm, you'll be surprised, but we have a special request for you. Our boss would be very happy if you could lend him pornographic films.' I started laughing and said I didn't have any pornographic films. They said, 'Oh, come on, we know that you showed pornographic films to certain friends at meetings.' I said, 'Well, yes, that is true, but they were films that I borrowed from my wife's father.‘ Not that he was a collector, but he had been in the German army, in the Wehrmacht, and he had a friend in West Germany who used to send him these kinds of films. I saw two or three. The gist of the matter is that Secret Security asked me to lend them these films."

  • "My artistic development up to 1964 was free realism. One day the organ company in Krnov asked me to do some work. I went there, I completed the task, they were satisfied, so I asked them if I could see the factory. I got a foreman at my disposal, went through everything with him and was shocked. There were huge bins of cuttings that were generated from both organs and guitars. They used to make those there too. They were unbelievable shapes, and when I saw it all, there was a radical break in my personality. I knew that everything was going to change. I asked the director if I could be putting the waste materials together into a relief structure in the factory. He acted perfectly. They assigned me a place in the workshop where there were several people, I was given a workbench and I was able to start. I went there as a worker, but not every day. I started collecting waste and putting together a structured relief. I didn't know anything about wood, except that trees grow in the forest. I learned everything there. In a few years, I understood what wood was."

  • "After the war, in May and in the following months, there was an incredible amount of weapons lying around everywhere. And a bunch of kids, about five of us, we were walking in the fields, in the woods, it was close to the woods, and we found a panzerfaust [an anti-tank weapon, trans.]. It didn't have a warhead. There was a dog with us, a German shepherd. I don't know if the dog or one of us stepped on the trigger. There was a huge shot, flame, it went off. It tore my calf, the dog was in shreds, and one of my friends lost a leg. We were all affected by the game."

  • "I was asked by the politruk [political officer, trans.] to make Lenin. I said, 'Sure, no problem.' They asked what I would need. I asked for a joiner to make me a three-by-three-metre frame, so that it would be in proportions to match the huge barracks. For the Lenin to be dominant, it had to be at least three metres high. So they prepared it for me and I started to work. It was a great success. I could draw a little. It wasn't a problem with a model [picture]. Of course, I wouldn't have dared to draw it without looking [at the picture]. But the funny thing and the problem was that I forgot that I was working indoors, and when we moved it, we couldn't get the painting through the door. The politruk had fear in his eyes and started threatening to have me arrested. He said I should have figured it all out. So I cut Lenin in half. Can you imagine what was going on in the eyes of the army officers? We pulled the two halves through the door, put it back together, I fixed it, and of course nobody found out anything. The officers were happy and they hung Lenin up on the facade."

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Ostrava, 09.06.2020

    délka: 03:06:04
  • 2

    Ostrava, 14.06.2021

    délka: 02:07:09
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The artist said no to the occupation. He lost his job, his wife had to support the family

Svatoslav Böhm / probably 1970s
Svatoslav Böhm / probably 1970s
zdroj: Witness´s archive

Svatoslav Böhm was born on 12 February 1934 in Žďár nad Sázavou. The first years of his life he spent with his parents and older brother in Nové Město na Moravě. He lived through the Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945 in Brno. He graduated from the School of Arts and Crafts in Brno. After completing his military service at the Austrian border, he moved to Krnov, where his father got a job in a textile school. In the early 1960s he worked as a graphic designer for the Ostrava cultural magazine Červený květ (Red Bloom), which was lated closed down. He collaborated with the organ factory in Krnov, where he began to create abstract reliefs from scraps left from organ production. He was a member of the art group Klub konkrétistů (Club of Concretists), Kontrast Ostrava and other associations. He made his living mainly as a book graphic artist. He participated in a number of exhibitions, including group shows of concretists. After 1968, he refused to consent to the entry of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia. In the early years of normalization, he stopped receiving art commissions because of this. State Security would take an interest in him and registered him as an enemy person. During the disastrous floods of 1997, water flooded his studio and destroyed most of his work. He died on 6 January 2023 in Krnov.