Jiří Čejka

* 1929

  • “Even though we were just Grammar School students, we watched the political development of our country after 1945 with great interest as well as its deepening orientation towards the Soviet Union. We used to attend meetings of all four legal parties here in Roudnice (it was already non-democracy). Even if we as students knew the fact that something like the February 1848 will occur sooner or later anyway. When someone said that they had no idea, they didn’t know and such, than that was nonsense. For instance our non-Communist politicians let themselves be happy with warm posts. All of them shut their mouth up if you excuse me. What did we know about the Soviet Union? We knew it was dictatorship and we knew who Tuchačevský was. We knew about trials. I was a member of young National Socialists. There came someone from Prague every Sunday in order to explain the situation to us. Dr Petráček, a lawyer, was great. He used to live nearby. We discussed even anti-constitutional matters of the annexation of Carpathian Ruthenia.”

  • “It was when I was still at Grammar School in 1948. We started teaming up a bunch of guys who would make anti-state leaflets and would distribute them among people so that they got to know the essence of the Communist regime. It was all motivated by the fact that everyone was convinced in 1948 and 1949 that the regime won’t be there by spring and that it won’t last long. We still believed it in prison. Then it turned out to be a naïve notion and it all lasted much longer. I made the leaflets, there were quotations taken over from Masaryk, from colonel Švec’s diary, or there were some other up-to-date things such as those referring to the death of Jan Masaryk. I wrote them, someone else copied them and another one reproduced them.”

  • “It was Christmas Eve, we went down the pit but we didn’t work. We only guarded if possibly there was not a fire. Then I got a phone call to go to the pit in Koh-i-noor 1. A miner brought some Christmas sweets, fruits and nuts there… Did anyone force them to do it? We were not only political prisoners there, but also criminals, collaborators and former SS men. There were cons from the State Court for some time there but there was an escape attempt of the two cons right from the State Court. Then they were immediately transported to Bory and then to Jáchymov area. The situation got worse and we political prisoners were left only few.”

  • “My name is Jiří Čejka, I was born in Roudnice nad Labem on September 2, 1929. I have lived here all my life. I graduated from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague. I was sent down from there as from all other Universities in 1951. I ended up as a political prisoner. After years I managed to graduate from University as a distant student. Having gone through proceedings I defended my doctorate of science. I transferred to National Museum in 1972; I was there about 30 years as a head of a small chemical lab. I became the director of the Museum of Science in 1991 where I had been until I retired in 2001. The Museum of Science is one of five parts of the National Museum so I was a kind of deputy headmaster.”

  • “From the very beginning since Beneš returned from Košice, there were Beneš and Stalin everywhere. There was nobody representing Britain, France or the United States although they were the Allies. The tendency was clear. If someone said that there were three years of democracy, it was not true. From the very first days onwards when the USSR liberated Czechoslovakia, the White Guard members gathered here as well as Ruthenians from Carpathian Ruthenia. They went right away to gulags. My uncle worked in Uzhhorod, I knew some of them personally. They left then. Some of them returned after ten years, some of them never. They had lists and they followed them. Nobody said a word, neither Beneš nor the three remaining non-Communist parties. All of them kept their mouths shut.”

  • “Two were imprisoned – what happened next… When they came for us it became clear that the attention was paid only to four people even if we were more. They luckily didn’t find cyclostyle either. We also kept some revolvers hidden but luckily they found none of it. There was no point in asserting something else nor in making up stories. If I told lies they would knock my block off and got more information from me. We were principally lucky that we ended up at the District Court only. We were judged according to §2 para. 3 law no. 231/1948 Code of Law - a crime of gathering against the Republic. But we were at the District Court and there were lower penalties. We were such minicons, such an unimportant group. They weren’t interested in us. The Procurator himself said if I were at the State Court I would get 8 years instead of 8 months.”

  • “I defended it in 1970 (my candidature thesis). A necessary part of the candidature examination in 1969 was Marx’s philosophy exam. I was sure I couldn’t learn it. But it was already during president Husák times when some changes occurred. Departments of Marxism were reorganized. I got a letter from Dr Bauer out of the blue: ‘You are going to take your Marxism exam on Monday at one o'clock.’ I was panic-stricken; I knew I couldn’t do it at all. He calmed me down and said it wasn’t a problem. We went to the examiner, it was some doc. Pinkava and it was him who spoke most of the time. Pinkava told Bauer: ‘Tell him not to be nervous, you know you’ve got my word.’ Then he told us that examinations took place with the rector’s cognizance. If the examinations did not take place then, many of us would never pass their candidature examination. If you took Marxism then, you would still manage to defend your thesis. The atmosphere of 1968 was still in the air at that time, which was totally different a year later. I passed but I would fail under usual circumstances. Of course the exam was antedated later.”

  • “I regard myself a scientist and I’m interested in Crystal Chemistry and Mineralogy of Uranium minerals. At the moment I cooperate with an Australian University and of course with my former colleagues from the National Museum. We elaborate on Uranium minerals. We keep discovering new minerals, we examine already known minerals in detail, we elaborate on structure etc…”

  • "We protested at school for instance because we didn’t agree with the fact that there was a photography of Beneš with Stalin on the wall. We insisted that there were also the representatives of the other Allies. We were not allowed that. Teachers at that time kept already their mouths shut up too. They were making sure this way they wouldn’t be fired. The lectures of Pavel Tigrid, Ivo Ducháček and Dr Chudoba were excellent, they all were Czechoslovak People's Party members. As for Social Democrats it was worse. We even dared to attend a Communist meeting. We sat somewhere at the back so that we could form our opinions. Also Petr Zenkl and Ladislav Feierabend held their speeches here. The quality of the speakers was different, some of them were kind of camp speakers. When Pavel Tigrid became the Minister of Culture I had the chance to talk to him, especially about 1947 when they were forthcoming about the present risk. And he asked: ‘Who intrigued you?’ So I named them. And he said: ‘You see, all of them are dead already only I’m still haunting here.’”

  • “When they brought us by Black Maria to labor camp, they allocated me to room G6. Those living there did their afternoon shift and I didn’t know which bed was mine, so I had to wait for them. When they came back and asked about what I had done I said I was there for leaflets. And they said: ‘Confess what you’ve stolen, don’t tell us you got eight months for leaflets.’ They were from the State Court where the sentences were different from the District Court. In contrast with some other cons we were insignificant, such weeny brocks.”

  • “I assert one thing and it is that all my life, I have gotten in trouble, but I met some people who were willing to lose something for me, who were willing to help.”

  • “We were the first so called ‘reformed’ year. It means that we were divided into study groups of twenty people. Each group had its ‘Communist Youth Union’ leadership. We already knew who was an organized Communist. We were staring, we came literally as yardbirds. University meant something to us and all of a sudden we found out they taught us to sing some Russian songs there. We discovered that the Party and the Government held the floor. Of course they introduced political education, Marxist philosophy was lectured. It was probably different at every University, it was more drastic in humanistic fields of studies rather than in technology. But it was clear that the Party held the floor. There were people who would normally fail but because they belonged to the Party, it was all arranged somehow."

  • “It is impossible to compare conditions with Jáchymov or Příbram, the conditions were worse there. While being there I never saw anyone being beaten or taken to correction. Food was rather good. Relationships with civilians were absolutely perfect. A Sokol Movement member came to me to cabinetry and wanted me to get some coffee for him because of his heart. He told me a name of a civilian to ask him. When I went down the shaft I told him. At first he almost told me off that it was impossible, that it was nonsense. But the second day at the end of the shift he was not about to leave. He came to me and said: ‘There is a jacket over there, left bottom pocket, your coffee is there.’”

  • “I’m religious and I think my creed is expressed by the three principles of Scouting. It is up-to-date at present and also for the future. Service and obligation to God, service and obligation to neighbors and service and obligation to yourself. Obligation to God is clear, obligation to your neighbor is service to society and also eternal work on yourself. We still have to keep working on ourselves, we are never perfect.”

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Roudnice nad Labem, 11.06.2007

    délka: 01:21:19
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

All my life I kept getting into touch positions, but I met some people who were willing to lose something for me, who were willing to help.

Jiří Čejka was born in Roudnice nad Labem on September 2, 1929. He was interested in politics in his youth; he was a National Socialist Youth Movement member. Having graduated from Roudnice Grammar School he started his studies at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) in Prague. In 1948 he and his peers decided to draw the attention of public to real principles of the Communist regime. The group wrote and distributed leaflets criticizing the regime. However, a part of the group were arrested in 1950 and the District Court sent Čejka to the soft-coal mine Koh-i-noor at Mariánské Račice in Most area. After working off his sentence and returning to civilian life, life he worked in the chemical industry. As a student he managed to graduate from ICT in 1961. At that time he started working on his life subject-matter which is research into Crystal Chemistry plus minerals and Crystalline Salts of Uranium ore. He took his chance in the ‘60s when the regime loosened and just before Normalization he managed to defend his CSc. degree in 1970. (He got his RNDr. degree in 1994). In 1972 he started working in the Mineralogy Department of the National Museum. In 1991 he became the director of Biology Department of the National Museum where he worked till he retired in 2001. He has been working in the scientific field up to the present day. Jiří Čejka has always been a proud member of the Scout movement. After the revival of Scouting he worked as a speaker of Scouts till 1993. He was also a Scout central councilor. He is one of the founding members of Valen Fanderlík group which is formed by former political prisoners.