Rostislav Čurda

* 1957

  • "Once Václav Havel was in the garden of the rectory in Horní Řepčice. He was a bit drunk. He was wearing a white T-shirt with the inscription 'I love Vašek' on it and he was singing some Russian chastushkas, which was supposedly his favourite thing to do when he got drunk. He was reading his Asanace, with his rhotacism. And we were all sitting there looking at the future president. I have a lot of moments like that. I remember what a persecution complex he had. When the singer-songwriter Charlie Soukup was released from prison, he thought of nothing else but to go to Zdeněk Bárta in Řepčice. The men from the State Security came to him. Our young people had an event and a bonfire in the garden, and when these manoeuvres started there, we moved somewhere else. Then at night, in front of our house, there was a Zhiguli car in which there was a man from the State Security in plain clothes with another policeman. And it was only recently that I realised that the man from the State Security was a boy with whom we used to play volleyball in the neighbouring village. Maybe he was set to watch us, because there were several of us, parishioners and friends of Zdeněk Bárta. He played as stupidly as we did, so you could not tell."

  • "When Václav Havel came to northern Bohemia after the revolution, he also came to Řepčice, which he used to visit. And a tree was to be planted to commemorate this visit. A local man, probably a forester, got a pine tree and it was planted there. Since it turned out to be a dwarf mountain pine, it was not talked about much. To this day, there is a little ‘Václav Havel's dwarf mountain pine’."

  • "They were families who had not seen each other for years. The men went to fight and came to Bohemia and liberated the republic together. The women, children and parents stayed in Volhynia and came only in 1947. Before the end of the war, Beneš had already negotiated with Stalin that the Volhynians could return to Bohemia. These boys, in the good faith that they would all be reunited here one day, were looking for housing. And so, they took their bicycles, loaded them onto trains, and rode to the Central Bohemian Uplands in search of a whole new future for their families. Grandpa Čurda first found a house in Řetouň. That is the last village in the Central Bohemian Uplands where the bus does not even go today. Eventually he found an isolated homestead in Polepy, which is now a central village between Roudnice, Litoměřice and Štětí near Chotiněves, and stayed there. It was the house after a terrible SS man with a terrible reputation, who was lynched and expelled. My grandfather settled in that house. There was a rationing procedure, because the Germans had left houses and land. So, they got about eight hectares of land to the homestead. And that is where they started farming. The Gestapo man certainly did not stay in the house that my grandfather took, but in Chotiněves, for example, the Germans were not expelled until later, so friendships were established between the Volhynian Czechs and the Germans, who then worked together in the fields. When they had to say goodbye, many cried."

  • "I have only been in an interrogation once, thank God, only once. Typically, they wanted to besmirch Zdeněk Bárta, saying that he buys food with Tuzex vouchers and has a Zhiguli car. I think it was a Zhiguli 2105, a top-of-the-range station wagon at the time. He got it from Tuzex or maybe he got it as a gift from Switzerland, I do not know. That is the way it was done back then. Because the parish priests had terrible alms, there was some financial help from the West, especially for the Chartists. The whole interrogation was actually ridiculous at the time, because the carpenter [the interrogator] in question was trying to make me envious that he [Bárta] had this Zhiguli and was shopping at Tuzex. He said that even their boys from State Security did not have that. A big part of the interrogation was strange in that he talked about Jehovah's Witnesses, who were a worry to them because they were mostly studied doctors and scientists. He showed me the tin cabinets they had full of their Watchtower magazine, which they had no idea where it came from. Supposedly they even did a discussion with them about what to do next, but when one doctor came to them, they [the State Security] all felt completely small in front of him. And to this stupid interrogator, just like in the movie Kolya, suddenly a big guy festooned with gold, nicely dressed, walked in and he did not say anything. He just sat down and looked bad. He gave off a really strange cold feeling."

  • "Sváťa Karásek also got involved in my life a little bit. Around the time I was in high school, he was a castellan at Houska, where Zdeněk Bárta used to take us. They say that Houska is the gateway to hell. And fifteen, twenty of us teenagers stayed there once. Sváťa made a night game with many secret entrances, when we were looking for something. The National Library had a depository there, there were shelves with books, so you could not go in there too much. We played a game of 'anchovies' where individual players would search in the dark and join together until there was a school of anchovies. Occasionally in the darkness someone would come running out of somewhere and shout, so we were terribly frightened. Then it was ended and we were to meet at the fountain in the courtyard. Suddenly he, the idiot, climbed up on the roof and threw a straw mattress between us with a terrible scream. I still remember it as a great experience with Sváťa Karásek. You do not forget that. It scares you for life."

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    Ústí nad Labem, 04.11.2021

    délka: 02:24:41
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Příběhy regionu - Ústecký kraj
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The preaching station in Úštěk was an oasis of freedom

Rostislav Čurda at a concert in Kobylisy in 1983
Rostislav Čurda at a concert in Kobylisy in 1983
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Rostislav Čurda was born on 5 April 1957 in Litoměřice. His mother came from the Volhynian village of Český Boratín (Boratyn), which was repatriated to the Czech village of Chotiněves together with the entire evangelical congregation. His grandfather Vladislav Vlk came from Volhynia as a member of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps. The witness graduated from the secondary industrial school of land surveying and worked as a surveyor all his life. In the 1970s, he began to meet with the Chartist Zdeněk Bárta, who was then a parish priest in Chotiněves and who brought him into the company of dissidents and the underground. Since the early 1980s he has been performing as a singer-songwriter and writing poetry. In 1989 he was at the birth of the Civic Forum in Úštěk. In 2021 he worked in the Diakonia in Litoměřice. The story of the witness could be recorded thanks to the support of the Ústí nad Labem Region.