Jiří Fiedor

* 1965  

  • “So then we decided – I don’t remember if it might have been the start of 1989, we actually started publishing in samizdat, a monthly, it was called the North Moravian Passivity. It was a joint project of the people who gathered at the Šavrdas for those political discussions. Those were people from Bohumín, Ostrava, Opava, Krnov, Karviná, Český Těšín, Havířov, it started snowballing like that. So we reckoned we actually wanted to do something of our own, to comment on political affairs in our own way. So in early 1989 we started making that North Moravian Passivity. I don’t know if we had twelve, fourteen issues, something like that. We made it in pretty big print runs. At first it was copied out on to carbon paper, one or two issues were printed out at Jirka Hanus’s flat, in a block of flats in Ostrava-Dubina. But then we printed it in this one garden cottage of his wife’s parents. He always borrowed the hut for the weekend, and five or six of us came there at most. We made it there in print runs of, I don’t know, but it was in the hundreds for sure. Because everyone had a load of addresses that he sent it out to. So we divided it up and it went out into practically the whole country.”

  • “The first year was with no troubles at all. That happened to be a year when lots of the long-haired ones finished up. Only a few of remained there and suddenly they started making demands and threats, that we have to cut our hair and that if we don’t, they’ll expel us, and so on. So they actually expelled me from the boarding house first because I refused to have my hair cut, because they got a new manager there who had managed a police boarding house before. So he was used to seeing everyone with short hair. Then the pressure upped at school too, where the deputy headmistress told me that I wasn’t to attend her lessons until I cut my hair short. So I didn’t attend her lessons, because I didn’t cut my hair. It ended up with my parents coming and trying to persuade me, together with the headmaster, to have my hair cut and stay at the school. I was obstinate and refused to have my hair cut, and back then I discovered the recordings of the Plastic People and the third festival of the second culture and the theoretical texts of Ivan Jirous, and I was already influenced by the Czech underground a bit. So I actually, how did Loony [Ivan Jirous - trans.] say it – ‘stick your education up your arse’, so with this motto on mind I quit the school. The way it happened was they said that if I leave of my own accord they wouldn’t expel me and I won’t have further trouble. So my mum, I wasn’t of age yet, so my mum signed it for me that I had decided to leave.”

  • “It was pretty clear to me and I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I wanted to sign it individually some time earlier and I told the boys, the friends that I visited the Šavrdas with, that I was already decided, that I’d sign it. They said wait a bit, we’ll all sign it, we want to sign it too, the boys from Opava, someone from Ostrava, and Lubomír Salzmann from Havířov. So my impression is that we signed it together in December 1988 or something like that. It was in connection to the fact that Tomáš Hradílek was to be spokesman and that we’d give it to him then, when we signed it. So that’s how it actually happened that we signed it towards the end of 1988 and handed it over to Tomáš. I know I already wanted to sign it in September, some time earlier. Back then you didn’t think about whether to sign it sooner or later. The idea of the regime failing, to quickly sign it while I could, it didn’t work like that of course. And also I was twenty-three years old at the time. So when you’re young, strong, radical, you don’t think about what ifs.”

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You shouldn’t wallow in your past, you should learn something from it

Jiří Fiedor - Portrait of youth
Jiří Fiedor - Portrait of youth
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Fiedor was born on 25 September 1965 in Frýdek-Místek. For the first four years of his life he grew up with his grandmother; he moved to his parents in Třinec in 1969. He started listening to big beat as a child and grew long hair, much to the chagrin of local Communist functionaries. In 1980, aged fifteen, he moved to Prague to study at the secondary technical school operating under ČKD, where he trained as a mechanic of high-voltage devices; many of his long-haired friends from Třinec attended the same school. He attended big beat concerts and alternative („underground“) music festivals. In 1981 his school adopted stricter rules, and as he refused to have his hair shortened, he was forced to leave. He muddle along, barely scraping a living, and was given a suspended sentence for „parasitism“. After returning to Třinec he worked as a bricklayer‘s assistant and dispensed food at a hospital in Ostrava. In 1988 he started communicating more with political dissidents and distributed samizdat. In late 1988 he signed Charter 77 and helped publish the magazine Severomoravská pasivita (North Moravian Passivity). After 1989 he did journalism and documentary work, he recorded documents for Czech Television and Czech Radio. In the years 1990-1992 he was a deputy to the Czech National Council for the Civic Forum. In 2006 he established a publishing house called Pulchra. He lives in Prague.