Fedor Gál

* 1945  

  • "It was towards the end of the war, during Christmas of 1944. We passed through Auschwitz where the gas chambers and crematoriums were no longer in operation. The Germans attempted to hide the traces of what had been going on in the camps. Our transport was then redirected to Terezín where, according to official documents, we arrived on 24 December 1944. My brother was placed in a children's home and my mum to a house for women with babies. This is where I was born on 20 March 1945."

  • "In November 1989, there were appointments for thousands and thousands of offices in the structure of the Czechoslovak state. This was no longer just a couple friends who knew each other for twenty years. And those people began appearing from nowhere. As much as people in Košice didn't know Fedor Gál, we didn't know who was Vladimír Mečiar. He just suddenly appeared and aspired to become minister of interior in the co-opted Slovak government. Vlado Ondruš was then at the ministry, the only representative of Verejnosť proti násiliu. There was an audition for the office with three applicants. When Vlado returned to our office, we asked him how it went. He told us there was one great candidate. I was quite happy at least one of them was great and didn't even ask him, why. Over time, information leaked that 'Obroda' prepared him for the audition. Obroda were communist reformists who were kicked out of the party following the post-1968 vetting. My interpretation was the following: an unknown lawyer from Nemšová with high ambition and a drive came to aspire for the office of the minister of interior. He was provided with information from the professionals from Obroda who used to work at the ministry, and he won the audition. Just a month ago, I learned from the former officer of the federal security information service that Mečiar was prepared by Alois Lorenc himself - the chief of the communist secret police!"

  • "We were quick to remove Mečiar from the office of a PM. We removed him as soon as we found out that the minister of interior nominated by Veřejnost proti násilí misused classified information to blackmail politicians. That he held negotiations behind closed doors which nobody knew about and which served his private interests. That he prepared the destruction of VPN and secretly worked on founding the Movement for Democratic Slovakia. That he undermines authority of official VPN representatives. And so on. We knew perhaps too much. In 1991, we simply removed him from office. Despite him being the most popular politician in Slovakia at that moment. We knew enough to realize he was betraying everything we fought for in November 1989. We knew it and removed him from office but the public took another twelve years. Mečiar then won three times in a row in democratic elections! At that point, all of us who removed him, were long dispersed."

  • "My life's creed is that a dialogue of various people is essential if we want to survive the complicated era and complicated world in good health. I even think that the dialogue has to take place across walls and fences. And the more diverse the people are ideologically, spiritually, politically and socially, the more important is the dialogue - if possible. There are situations where there is simply no space for dialogue but that is yet another story we can also tackle."

  • "I was born in March 1945. I will be turning 72. I was born at a weird place - in the Terezín concentration camp. I was lucky because my mother and my brother who is five years older came with the very last transport on Christmas 1944. I was born some three months later, in March 1945. And saying I was lucky means I was double lucky. First of all because the transport departed from the Slovak town of Sereď where there was a concentration camp for Jews from all around Slovakia who were then sent further. My dad was sent to Sachsenhausen from where he never returned. The transport with my mum and brother originally went to Auschwitz but because the end of the war was nearing, they stopped the operation of gas chambers and crematoriums. So they turned us around and sent us to Terezín. It sounds weird and absurd but Terezín was the better among concentration camps because it was not an extermination camp. People were not killed there; they were merely dying of hunger or typhus. Or some were shot dead for attempting to escape."

  • "In 1989, we all met during the events related to the November revolution. In Prague, the founded the Civic Forum. In Slovakia, I founded Verejnosť proti násiliu, which was a Slovak version of the same thing. I even became its leader. And we won the first free elections in Slovakia. But from the first moment, I knew that politics was not for me. So, after several very tough conflicts with the then-PM of the Slovak Republic Vladimír Mečiar... Thank God you didn't get to confront him. What is more, on the issue of lustration - getting rid of people who were officials and agents of the communist secret police. And so I gave up on politics and moved to Prague."

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    Praha, 16.08.2017

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  • 3

    Praha, 12.09.2017

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    délka: 49:07
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  • 4

    Praha, 09.04.2018

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    délka: 01:15:48
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Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

We have to keep dialogue open across the fences

Portrait, 1964
Portrait, 1964
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Fedor Gál was born on 20 March 1945 in the Terezín ghetto where his mother Barbora and his brother Egon were kept captive. He had never gotten to know his father Vojtěch Gál. The family was of Jeiwsh origin and used to own a large farm in the village of Partizánska L‘upča in the Slovak region of Liptov. His father fought in the Slovak National Uprising. Following its suppression, the Gál family was caught and imprisoned in the Sereď concentration camp. Fedor‘s father was transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and died on the eve of the war‘s end during a death march. His mother and two small sons survived and returned to L‘upča where she tried to farm once again. However, the property was nationalized by the communists in 1948, and so she left with her sons for Bratislava where she worked at a scrapyard until retirement. Fedor Gál finished an elementary school in Bratislava and then a school of chemical engineering in Zlín. He was a worker in a chemical plant, and at the same time graduated from the University of Chemistry and Technology. He then worked in sociology and prognostics in several research institutes. In November 1989, he took active part in the Velvet Revolution in Bratislava and co-founded the political platform Verejnosť proti násiliu. For a short time, he was active in Slovak politics. After the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1992, he moved to Prague where he lectured sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University. He was among the founders of private TV channel Nova. He also established the publishing house G plus G, which focuses on books dealing with minorities, otherness and the Holocaust. Ever since 2009, he works as a film documentarist. He produced four feature movies and twelve short documentary essays. In the documentary Short Long Journey, he maps the life story of his father.