Karel Hádek

* 1946  

  • "I served at the chemical unit in Liberec. It was such an exciting time when it was all falling apart, so there was a different way to get along with the professional soldiers. In some way, it shaped man. Those guys were psychopaths who believed what they said. They had to have some changed genetic code, when I say it humorously because a normal person would not believe it. Sometimes I heard passwords, it was crazy. There may have been the first contradictions between how one perceived the world, and between what they were trying to get into your head. It is hard to judge if there has been a breakthrough situation. There was one more thing when these things were discussed, a dictatorship. Man basically could do nothing, allways with communists, or with SSM, or I do not know what. It was always guided as a child, by the hand showing the way. And a young person dislikes, when someone says, "You're stupid, you do not know, what you want. You do not know, what's for your own good, we'll show you. It's a red book."

  • "Going up from the square to the school there is the park of Antal Stašek - Ivan Olbracht, and there is a statue. Because it's in a hill, a concrete wall was made there so the hill could not go down. So there you walk beautifully around two meters high concrete wall. On a certain lovely day an inscription appeared: Brezhnev is a dick, even if you erase this sign. These were such pearls of words. I do not know if it was with Mila Hujers. We wrote all over the town with Pepík Dohnal, Arne Vaněk and I do not remember the others, because imuch was happening. We always had watches on guard, and they watched if they were cops to give a signal to get away from writing signs. And once they gave us a signal and we heard a car approaching. I think Mila Hujers disappeared at the Schováneks in the yard, and I disappeared into the dustbin. The cops arrived, rushed in there, and found no one. I nearly went def in there, because the cop did not know I was in a dustbin, so he yelled, "You fuckin '! I would give them a beating! 'And with the baton he was smashing the dustbin. It was a terrible noise. Then they left and I got out of the dustbin as a pig, all dirty and stinky."

  • "It was actually a celebration of the Red Army's anniversary. They made a party in the cinema in Semily, and we made a demonstration there. Nothing organized, it was after the occupation, I think in January 1969. Quite a few people got together. So for example we posted a sign there: The Center for the Study of the Cold Flame and the Creeping Counter-Revolution. The state police recorded us there, so they chanted: "Hide the camera or I´ll shit in it." I managed to get [Ludvik] Vaculík inside to make a report, which I was very glad because it was for the invited only. The state police and cops were angry at me, so they organized themselves in the cinema once, stormed out, and started mocking me. It's an interesting thing, I would never believe that when a person is in danger, what kind of power can be fought with. Three or four cops went to me, and I trained them like dolls. When five or six fell on me, they were lying on the floor trying to torture me; in my eyes and nose they used pepper spray, which is something crazy when you are held up, but still they had troubles keeping me down. The Russians saved me in the end. They rushed out shouting, and began to tear the cops off me... They dragged me into the cinema, and then they made me a corridor so I could leave, rather stumble out as I was beaten up badly. So brain concussion, double vision and this sort of fun. I spent some time in the hospital. Well there was a criminal prosecution of the police, of course it was stopped, while they also accused me of hooliganism and I served eight months in prison for it."

  • “I had some leaflets printed out, which later had an echo in the courtroom as well. We were riding a motorbike with Arne Vaněk, I was driving, and he was throwing out leaflets in a Russian convoy that was stationed near Jilemnice, near the river Jizera. Our only luck was that the road was bending there because as we were passing by he threw those leaflets among them, they flew out everywhere, we disappeared in the road curve, and the only thing we heard were the machine guns getting ready and rat-tat-tat-tat, firing shots.”

  • "Pioneer, Pioneer, to Pioneer, those are the things that a man does not know anything at the age of six. If everyone joins in, one would be sad, if they did not take him along. I do not remember exactly how it was with the Pioneer, I just remember I joined in. And again, I would say humorously - I was madly grateful for two occasions. That was, when Stalin died, because in Semily they kept a piety for him, and the People's Militia opened pork cans... they poured lard and pork from the canns on bread for us. So I thought that Stalin could die more often... In a while Klima [Klement Gottwald] knocked the batons, so they opened up more cans. Otherwise, the Pioneer was rather uninteresting."

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„Bullets don’t fly in a curve.“

Karel Hádek
Karel Hádek
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Karel Hádek was born in Semily on the 13th of December, 1946. He studied chemistry and worked in the research institute at Turnov in the analytical laboratory studying single crystals. He served his military service in the chemistry unit at Liberec. After returning in 1967, he continued working for the research institute. Due to his low salary he started shooting photographs for advertisements, company New Year cards, or snapshots from manufacturing processes. One of the people he cooperated with was Ladislav Opočenský. In spring 1968 he founded a youth club in Semily. They organized meetings that became popular all over the country soon afterward. In 1969 he was first charged with public disorder and sentenced to eight months in prison, and later the charge included subverting the republic. He ended up spending three and a half years in the prison of Bory in Pilsen. Following his return the regime had no work to offer him. He was shortly employed in Prefa Trutnov, later he worked with Václav Havel in the Trutnov brewery. Karel Hádek‘s most famous photograph portraying Václav Havel in the brewery comes from this period. He would frequently get summoned by the State Security, eventually, he was deprived of his citizenship and forced to leave the country in 1980. He moved to Munich and only returned to his home country in the 1990s. Today he manages a successful company manufacturing natural cosmetics.