Josef Hájek

* 1934  †︎ 2019

  • "I was arrested because my boss reported me. He knew that I left and he took the attendance cards still there and kept them. There were three of us from our department who participated in the demonstration: Mr. Beneš the engineer, Mrs. Marovičová and me. The next day StB agents came to collect us in our workshop. They took us to the Škoda directory where we spent the whole morning waiting. After that we were transported by police cars to Bory prison where we waited three months for the court hearing. At the court they convicted us according to what they have heard about each of us and what we had done. Our origin was very important as well. It was worse for someone who was an engineer for example - those were aggravating circumstances. I had bad luck, but I was lucky at the same time to get only eighteen months in prison."

  • “When the Americans arrived, they occupied it there. There used to be a large pitch near the railway heading to Křimice and that’s where they settled in tents. It was our place – we used to go there and they gave us chewing gums. So we received chewing gums and sometimes chocolate and were happy for it. A few women made a living there by cooking for the Americans. Cars bringing supplies from Germany used to come to the pitch, unload and leave again. Those were Americans who were bringing food and stuff for their colleagues. We used to hang around because we always got something tasty. I remember well the Czech women who came in and cooked for the Americans. They had their cookers and tins. The women cooked for instance cream sauce or tomato sauce with dumplings and in return they gave them the tins. In these were cigarettes, chocolate, canned food, biscuits. It was a daily ration. So when the women brought them home-cooked meals, they gave them these things in return.”

  • Mr. Josef Hájek was held in Barbora camp in Jáchymov region along with other fifty two participants of the Pilsner rebellion. The ´Pilsners´ were specially marked with the red armband. Further, they were not allowed to gather outside and talk to each other. If they were, they would have been immediately dispersed. The purpose of this measure was only to humiliate the prisoners, because they were free to meet and talk while they were in their cells.

  • My aggression was my bad luck “We were shouting, I couldn’t see anything. We were standing in front of the directorate – I suppose it’s no longer there. From the gate towards the back there was a door and inside there were offices. That was called the directorate. We protested there. Then they dispersed us. My bad luck was my aggression. I don’t know why I was like that. I was being silly. That’s why I ended up in the Bory prison. First they brought us to the directorate where they left us locked up until the evening and then they took us up to Bory. So I ended up receiving a 18-month sentence and being sent to mine uranium at Jáchymov.”

  • "I was working in the Experimental Institute, which was located close to the Škoda factory directorate. The procession passed by our workshop. I joined them there, too. Unfortunately, nobody was willing to talk to us at the Škoda directory so we turned around and went to the town hall on the Republic Square. We wanted the people there to explain to us why there must be a monetary reform if the president Antonín Zápotocký said that our currency was strong. He had told us not to believe any rumors and to stay calm. And the very next day we had the reform."

  • "After the military training I was thinking: ´Since I´ve spent already two years in Ostrava and year and a half in Jáchymov mines...´ I decided to sign the commitment to work in the mine pit. I went to Zbůch pit in Pilsen region and I stayed there until the retirement. Thanks to the monetary reform I become a pitman and I remained one until the end."

  • “We went there, me among the agile ones. We took a big carriage shaft – I don’t know where it’s gotten there from. With it we broke into the main gate. We ran upstairs and began to throw out all the pictures of Gottwald and Zápotocký which were laying on a table. There were also the clerks there who just acted as if minding their own business. They didn’t take part. I don’t know how they ended up – I suppose they survived because they just sat there and let us go on a rampage.”

  • “The procession turned and headed toward the town hall on the Republic Square. Something went wrong there and the whole event turned out to be a political demonstration. Nobody from the town hall, neither the mayor nor his associates showed up because they were scared it would turn out to be a demonstration. People started to throw out the paintings with the statesmen from the town hall offices. One group of the demonstrators went to the court with the intention to free the political prisoners, but not the criminals. Meanwhile, information about it reached Prague so the police units (People´s militia), as well as the army, were sent from Prague and other surrounding cities. They dispersed the demonstration. When I saw what it looked like, I decided to go home. But later in the afternoon there was another demonstration - people went to Masaryk´s monument.”

  • In Barbora forced labor camp, Mr. Hájek also met the nephew of Klement Gottwald, Antonín Jílí, who was a picklock and was sentenced to three or four years of imprisonment.

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Plzeň, 11.11.2010

    délka: 01:28:56
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Plzeň, 20.02.2017

    délka: 01:46:52
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

„I threw pictures of President Gottwald out of the town hall window.“

Josef Hájek, around 1950
Josef Hájek, around 1950
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Mr. Josef Hájek was born in 1934 in Pilsen. He learned to be a metal turner in a Škoda factory, where he also worked. In June 1953, he participated in the so-called Pilsen rebellion, which was a demonstration against monetary reform. After this event, he was arrested, questioned, and subsequently sentenced to eighteen months in prison. From July 1953 until December 1954, he was jailed in the Barbora labor camp in the Jáchymov region. He worked here in uranium mines. In 1955 after his release, he joined the army forces with technical battalions, he was also deployed to work in coal mines in the Ostrava region. After military training, he decided to remain in the mining industry. At first, he worked as a pitman in Ostrava town region and later in Pilsen region.