Ing. Jiří Haleš

* 1936  

  • “The people found out that in the back of the tanks there was a barrel with diesel and some tools. So, all you had to do was to take out that pick axe, slam it into the barrel and then light it up with a match. One tank was put on fire like this nearby the National Museum in the direction of the main train station. The tank crew got angry, and they opened fire at the façade of the National Museum. That’s how the Museum got those scars on its façade. They’re still there today.”

  • “I was looking for a job as I was leaving Tesla Holešovice, where everybody knew me. So, I called up a couple of good friends of mine, and asked them if they happened to know about a job for me. A very good friend of mine, a certain doctor Holubová, told me she would call me back in an hour. She really did and offered me five job opportunities. One of them was to work in a boiler room together with Emil Zátopek, who – at that time – was already in disgrace as well.”

  • “On the other hand, there were some hardened personalities that opened fire for no reason at all. For example, when Marie Charousková started to chase a tram in Klárov, one of the soldiers found it odd, pulled his machine gun, and shot her to pieces. She had a commemorative plaque at the place for a long time. Some people tried to remove it, others renewed it, but eventually, it disappeared.”

  • “Among the older generations, there was a pronounced tenderness towards Czechs. They would say: ‘unfortunate country, they are lacking the likes of a Masaryk or Beneš’. They simply understood that we were a sort of a colony incapable of doing anything. They haven’t seen anybody there for twenty years. Before the war, the Czechs were among the most highly esteemed guests there and where were they now?”

  • “In Yugoslavia people told me: ‘what kind of a nation are you that you didn’t defend yourselves? Here, in Yugoslavia, the moment a foreign soldier crosses the border, war is being declared automatically, and everybody is obliged to grab his gun and go to war. You sold out in the same way you did to the Germans in 1938’.”

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    Praha - Holešovice, 21.06.2011

    (audio)
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    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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For all of my life I’ve tried to protect nature, but, if things keep going the way they are, I’m afraid that there will be nothing left to protect

Haf na rameni větší.jpg (historic)
Ing. Jiří Haleš
zdroj: Dobové foto z archivu pamětníka, současné Filip Válek

Ing. Jiří Haleš was born on August 18, 1936, in Holešovice in Prague to a family of a bureaucrat. He attended grammar school and then went on to study at the University of Chemistry and Technology (VŠCHT) in Dejvice. Even though the Communist regime was very restrictive when it came to travelling, he managed to travel a huge part of the world. Throughout all of his life he has been an ardent advocate for environmental protection and conservation, and in particular the protection of reptiles. Since the 1960s, he’s been a member of the Karst section of Environmental Protection of the Society of the National Museum. Jiří is the author of a number of expert books where he combines his experiences from his numerous journeys with his interest for nature. At present, he can be found traveling Indonesia.