Professor, PhDr. Ladislav Hejdánek

* 1927  

  • "The arrested me directly inside the Literature Memorial. They came in the night, I was guarding some Japanese miniature art, I was locked inside the church tower, and they called me from the gatehouse, saying they needed me for something and that they're from mofa (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In actual fact it was the StB (State Security) that took me back home. And there was my wife and dr. Jirásek, both arrested. They had, just for fun really, written up a few envelopes for those leaflets that were supposed to tell they didn't have to vote. That was Operation Tesař. Tesař had already been arrested, but hadn't stood trial yet, that was only a short while before our own trial. I kept reminding the police of this at each interrogation, so soon all of them knew about it and they were annoyed that I was arrested and convicted of something that for one I hadn't done, I hadn't written a single envelope, I actually read the text for the first time at the police station when I was arrested, when they were showing me what text they meant. I only knew that vicar Dus brought it to our place, but I didn't have time as I was just leaving to keep watch at the Literature Memorial. I just had time to tel him that, as a vicar, he shouldn't be doing things like that. Then I left. Even that had been monitored, they actually told me that. They asked about some things, from which it was clear to Heda and myself, that it was all from eavesdropping. They wanted us to blunder, saying that other one had already admitted something."

  • "That was the end of the Fifties, and the Sixties, well that was comepletely arbitrary! If someone didn't actually provoke, then they didn't get beaten. No really. It's a distorted view of the Sixties, when people say that the criminal Communist regime ruled those forty years. That isn't true. First of all: a lot of people sit in jail, unjustly, not just as criminals, unjustly, in every country. There was a bit more of that here maybe, but definitely not more than is usual in Second or Third World countries. That's one thing. It's true that people who were let out after many years of prison, were let out during the Sixties, so even for those who sat it out, it was a time of hopeful expectations. All the more for people who were outside and who were following the situation. There were people, like in every society, who don't give a hoot about anything. So those people didn't care. But otherwise, should I look at my own life, then the most hopeful time I have ever lived in started just then, at the end of the Fifties, fifty-nine, fifty-se-, fifty-eight. When the philosophers started to rebel, there were the discussions in the Literary News, where Kosík wrote his article 'Hegel as a dead dog?' Then there was the conference, where everything was terribly criticised, none of the criticised people were invited, but nothing really happened anyway."

  • "Ofcourse there were some sneaks in the group, I guess. I had thought we were being pretty careful, but then they were interrogating my wife once, they told her that she should talk me out of doing it. They knew about it. To which my wife famously said: 'Well, if it's something against the law, then put him in jail!' So that's how my wife cooperated with the police."

  • "It was like this - I don't know who came with the idea. I suspect that one of the main persons was Šimsa. Šimsa did a lot of work on it, but there were others too. They arranged that Hromádka would invite a few people once a month to his house in Moravská Street. I think it was Šimsa who organised or inciated the deal. Hromádka was glad that he could talk in private to people that didn't look like they'd spill the beans on whatever he said. That's how it started and in a bit there were more and more people coming, and so I asked Hromádka one time, if I could bring along a Catholic, and he said: 'Yeah.' I took Jirka Němec. And then we started discussing the possibility of moving it to somewhere else, because it wasn't possible to keep on doing at Hromádka's place. He had a big apartment, rooms like this... When there were thirty of us, it was just too much. So we agreed to carry on in Jircháře."

  • "Starting October, I was responsible for a group of older vicars and parsons, but also some so-called lay people who had applied for extramural study of theology, and I lectured them abotu philosophy. That was the reason why the boys asked me if I might consider continuing with this, unofficially. We met at various times, that's how ti started. In the meantime, some other people joined in and I did another two or three workshops. For instance, we did one with Kroupa, Martin Palouš and some others. We did some reading. There was a bit of it, but it was rather... about once a month, before they could organise it, we always had to find a place, each time somewhere different. We didn't say out loud, when or where it would be. Always just on a note... So I guess it was actually since 1970 or so."

  • "There was always a lecture there, and seeing as the number of people we could take from the faculty wasn't that great, not enough for them to do it just themselves, and we didn't want it like that either, so we did it ourselves. Just here and there, when the opportunity presented itself, we invited them and we had so that it wasn't so much a lecture as a discussion. The discussion was the main thing. It was expected that the report be inspiriational, somewhat provocative, so that it would have to be discussed afterwards. That was a new thing, no one else did that. I must say that we were absolutely happy that we could be there. It's a thing one remembers still."

  • "I don't know when I signed it, but we agreed on it sometime end of November, beginning of December, when Jirka Němec brought along Vašek Havel and we talked the whole thing over in the bathroom with the water running. And that's when I gave Vašek Havel a recording of our radio where they talked about how important it is that also our country, our republic signed and ratified these international agreements. The second thing I gave him was the full text of both the documents, which I had bought quite ordinarily in Karlova Street. You couldn't get it afterwards, obviously. And Vašek actually didn't know it at that time. So I gave it to him, so that he had something to argument with. So he had it with him when he and Lanďák went to post it all, or where they were going, and they netted them. So I never got it back from him. No big deal, but I did grudge him that."

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    Písek, 05.09.2006

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I‘ve got the feeling that I‘ve spent my life doing things that, today, no one needs or wants any more

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Ladislav Hejdánek was born on the 10th of May 1927, the single child of Ladislav Hejdánek and his wife Emílie (maiden name Poupová). His father was a baptised Catholic, but a rather laid-back one. His mother was from an evangelical family with long standing, so Hejdánek was brought up in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (Českobratrská církev evangelická). He graduated from the Slovenská Street Grammar School in 1946 and went on to study mathematics and philosophy at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Charles University. He switched to the Faculty of Arts to continue his study of philosophy. After graduating in 1952, he worked as a digger and cementer. In the post-war years he was an official of the society Academic YMCA. Beginning of the 60‘s, Hejdánek, together with Jiří Němec, organised ecumenical seminars in the theological college in Jircháře. In 1968 he became a member of the Society for Human Rights. In 1971-72 he was jailed for half a year, and in 1972 he was implicated in a planned large-scale leaflet campaign to inform Czech citizens, that they had the right to vote, but not the duty to vote, thus that citizens had the right to abstain from the upcoming elections. Dring the Normalization period, Hejdánek worked as a night keeper, a boilerman, and a warehouseman. He organised private „apartment“ workshops, to which he invited foreign speakers. He became one of the signatories of Charter 77 and one of its first spokesmen. Following the year 1989 he lectured at the Evangelical Theological Faculty at Charles University, where he headed the Department of Philosophy.