“I came to Kladno and went to the communist party office, knocked the door and as I came in I said: ‘God bless!’ And the moron behind the table did not answer. He just lifted his hand and pointed at a large poster on the wall. There was a comrade and a sign that said: "We call each other comrade and greet with 'Čest práci' (Honor the work)!’ I read that and said: ‘All right, I don’t have any objections against that. You can call yourselves comrades and greet each other with 'Čest práci'. But I’m not a comrade and I don’t know why I should be.‘… And besides, I worked in the mines and I never heard anyone saying 'Čest práci'. There, even the greatest comrades would say ‘God bless’. So I this was how I started with him and he was already very angry...”
“Everybody had handcuffs and we were tied to a twenty-meter long chain. They put us on the back of a truck and drove us to Jáchymov. The camp placed under Jáchymov was called Vykmanov, and it had a double fence and so on. As we were approaching it, it was a horrible sight; there was smoke coming out of the small barracks and it looked like German concentration camps, like a crematorium.”
“He told me: ‘So now you’ll have to serve the military service.’ That was something I really didn’t want because that meant joining the auxiliary technical battalions (PTP). I just came from one mine and would go to another one. He told me: ‘Listen. The military commission will ask you to do pushups and squats, so I’ll tell you what to do. When squatting, you do it once and then when doing the second one, you fall flat on your back. You can also fall face down if you like. And the same for pushups, you just collapse during the second one.’ Alright, so I did as he told me...”
“We had a guard who was quite nice. In summer, the woods were full of blueberries and he would call us to come. We thought: ‘What the hell...’ But he told us: ‘Sit here and pick some blueberries! And don’t do anything stupid so I don’t get into trouble.’ So we were sitting there for half an hour or so and were picking strawberries. And this Bonifác started to complain: ‘I’m so unhappy that they put me here, I want to get out of here...’”
“The Russians used to come along and inspect us. They would tap everybody to find out if he was muscular enough – like slaves. And our group agreed that if they chose anyone for the labor camps in the surroundings (those had been full of German prisoners, but they had to release them ) that we would all go to stay together as a group.”
You can call yourselves comrades and greet each other with Čest práci but I’m not any comrade
Pavel Holý was born on 11th June 1927 in Pilsen. His family lived in Prague-Holešovice where his father worked as an engineer in a factory. In 1933, the factory went bankrupt and the family moved to Choceň in eastern Bohemia, where Pavel started attending basic school. In 1938, he joined the Scout association. During the war, he studied at a technical high school in Pardubice and graduated in 1948. In May 1949, he was arrested for alleged preparation of a scout coup d‘état. He was sentenced in a trial with the group of Dagmar Skálová to four years in the uranium mines in Jáchymov. The convicted included Jiří Řehák, František Falerski, Jiří Navrátil, Záviš Bozděch, Richard Nebeský, Erik Bülow, Jiří Ulrich, Karel Čečka and Pavel Jánský. Pavel Holý served his sentence in the Vykmanov and Rovnost labor camps. The group stayed more or less together for the whole time. They smuggled various artistic works, which prisoners hid in the mines, out of the camp. One of the best known is Přadénko z drátů (Wire skein) a hand bound collection of poems and illustrations. After his release in 1953, Pavel Holý worked for a year in Armabeton. He worked at the construction of cooling plants in Prague-Suchdol, and later in a department building cooling towers. He then started working for Drupol where he stayed until his retirement. His son Pavel was born in 1968.