Professor Jan Jeník

* 1929  †︎ 2022

  • “He sent all the catalogues of his works to me. So I suddenly had at my disposal a really complete list of his scientific works and his expertise. And I had the honour to write the complete treatise on the life of Vladimír Krajina, which is still the main biographical source of this professional part of his life - not his political one, which we spoke of. That is how I came to know Krajina, and I kept [him - ed.] well in my memory. And it seemed necessary to me to have his name properly celebrated in the place where Krajina worked. And so I saw to it that the biggest lecture hall in the building in Benátská Street is called Krajina Auditorium. And I also saw to it that a collection be organised for the creation of a plaque set in the wall, which clearly states: ‘Vladimír Krajina worked here. Professor, politician...’ And I took the liberty of adding a third title on the plaque: ‘... and national hero.’”

  • “Even so, I was interrogated in 1949. And there were attempts by State Security... I was summoned right to the State Security headquarters in Letná, to the Ministry of the Interior. I was interrogated by a pair of agents, the classic situation - what do I know, who do I know, what am I willing to do? Right from the outset I indicated that I was surprised [by the whole matter - trans.]. They also wanted me not to talk about this to anyone. I told them straight up: ‘No, when I get back to the department’ - at the time I was an assistant lecturer at the Department of Botany - ‘I’ll certainly tell them I was here.’ That discouraged them. They started easing up on the pressure, and they practically stopped harassing me after that.”

  • “The next day we set out to do field work among the sandbanks. My colleague Longman used to be a forester, I was a plant physiologist. He was interested in forestation there. In one place in the middle of those forests in southern Moravia, we came out [into the open - trans.], and he took pictures of how we tended to newly planted pine trees. He photographed the place. And a tractor drove by us - it drove through that whole part of the forest. When we continued our journey, there was a boom gate at the edge of the forest, and we were arrested. I didn’t find out until later that there was an underground fortress somewhere in the vicinity. So we were arrested together with the whole of that family.”

  • “Even there, we’d make some extra money. I remember how we would team up with Zrzek and cut down trees with a big saw called ‘břichatka’. We worked for the local forester who would give us some money for the wood. We used that money on both, the camp itself, as well as to equip our clubhouse.”

  • “The commission was composed of a communist secretary of the faculty, the dean of the faculty, a local Communist from the botanical institute and me. So we were four. This commission was to decide whether I was allowed to stay or not. It decided I couldn’t stay and, if possible, I was not to have contact with young people and of course I was supposed to get a manual work.”

  • “I had accumulated a great wealth of knowledge and information that was well suited for my teaching at Charles University, lots of new experiences, lots of photographs and slides. I wrote for magazines - for science popularization magazines like Vesmír or Živy. I tried to acquaint the Czech readership, which in those days had no first-hand news, with the tropical region. I tried to inform the people and especially students in a larger global format.”

  • “Right since 1945, we would organize summer camps. Already in the same year, in June, we organized the first one. We had a hard time finding tents as there were none, but we got such primitive military-style tents and held a summer camp called the ‘harvest’ camp. We were proud to be helping the Republic with its first post-war harvest. I remember that we camped in such a dirty yard, but there was plenty of revelry. We held a farewell bonfire, which attracted a lot of the local villagers and I recall that they had quite a good time with us.”

  • “I remember that when German soldiers began arriving on the square, my sister and I ran to the square, to the great dismay of our parents. To this day I remember that they arrived on motorbikes with sidecars (this was typical for them), of course, armed with rifles hanging over their shoulders. They gathered on the square, where by that time people were already burning Czech books. The schools had thrown them away there. So I witnessed the arrival of the German army and at the same time the destruction of Czech culture in the border region.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, 02.12.2013

    délka: 01:49:52
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu A Century of Boy Scouts
  • 2

    Praha, 19.04.2017

    délka: 02:04:55
  • 3

    Praha, 10.05.2017

    délka: 01:59:46
  • 4

    Praha, 26.06.2017

    délka: 01:20:43
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I hope that technology will not result in the disappearance of Homo sapiens - that is a wise man!

Jan Jeník in his university years - around 1950
Jan Jeník in his university years - around 1950

 Prof. RNDr. Ing. Jan Jeník, CSc., dr. h. c. was born on January 6, 1929, in the Šumava region in the town of Třebomyslice. In 1938, his family left the Sudetenland and moved to Pilsen. Here Jan and his friend Jaroslav Kubeš established a sports club, which later turned into the scout troop „Severka“ (North Star). In 1948, he moved to Prague, where he studied forestry engineering and ecology. He got also partly involved in the activities of the illegal Scout organization „Kruh“ (Circle). In his field of expertise, he soon became a well-established and recognized capacity. He lectured at Charles University, where he was put in charge of the department of geo-botany. Although he was not a member of the Communist Party, he managed to go abroad in the 1960s. He first worked at the University of Kabul and then went with his wife and daughter for three years to teach in Ghana. After his return, he would disseminate among professionals and the public in Czechoslovakia the gained knowledge about the tropical regions. At the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, he was dismissed for political reasons, but got a place in the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, where he worked until 1989. After the revolution, he started teaching again. At the same time, he became engaged in domestic and international commissions for the protection of the environment, for which he received numerous awards and honors. Jan Jeník died on February 13th, 2022.