Petr Kahovec

* 1962  

  • “The uranium industry was favoured at the time, so it was pretty well paid. In Harm, where I was, there were hardly any political prisoners at the time. I met people there whom I befriended because they had the same approach to life. The free-thinking sort. We respected the same music and went to music events in the regions around Jablonec nad Nisou, Liberec, where there was always something going on. I worked topside, so I didn’t witness what kind of culture there was among the miners. Maybe just in the pubs, where they played various games. That’s how it was under Communism, and it’s the same today, when they have slot machines. It’s on the same basis, on people’s mentality.”

  • “We attended various parties and get-togethers. I don’t know when it was exactly, but I found myself in Jablonec nad Nisou; it was either a wedding or someone’s birthday, and there were lots of young people there. The Vaněk brothers had a little house there, where the party was. The cops arrived sometime in the early hours of the morning. But in what style! They had Antons [police vans - trans.] parked outside, they led us all out, checked us, and then loaded us into the Antons. Those were box Avias. They scattered us all over the region. They always stopped somewhere and dumped one of us there. In the meantime we agreed among each other to meet up as best we could in the pub in Jablonec. They dumped me off somewhere near Mladá Boleslav. From Jablonec nad Nisou all the way to Mladá Boleslav! We really did meet up, and we were back in Jablonec again on Saturday evening. It was a funny kind of incident, and I didn’t even have anything to do with Charter 77 yet. But I already reckoned that something wasn’t right the way things were.”

  • “I couldn’t stay in the boiler room the second year because they made an inspection there. I wrote certain letters, which I sent to my friends outside. It was a number of letters. And they monitored them – we didn’t know that. I wrote something along the lines that Communism is worse than Fascism. I don’t know how I came by that, but it just occurred to me somehow. They made a check on my friend and wanted the letter from him. He started legging it, tearing it up and throwing the pieces about. It was worth their time to glue the letter back together, and then the military counterintelligence got the jump on me. That was something, I was quite surprised to see what types they were because I’d never met them before, of course. They shook their heads as to what I was thinking. But I didn’t talk with them much. They told me I’d have trouble. As soon as they started hiring for the uranium mines with the option of letting me off my last four months of military service, I signed it. I knew they’d send me off to Sabinov otherwise, so I signed up for the uranium drive.”

  • “ I signed Charter 77 because the deeper I saw into it, I became convinced and agreed with it and believed in it. So it was a purely pragmatic decision. [Q: Which year did you sign it in?] It was in the late Eighties, before I was employed at the water works. I was repeatedly visited by the stetsec [State Security officer - trans.] assigned to my case, and we kind of struggling along with each other. The interrogations, which I underwent in Tachov and Pilsen, were unpleasant of course, but it can’t be compared to the Fifties. It was a kind of step into the unknown, we knew what could happen, and I already knew back then what went on in the Fifties. But freedom was above all else.”

  • “Of course I couldn’t know them all. The police force had a lot of departments. It wasn’t just State Security. If a rank-and-file policeman had problems, it had to be highly trustworthy information, and then it was looked into. But the people who worked for State Security, their documents were sometimes saved. They had certain things in their files, and we got to those – in the way that we were bearers of state secrets. So some were allowed to retain their service, others not. But it was based on information provided by people who had come into contact with them, whether in a good or bad way. [Q: Regarding the destruction of archives, did you notice that?] More or less; the information we received about that came too late. The archives were destroyed immediately after November. It was terribly fast because they knew they needed to destroy it quickly. Some things were saved because State Security worked reciprocally and had some copies of things. So some things were saved, but most of it is gone.”

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Rather the uranium mines than military prison

1976
1976
zdroj: archiv Pamětníka

Petr Kahovec was born on 21 March 1962 in Pilsen to Václav and Lydie Kahovec; he had a younger sister, Leona. The family comes from Stříbro, where his grandparents‘ families settled after the war. His father‘s parents lived in a mixed Czech-Austrian marriage and came from the Sudeten town of Tachov; his grandfather was drafted into the Wehrmacht during World War II. He avoided post-war deportation thanks to his good reputation. Her mother‘s parents were part of the Czech Evangelical minority living in Germany; they fled to Bohemia in the 1930s to escape Nazism. The witness grew up in a devout Christian family and had secret catechism lessons as a child. In the 1970s he attended a forestry school, wore long hair, and listened to punk and alternative music. In 1979-1981 he underwent compulsory military service in Jemnice na Moravě, where he got into trouble with his superiors and for sending letters critical of the regime; he was threatened with military prison. To avoid that, he agreed to sign a three-year contract for civilian work in uranium mines. In the mid-1980s he lived and worked with cattle together with his Chartist friend Jaroslav Ondrák at a farm in Lomnička, which acted as a hub for unofficial meetings and concerts. They were under State Security surveillance and were often interrogated. Petr Kahovec signed Charter 77 in the late 1980s. He worked on the Pilsen samizdat magazine Pevná hráz (Firm Dam), he attended festivals in Polans, where he became acquainted with the Solidarity movement, and he was strongly influenced by František Pitor. In November 1989 he was active in the Civic Forum and then worked in civic committees that conducted a purge of the police force. He briefly went into business after the revolution, before taking up a job as a driver. He married twice and has four children.