“I had dreamless nights when I could not sleep, horrible nights… because I was afraid of homesickness… but eventually we took a vote…the boys saw tennis rackets and what all they would be able to do. And so we took the vote and if there had been one vote for not going, we would have returned home. But, when you later realize that at home you have left a house, which you had just finished reconstructing… and now you just lock the door and leave...”
“I was going to the hospital between tanks which were arriving from the airport, via Dejvická Street. I spent one entire week in the hospital, continuously. A student from the technical university rode in a tram on Klárov on the 25th August, she was twenty-five and she had a two-year-old son. She went to submit her diploma thesis. When she got off the tram, a Russian soldier was standing on pedestrian refuge island. When he saw her, he ordered her to take off the Czechoslovak tricolour symbol from her coat. But she merely asked him why and the soldier did not wait for anything and he shot her into her stomach. They picked her up at the tram refuge island and they took her to our hospital Pod Petřínem, which was the closest from there. My boss asked me to try to do something about it if possible... there was nothing we could do in this case… such a beautiful, twenty-five year old girl... and she was dead. We were scared at what had happened… to shoot through a young girl just for no reason.”
“Then it started to be so bad that they completely stopped all my academic progress. For two years I was asking to be allowed to defend my candidate thesis for the CSc. degree… but in the faculty staff there was quite a lot of honest people and they established a committee which was to decide whether I would defend the thesis or not. Professors Svatý and Nahodil said that they could see no reason why I ought not to be allowed to defend my thesis, which was of good quality. But the boss with this deputy wanted me to leave and to defend my thesis at some other faculty. Professor Svatý commented on that: ‘As I see it, Kalný comes from South Bohemia, that means the he is a combination of John Huss and Chelčický, and he has his own opinion which he does not want to abandon.”
“What will I be able to do here...? Nothing... this led me to think about it. But I resisted it desperately… eventually it turned out so that I stayed there... and I felt terribly sorry about it, about not being able to operate at home... this should not have happened. If I had wanted to leave for some selfish reasons, I could have left immediately on 22nd of August… had nothing to wait for…”
I was afraid of emigration the same way the devil is scared of the cross, I was afraid of homesickness
Josef Kalný was born on March 14, 1933 in Čímice near Sušice. He graduated from the medical faculty in Pilsen and after graduation he began working in the hospital in Sušice. In 1959 he became a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He moved to Prague after being offered a job in the surgical ward of the Hospital Pod Petřínem in Prague. Josef Kalný worked in Austria and Switzerland for some time and thanks to his expertise he was offered employment at the clinic there as well as a permanent residence permit. However, he turned down the offer, and he returned to Czechoslovakia. Several days after his return Czechoslovakia became occupied by the Warsaw Pact armies. During the tense days in August 1968 he was treating the wounded in the Hospital Pod Petřínem in Prague. Based on his negative experiences from the period of the occupation he decided cancel his membership in the Communist Party. During the normalization period in the 1970s the authorities did not allow him to pursue academic work, he was forced to quit teaching at the university and he was not even allowed to perform his medical profession fully. In 1980 he thus decided to emigrate together with his family. He was offered a job at the clinic in Baden in Switzerland again and this time he accepted the offer. In 1989 he and his colleagues established the foundation Czech-Swiss Association whose aim was the support of Czech healthcare system. He retired in 1999 and a year later he returned to the Czech Republic. With his wife Naděžda, who is a doctor as well, they live in Sušice, and they have two sons: older Petr is an architect, and younger Martin, a professional artist, died in 2012.