Jaroslav Kočí

* 1950  

  • “It was a political event. Always some two days before the event, a group of political officials from the district house. They checked if things were prepared. The even itself was done with easily, they took some children from the Olomouc District, split them in groups, and the ones from Ramzová they sent to Šerák, where they were given tea and sausages. There were some militiamen at Šerák who discussed with them. Simply, combat tradition, what else to say. Then the children went back to Ramzová, they got in the train and returned home. And as I said, it was organised by the district house of pioneers and youth. It was a political event. I had my father’s Wehrmacht photo album with me at Šerák. Between you and me, I was a bit provocative. I was no dissident. But when I had the chance, I would have a dig. And the evening before this event, the group was sitting here. Seeing that it was low season and there was no one in the pub, and I told them to come into the kitchen, where the heating was on. We sat at the table, chatted, drank wine, spirits, and beer. Suddenly the conversation turned to World War II. They started saying the stuff they had been told in history and at political trainings. I said what were they blabbering about. Up to the moment when Hitler attacked them, in nineteen-forty-one, the Russians were just as bad as him. Oh boy, I shouldn’t have done that. They told me I’m talking nonsense, that it’s not true. I said that in September thirty-nine, the Germans split Poland up with Russia. They said it wasn’t true. ‘It’s not true? I’ll show you something.’ I went, pulled the album out, and the three photographs that my father had taken at the River Bug. And they saw that there really were German and Russian soldiers there, hugging and shaking hands. I said: ‘Those are enemies? They were still friends at the time. Until forty-one.’ They stared, I began leafing through the album. They saw photos from Poland, Belgium, and France. I sensed a sudden gust of cold, and I quickly closed the album and tidied it away. The event ended.”

  • “When I was rehabilitated in 1994, I made a copy of the rehabilitation verdict. Seeing that I could look into the files back then, and I knew the names and addresses of the people who informed on me, I sent it to all of them. I added a note to the bottom, suggesting they might want to apologise to me after reading this. There were four or five of them, who testified against me at court, including the jury chairman, Doctor Michálek. And only one of them sent me a letter, where he tried to apologise and claimed that they had been forced to do so in some way.”

  • “Suddenly I could hear a key in the lock. The door opened and a man came in, introduced himself and said: “You’re Mr Kočí?’ I said I was. ‘You see, we’d like to have a look at the place where you live.’ I asked what the matter was, that I didn’t know what was going on. ‘Well, we’ve just been to Šerák and we’d now like to check out your home.’ So they took me out, we sat into a car, there was the driver, the man who had spoken with me, me at the back, and one more next to me, and we drove to Šumperk. There was silence. I kept quiet. We came to Šumperk to the State Security station. The one who was sitting next to me had a closed box on his lap. All three of them got out and left the box lying next to me. They went away and just left me there. If I’d wanted to escape, I could have, but why would I do it. When they left, I quickly peeped into the box. It contained my father’s album from the Wehrmacht, my waiter’s tapes with recordings from year sixty-eight and Karel Kryl. I reckoned I was fucked. Originally I thought they had came because of some administrative offence. It wasn’t administrative, it was political. While I was looking into the box, they came out and saw what I was doing. They just smiled. They sat into the car and said: ‘We’re going to your home. Where do you live?’ I said: ‘Please, don’t try to pretend that you don’t know where I live.’”

  • “On 31 March 1981 I was stood on trial in Šumperk, where I was accused of promoting Fascism. The accusation was based on the claim that the album only showed the victorious German army. For this crime, which I resolutely refused and continued to defend myself against by what I had said before, I was sentenced to eight month of prison, suspended for two years. Although the court did not ban me from continuing my work, I was subsequently fired anyway. I tried to find a new job but failed. In the end I was in such dire straits that I wanted to try working at the Šumperk crematorium, burning dead bodies.”

  • “After the house search, [two police officers - ed.] took me for questioning, and they interrogated me until the evening. It was all related to the Pioneers in Olomouc District event. To how I had shown them the album [of photographs of the victorious German army having a friendly time with the Soviet army - ed.]. They kept claiming that showing photographs of the German army is basically considered the promotion of Fascism because the photographs only show the victorious German army. And I said: ‘But friends,’ I didn’t actually call them friends, ‘you’re mistaken! It may be the victorious German army, but not as some kind of propaganda. The reason it’s there is that my father, who made the album, left the army in March 1941, at a time when the Nazis were winning everywhere!’”

  • “I was given eight months for two years. Although the court hadn’t prohibited me from my work, they still fired me from my employment. I found myself in a situation where I was not able to find a job. Everyone here knew what I was punished for. In fact, it got so bad that I was getting ready to go burn dead bodies in the crematorium. No one wanted to employ me. Everyone was afraid of me, or they had some secret information and instructions to break Kočí.”

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The story of one photo album

Jaroslav Kočí
Jaroslav Kočí
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Jaroslav Kočí was born on 8 June 1950 in Šumperk. Both his parents were Viennese Czechs who re-emigrated to Šumperk in 1945. His father had been drafted into compulsory military service in the Austrian army in 1937. However, with the Anschluss in March 1938, Austria had been joined to Nazi Germany. Soldiers of the Austrian army thus automatically became members of the Wehrmacht. Ranked as a private, his father took part in the offensive on Poland. His unit went all the way to the River Bug, which was the demarcation line between the German and Soviet spheres. He carefully documented the whole campaign with his camera, including three photos of the friendly meeting between the two armies. After France fell in 1941, his father requested to be released from the Wehrmacht with the explanation that he did not see himself as a German, but as a Czech. His request was accepted, and until the end of the war he had to serve in the auxiliary units of the Technische Nothilfe. His son Jaroslav Kočí had nothing to do with the dissent or with anyone actively resisting the Communist regime, but even so, on 31 March 1981 the District Court in Šumperk gave him a suspended sentence of eight months in prison for political offence. According to the court, he had supposedly been promoting Fascism merely by showing a few political officials the photographs his father took of the friendly meeting between soldiers of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht at the River Bug in Poland. He had wanted to prove them what is now a well-known fact, that the Communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had divided Poland between themselves. The verdict was followed by a dismissal from work and the public scorning of a „promoter of Fascism“. No one wanted to help Jaroslav Kočí clean his name, and so he decided to help himself. A number of coincidences enabled him to apply and be accepted to study law; after graduating he turned to the courts, and in 1994 the High Court in Prague discarded the original ruling as unlawful.