František Kohlíček

* 1914  †︎ 2007

  • "By then it was obvious, as they had known each other from before, the descriptions of what it looks like in Russia, right. So it was generally known, what the situation was. There was some apprehension here. I became the vicerector of the seminary in 1946, also the rector of the seminary had been made archibishop of Prague not long before. There were three candidates at the time, the Vatican gave the government a list of three candidates to choose from. Well, those were Jarolímek, the Strahov abbot, Urban, a Fransiscan, and Beran, the rector. Because Beran had been in a concentration camp, in Dachau, and there were several Communists there also, naturally, well then they decided to vote in Beran, because they were in the government, so that several of their ministers were from Dachau, so they had this kind of friendship, so they reckoned: 'He'll be our boy, that Beran.' They were disappointed, naturally."

  • "The began already in 1948, 49, lots of priests going to jail, all those that they considered their enemies. They closed down Church schools, limited the Press, as you know. Then they established Church Secretaries to keep us in line. You couldn't do anything without Church Secretaries. [Archbishop Beran] had to do what he did. There were the pastoral letters, through which we protested, and those had to be printed and given out in secret, because they banned them. When the priest got... apparently they found out about it straight away, those police or Communist officials, because they kept warning us not to read them out, that it's illegal, even though there was no law for that."

  • "There were strict rules aswell. So when there's too much leeway, I think it isn't very healthy, that a person really does need some form of discipline, self-discipline, to manage well when rought times come, so that he isn't pointlessly discouraged and so on."

  • "And from Mírov I was taken to Jáchymov, to the uranium mines, as you know. So I was there, but only for a short time, some three months all in all. It was a strange camp, ell it was called, where there was a large group of priests. And that's where all the mines, from the Jáchymov or Příbram districts or even from East Bohemia, all the mines sent the uranium ore there to be ground and crushed into little bits, which they put into these barrels. And so I was there standing at one of those mills, where they ground the hardest ore, right. That was all handled by hand, all of it, so whoever was there for a longer time ended up with health problems, because that ore wasn't really very healthy."

  • "Then they made these three big groups out of it all. I was in the third group, with Father Ferda and a class mate from grammar school that actually belonged to his parish, he was from the Sedlčany district. We were just the third group, so there were about ten of us. They imprisoned us all. And one other thing that I did: they fond out that I had been taking letters to one of the imprisoned priests, that I read out pastoral letters, and as a extra note they claimed I had had a bad influence on the theology students and stuff like that. So then there was the trial, 27th, 28th and 29th of September, in Ostrava it was, but the state trial, or whatever they called it, the state trial was in Brno, that was in the Fifties."

  • "We [priests] have a vow of celibacy, so we don't have a family, and it was a lot easier for us than for those, who did have a family, a wife and so on. Those people were in anguish, those prisoners, they suffered spiritually much more than us, who didn't have that. There were priests dispersed to various places with the other 'civilians', so then they saw that the priests were serving amongst them. When [the other prisoners] saw that the priests could bear the prison much easier than the married people, then they became interested in the faith and some of them were even baptised and really started to live a religious life, masses were served in secret... When [the jailors] found out about this, they made a seperate section for priests, so that we didn't mingle with the 'civilians'... We also knew what we were suffering for. It was the persecution of the Church, and so we endured it much more easily than the people who didn't have that understanding. Faith gives people the strength and endurance to overcome the difficulties. Even the hunger, the harsh treatment and disciplinary action. It was much easier for us."

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    Praha, 27.10.2006

    (audio)
    délka: 02:51:55
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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„We priests knew what we were suffering for. It was the persecution of the Church, and so we endured it much more easily than the people who didn‘t have that understanding.“

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František Kochlíček was born on the 11th of May 1914 in the town of Buštěhrad, near Kladno, to Alžběta and Václav Kochlíček. When he was twelve, he started his studies at the Archbishop‘s Grammar School in Prague-Bubeneč. After graduating in 1934 he entered the Catholic seminar, from whence he was sent to study theology in Rome. He spent six years there, and he was also ordained there. During the war he was a chaplain in Příbram and at the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord‘s church in Prague-Vinohrady. After the war he become vicerector of the Prague seminar. In 1950 he was interned shortly in Želiv, only to be sentenced to eighteen years of prison. He sat out his sentence in Mírov, Leopoldov, Valdice and Jáchymov. He was given amnesty in 1960, after which he worked in a rubber plant. In 1969 he was assigned as a chaplain to St. Anthony‘s in Prague-Holešovice. He devoted most of his time to the pastoral care of children, youths and families. He was forced to move out of Prague, and was active for a short time in the Pilsen district. Beginning of the 80‘s he was stripped of his state permission to serve as a priest. Since 1990 he was the parish priest for Karlín.