Mgr. Jan Kozák

* 1951  

  • “Then they took me to Dříň Camp, that’s an auxiliary of Vinařice near Kladno, and that was really hard labour. It nearly did me in, in fact I’d say I survived it by a miracle. Because they assigned me to the furnace in Rolling Mill Four, I took out billets from the furnace. It was a terribly unpleasant job, that’s why they gave it to the mafdos [an approximation of ‘mukl’, an acronym meaning ‘man for disposal’, a slang term for political prisoners - transl.]. I then took this incandescent billet, with a temperature of some one and a half thousand degrees [Celsius], and transported it using a medieval apparatus - a huge iron wheel and these long pliers, beams, and I took that at a run to the first roll stand. Another twenty mill operators were waiting for me, so when I had a delay, they got nervous because they needed to earn money. I worked there with the added bonus that, as a political enemy of the state, I had another ten duties for when I got back to my room, so it didn’t take long, some two three months, and they made a complete wreck of me. I collapsed, I fell unconscious at work, I still remember that my last thought when I was dying there, which is odd, was that I kept repeating: ‘There is no God, there is no God.’ So then they took me to a civilian hospital, where they brought me back to life after some forty-eight hours of unconsciousness, and after that they assigned me to the bricklayers outside, that wasn’t so drastic, so I waited out my term there.”

  • “I had discovered Buddhism at the time, and I wasn’t going to rush anywhere, also because I’d begun to have a very critical view of how things were governed here in the early Nineties, I was in kind of a Kryllian position [referring to famous Czech singer and songwriter Karel Kryl - transl.], that means, I didn’t like all the stealing, I didn’t like that things were being privatised without a legal framework, I saw the beginnings of fraud, so I mostly quarrelled with those former Chartists or with the people who were all willy-daisy about the matter; and the more I did so, the less I wanted to get myself mixed up in some kind of political structure. As far as I know, I didn’t get many offers anyway. Now and then someone would tell me they’d take me in, say Dan Korte, I think back then he came up and offered me the post of head of HR at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I said: ‘Dan, please, don’t ask that of me. I don’t want to end up in a barrel in Orlík [referring to a series of dead bodies dissolved in barrels of lye found sunk in Orlík Reservoir - transl.] or something of the sort, I’m just not a good liar, I love honesty and truth and that’s how I am, I would never want to hurt anyone on purpose, that’s not the type of person for a political post.’ So he accepted that, and he didn’t come to me with any other offer again. By the by, I don’t like the way he’s been behaving politically recently, I think it’s high time he did an about turn and had a bit of a critical look at the whole period, at the loss of independence. I mean, even Vašek [meaning Václav Klaus - ed.] is changing direction, and he can also see that he pretty much acted the part of the useful idiot, because the loss of state independence is a serious matter, it’s not to be taken lightly. So in short, all I want to say is, I’m a patriot, and this whole hurrah embrace the West and open all our windows and doors to the West without any criticism, without any protection, without any self-government, without defending our own country - that’s always bad. And because we had this hurrah approach - it was done the same way in all the other countries around us - it got us into trouble... I discovered some awfully important and interesting documents, which hadn’t yet been translated into Czech, so I simply devoted myself to those translations from Latin and from Sanskrit.”

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    Praha, byt pamětníka, 26.10.2015

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Defending freedom always comes with a cost

Mr. Kozák as a tourist in his young years
Mr. Kozák as a tourist in his young years
zdroj: Archív pamětníka

Jan Kozák was born on 21 May 1951 in Prague. His father worked as an economist at E. F. Burian Theatre and later as the chief economist of Prague theatres. In 1968 he gave public support to the Prague Spring movement and was subsequently expelled from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC). For the young student, humane socialism remained a source of great inspiration. His idealistic stance hindered his studies of history and archiving at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University. Jan Kozák refused to join the Socialist Youth Union (SYU), and together with his friend Oldřich Tůma he made a stand against the discrimination of non-unionised students. The faculty expelled them both, and Jan Kozák received a suspended sentence of nine months in prison for allegedly assaulting his colleague Gombár. He underwent mandatory military service in a tank regiment under the secret surveillance of the Military Counter-Intelligence. The secret agent collected enough material to bring Private Kozák to trial. The court returned a sentence of nine month in prison, this time for real. Kozák served part of his term in Pankrác, but the second part in the labour camp in Dříň near Kladno proved to be a much rougher ordeal. He was exhausted by work at the local rolling mill and had to be hospitalised. After he was released from hospital, he was set to lighter employment until he completed his sentence in 1977. However, he did not change his political views. He learnt Sanskrit and established a publishing house called Biblioteca Gnostica, which he continues to manage to this day.