Jiří Lexa

* 1941  

  • “We didn’t have any dustbins or dumpsters in front of our house. Twice a day this special tipper car came for the trash. Allegedly it was cars intended for export to India for the collection of animal carcasses. So, the collection took place at a certain time, the car was brought around for ten or fifteen minutes and people went and took out their trash there. But most tenants were already at work at that time. Two retirees helped out. People left their trash cans in the hall in the morning and the retirees then emptied it. Those who didn’t make it in time threw their trash into a pit that had been dug about one hundred meters from our house. It was three meters deep and five meters wide. That’s where we used to toss it. Sometimes a bulldozer came and earthed it up. That burial site of our trash from the late 1960s has been there to this day.”

  • “I was an employee of the ‘Nealkoholické nápoje Olomouc’ company. We had places of business all over north Moravia. I lived in the unfinished 7th district. All of a sudden, the director’s Tatra 603 pulled over at my house, the bell rang, and they told me to go back to work immediately because we had to fix a machine in Karviná. This had never happened before, that someone would come for me. It made a fuss in our building. When I arrived at the workplace in Slezská Opava, we learned that a bottle capping machine in Karviná had been broken. It was a machine for stoppering eight bottles, a rotary machine that weighed around one ton. It was a common fault that could have been fixed in a couple hours. But because the first anniversary of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia was coming up and counteractions were expected, our company’s management got nervous that it would be terrible if the shafts and iron works weren’t supplied with non-alcoholic drinks. That’s why they decided to buy a brand-new machine for several hundred thousand crowns which they had delivered from Chotěboř. We then spent the whole night replacing the old one with it.”

  • “On that August 21 I was standing at a bus stop at around 5 a.m., there were about twenty or thirty other people there. Suddenly we heard noise. Three military helicopters flew low over our heads. I thought to myself that it must be some military exercise. No one had any idea, everyone just looked. When we arrived at Hulvácký hill, there were trucks, armored cars, some tanks. Hundreds of soldiers everywhere around. People had already started gathering and discussing. I went to the Smetana square and walked to our workshop by the Sýkora bridge. We were a small team, about three people. No one had any idea what was going on. The telephone wasn’t working. The only connection with the world, the cable radio, was turned off. So, in agreement with my colleagues I took the bus back home and brought with me a transistor radio, so that we could hear what was going on.”

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    v Ostravě, 25.09.2019

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If the miners don’t get soda pop, they might rise in revolt

Jiří Lexa, circa 1958
Jiří Lexa, circa 1958
zdroj: Archiv Jiřího Lexy

Jiří Lexa was born January 6, 1941 in Ostrava into a family of a police officer and a hatter. He spent the end of World War II and part of his childhood in Ostrava-Kunčičky. He remembers building of the New Klement Gottwald Iron Works and the ZOO in Kunčičky. After being apprenticed as a turner he worked in Vítkovice Klement Gottwald Iron Works. In the 1960s he started working in the ‘Nealkoholické nápoje Olomouc’ company (Olomouc Non-Alcoholic Beverages) and moved to the unfinished 7th district of Ostrava-Poruba. He witnessed the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 in Ostrava. He signed resolutions protesting against the foreign military intervention. He set up a business following the fall of communism and also joined the Czech Social Democratic Party. He wrote several publications about Ostrava-Poruba in retirement and received the Senior of the Year Award in 2012 for his popularization of the city’s history.