Daniel Mayer

* 1957

  • “Was any permission required? (to study) Yes, of course. The permission had to be approved by the Ministry of Culture. I was even so naïve, I was at grammar school, the headmaster came to me - a great person otherwise - and he said: ‘Tomorrow or the day after some people will come from the Ministry of Education and they would like to ask you some questions about Israel and Zionism.’ He knew I was applying to the seminary in Budapest. ‘So if you could prepare for that.’ At the time, Doctor Bass (he was a lawyer), of blessed memory, was chairman of the Council of Jewish Religious Communities, so I went to him and said: ‘Sir, our headmaster said that there’ll be someone coming from the Ministry of Education and they’ll be asking questions about Zionism.’ So we wrote down some variants of the questions, what might arise, and what I might answer. So everything worked out no problem. I didn’t find out until much later that they weren’t from the Ministry of Education, but that they were from the Interior. The headmaster had been told that they were from the Ministry of Education, of course. But otherwise okay. So Doctor Bass and I revised it. They weren’t especially complicated questions, just what my opinion is of the conflict in the Middle East. Of course I knew that I had to say that I wanted there to be peace, for the conflicts to be settled. I was neutral about it. Of course, no one could expect that I’d speak against Israel if I’m headed to the seminary, but on the other hand I couldn’t say too much for Israel, because then they’d accuse me of being a Zionist. So just in a neutral way, that a peace treaty had to be agreed, as it was beginning to be anyway.”

  • “So I signed the cooperation. The other thing is to know what information you can give without harming someone else. There was practically no personal information. They were more interested when there was a trip somewhere, although I didn’t go on those much... compared to others. Say the chairman of the council went a lot more often than me, to represent the Jewish community. They were more interested in what had happened there, who had been there. What they had spoken about, what they had wrote about. Of course, the materials were freely available, anyone could find out about it. I knew that they had received the information before me, that someone had passed it on a day or two earlier. I know that now, let’s not paint ourselves pretty pictures. There was information which was freely available - I think I couldn’t have harmed anyone with that... I have a lot of acquaintances who have seen their files, and we have remained friends, it’s okay, and we’ve known each other since the Seventies. If someone had... But others played their parts. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen my file, neither has my wife. Recently, they wrote to my wife from the Ministry of Interior to say that her file had been discarded sometime around the 8th of December 1989. So it doesn’t exist. I didn’t even try to search, because if her file was discarded, mine was too. But a lot of my acquaintances saw their files. ... They also tried for me to be a member of some group, for instance of the Jewish Congress. I told them: ‘I would be very suspicious, the only one from Eastern Europe, the only one who wants to work in the committee, it would be suspicious, it wouldn’t do any good.’ ... So they’d see through it, it’d leak out. So there was this kind of pressure for me to cooperate with the intelligence service. So they accepted that. They couldn’t say a word.”

  • “One time after Shavuot, I received a call from Mr Jung from the Ministry of Culture; he was the secretary for our Jewish community and among other things head of the people’s militia at the ministry. So he phoned me up and said: ‘Mr Rabbi, could you come over for a talk?’ - ‘Yes, of course.’ - ‘And Mr Rabbi, do you write your sermons?’ - ‘Yes, of course; I don’t remember them, so it’s safer to write them down.’ - ‘And could you bring with you the sermon you had for Shavuot?’ - ‘But of course.’ - It was Wednesday I think, so I went to Mr Jung, we had coffee and a cigarette, I gave him the sermon, he started reading... ‘Mr Jung, sorry for interrupting, but why did you invite me here? Coffee, cigarettes, fine. But apart from that, why?’ - ‘Oh, it’s okay, I just wanted to be in the know.’ - ‘And the sermon, is there something wrong in it? You summoned me here just because of the sermon? I don’t want to know who.’ - ‘No, no.’ Finally he admitted that they had been informed that I had had a Zionistic sermon. - ‘And is there anything Zionistic there?’ - ‘No, no.’ So we finished the cigarette and I went home. Fun things like that also happened.”

  • “From 1970, following the death of Rabbi Feder, the Prague Jewish Community had no one. There was one adept, he also studied in Budapest, but then he left to England and stayed there. I can’t blame him, because the authorities put him under enormous pressure. So he stayed in England. He was supposed to take up the function in 1972 or thereabouts. From then until 1984 there was no rabbi. Not in Bohemia, not in Prague. In Slovakia they had Mr Rabbi Katz. Not Eliah Katz, he moved to Israel in 1968 or 1969 and he was head rabbi in Be’er Sheva, but there was also Isidor Katz. They named him rabbi instead of Eliah Katz. He was rabbi in Bratislava until the early 1980s, but then he died and there was no rabbi in Slovakia until the revolution.”

  • “Then there were some conflicts with a Soviet student in Budapest. Presumably it passed on further up through the Czechoslovak and Soviet embassies. I was summoned, so of course if you wanted to complete the school... Simply, I was against the Soviet army and its methods. He told on me at the Soviet embassy, I know that now. The former student who denounced me is also here in Israel. I haven’t seen him, I don’t know where he lives. So I signed the cooperation.”

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    Haifa, Izrael, 28.02.2008

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I signed the cooperation, I don’t deny it. The other thing is to know what information you can give without harming anyone else

Mr and Mrs Mayer shortly after arriving in Israel, 1991
Mr and Mrs Mayer shortly after arriving in Israel, 1991
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Daniel Mayer was born in Městec Králové in 1957, his father was a soldier in the Czechoslovak foreign army who fought at Tobruk. His father was of Jewish faith, his mother converted to Judaism in 1956. After graduating from secondary school in 1977, he studied at the rabbinical school in Budapest. In 1979, following a conflict with one Soviet student during his studies, he was offered cooperation with State Security, under the threat of being expelled from school. After completing his studies he was named rabbi for Prague in May 1984. In June 1990 he resigned as rabbi, and left to Israel with his whole family a year later. He now lives in Haifa, Northern Israel.