Libor Pátý

* 1929  

  • "This teacher of Russian named Nevyčetal didn’t love me at all and wanted to square accounts with me. The Director asked: ‘What have you got against the student here?’ He replied: ‘He denounced marshal Stalin and for that he shall be expelled.’ – ‘But how did he denounce him and who will testify that?’ He said that I said about Stalin’s picture that it should either hang or lean against the wall – but about the picture. This was originally Burian’s (Czech comedian) statement, who said this long before about Hitler. And I only sort of echoed him. Director Papež responded: ‘Alright, professor, you shall clear this up before the teachers’ board and Pátý here will go home and stay there until the procedure is finished.’ So that’s how I was expelled from the grammar school and it didn’t take long before I received a letter stating that I was expelled from all schools in the country for political reasons."

  • "I encountered such a horrible treatment that it was in general alike to concentration camps as we knew them from the narration of the ones who went through the German ones. I asked myself a question how is it possible that the incarcerator – a Czech, Slovak or Hungarian – treated a fellow Czech this way. How was such humiliation and rudeness amongst the citizens of the same country possible? This was my first discovery; the other one was that in the army, dumbness and thoughtlessness took over and that all of the military upbringing, which every soldier needs to go through is carried by an only goal: to subdue the soldier through humiliation in order to make him a blunt mechanism, a machine instead of a warrior. In my former and also current opinion, a soldier should be. A soldier should become a warrior by following a certain idea and seeking ways to victory using his own brain. There was nothing like that in the army. When we enrolled in Svatá Dobrotivá, the highest-ranked Cpt. Ťoupalík came in front of us and told us: ‚The only things that will be left of you will be white bones and black badges.‘"

  • “Sure I believe that I could have already been a professor at that time. But still, I was happy with it. What I want to say is that when we speak about coming to terms with the past today, coping with the past, and understanding the overall state of our society and establishing certain criteria for judging where the society failed and where it didn’t, we can only speak about individuals. The fate of each individual and of each part of the society must be judged individually. Today, many people might say about me: what kind of a fighter against communism are you, if the communists awarded you with a docent’s degree? I could explain it to them in this way and thus show how misleading it is to establish come formal criteria for judging who was a communist, and who supported communism, and who fought against it.”

  • "Once, during the war, our music teacher played us Suk’s march Into New Life – a Sokol march which was played at the “Všesokolský slet” – a rally in Prague, and which even won some international prize for the best march. Trusting in us, he played it to us and it happened that this act became known, probably because of indictment, to inspector Werner. Inspector Werner was quite well-known – he used to be feared for visiting grammar schools in an attempt to set against the parents and the teachers, to ignite common suspicion. One of his directives was that whenever a discontent parent asked for their child’s grade to be amended, it had to be done so that it would be clear that the Germans were nice and the Czech teachers unreliable. So it happened that Werner came and investigated whether that happened. Of course, it didn’t take him long because he split the class up in two groups and asked them separately. In effect, prof. Novák was discharged straight away and ended up in Terezín camp a week later. Me and my classmate Červenka then needed to go to Kolín where we were further interrogated by the gestapo–-it was very uncomfortable, if not dangerous. I remember my mum joining us on our way to Kolín to create a sort of protection in case the Germans would want us to stay in prison."

  • "This was the day when the demonstration at Letná took place. Many of us were tired already and our lines thinned down. Except for Václav Havel and his wife, there was Jan Ruml, John Bok and me left. Unfortunately, we were sitting a couple steps above the ten students. John Bok was the first to take the floor and addressed the students rather roughly, in such sense: ‚What are you thinking, standing against us?‘ You see, he had a bit of a draw of a person who hadn´t been allowed to study. And of course this repelled the students. Václav Havel then needed to tell him: ‚John, enough of it, please stop!‘, and began addressing them himself, in a very conciliatory way, however without any effect. I sat next to Havel and he told me: ‚Mr. Docent, you know how to deal with students, talk to them yourself.‘ So I addressed them with these words: ‚Dear colleagues, today is not the time to clarify the concert of our positions. This must happen but we don’t have the time today. Today, it is necessary to undertake a final act of our effort, which is to organize a strike. It is very much needed for you to participate in it because if you didn’t the whole thing would be endangered. So, only one thing is to be discussed now – do you trust us? You don’t need to trust us in everything but at least the elementary direction – if you do, join us in the strike, it is a matter of trust.‘ I concluded with that. Now, imagine what happened–-and that is the greatest experience of my life. One of the ten students stood up and I recognized my senior student. He approached me, turned around to face them and said: ‚I know Mr. Pátý, he taught me and I have unlimited trust in him. And I think that if he has faith in the Civic Forum, there is no reason for me not to trust it as well. And I hereby appeal to all of you to proclaim faith in the Civic Forum."

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    Praha, 22.02.2011

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„Regardless of how tough the conditions are and how far the goal is, it is always flawed to say that someone ‚up there‘ is responsible and become passive.“

paty_dobove.jpg (historic)
Libor Pátý
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Prof. Libor Pátý was born in 1929 in Prague into a family of a bank clerk. His family moved to Poděbrady before the war. Since childhood, he sensed German aggression--in 1939 his uncle, a former legionary, was executed. A year later, Pátý begun studying at a grammar school in Nymburk where he experienced an event which resulted in his music teacher being sent to a concentration camp and himself witnessing at the gestapo. He did indeed greet the liberation by the Red Army, however, in the following years he became much more skeptical about communism and the Soviet influence. Just before the February 1948 revolution  he was (on the grounds of an imprudent statement and an ensuing indictment) expelled from school. He took the leaving exams in September at a different grammar school. He then enrolled to the Faculty of Natural Sciences to study math and physics. He was called to arms, though, before finishing his studies and assigned to the so-called auxiliary technical battalion (PTP) and worked in construction of ammunition shacks. He was released two years later, finished his studies and became assistant at the faculty. When his case of 1948 became known, he was fired and assigned to work in a lightbulb factory. He did eventually return to the faculty and was named docent in 1983. He organized scientific seminars and exhibitions and co-founded Circle of Independent Intelligentsia. He had a speech on 17 November 1989 at Albertov and in the following days co-founded Civic Forum. He was appointed deputy minister of education in the first post-communist government and it is mostly thanks to him that a new act on universities was adopted just before the first regular parliamentary elections. Since 1993, he has focused on the organization of seminars for teachers, on the support of European Cultural Club and collaboration with Czech Broadcast 6. He lives in Prague.