Jiří Pavlíček

* 1945

  • “I worked at the pub at the train station in Mělník. I would come home, one time my wife Květa even struck on the head with a hefty ash tray; I just shuddered. And one time one Sunday - because we were open from Monday to Friday, the opening hours were from eight or nine to three o’clock, and Saturdays and Sundays were free - and so I went to Mělník. Things weren’t working well between me and Květa because I wouldn’t reign in the drinking. That Sunday I was drinking at the now defunct Blue Star Pub on the lower square, which was very beautiful before the Communists demolished it. I was on my way back to Tišice, and to my misfortune, the train was delayed. It’s the crossroads to Lysá, to Děčín, to Prague, and to Turnov. So everyone gathered there. And seeing that I was pissed, I needed the toilet, the bog. It was 25 February, Victory February. And [I asked] if anyone had an issue of Rudé právo or some other daily, that I need to shit. Then some talk of Ludvík Svoboda, that they carry him to the toilet like Franz Josef. Someone reported me, and I was picked up by two cops who used to come drink beer at our pub.”

  • “We used to go visit Father Zdeněk Bárta in Chotiněves, to the so-called ‘Mondays’, which were every first Monday of the month. I was lucky to get to know the Christian dissent there - Syrovátka, Míla Vašina, and many others used to attend. And doctor Zorka Bártová always baked sweet rolls, bread, and she made good salads. And this always went on into the morning, when we returned home. Back then I brought Václav Havel along. Vláďa Mlynář was supposed to be there, and I told him I’d bring Havel. So I visited him at the river bank and asked him if he’d be willing to come to Chotiněves one time. He knew about it, Viktor Parkán had his squat there back then, and Havel would visit that community. And by a fluke of chance, Vláďa Mlynář came there as well. There was a panel discussion. Zora Bártová was pregnant at the time, so there was a complete ban on smoking. But you couldn’t imagine what that did to Havel, who was a passionate smoker. He twisted his hands between his legs, almost knotting his legs around his neck, that’s how strongly he wanted to smoke. In the end, they gave him permission, and he lit up one. That annoyed me.”

  • “I got my hands on this book, or, brochure, which was written by Karel Srp, chairman of the Jazz Section, a long time after 1989. I searched around second hand shops, and I pulled it out of the shelf to have a look at who all was in it. And I found my own name among those 196. It ranged from Václav Havel, Václav Benda, Petr Uhl, to Heřman Chromá and Marcela Chromá. We were all there. The list was situated in February 1989. If the unrest continued, the Communists would declare martial law and imprison those 196 names. There were four colour categories - one would be interned in some concentration camp, others would be put in a room with a noose around the neck and about thirty centimetres of space covered by floor. The way it was supposed to happen was that the floor was to open up, and you’d be hanging from the rope. It wasn’t specified whom this set-up was for. And then the question is whether it would be better to die immediately by hanging, or slowly and in a much crueller way in a concentration camp?” [Editor’s note: The list was printed in the book “Výjimečné stavy – povolání Jazzová sekce”, published by Pragma in 1994.]

  • “We were on Národní Street on November 17; we walked from Albertov up to Vyšehrad, and then to Národní Street. I remember that Kryštof Rimský, the stepson of John Bok, was there as well. He was a tiny guy, he suffers from a heart disease, and I and one other guy had to pick him up because otherwise the crowd would trample him down. They made us pass through this nasty corridor of policemen who were waiting and beating everyone with a baton. They nearly emasculated me; I got a terrible blow to my thigh. Fortunately I am not that big kind of a man and they did not hit the said organ…It ended well, and then I went to search for Kryštof. I was very lucky, because I happened to run into a uniformed policeman and I told him about what had happened. The policeman let me get among them, in their line of armed policemen who were there to beat people. One of them tried to grab me, but this policeman protected me, telling the other one to stop because I had somebody I knew there. Therefore they did not make me get into Black Mary with others. The guy later returned by himself. But I did have a nice big bruise on my thigh, that’s true.”

  • “I was taking my daughter Adéla with me every time I was summoned for an interrogation – it was quite naïve of me... I had read some book about the Protectorate era, and it was about a man who was walked through Prague with his son and the Gestapo men left him alone because they didn’t want to have troubles with the child. That guy was no ordinary man, but he was an active member of some group. And so I decided to go there with my daughter, and for quite a long time it worked well, because the interrogation would usually start and end right away by my refusal to speak, claiming that what I would tell them might be used against me. One day I got summoned to Mělník, and there was first lieutenant Šípek – we used to call him Balls-Kicker, because he liked to kick gentlemen in the crotch. Allegedly, he was even the head of the Prague department. ‘So, Mr. Pavlíček, we have an offer for you to leave the country.’ I replied that it was not that easy – and they gave me some time to think it over. ‘We will come again in two weeks. You can take a family member whom you want, and you can choose a country, and you will be out of here within a month.’ I sought advice from other people, because what mattered most was my child. I thought that I would do some writing abroad and try sending it here... I was actually at peace with the fact that I would thus save the child from being sent to a children’s home. But if that was to happen, Anička Šabatová or the Dus family would take care of her, that would not be a major problem. But why should I have my child brought up by somebody else... Then I met Heřman Chromý who advised me not to do it. We wrote a letter, even before the two-week deadline was out. This first lieutenant Šípek arrived for the interrogation, and he was very angry. I was there with Adéla again. He ordered me: ‘Take all things out from your pockets, we are taking your child, and we will have her sent to be brought up in another family, and we will put you in prison.’ She started crying; she was eight years old. He was swinging his hands and it seemed that he would hit me… But I have to say that I have never been beaten by StB policemen. He turned to a female colleague: ‘Comrade, call the social care department to come for Adéla.’ The pressure was great. I grew stubborn and I repeated that I would not leave the country, and he began persuading me, and then he took a sheet of paper to sign the order for my detention... I suspected that things would not get that bad, but to see my child crying was terrible.”

  • “The Independent Peace Association: we were organizing quite large meetings on Letná. But I have never been there, because they would always come to pick me up either from home or work. Hanka Marvanová was very active in that. But I don’t have a positive experience with her later on. Five years later we had a meeting of people involved in the Charter at the Prague Castle. I was looking forward to meeting everybody from the Independent Peace Association there, including her. I greeted her, and she said that she did not know me and that she had never heard of me. But we had been in touch every day back then! Well, I felt sorry about it. At that time we were printing color pamphlets to the anniversary of Jan Palach’s self-immolation in the Sokol gym in Vysočany, together with another issue of the bulletin. There were lot of us, about ten people, and StB police suddenly arrived there. We jumped out of the window and ran away through the gardens and we managed to escape. We even managed to burn all the pamphlets. Pepík Mara, Luboš Vydra – those names are forgotten, but it is a pity, because they have done a lot of beneficial work. Jan Vimr, too… We wanted to hold a meeting of the Independent Peace Association somewhere away from Prague, and Jan organized everything. He himself ordered a bus and he paid for it himself. For the StB police, this was the same as a red rag to a bull. We went to some lodge in a place near Česká Lípa. There we discussed things… and the StB appeared there again, and they even took the People’s Militia with them, the forest was swarming with them. There is some document about it, too. They began surrounding the lodge; actually, the situation was almost comical. Then they started taking us to various police stations in the vicinity. We actually even felt honoured that they paid so much attention to us.”

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To help others, above all, and not live just for oneself

Meeting of the Transnational Radical Party, Špalíček - Jiří Pavlíček
Meeting of the Transnational Radical Party, Špalíček - Jiří Pavlíček
zdroj: Archiv Jiřího Pavlíčka

Jiří Pavlíček was born in November 1945 in Mělník. The family soon moved to Liberec to an apartment which had been abandoned by deported Sudeten Germans. When he was fifteen, Jiří became an alcohol addict and it took him the following twenty-five years to overcome it. He divorced twice as a result of his addiction and he was imprisoned two times. When working in the power plant in Horní Počaply he became acquainted with Heřman Chromý who became his lifelong friend and thanks to whom he began to get to know other dissidents as well. After Jiří‘s second divorce, the authorities entrusted his daughter Adéla into his care. At that time he worked as an orderly in the hospital at Karlovo Square in Prague. In 1985 he won his battle over alcohol addiction, he signed Charter 77 and with the help of Petr Uhl he became actively involved in the dissent work. He was copying and spreading information on Charter 77 and various pamphlets and copying books. Together with other colleagues they established the Independent Peace Association and he helped with the organization of Symposium 88 and various demonstrations. He was summoned for interrogation many times and the authorities tried to intimidate him into emigrating from the country. After the Velvet Revolution at first he became involved in the Transnational Radical Party, then he established the Movement for Humanizing Healthcare and he served as a parish clerk in the protestant parsonage in Mělník, worked as an orderly in an institute for long-term patients and in a seniors‘ home. Now he still continues with this work as a volunteer, and he also does volunteer work for the evangelical church.