Václav Pták

* 1928  †︎ 2020

  • “I experienced the first contact with the members of Internal Security Forces during the Sokol festival right in 1948. We somehow chanted there at that time, we disobeyed. So they drove us into that, it was not underground then yet, but it was in Václavské square, where the underpass from Vodičkova Ave is. We were held in there for some time. Then we were individually taken and interrogated. And we had an overall feeling that nothing would come out of it. We said to ourselves: It ended up quite all right. They took our personal details and asked why we were doing it and such. Those were stereotypical answers. Everybody from our gang said almost the same. And we said: That's OK. Well, but it was not OK. They counted with the then made recordings that they would be as coherent as it all developed later. So they remembered that. And they reminded us of that later on. And we were students and we yielded to the desire to do something. So we also joined in. There were two basic groups of us. Of course it all leaked out." "Can I ask you a question? Was it in Prague?" "It was in Budějovice – there was one group there and Smíchov group was the second one. They were in contact with one another, they were simply coordinated. Well, and (later) it all leaked out from a completely different source than we suspected. They accepted a girl, an only child. I even didn't know her. But when they characterized her later she was an only child who in fear lost all her courage and said even things that she didn't have to. So it was how they got to know about us. But still it was not the end of it. We didn't know that the girl was talking. She didn't boast with that so we didn't know that. But it was all revealed then when we had some links to guiding people – and not only across the border. But there was always a way for those who needed to cross the border. Such people couldn't go on foot or go by train or by bus. We always found a way from one station to another.”

  • “And may I ask you how you lived out the 1989 when Communism fell?" "In hospital. We were all (patients) packed in front of the television. I had such a wide sticking plaster on my stomach, I held it and we ran down there (where the television was). So the first days – I was operated on the day before – the situation was very tense. But we didn't expect that to break so fast. At least in our conditions. So I was in hospital then. And when I came (home) and recovered from it, so the new regime started being formed. I really minded that people who should have gone fly kites, they were pushing their ways upwards. And they succeeded, unfortunately. Well, and I still wanted to go for it, so I started (to work) in the new village administration.”

  • “And then we got in a scrape when I (did my military service) with one, his name was also Evžen Andres – the boy was a Volynian Czech, as I said, whose father was hanged and he had to watch it. So then – I served in 1953 when the monetary reform came. And I served in Frýdek-Místek and in Opava. Well, and we simply protected Ostrava. What happened in Plzeň was not expected at that place at all. It was expected in Ostrava because there were rich miners. And they changed the money 1:50 so they expected a response. So it was all protected there. And Evžen said at that time that when it kind of... (broke out he would help the agents.) He joined the machine gun group even if he was a sub-machine gun boy. And he intended to start from behind – some of them who would be there (soldiers). Because there was a training counting with the possibility that the western guys would provoke and what would they do, how would they... So there had to be a hermetic wall of socialism defenders, OK. So Evžen thought he would attack them from behind. We were very lucky – and I stupidly promised him then that I would even help him. And he asked a few more boys – we were very lucky that they (headquarters) examined then. And those of us who already had some misdemeanor, we were not admitted there. We only were there by cars and there we were only a facade without any possibility to do something. We were very lucky because if he had realized it then... You can see here in Plzeň , those guys in their fifties, so only for involvement and for some shouting... I myself was not in Plzeň (at that time), I was where I'm telling you but as the people keep telling me, because they are also confederacy members, they were sentenced for three to five years. Only because of marching in a procession and shouting something. So that thing, it would be really very bad. Lord God saved us from that by their making examinations.”

  • “There was a great pilgrimage on the feast of St Cyril and Metoděj in 1985. Were you there?" "Of course we were. We were there and many of us from Plzeň were there. And it was such a first public performance, a demonstration of people's will against Communism. The main speaker was Klusák, the minister of culture. By the way, he was the son-in-law of Svoboda the president. And he had a great speech there. But he was silenced, given to the birds many times. It was at the beginning. And then you could see that the Communist elite spread in the crowd: 'Come on, guys, don't shout!' they were directing it. 'And it is bullshit what you're saying. He is right. Listen to him!' And they went like that. I remember that I also told one of them then: 'Shut up or we will trample you here.' And he said something. And I said: 'Hey, pass him on to me.' And like a snake in high grass he zigzagged and disappeared. He was one of them. And there I saw what the youth the (catholic) religious orders had for the first time. When I talk about Franciscans again, for example the Plzeň guys appeared publicly in habits there for the first time – as students. That guy was in my group. He came from Doubravka and he was in my group, but we didn't know about one another (any details). Suddenly I came there and saw him in his habit. I said: 'Vašek, alright?' And he said. 'Well, you know it now.' There were so many young people there! Both nuns and theology students. But some of them gave it up later, not everybody finished it. But the Communists had to be thunderstruck to see what was actually growing under their hands, under that strict regime. They were sure they had informers everywhere and there was something growing up through their fingers over there. It must have been a shock for them. The archbishop Tomášek also performed publicly and fearless there. It was simply a Republic within a Republic at that moment.”

  • “What they were hurt most by during interrogations was – as we found out – that we were organized from the religion point of view. And there were also people who lectured us and exactly knew what they wanted. For example, the JOC movement (Jocism) was founded in France at that time. That was very painful for them that we were formed from this point of view. And they themselves were very scared of it, we felt fear in all their acting, what would happen if it turned the other way. It was the undertow of it all. They were like: we are strong, there is no other force that could beat us, those were such... Pity you're so young and haven't experienced those... You often see the events shot at that time on TV – simply those presentations of power, so to say, both weapons and people. We are invincible. But you always felt fear in them. I don't want to boast but I don't think my psychology knowledge is so poor that I couldn't understand them. I only somehow felt that undertow of fear in it. And then, when any kind of danger or suspicion appeared that there was arising such movement, then they were scared. Things like that someone went there and then, how to put it, a would-be strong expression of something, that he would do some petty sabotage. It was such a one-off action, they weren't scared of it at all because they could liquidate it overnight. But this, when you were learning something, they were scared of this because it was not possible to liquidate it overnight.”

  • “At the beginning when the political prisoners were alone and were not mixed up with criminals, you could settle many things. But then there were kind of three groups: thieves, it meant stealing socialistic properties. Then there were so called 'screws'. Do you know what it means?" "Some sexual offences?" "Those were for example teachers who had some flings with children. So those guys were flexible and informers among political prisoners recruited from those. For example there came a chap to us, he was a secretary of the country council of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, a head of people's militia. And he was imprisoned. We didn't get out of him how many years he got nor what for. Probably for some theft or something. We avoided him this far because he informed on us. Or there came a group from Škoda Works, there was some stealing there. They were carting something and were caught red-handed. The boys were given some half a year or three quarters of a year, something about one year. Unexpectedly there was a colleague of mine who worked with me in the construction section when I worked there. So we met there. Well, he had something carted as well and then he got the worst of it. And there was also a guy very friendly at the beginning, he was also from Škoda Works but I didn't know him then. And he befriended us, he was fine, OK. And then all of a sudden (prisoner) Vili told me: 'Be careful about him, he's watching you.' So we were careful about him and he was really watching me. I was his charge. We had to keep our distance from him. Or I remember that a nice chap stuck to me once. He was smiling and started talking to me and asking me questions. And I felt something fishy right since the very beginning. You see, such people who are too nice, who smile, especially women, they are those to worry about most. He was talking to me (a lot of interesting things). However, it was very interesting that he started asking me questions that I was used to being asked at interrogations very often, it was about the second or the third day when we went for a walk. And I got the feeling this instant: Be careful! Secondly, people say: If you want to get to know something you must listen but not talk. There was Láďa Horáček there, an artillery colonel. And when we came (from the walk), he told me: 'Václav, take care of yourself.' And I had no idea why. The guys were passing by there. He told me the second day: 'Václav, do not stumble over, take care of yourself.' I thought it was strange. So I went and said to him: 'Láďa, could you possibly be more specific?' And he said: 'This is Hromádka,' it was the guy's name. The colonel was in prison for life so he was careful. 'This is Hromádka, ask about him...' There was a boy (Jirka), well a boy – he was in his thirties – and he was one of the nuclear construction scientists. He was sentenced to 25 years at that time and he was also imprisoned for a Catholic event. And that Hromádka was responsible for his ten more years. So I asked the boys and they explained everything to me. So then I treated Hromádka the way he deserved." "And he was some kind of an agent?" "He was an ordinary prisoner, who worked for them. Exactly as the guy about whom (prisoner) Vili told me. They were old hands, they had very sensitive noses because they could smell it immediately.”

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    Záluží u Třemošné, 12.06.2009

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Luckily, they couldn‘t read my mind.

Václav Pták
Václav Pták
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Václav Pták was born in Záluží, near Třemošná on July 9th, 1928. Having finished his blacksmith training, he graduated from the Secondary School of Engineering. After his graduation, he studied at the Czech Technical University in Prague. However, after the vetting he was expelled in 1949. As an active Sokol movement member, he also took part in Slet (a Sokol festival) in June 1948, where he became involved with the State Security for the first time. He helped to guide people in 1949-1950, and also participated in ensuring the passage through the Republic for those who were unsuitable for the Communist regime. He did his military service in 1951-1953. He served in Ostrava region during the times of the monetary reform. Mr Pták became a member of the Third Order of St Francis, in which he has been active since then. He also joined the club Catholic Actions stemming from Jocism (Young Christian Workers). It was the reason for his arrest in November 1957. After his detention of remand he was sentenced for his crime of subverting the Republic in March 1958. He was imprisoned in a solid jail in Plzeň Bory in 1957-1960. He worked as a draftsman (in the Škoda Works before his arrest). After his release he worked in Škoda Works in Plzeň - first as a worker and later as a draftsman starting in 1965. He worked as a draftsman in the factory Výstavba first and then later in the Factory of Nuclear Engineering. Mr Pták was the founding member of K 231 and the Confederacy of Political Prisoners in Plzeň. He was active in religion even at the time of Normalization. He took part in secret meetings of the Third Order of St Francis. He kept in touch with monks and that was the reason for his frequent interrogations and being spied on by the State Security. He retired in 1990, and was shortly active in the village administration. He was still active in the Confederacy of Political Prisoners and in the Third Order of St Francis, where he sat in the National Council for a long time.