Jiří Rak

* 1924

  • “We had our club room where the Břevnov monastery is. There was the Vojtěška there [a summer house in the monastery garden - transl.]. They let us use one room. We could run all over the whole garden - that was something! But at five o’clock [the gardener] let the dogs out, so we had to be gone by then. One time we forgot, and now we were thinking: ‘The dogs are out, now what? On the way to the graveyard there’s a low wall, we have to jump over it!’ We legged it and heard barking behind us. Vláďa was tall, so he did like this with his back, and I clambered up and over. But the Scouting was great. I learnt a lot there. We had to know trees, stars, the sky, orientation in the wild. We formed various patrols, we had tests. Say, who could tie knots, passed a test and got a badge with a picture of a knot on it. Or Mirek, he liked to cook. It was a wonderful experience and we were good friends. There were about eight to ten of us in our patrol. We were led by the son of the monastery’s gardener - Karel Morávek. An awfully tall person.”

  • “His name was Balovčin, and one time we nailed his boots to the floor. We came back from training one time and found all our things in a mess. Suitcase emptied out, bedding strewn about. ‘You’ll have it cleared up here in an hour! As clean as glass!’ And so after that we nailed his boots to the floor. He put them on and nearly broke his legs. ‘Who did it?’ No one owned up. He didn’t find out. And that was terrible. You had a suitcase, and they emptied it out on to the floor. He’d say: ‘Open the suitcase! Open that suitcase!’ Everything had to be ordered exactly as he wanted it to be. He was such a blighter! So that’s how it was in the army. It was quite the fun, but it was also pretty tough at times.”

  • “We would attend Mass at nine o’clock at the Břevnov monastery and sing in Latin. We were taught by Father Robert. We had these white gowns girded with a blue string, cingulum it was called. We sang during Mass, that’s where I met Jiří Svoboda. He died already, unfortunately. He brought us to Scouting. Vláďa and Mirek came as well. It was Catholic Scouting, Legio Angelica.”

  • “I saw him once, but that was after the revolution, when he had a sermon in the Vojtěška. A friend of mine, Jirka Svoboda, said: ‘That’s not a priest, that’s an actor!’ He was good with people. A great priest and also a Scout. But we didn’t have him in Scouting, except for the Patronage. They also screened short American cartoons there. We always went there on Sunday.”

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    Olomouc, 28.01.2014

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We fooled around, but in the things that mattered, we kept together

Rak_dobf.jpg (historic)
Jiří Rak
zdroj: archiv J. Raka

Jiří Rak was born on 5 August 1924 in Prague as the eldest of the six children of Josef and Terezie Rak. His father was a Czechoslovak legionary and an artist. The witness spent his early childhood in Radotín; shortly after the birth of his third younger sibling, the family moved to Břevnov. There he completed primary school. During Sunday Mass at St Margaret‘s Church, he made the acquaintance of Jiří Svoboda and Karel Morávek, who initiated him into Christian Scouting in the Catholic altar servers‘ society Legio Angelica (LA). He became and advisor, and shortly before the war he became active in the Jeleni (Deer) Troop. He met with his friends from the troop even after LA was banned in autumn 1940. During World War II he learnt to be a decorator, he took to amateur theatre. In 1944 he was allocated to forced labour at the Ruzyně airport, where he repaired German planes. The end of the war found him in the village of Brázdim near Prague, the home of a girl he was dating at the time. After the war he returned to LA, and in June 1945 he helped establish a new Scout troop at what was called the Camp of Seven. In the autumn of the following year he began his compulsory military service at the 105th Artillery Regiment in Košice. While there he met his future wife. After their marriage they lived in Prague-Břevnov. They had two children, but their younger son died while yet a child. From 1948 Jiří Rak worked as a hand lettering artist at a studio in Žižkov. In the 1950s he was fired because of his class origin and family history (his father was a self-employed, non-party man, and a legionary to boot); until his retirement he worked as a mechanic at Tesla Hloubětín. In the 1980s he divorced and moved to Olomouc with his second wife, where he lives to this day.