Jan Rampich

* 1966

  • “The house search was preceded by that for May 6 we had called a celebration of Pilsen’s liberation by the U.S. Army in the Peace Square. It was I who organised the event, alongside Mr Jiří Šašek and Mr Jindřich Kolář. We officially announced it at the municipality. Three days before the event they banned it, of course. All were arrested, put in the cells, I was taken to Kralovice to the forests where I was left. And on the same day, May 6, an article on me was published in Pilsen’s edition of Pravda, which was a communist daily. It was evident they would put me in prison. It was because of the Several Sentences — someone informed on me. I learned this when I was interrogated at Bory. I was prosecuted without custody. First it was a crime with prison sentences from three months to three years, then on Thursday they came to collect me and said it was reclassified by the attorney to a prison sentence from one year to five years. Meanwhile, though my lawyer, we filed a complaint against the article and asked for an apology. This, naturally, angered them even more, it was the first press complaint in Pilsen against communists since 1948.”

  • “For me, punk was the hardest musical stance against society. It does not matter what kind of society. And it does not matter who rules. It is a revolt. Besides that I like the music.” — “And a revolt against what, in particular?“ — “Against everybody that is above us. We had the experience with the communists, so we understood it as a revolt against the regime. In the West, it was divided. Half of the punk was strongly leftist, while the other half saw it as a protests, and this was the side we belonged to. We were not leftist, definitely not.” — “And punk music unified it.” — “Very much, but it united all people around the rock music, as we were on the same ship. I have this experience from an Odyssey concert, I had the mohican on my head, as the only one. I was there with my friends, head-bangers from Pilsen, and when I went to get a beer, a long-haired huge man said what was it I had on my head and was about to attack me. He had ACDC tattooed on his arm. This was in 1984, I think. And I told him: ‘Before you beat me up, I can tell you the names of all ACDC members. I like them, you like them, I have all of their records at home…’ He was much surprised. So I made it clear to him that he liked ACDC, I liked Sex Pistols and if we got into a fight, the police would arrest and beat both of us. Is it worth it? He sat down, put a hand on me shoulder, gave me a beer and me and the whole Přeštice band were friends.”

  • “We entered my bedsit, there was my wife. The room was quite empty, everything was cleared away. I thought, everything was fine. Then the search started, the officers even checked the toilet reservoir. One of them made the report, he looked into a table drawer, I can remember it like it were yesterday. There was one copy of Infoch, left there by my wife. The police office looked at it, looked around if anyone was looking at him, closed the drawer and wrote down: ‘Table OK’. And this was a secret police officer. The other one was the same. He looked into a wardrobe. There was some paper too. He reported that everything was fine, just some socks. So the Secret Police found only some papers, foreign booklets and two papers with Several Sentences, but unsigned. So they seized my typewriter and things like these. In that moment, by an accident, my flatmate opened the door, he was bringing me some tapes. And before he noticed the police officers, he said he was bringing me the Plastic People of the Universe. But they were not interested any more. He left it there and fled. What was most bizarre was that I and Martin were to get going printing our journal. He rang the bell. The officers told me to open the door. I went to the alcove, saw who was by the door. And Martin shouted loudly: ‘Jan, we must finish it’. And I shouted back: ‘Martin, search.’ This was what my house search looked like.”

  • “So they wrote down that I would not move, then I had a peace for a fortnight , then they found out that I was present on some demonstrations, so they increased the pressure, rather a lot I would say. After a year, they gave me my passport, this was in 89, the same year I married my second wife. We wanted to go to Hungary for a holiday. Meanwhile, there was the Several Sentences campaign, a number of concerts and events. We went to see Budapest, Balaton and other sights. We arrived home and about a week later they came for me, quite suddenly. Well, we edited the journal, we were to move the stencils, the third issue was in the making already, I had it in my flat, in that bedsit. I was on my way to work, about seven, when the Secret Police arrived. They took me to their office in Slovany, put me in the cell and said they were going to see to something. The officer who stayed there said they went to the attorney for a house search warrant. I was done. I had all the journal in my flat, all texts. And, moreover, my wife would be impacted by it, as she was there, after her night shift in the bakery.”

  • “I must return to 1988. I had enough, it got on my nerves. In summer I went to police’s passport department, asking for an approval to emigrate. I decided myself. I really had enough. So I settled everything in my job, I didn’t have to pay for school since I had none, my military service… it was the quickest administrative action I ever witnessed. They wanted to get rid of me everywhere. I did everything in a single day and everywhere they gave me a stamp, ascertaining that they would not miss me. I had no problems in my job, they said it was my business if I wanted to leave. The only thing I didn’t have was a statement from another country that they would accept me. Austria used to issue these. It was in summer. But then I thought it over, I put the documents in my drawer. This was the only month I was not interrogated at all in five years. They gave you a month to move out. But then I came to my work and the foreman, my good friend, told me, ‘What are you still doing here?’ I reminded him I had told him already I would not go. He said no one believed me anyway. As soon as he spoke, the door opened and there was the Secret Police. They came for me, they wanted to solve the matter, they wanted to expand my deadline. They were even willing to drive me to any embassy. Or event to the border. But I told them I was not going anywhere. So they said they would put me in prison. I expected that. I even had my toothbrush, toothpaste and toilet paper on me. And they said we would go directly to the detention cell.”

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Punk was a revolt against all that is above us

Jan Rampich was born on May 30, 1966, in Pilsen. His father was Czech-Slovenian, a projectionist and labourer at the Railway Maintenance and Engineering Works (ŽOS), his mother was the telephone operator at Communications Company.  His brother Erik is nine years younger. The witness finished his primary school in 1981, then went on to study the Secondary Technical School in Pilsen. From the age of fifteen, he dedicated more attention to hard music than school and subscribed to the punk lifestyle. At that time his parents divorced. He used to flee home, attended concerts, went to Prague to hang around with his friends from the punk scene. His look was provocative, was often summoned for interrogations by the Secret Police. He failed to complete his school and went on to work in the Railway Maintenance and Engineering Works in Pilsen. Since the mid-1980s his originally purely music punk interest merged with political protest, although he did not want to do politics. He used to sign various petitions, in 1986 he signed Charter 77, in summer 1989 Several Sentences. He distributed Infochy, the samizdat journal Vokno, established and edited from his bedsit the journal Pevná hráz. He was criminally prosecuted for his activities but before the trial could take place the November revolution came. After 1989 he worked in various jobs, spent a year and a half in the Netherlands around 2012, where he worked as a welder. He has not children and has been married five times.