Interviewer: “How come you got baptized?” Respondent: “I had the luck of having the company of clerics in prison. I often sat with them during their discussions of religious issues. I was just listening to their conversation. I didn’t talk at all because I had nothing to add. I just listened and got to know them. They were discussing, for instance, the Ten Commandments and each commandment took them about a week to discuss. They discussed every imaginable aspect of it! Their conversations were very philosophical. I just sat there, watched and listened to their deliberations like a small and stupid boy. I got to know them well. They weren’t begging for a pardon, for a conditioned release from prison or anything like that. They accepted their destiny because they believed that it was God’s purpose to have them in prison. They said that God ‘needed them where they were’. You know, a lot of people are criticizing the clerics, their hierarchy, their selfishness, they are saying that the priests are stuffing their bellies, or that the celibate is hypocrisy as they have kids with their maids. I have seen them in a different way.”
“I once ran into Húska, an aesthetics and philosophy professor. He was a Slovak from Bratislava and a great hater of all Czechs. At the same time, he was a devout Catholic. Every morning he would pray: ‘My Lord set Slovakia free and relieve it of the chains that were put on it by the Czechs.’ I was the only one who didn’t get into a fight with him. I was calling him a doctor and he called me a colleague. He wouldn’t let a Czech call him by his first name.”
Interviewer: “Have you ever regretted that you were in jail?” Respondent: “Not at all. You will be surprised but the thing that helped me the most in my life was jail. In prison, I learned so much about religion, philosophy or art history. I wouldn’t have learned all this if I hadn’t been in jail. At every table, people were discussing some area of human life. If you wanted to change the topic, all you had to do was to move to the next table. It was a very prolific time for me. I learned a lot there. It is a part of life that you know something even though it’s never gonna be your job. My technical education, that I acquired later, enabled me to eork in a great profession. I made a good living with it.”
“The policemen gave us guns and we had to come with them and seize the munitions magazine. The guards, called Werkschutz, were old men and they didn’t put up any resistance. It was very easy to do. But what really struck me was that when we entered the room, our people started to loot the place. How is it possible that people all of a sudden start to grab things that are not theirs? Everything of any value was taken.”
“When the strike began in Leopoldov, they sent a commission from the Ministry of the Interior. The ‘commission’ was border guards with machine guns. They opened the door to our cells and came in with their machine guns and dogs. Now, those, who had been the loudest before, were now silent. They said: ‘so what are your demands? What do you want’? The silence was oppressing. I couldn’t take it anymore and so I stepped out of the back and told them what we were demanding. They put me in handcuffs and I was put in the wires, the bombardment area. The next day I was put into solitary confinement for half a year.”
“A society based on mutual trust and cooperation should be created.”
Otakar Raulím was born on 21 October, 1924, in Liberec (Reichenberg in German). At that time, Liberec had a predominantly German population. His father, Jan Raulím, was a legionnaire who fought in Italy in the First World War. He was also a fervent Czechoslovak patriot. After the German annexation of the Sudetenland the family was forced to leave Liberec and move to the interior of the country. They finally settled in Český Brod. Otakar attended a higher school of industry with the focus on forestry in Chrudim. In 1942, he was arrested for helping prisoners of war in Rychnov near Jablonec, where he was visiting his grandmother. He was throwing food to the POWs over a fence. For this offence, he was imprisoned by the Gestapo in Liberec for eight months. He was also placed in a coal mine in Žacléř. He was then released home. The next year he was conscripted for forced labor in the Third Reich. He worked in the Junkers works in Leipzig but returned to the Protectorate after a week. By coincidence, he got a job nearby his home in Smržovka and later even closer in Semily. That‘s where he was at the end of the war, after which he briefly joined the army. In September 1945, he began to study the Forestry College in the Slovak city of Zvolen, where he stayed till 1948. After the Communist coup of February 1948, he was forced to leave the University as he had strong anti-Communist views. He was drafted to the army and did his military service in the borderlands nearby Hora sv. Šebestiána. He served as a signalman at a meteorological station. He was secretly crossing the border to Germany and got as far as France. In France, he got into contact with the French secret intelligence service and started to work for them. He was informing the service about events in Czechoslovakia. He was arrested under unclear circumstances by the Czechoslovak military counterintelligence and brutally interrogated in the ‘Domeček‘ (the ‚little house‘) in Hradčany. A year later he was tried as an agent of the imperialist world and sentenced to 18 years of incarceration for treason and espionage. He barely escaped the death sentenced - only because the Secret state police (StB) didn‘t have clear evidence. Otakar Raulím spent the next fourteen years in Communist prisons till he was released in 1964. Today, he is the chairman of the Liberec branch of the Confederation of Freedom Fighters.