Vladimír Šiler

* 1950  

  • "Terrible things have come. The Vltava radio station started broadcasting. The News began to be published. It was an occupation newspaper that was just terrible. The most shocking, brutal Soviet and East German propaganda. Really bad Czech. Grungy graphic design. They had an awful lot of them printed on them. We were shocked that there were collaborators among our fellow citizens who were bringing the News home. They were old communists. They shoved it in the boxes. They gave it to people. When we saw it, we made a noise. 'Look at them! Look at the informers! To the collaborators who spread the News!"

  • "The regime targeted the faith as such rather than the churches. It aimed at religious orientation. Inspections at workplaces took place along two lines. First, “What is your attitude toward 1968, the Prague Spring, to the Russian occupation?” The second line: “How did you, comrade, deal with the religious question?” That was terrible. Really humiliating and depressing. The regime forced people to pour the bucket of shit on their heads. To humble themselves. They were humiliated. And they said, 'Yes, I was wrong. Yes, I went to church. But I don't go there anymore. 'Just like in Orwell's 1984 novel, they were satisfied because you had to be ashamed of yourself. That's what they wanted. We saw it in our immediate neighbourhood. As we entered the spiritual practice, we saw everywhere in our parishes how the poor believers and their families had to go through it. One had to lie. People lived schizophrenically. Double-tracked. They went to church secretly. Baptism was possible in the neighbouring village. Weddings took place, for example, in Slovakia. We lived divided in some front lines and camps. They were here and we were hiding. And then we had an illegal fight. Resistance. Or something like that."

  • "There has been a lot of talk about Erika Kadlecová's sociological research. Survey of religiosity of the North Moravian Region. She was a Marxist sociologist who did the research sometime in the 1960s. Surprisingly, it turned out that the North Moravian Region is very pious. More pious than it ought to be. Than expected. Although the atheistic propaganda of the 1950s was the most disputed there. Both ideological and atheistic. In addition, the region has undergone a major demographic restructuring. People came from all sides. From Slovakia. And they thought that these people would be uprooted from their roots and their traditions. Therefore, they are more easily influenced by the socialist way of life. And it did not work. Surprisingly, it was here that piety remained more than in other regions of the republic."

  • We did everything differently than our dads advised "We had a major generation rebellion. We defined ourselves against the establishment. As we called it. Against our dads; against the world of adults. To the sensible who reasonably advised us. Towards those old wise men. We were truly revolutionary youth. When I later read The Revolting Man, I saw myself in it. That was exactly it. That was the generational defiance. We just wanted to do it differently. Now I can see that it was actually the belated existentialism of the 1950s. Camus and Sartre already said it twenty years ago. Then it came to us in some decoction. But what young people experienced in the West, we experienced it authentically with a certain delay as well. We wanted to be authentic. We wanted to do things our way. We wanted to be different. And that's why we deliberately did everything differently than dads recommended and advised."

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Let‘s not wait for someone to do it for us. We can change the world ourselves

Vladimír Šiler probably in 1968
Vladimír Šiler probably in 1968
zdroj: archiv Vladimíra Šilera

Vladimír Šiler was born on May 7, 1950 in Znojmo. The father worked as a clerk in the Motorpal factory and the mother remained at home. He spent his childhood in a city strongly marked by the expulsion of the Germans. During his studies at the grammar school, he excelled in mathematics and physics. He was also interested in history, literature, art and rock music. In the spring of 1968, he took part in a student demonstration in Znojmo for free municipal elections. In August, he took part in protests against the occupation. He started studying at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Brno. In April 1969 he transferred to the Hussite Theological Faculty in Prague. In 1974 he came to the Ostrava region with his wife Jana, also a priest. They created, reproduced and disseminated samizdat literature, and the witness was at the birth of the samizdat review Ars Boutique. They lived under the supervision of the state security, authorities and church bodies. In November 1989, Vladimír Šiler was one of the founders of the Civic Forum in the Ostrava region. He has been working at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ostrava since the 1990s.