PhDr. Milan Šmíd

* 1944

  • “At that time, I was telling myself: I’m not lying to people, I’m only telling them half of the truth, but I’m not lying to them. I have to say that one is mistaken in thinking this because if you tell half of the truth, you are in fact lying. Inwardly, I somehow felt this and thus I decided I wouldn’t do it anymore, in 1973 I ended my career as a foreign news TV journalist who was appearing on the screen.”

  • “Each of us has this border line for compromise set at a different level. Some people claim that I had set mine too far, but I have set it in accordance with my consciousness and conscience. I have somewhat divided this system for myself: one part is formed by universal human values, and within this part it’s important to remain honest, and then there is an additional level, which is formed by political values. I have a theory that every person who didn’t want to be in the absolute opposition against the regime and thus be separated from all activity, had to make some smaller or greater compromise…”

  • “It was 1970, and unlike in 1968-69, the normalization was already pressing heavily on you. I was married, my wife was in the sixth month of pregnancy, I had no place to live, I couldn’t expect anything from my wife’s family; on the contrary, her mother had been sacked from her job and her father had died, my parents were retired. In a situation like this, one begins to think differently. I had such a theory which proved helpful, I thought: It doesn’t matter whether I want to be there, but what matters is whether they want me to be there. If they don’t want me, I can’t do anything about it, if they do, I will be there. Thus I wrote a letter of two paragraphs, while others were writing lengthy essays and donning sackcloth and ashes. I wrote a very brief letter, stating: ´Dear Sirs, I had joined the Communist Party because the ideals of socialism, or Marxism, respectively, were not alien to me, and neither are they now.´ And I expressed my wish to remain there. – ´Dear comrade, what you wrote is not sufficient. You need to express yourself about the event more extensively.´ So I really did write a letter. Later I had my son read it, and he said: ´Well, that really had to be tough.´ I told him: ´You don’t understand it, we were using such language, and I obviously did not approve of the entry of foreign armies. I only wrote that I understood that in the international context of the situation which occurred in the course of the Cold War, from the perspective of our allies it was possible to understand this entry of their armies. I used such roundabouts to avoid it.´”

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I am not ashamed of my having joined the Communist Party. But I can be ashamed of the fact that I haven’t left the Party the moment I realized that there was no future in it

"A killed student"  Martin Šmíd
"A killed student" Martin Šmíd
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

  Milan Šmíd was born September 5, 1944. His father, an entrepreneur, was arrested on October 10, 1949 and he spent two years in a forced labour camp. Due to his father‘s unfavourable personal profile, in 1958 Milan Šmíd was not admitted to a secondary school. He thus took a vocational training as a typesetter in the state-owned company Knihtisk. Following the father‘s arrest, an atmosphere of fear prevailed in the family, followed by an effort at conformity. In 1965, after going through his military service, Milan Šmíd was admitted to the Faculty of Education and Journalism of Charles University, and at the same time he joined the Communist party. Shortly after the Soviet invasion in August 1968 he went to England where he found a job with the Associated Press, but he returned two weeks later because of his girlfriend who was not allowed to leave Czechoslovakia. In autumn 1969 he was offered permanent employment in the department of foreign news in the Czechoslovak Television, and a year later he passed the Party‘s check - even though, as he emphasizes, he has never explicitly expressed an agreement with the entry of the Warsaw Pact armies. In 1973 he stopped appearing on the screen, but he continued working in the television till the revolution in November 1989. During the days of the Velvet Revolution his son Michal got beaten and his identity card was torn up, and a rumour spread about his older son Martin, claiming that he had been killed in the demonstration. In March 1990 Milan Šmíd left the Communist Party. Since 1990 he has been teaching at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University. He is a respected expert on digital media.