Antonín Španinger

* 1926  †︎ 2010

  • “Everything was loaded, the propellers were spinning, and all that. We were still standing outside, shuffling our feet. We were pacing around. Then we were told that Maršonka and Laufer did not get visas.”

  • “When the guys saw me, they immediately ran to me: ‘Run away, they are searching for you!’ I thought... I did not know where to escape. You know, you think about which route to take, or how to cross the border, for instance. One does not know this. I had no other option. I went to the barracks. The soccer players were already in the Strahov stadium at that time, too. I came to Zátopek: ‘I heard that somebody was looking for me.’ – ‘Yes, right, just wait, they will come.’”

  • “Light was on for three days. I had to walk in circles. I had to put the mattress out into the corridor. No food, nothing. For three days and three nights I had to walk in circles like this. The door opened every hour – I had to do push-ups and knee-bends. I thought to myself: ‘You sods (this is what I said), you cannot make me tired.’”

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    České Budějovice, 21.10.2007

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If I had continued with soccer, I probably would not have been imprisoned

As a young man
As a young man

Antonín Španinger was born May 26, 1926 in small village Přísečná near Český Krumlov. He comes from a working-class family and his father earned his living as a welder and later as a school caretaker. The family moved to České Budějovice when Antonín was in the first grade of elementary school, and his career as an athlete started there. Already when he was a teenager he played soccer on the competitive level for the club Meteor from České Budějovice. In October 1948 he started his military service and he was assigned to the ice hockey team of the Army Sports Club in Prague. In January 1950 he was selected to the national team and together with the other players he was preparing for the ice hockey world championship in London. However, the players eventually did not leave for the championship after an intervention by the communist regime. Disgusted by the situation, they met in the pub U Herclíků on March 13, 1950 to celebrate the birth of Jiří Macelis‘s son. While they were intoxicated, they started cursing the Communist Party and the political regime. The State Security Police had been already waiting for this and the hockey players were arrested. Antonín Španinger managed to escape via backyards and balconies, but the StB police arrested him two days later. He spent his detention before trial in the infamous Domeček (‘Little House‘) in Hradčany, where he was tortured and where he suffered from hunger. In October 1950 the state court sentenced him to eight months of imprisonment for sedition. He served his sentence in the prison in Prague-Pankrác. Antonín spent the rest of his military service in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions in Slovakia. He became a member of the national team one more time: in 1956 he was to play ice hockey at the Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d‘Ampezzo. However, when he refused the offer from StB to cooperate with them, he was expelled from the team for good. Antonín then worked in a warehouse with construction material and in a soft drinks factory. Then he spent the rest of his working life before retirement doing assembly of skis and sharpening of skates. He died on January 4, 2010 in České Budějovice.