Petr Švestka

* 1959  

  • “One of my first graphic jobs was an ID card I made for Jindra. Applied art, much hand work. I changed the photo and imitated the stamp by a screwdriver. Me and Jindra we went to Brno to see Carol. I went to collect her. Immediately we realised that we were being followed by the police. It was like in a James Bond film. We boarded a trolley-bus, a cop behind us. In the last moment we got off and he remained inside. We thought we lost them but there were more.”

  • “The prison wardens had bonuses for exceeding the norms so that they motivated us. They told us that if we do ten percent of pigs more, we’ll get a beer after the work. The prisoners were naturally enthusiastic: ‘Beer! Beer!’ And everybody worked like crazy. But this led to norms being raised. When I started we did 250 pigs and 80 cows a day. When I was leaving the norm was twice as high.”

  • “I knew there would be a problem, they arrested a friend. So I hid everything, took away my typewriter and left there only a few things I painted. I arrived from the weekend and after five minutes there was banging on the door. The police arrived. We had double doors, I opened the first one but didn’t want to let them in. I was well trained, from older chartists I knew what our rights were. But I only managed to say, ‘You don’t have the right for this…’ and was handcuffed.”

  • “When I was in custody in Litoměřice, we read book. There was a lot of illegal literature – from Škvorecký to Polish translations of books I even didn’t know. Great stuff. Well, I guess this was the case of darkness under the lamp. Perhaps they thought there could be nothing wrong in a communist prison and no-one checked. At the time the normal libraries were being destroyed, they had fantastic books in prison libraries.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 5

    Praha, 01.04.2017

    (audio)
    délka: 03:15:32
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory of nations (in co-production with Czech television)
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I used to hide my hair under my shirt

Petr Švestka zamlada
Petr Švestka zamlada
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Petr Švestka was born on November 15, 1959, in Jablonec nad Nisou. He spent his childhood with his grandparents in a secluded cottage in a forest and saw his parents only at weekends. After primary school he went to the secondary chemical school in Ústí nad Labem. Very soon he befriended the local hippies and he strongly identified with this group both in opinions on culture and politics. He used to come to Řepčice where he met the members of the dissent and underground. He signed Charter 77 in 1979 and a few months later he was sentenced in a show trial for illegal keeping and organised distribution of drugs. He was sentenced for twenty months which he spent in the Bělušice labour camp. On release he moved to Prague. Among other things he helped Jindřich Tomeš to flee across the border. In 1986, as a part of the “Asanace” campaign he was forced to move to Austria, where he has lived ever since. He was awarded for his participation on the third resistance and currently makes his living by doing graphics for advertising industry.