Professor, ThDr., Ing. Jakub S. Trojan

* 1927  

  • “In 1942 suddenly Alfréd Bartoš showed up, arriving from England. He was a cousin of my mom, from Pardubice. He landed as a paratrooper in December. He showed up at our place out of the blue and we then had him stay for three days. Later we provided him with another apartment. It had a tragic ending. He shot himself in May of 1942. The Gestapo was after him. While escaping, he threw out a collection of poems which I had previously bought him. He asked me to buy him the ‘Slave’s songs’. Probably he there coded his reports to London. I was fifteen back then. So I bought him this collection of Svatopluk Čech’s poems. And then when the Gestapo followed him, he also threw out another document into a window. That person gave it to us, there was our address written in there. That was extremely dangerous for us. Instead of turning it in at the Gestapo, this man returned it to us and thus saved our lives because parents and Bartoš were shot dead.”

  • “At Wenceslas Square on the corner of Jindřišská Street there were two SS-men hanging. They were half-naked, bound by their feet to a lamp. They were dying, moaned and still said a word or two. We stood around them, a bunch of people. These people were rebuking them, cursing. A Soviet tank drove by with a young soldier on top of it. When the tank passed the burning SS-men, he had put his hand in front of his eyes. In horror, I suddenly realized that he lived through the whole crusade all the way to Prague and saw many horrible things but this was still too much for him. While for us… I got ashamed of us standing there and cursing them, not providing them with any medical treatment, simply doing nothing.”

  • “I was followed, our place was bugged. We knew about it. That means that whenever me and my wife wanted to discuss anything what may have been of interest to them, we would go out or whisper. Several times I saw them follow me. So I started running. I ran around a corner, peeked and obviously, the other one was also running. Out of breath he ran to me and said: ‘Mr. Trojan, why are you running?’ And I replied: ‘Well, I have had some training, what about you?’ I am one of these slightly crooked creatures; I had fun about it all. I didn’t mind them following me. I didn’t mind them interrogating me. To say that I was looking forwards to it would be probably a bit far-fetched. But I slept well before an interrogation, whenever I received an order to appear. Sometimes they took me straight away but sometimes they would send an order in advance. I was interrogated perhaps fifteen times between 1968 and 1989.”

  • “Frankly, both Churches agreed that this was not suicide out of despair, which is the definition of suicide in itself, though seen from the outside because we can never know a persons’ real motives, can we, but we look upon suicide as an escape from suffocating circumstances in life when a person feels helpless and takes his or her own life. It was obvious that this was not the case. This was self-destruction meant as a warning urging us to do something positive with ourselves, something that would help the entire Czech public to a manifestation of authentic life in which the basic values of freedom and democracy would continue to be upheld.”

  • “Things began to get too hot to handle even there (in Neratovice-Libuš) and in 1974 I had my permission withdrawn, as did my good friend Alfred Kocab, that is, government permission to act as a ministers of the Church. For a year, I earned my living by working as a bricklayer and unskilled labourer. I later joined Řempo for some time but then I signed Charter 77. When I signed the Charter, the director of Řempo, who was giving shelter to several people in trouble with the regime, proclaimed that what I had done was unacceptable and that he could continue to employ me temporarily as a warehouse keeper but, of course, there was one condition: that I would not be politically active. That I refused. So I began looking for a new job. It was quite an adventure, I applied for approximately thirty positions and was interviewed by personnel officers [clerks evaluating whether or not an interviewee was politically acceptable – trans.] who always asked the same two questions: had I been involved in anything in nineteen sixty eight – certainly not because I was working on my PhD and didn’t have much time; but when I told them I had signed Charter 77, and I thought I ought to tell them in order not to be sacked in the probation period, there was suddenly dead silence and then they would say: Well, under the circumstances it won’t do to employ you. This scene repeated itself time and again, it was like a ritual, it repeated itself at all thirty interviews. In the end I was offered a place with Montáž, a sort of construction and transport cooperative where the representative of the cooperative took advantage of the right moment – a change of two personnel officers with the third on holiday – gave me the job and said: be good, don’t show your teeth too much, you’ve got that one month period in which we can dismiss you without giving a reason. If nothing happens, it will be harder to do later on. True enough, I worked there almost until I went into retirement.”

  • “Nová orientace was well known in the ecumenical movement, so I found out about it [Charter 77] from Milos Rejchrt. He brought it with him to the Kocabs during the Christmas holidays. To tell the truth, it didn’t seem like anything extra ordinary to us. We gave out innumerate signatures on so many documents from, let’s say, nineteen fifty three or fifty four to nineteen seventy seven. It was quite a pile of documents that we wrote to the authorities; we were really very prolific in that matter so another signature here or there made no difference. We liked the document. My only objection to the original text was to the statement about there being an Apartheid in this country. Well, that was slightly overstated, it wasn’t exactly apartheid yet, or rather there was no apartheid any longer, so we signed it and thought it would meet with no response. Well, lo and behold, it did.”

  • “I married Karla Trojanová, nee Schwarzová, who was also a member of the Academic YMCA, in June 1950 but I was conscripted five months after our wedding in 1950 under rather strange circumstances. I thought I was going to do normal army service and I met up with friends on the eve of my departure and we discussed whether or not I should accept carrying/handling a weapon. It turned out, however, that I was conscripted to PTP (Auxiliary Technical Battalions). I first served two months in Bohemia and then three years in Slovakia. It was a special company made up of Catholic clergy. Some of the privates were fifty years old and the youngest of them were about twenty. I was the only Protestant among members of various Catholic orders and so called lay priests and I, a Protestant Theology adept, was the only non-Catholic. It was an exceptionally valuable experience for me. I still have lasting friendships since then, with lecturer Karel Floss, for example, or doctor Frei. We created a strong community and I learned a great many things there.”

  • “He was my teacher, one of the most cherished. He made an impression on me by interpreting Christian faith as being the most profound motive for our responsibility towards ourselves as well as towards public matters. To have faith means to accept responsibility in the deepest most sense. I’d say that, in a way, it was a theological invention that Hromádka was capable of mediating very vividly. He inspired me substantively. It is him I have to thank for my attitude to life. To Souček, I’m grateful for other things – his unusually profound analytical insight into the world of the Bible as well as the political world. Each of the teachers at the faculty was gifted in their own special way and for us, my young generation, that was very enriching.”

  • “I was, you could say, one of the founding members of Nová orientace. It was a rather unusual movement. In short, it was an attempt to put across the idea that The Gospel teaches us basic responsibility for our personal lives and for public matters. And it is important to take an interest in public matters even under a Communist regime. That was, naturally, dangerous in two ways. Firstly in relation to the regime and secondly in relation to the Church leadership, which, understandably since it was, at times, especially during the normalisation period, under considerable pressure, gradually reduced the diversity of faith to attending church service. It sometimes issued warnings against ministers leading young people and tried to prevent them from giving pastoral guidance, especially to less active members of the community. They urged ministers to limit their work to their own congregation and not to over do pastoral work in hospitals. According to the Church leadership, zealous activity always drew the unwelcome attention of the authorities, namely the Stb (the secret police – trans.), and that meant trouble. We defied that principle in Nová orientace. We said to ourselves: No, we are responsible to God and people for the quality of public life, for the government we have, and for the way the community is governed. That is why we must always take part in dialogue and introduce the stimulus of the Gospel everywhere. I really did that. I used to go to meetings of the local council in Kdyně and even presented proposals. Some were accepted, though the councillors must have been uncomfortable with the fact that they were presented by a minister of the church.”

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The Gospel teaches us basic responsibility for our personal lives and for public matters

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Professor, ThDr., Ing. Jakub S. Trojan

Jakub Schwarz Trojan was born on 13th May 1927 in Paris where his parents arrived two years previously to „gain experience“. He grew up in Czechoslovakia from 1929 onward. According to an old Evangelical tradition, he adopted his wife‘s maiden name as a second surname after being wed in 1950. He was educated at a grammar school in Slovanská ulice where one of his classmates was Ladislav Hejdánek. On graduating from grammar school he enrolled in the College of Economics. Between 1946 and 1950 he was a member of the Academic YMCA and one of the organisations‘ last secretaries. He was conscripted shortly after getting married and served three years with Auxilliary Technical Battalions (PTP). On returning from the army he became a pastor and played an important role in the founding of Nová Orientace, an informal association of Protestant clergy in the late fifties. After eleven years of pastoral work in Kdyně, he was appointed to the congregation in Neratovice-Libuš. One of the members of the local congregation was Jan Palach, whom Jakub S. Trojan buried after he set fire to himself and died. During the period of Normalisation he organised home seminars. In 1974, he was deprived government permission to work as a minister of the church and instead had various jobs as a manual labourer and worked as an accountant for Montáž, a transport cooperative. He became one of the first signatories of Charter 77. Following the events of 1989, he became dean of the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague where he is still head of the department of Theological Ethics.