Ing. Miroslav Tyl

* 1943  

  • “In the end, the fact that we were arrested proved useful in a way. There were maybe twelve people in our cell. We spent forty-eight hours together and we held this amazing seminary. We wouldn't be able to attend something like that in our normal life. Václav Benda, Balabán, they were telling us things from such a vast field of study we would never been able to access outside.”

  • “I was so happy as the people from the West were gradually starting to support us. Due to the people my parents were in touch with we managed to meet people who understood us. Despite the fact that the West didn't understand us in general. There was this family from the Netherlands, a friend from Switzerland, or this lawyer from Ireland. They had been supporting us for twenty years, both spiritually and materially. So as far as the immigration is concerned, I think that we have to help. Like we ourselves had been offered help.”

  • “I was upset when the people gave up the political struggle. I didn't expect an armed resistance, just some kind of an internal opposition, some bravery. I witnessed people abandoning their friends, so they wouldn't compromise themselves, so they could keep their jobs and so on. And I felt that this attitude was widespread. As there were brave people, they were just too few in a country of fifteen millions. Which showed up in the 1970s, as they were just too easy to handle.”

  • “We would invite these Communist bosses as well, Martin Vaculík was one of the smart ones among the Communists, and he came to the Faculty of Arts, lecturing about the relations of power and how difficult the position of those who were ruling was... And people would shout at him from the auditorium, they made cheeky remarks, and at one point, Martin Vaculík said: 'Let me assure you that I am not afraid of you at all.' Such statements could be heard in that lecture hall! As it was this era of openness. New faculties had been established, such as the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics or the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering, and there were those freaks. People who dedicated their whole life to mathematics, and they were in such a revolutionary mood that if some member of the Communist elite came to give them a speech, they would shout at him: 'We want free press, we want the freedom of travel, we want political parties!' 'You are crazy! We live in socialism, we have socialist constitution!' And they would shout even more and he would tell them: 'And what will happen if you don't get what you want?' And this tall fellow got up and shouted at the politician: 'If we wouldn't get what we wanted, I suggest that we should strike, protest, fight in the streets!' So that was the atmosphere of the sixties, as I wanted to give you an idea as to how we would act back then.”

  • “The congress went for two and a half day, it begun on Friday and it ended on Saturday, and on Saturday there was this vote on joining the National front. And after the vote was done with, it happened in this great hall, there was this girl on duty at the telephone who was connecting the incoming calls. And as the voting was going on, the phone rang and the girl at the phone would take the call – and there was Gustav Husák calling, who was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia back then, and he said: 'I just wanted to ask whether the Student Union have joined the National front?' And she told him: 'Well, comrade secretary, I have to tell you that they haven't.' And he said: 'Well, I was just asking.' So they were interested in how the congress would end up. And this was the end of the student movement of the 60s – the Student Union had been abolished and the Socialist Union of Youth had been established.”

  • “In 1965, there was already this atmosphere of the 60s in the air, so they couldn't just say: 'We will lock you up as you had been listening to foreign radio broadcasts.' It wasn't like this anymore, not in 1965. It was known that you shouldn't do this, but in fact it wasn't illegal. As the constitution still said that there was this freedom of expression and so on. So they would hesitate for a while, then they said: 'Well, listening to the foreign radio is bad, but you had also been subverting the morals of the troops, which is a felony.' So they gave me this two-year suspended sentence, and also to my friend, and those two radio operators, who didn't go to college and started working instead, were fined enormously.”

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We thought the regime would fall soon, no one expected that it would last for forty years

Present Portrait
Present Portrait
zdroj: Studenti Praha 10

Miroslav Tyl was born in 1943 in Prague (Praha). His father was a lawyer who had participated in the anti-Nazi resistance and had been imprisoned in Theresienstadt (Terezín). Miroslav Tyl finished his studies in agriculture in Liblice near Pregue, becoming a cultivator and a breeder. He wasn‘t allowed to study at university due to political reasons. He had to work as an agronomist at a farm in Radvanice for two years. After that, he had to do his compulsory military service; in the second year of his service, he had been listening to the foreign radio broadcast, he was charged with subverting the morals of the troops and given a mandatory sentence. He had been studying at the University of Life Sciences. He had also graduated in sociology from the Faculty of Arts in Prague. After he was elected a chairman of the Student council, he initiated an amendment to the Education Law, so attending multiple colleges at the same time was made possible. He was one of the leading figures of the Prague Spring of 1968 student movement and also one of the first to sign the Charter 77 petition. After the Warsaw Pact invasion, he had been working at a research department at some national enterprise. After 1989, he served as an advisor to two Prime Ministers and also as a member of parliament.