Richard Vyškovský

* 1929  †︎ 2019

  • “I arrived in Soběslav, where they have a little church of St Vitus, just a little church that opens just once on Sunday, but there was a sign there saying who to contact to get inside. So I did that, [he] let me inside and said: ‘I’ll come back in half an hour.’ He locked me in the church, and I sat there and gazed. It was unbelievable, I can still imagine it all over again when I remember it. It’s a hall church, which means that it has pillars and no aisles. So there was a row of thin columns before me, the columns were perhaps this diametre - thin, tall columns that reach up to the vault, the ribbed vault. At the end of the victory arch it changed into an irregular vault. The ribs stretched out from the brackets, and the brackets had human heads on them. And there I sat, a young boy, staring at everything, having it all come down on me, and I thought: ‘This is so beautiful, this is what I want to do.’”

  • “I was taken charge of by a pretty young bloke, in civvies, he always called for me, and so they pulled me out of the cell, put a blindfold over my eyes, and were always happy to let me step out onto where the stairs were, so I’d fall downwards and then they’d jerk me back up again. Then they sat me down in the corner, where there was a wall and a pillar. And there was a couch here, and when I was unpleasant or naughty, I got a slap on the fact and hit my head against the pillar. The bloke sat down, pulled open the drawers in his desk, put his feet up on them, and called for a coffee and sandwiches for himself. And that’s how he talked with me. When I angered him, I got a few smacks in the face, and he’d tell me it wasn’t his mistake but mine for being cheeky to him, so that’s why he couldn’t control himself. And that he didn’t do things like that otherwise because he was a terribly good person.”

  • “Nowadays Austrians say they were occupied, and that they were later liberated; I know that isn’t true because I witnessed it happen. The streets were stuffed with people who no one forced to be there and who roared in unison: ‘Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.’ And opposite our shop, across the street on the other side, there was a shoe shop, which was owned by a Jewish businessman. And I remember how he had to, how they forced him... for one, there was Jude written everywhere, in white on all the shop windows, and he had to scrub the pavement in front of his shop. Those weren’t cops standing there overseeing it, those were local people. So the Austrians really were thrilled by Hitler back then. That was no liberation, that was the same defeat for them as it was for the Germans.”

  • “We gathered in Charles Square, in front of the old technical [house? - trans.]. From there we went down, across the bridge, through Carmelite Street, but by then the ones who were ahead of us, they’d blocked it off there, we couldn’t get any further, but we did get to the Market, and up via the Market around the American embassy, and that way leads a path up to Petřín [Hill]. We reached Petřín and went up Petřín to Pohořelec, and then from Pohořelec all the way to the Castle. Except we couldn’t reach the Castle itself, the gate, it was already full, but we did reach Schwarzenberg Palace. Well, and we stood there, we were there, and we saw them beating up students by the Archiepiscopal Palace, and then the whole mass pushed backwards, so we turned round, and I got down Pohořelec back to Břevnov. It was full - the square. It was full, and we crammed ourselves in from the direction of Pohořelec, from the Hradčany town hall, down that narrow street, between Tuscany Palace and the town hall we pushed our way to Schwarzenberg Palace. We were stuck to the wall there because we couldn’t get any further, it was all full of the students, the park was, it was all full. At the Castle I saw it, what had gone on in front of the Archiepiscopal Palace, that was the most that I saw. And then it started pushing us back again. We knew by then that it was over, and we retreated back towards Pohořelec.”

  • “At home where I lived, at my aunt’s, there also lived one Mr Runt and Mrs Ankica Runtová, those were Sokol members, trainers, and Mrs Ankica Runtová was the author - and now I’m not sure if it was the last pre-war or the first post-war Sokol rally - she was the author of the women’s routine. And when the Prague Uprising happened here, understandably, he was in the Tyrš [Tyrš House - trans.], he went down to the Tyrš, and when he came back, he said: ‘Richard, come with me so you do something for you country as well.’ So I went with him, my uncle let me, and I was in the Tyrš, and from there they took me to the Small Side Assembly House, where they shoved a gun into my hands. I think it wasn’t loaded, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot with it anyway. And there were captured Germans there. They said: ‘You’ll be guarding these Germans.’ There were more of us there. I remember I hung the rifle so that the barrel faced downwards, I had the strap on my shoulder, and one of our officers saw me there. I don’t know if he was a former officer who’d put on his uniform, or if he was from the Protectorate army. Simply, he was an officer, he had two stars, a lieutenant I guess. And when he saw me, he gave me a proper dressing-down. He said: ‘Are you a gamekeeper, or are you a soldier? At least act like a soldier! And hold that rifle properly!’”

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    Praha, 15.09.2016

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It’s going to rain, the Czechs are speaking

Richard Vyškovský, 2016.
Richard Vyškovský, 2016.
zdroj: sbírka Post Bellum

Richard Vyškovský is a Czech architect and designer, best known to the public for his paper cut-out models of castles, palaces, and cars, which were published in the children‘s magazine ABC from 1969. He was born on 13 July 1929 into a Czech family in Vienna. His Czech origin meant he was not allowed to complete primary school during the war, and so he moved to Prague in 1942, where he stayed with his uncle Jaroslav Prokop. The rest of the family returned to Prague in 1946. After completing primary school he attending a secondary technical school of construction and then studied architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague. He specialised in historical architecture. He was barred from formally completing his studies because he was arrested by State Security, which suspected him of knowing of the planned emigration of one of his acquaintances. He spent half a year in custody in Bartolomějská Street and Charles Square in Prague. As a student he had worked as in the Department of Reconstructions at Stavoprojekt, and after leaving university he was employed for several years as a draughtsman at the State Institute for the Reconstruction of Historical Cities and Sites (SIRHCS). His career was interrupted by another prison term - he and several colleagues were accused of allegedly overpriced private commissions, which the architects fulfilled legally under the heading of the Union of Fine Artists. All the defendants were fully acquitted of their charges two years later. However, he was not accepted back in the SIRHCS until 1968, when the institute‘s management changed. In the meantime he worked as an architect for advertising films and shorts, he helped create illustrations for Dikobraz (Porcupine, a humour magazine) or prepared reconstructions of primary schools for the Prague city council. In the years 1968 to 1984 he undertook regular business trips to Yugoslavia, where he collaborated on projects for the reconstruction of various historical buildings. Richard Vyškovský is twice married; his second marriage with Anna Vyškovská has given him a son, Richard.