Václav Wagner

* 1936

  • „The economist I‘ve talked about shortly before – who, when I talked about Austria, who would then say, ‘but, Václav, it isn’t true’ – this one shot himself. He couldn’t bear, as those orthodox Communist kept saying, the treason. They trusted Dubček so much. In our family, we used to say: ‘Communists will be Communists even when they change colour, but at least we’ll be able to breathe freer.’ So those hardcore Communists really lived for the Prague Spring and for that change. I think that those old ones, those who kept fostering their hatred, those were only a handful at that time. His name was Dohnal, this guy, today… well, he’s dead and it’s been a long time ago.”

  • "They tried to present the ambush somehow… so that… It‘s my personal view. But, to make an excuse for storming in bedrooms of young people or children, and with all that clamour – that they’re looking for weapons. And, allegedly, student by the name Pavel Kučera, later a monsignore and a great Church dignitary, so, he shouted out in the dining room that no, no weapons, that he saw them moving the weapons in the building. I thought then, ‘Well, Pavel, now they’ll beat you to pulp’ but they let that be. And then there was a speech by one of those and he actually said that only now, our eyes will open to see the real word, that there’ll be no lies of the shavelings. That they saved us from the hands of, don’t know who it was supposed to be.”

  • “When I talk to some of my schoolmates or peers, everyone was homesick because an 11-year-old boy… and the discipline in the boarding school was indeed Jesuit style, like in the army.” “And sorry for interrupting you, it was a Jesuit school?” (Gymnasium – eight-year school for children from the 5th grade, which had served as preparatory school for university studies, thus with a heavy stress on academic subjects.) “Yep, Jesuit. Then, judging after all these years, it was a school that provided us with some knowledge, from the first grade on, we had Latin. Then there was Greek, too. French from the beginning, from the fourth grade, there was English. At that time, foreign languages were not widely taught. And the teachers were really great, they were on the level of university professors.”

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    Praha, 22.06.2020

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And then the lights turned on.

In the first class (5th grade) of the Jesuit school, 1947/45. Václav Wagner third from the left, middle row.
In the first class (5th grade) of the Jesuit school, 1947/45. Václav Wagner third from the left, middle row.
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Václav Wagner was born on the 3rd of February in 1938 in Prague. His parents were practicing Catholic and in 1947, they sent him to a Jesuits’ boarding school in Bohosudov. After a short break caused by the Communist reform of school system, classes continued until April 1950 when the Communist government started the first phase of the Operation K [K stands for kláštery = convents] – there were raids on convents and the brothers were interned. During the night of the 13th - 14th April, the police and People’s Militia stormed the dormitory where the Bohosudov pupils were sleeping. Vaclav recalls rough handling by the militia, dogs barking and the night journey by prison buses. After he returned to Prague, he apprenticed as woodworker. Then, as a “working class cadre”, he was allowed to study at a technical secondary school. In the 1960’s, he worked as a clerk in the ČKD factory; there he witnessed the Warsav PactArmies occupation of Czechoslovakia. ON the 22th of August 1968, he served as a guard during the extraordinary meeting of the Communist party, the so-called Vysočany Meeting, which condemned the occupation. He never joined the Communist Party, during the normalisation, he worked in the Federal Office for Prices. After the revolution, he helped with dismantling the office and then he worked as the head of the department of price policy at the Ministry of Finances.