Pavel Záleský

* 1955

  • "Sometimes I think normalisation was worse at certain times than physical torture. It was about the psyche and the destruction of soul. We lived in a bad environment, a communist environment, they forced us to do things. On the other hand, people pretended in private lives and so on. This left a terrible effect on the morale of the whole nation. The pretence, the Pharisaism, the double life. Something else was said on TV, something else at work, something else at home. It's a destruction of the soul. That's evil. When someone beats you, it's physical pain. When you're tortured mentally, sometimes it's even worse pain. That's what happened after the rise of Husák until 1989, we lost our soul, our morals, as a nation. Not everyone, there were many brave people, but we know how many people went to the polls. Ninety-eight percent! I'm saying you go to the polls in a democracy, but not in totalitarian times. If people had been braver and had not gone to the polls like a mass of animals, things might have turned out differently. People went to May Day waving their flags and then cursed their comrades at home. We are still bearing the consequences of this demagoguery and moral devastation today."

  • "I was walking a lot because I was transferred from a supervisor to a labourer position. I walked the line from Vizovice to Zlín. I was stopped by my friend Láďa Kolínek, who was copying photographs for me. He told me that there had been a raid on Jarda Němec and Pavel Dudr, with whom I worked. So I said, 'I guess they'll come for me, too.' I got to Zlín, changed my clothes and wanted to go home to Otrokovice. In Zlín, I could already see that Secret Police were following me. I knew it was bad. So I wanted to confuse them a little bit. I got on the train to go home. They were driving cars next to the train. But I jumped off the train half way in Malenovice, took the trolleybus to Otrokovice and went to church. When I got off the bus, I saw that our building was already surrounded. I said to myself: 'This is it.' I went to church and I prayed. Then I thought, 'Why should I surrender?'. I lived in the first entrance, but I went to the third entrance, went through the basement, upstairs and I was home. They were still waiting for me outside. The doorbell rang, they asked for me, so I answered. They were angry that I fooled them. When I opened the door, they immediately stuck their foot in the door. Interrogation, search warrant. They took me to the police station in Zlín. There, ten people took turns on me. They took turns on me for several hours. Meanwhile, my wife was being watched by a neighbour who worked for the city police, so she couldn't hide anything. They brought me back. They took a lot of stuff, but they found no evidence. I had an address book hidden behind a painting. They didn't find it even though they looked behind the painting. Under the bathtub, I had copy paint in a cup. They didn't find it. There was copy paper and paint in the hallway that I didn't have time to hide. It was in a box that they passed by many times but never opened it. I felt God's help, the power that protects me from being imprisoned."

  • "When I moved to Otrokovice, I thought that twelve copies were not enough, that I had to think of something better. So I invented a mass made of gelatine, lead oxide and various chemical compounds, and I made a mould into which I printed the matrix. You could make up to 30 copies of that matrix. But it was very wet. I had to dry it on the floor, so the whole flat was lined with drying papers. If the Secret Police had come, it would be the end for me. Once, when the papers were drying everywhere, the bell rang, and Father Jenda Žaluda came. When he saw that, he said: 'So you will be arrested soon.' I said: 'No. Our Lady protects me.'"

  • "I read a lot of spiritual books and felt God was calling me to do something. There was a shortage of spiritual literature. The communist regime claimed that we had religious freedom, that there was plenty of literature, but it was impossible to get Bibles. So what kind of religious freedom is that? So I said to myself, okay, God wants me to help people get what they want. So I tried to get to the religious literature, even from abroad, from the Christian Academy in Rome. And from priests, of course. Everything I got my hands on, I copied and distributed. I considered it very important."

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The normalisation regime was evil. It destroyed the soul

Pavel Záleský / 1974
Pavel Záleský / 1974
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Pavel Záleský was born on 28 February 1955 into a Catholic family in Mutěnice, South Moravia. His father Petr Záleský and uncle František were convicted of anti-state activities. They served their sentence in the uranium mines in the Příbram region. The communists confiscated the family‘s fields, vineyards and other property. He graduated from the railway industrial and transport secondary school in Hodonín. At the end of the 1970s, he began to copy and distribute illegal religious literature. In the 1980s he cooperated in the production and distribution of samizdat literature with Stanislav Devátý, Jaroslav Němec and also with Augustin Navrátil. From 1985 until 1989 he was followed, harassed, detained and interrogated by the State Secret Police. In 1985 he participated in pilgrimage to Velehrad, which turned into a mass anti-regime demonstration. He signed the Charter 77 and the petition for religious freedom by Augustin Navrátil, which he further distributed. In November 1989, he was one of the leading figures of the Velvet Revolution in the Zlín region. In the 1990s he managed the Charity in Otrokovice. Later he worked as a district secretary of the KDU-ČSL (Christian Democratic Party). In the noughties he was the administrator of the pastoral house Velehrad in northern Italy. In 2021 he lived in Otrokovice.