François Brélaz

* 1939

  • "One day, we were leaving Hejdánek's, we went to the tram station, and Miloš said to me, 'See that guy with the yellow hat? That's a policeman.' We got on the tram and got off at Wenceslas Square. Two people in civilian clothes came up to us. 'Passport, bitte!' They checked our passports. Then Miloš told me, 'We have to see if they are still following us or not. Let's wait for the tram. When it starts moving, we'll jump on. If someone jumps on after we do, they're still following us. If no one jumps on after we do, the stalking is over.' So we jumped on the tram, no one else got on after us, we rode one stop and got off again."

  • "I heard that there is an Association of Jan Hus supporting Czechoslovak teachers and dissidents, which was founded in England and then in France. It was through this organization that I reached Hejdánek's address. It so happened that at the beginning of August 1982, my family and I rang the Hejdáneks' doorbell. Mrs Hejdánková came to open the door and immediately gestured for us to come in as quickly as possible. Then, I introduced myself to Hejdánek, who spoke a little French. So that was the first dissident [whom I met personally]. I asked him if he could give me the address of someone else, too, because, at that time, he could have been imprisoned at any time. This gave me several points of reference. In 1983, he gave me the address of Miloš [Rejchrt], and Vršní 60 is now my base when I am in Prague. And then we had lots of adventures together."

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, 23.08.2022

    délka: 01:34:35
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I want freedom of speech for both myself and others

François Brélaz (1985)
François Brélaz (1985)
zdroj: Miloš Rejchrt's archive (originally the archive of François Brélaz, provided through Miloš Rejchrt with the consent of both witnesses)

François Brélaz was born on 16 October 1939 in Lausanne. From 1956 to 1999, he was an employee of the Swiss Post. In the mid-1960s he started making trips to Czechoslovakia. In 1982, he founded a local branch of the Jan Hus Association in Switzerland and served as its executive director for many years. In Czechoslovakia, he maintained close contact with dissidents, especially with Miloš Rejchrt. Between 1982 and 1989, he was a key supporter of Czechoslovak dissent in Switzerland. By November 1989, according to informed estimates, he managed to collect and donate over one million Czech crowns to the dissent. At the same time, he wrote articles about the situation in Czechoslovakia for Swiss newspapers under various pseudonyms. After his retirement in 2000, he began to make charity trips to Burkina Faso and to support the education of selected local children and adolescents; he was still carrying out these activities at the time of filming (2022). Between 2002 and 2015, he was a member of the cantonal parliament for the Democratic Union of the Centre.