Michal Dvořák

* 1950

  • “We could go down the Slezská Street, but we saw this column of police cars standing on the opposite side of the Korunní Street. We wanted to check it out, so we walked the sidewalk on the other side of the road. But we didn't know that even before the Tyl Square, we entered some kind of a zone under police control, that was closed to the public, but in such a manner that they would let people in. But they would investigate those who tried to leave. So all of a sudden, a police patrol appeared in front of us on that empty sidewalk and asked for our ID's. Before that, they let out this elderly pair, who seemed to just be going for a walk, as there were several people. But they focused on us because of our age, it was getting dark, it was almost night already. And under this streetlamp they told us: 'Show us your hands.' Of course, they treated us without respect. 'Just show us your hands!' So we showed them our hands. I didn't know what they could have seen. 'Your hands are dirty, you were throwing rock. Get in a car.' It was futile to protest. In that column on the opposite side of the street, there were several tilted army trucks. So we had to get in a car. And as we were getting near the car, all those men standing around it, those policemen, started beating us with batons. They didn't care whether we were guilty or not, from that moment, it was just one blow after another.”

  • “We came to Tylovo Square from Ječná Street, following the tram tracks. And we saw that there were clashes with the police still going on. And it was quite a confrontation, as for the first time, we saw barricades built by the protesters. In one of those barricades, there was even this tram they derailed, standing on its side. Those old trams, so-called submarines, were maybe already in service, but these were the really old ones, with open cars. And as we were watching it from a distance we saw even an army tank, a regular tank, standing in front of a barricade. One, or maybe even two, I don't know. That was quite rough, so we just watched it from a distance for a while and then we went home...” - “And those were the Czechoslovak army tanks?” - “ The Czechoslovak tanks. All of them, that was the thing... As this whole crackdown had been executed by the Czechoslovak government, the new Husák government. Those were Czechoslovak policemen, Czechoslovak soldiers, and the militiamen were also there, in militia uniforms, who were beating the people with batons.”

  • “All of a sudden, police came rushing, all the way from the museum and all the side streets. And he was like... We managed to get through, so they couldn't be there yet at that moment. They sealed the area and just did their thing, with... I would say they used loudspeakers... stated that we were not permitted to be there. And right away they started beating people in front of them with batons, and I saw water cannons for the first time. And also policemen wearing helmets. So we just kept running. Right there, like you have those shots of people running, taken from above, there's me and Miloš among them for sure, you would certainly find us if you would look deeper into it. And we rushed down Krakovská street or maybe Ve smečkách street, I don't know. And we managed to get through. Policemen would chase us a bit, but they were dispersed, not in a single file. And then, as they reached the Tyl Theatre, people stood up to them. And they started harassing the police. Like when the police started throwing those teargas canisters and this quick-witted fellow took the canister and threw it into an armoured car. And they all had to get out in a hurry. That's interesting. As that was the first time I saw police using military-grade armoured cars. As there was a 'VB' sign (Public Security) on it, on this military armoured car, this wheeled one. And it had a machine-gun turret. So in the course of that year, they armed and trained the police pretty well to handle such situations.”

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I didn‘t meet Gestapo, but our Public Security was enough for me

An ID photo from 1969
An ID photo from 1969
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Michal Dvořák was born on February 9th, 1950 in Prague to the family of a Czechoslovak People‘s Army officer and a nurse. He spent his childhood in Prague‘s district of Vinohrady, graduating from the Na Ptažačce grammar school. During the protests on the first anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1969, he was arrested and spent two weeks in the Pankrác prison. For a short period of time, he had been attending Czech Technical University in Prague, he graduated from a secondary school of graphic arts and had been working at Repro – the Czech Press Agency‘s printing house. Under the influence of his wife, he converted to Catholicism in the 1970´s. After 1989, he took interest in trans-personal psychology and was working at the Gemma publishing house. He has five children.