Jan Hrad

* 1961

  • “I once read the Dalton Trumba anti-war book called Johnny took his rifle. And I read a snippet of it and someone reported it, because it was a terrible anti-war snippet. So they reported me with the book. With the same book I had to go to Olomouc to the prosecutor to explain that the book was not forbidden. That it was normally published in the '78 edition, I had to take it with me. That prosecutor read it then and could do nothing as it was not prohibited. But they thought it was a forbidden book. And it was allowed. So he could not do anything, but he said, when he read it, he would forbid it. It was weird he had to see it. And he hid it for himself.”

  • “My mom did not like to go to Greece, I know. Either there was a conflict with the locals, because they always looked her, when she showed her passport, looking at them like the outsiders, like those who had been harming the country. Today's officials, who have not experienced it, they considered those people in such a way ... She did not go there too often, because when she came there or we drove through the villages of northern Greece, she saw the war there. Just what she remembered from her childhood, the burned houses, murders and escapes all the time and much hunger. Constant hiding in the forest during the night, when there was bombing or when the troops were crossing. That was happening during the whole war. The whole war, and then two more years after it finished. So she actually witnessed five, six, seven years in war.”

  • “At night the planes woke us up. And in the morning we got up. The radio was still running normally. And my parents panicked that there was war. As I was only little back then, they took me to my aunt in the countryside to Chrást. That's where I was safe. But it was paradoxical so that they had all the tanks in the Chrást at the railway station and that there were even more Russians than in Pilsen. As there was a rail cordon to Prague, there were plenty of tanks. We were walking among them as small boys, because we enjoyed it, as we were just small.”

  • “From Liptovsky Mikulas we had to bring dosimeters - radiation measuring instruments - to calibration into a military unit, the Russian barracks, in Olomouc. Because the Russians had everything regarding atom under their thumbs, they controlled it. And we could not get there by car, so we had to take a train and we pulled the big case with those dosimeters. Such a big heavy box it was. So the two of us dragged it from the train from Liptovský Mikuláš to Olomouc, where we dumped the box. Back then it was winter. And we sat there in the café, where we had coffee, beer, and we just sat there. And we had the box there, and the waiter stormed at us. And it had the radioactive sign, because it was actually such a small radioactive loading. Those dosimeters had something to do with radioactivity, so there had to be the label. And I know that we were paradoxically sitting there and then came the café owner. And we sat there for about two hours, and we did not want to go to the Russian barracks with the box, because we did not know what was waiting for us. So we preferred sitting there. And the waiter asked: "Boys, what do you carry in the box?" And the friend of mine, some Ilja Dvořák from Brno, who was thrown out of the Faculty of Philosophy, told him: "And what about it? We are bringing the atomic bomb here to Russian barracks. ' And the coffee owner threw us onto the square with the 'atomic bomb' as he was responsible for the guests´ safety. So he kicked us out and we took it to the Russian barracks. There we spent the night with Russian troops - and it was one of the most amazing nights in my life, because a Russian soldier pulled out a guitar and sang folk songs. And in my entire life, I´ve never heard them sang as beautifully as he did.”

  • “After Sunday lunch we used to bring the mugs to the beer pub. The Russian tank then drove down the Doudlevecká street and there were cobblestones everywhere. The Slovanská and Doudlevecká street in Pilsen, they were all made of cobblestones. And the Russian tank was spinning there at full speed, we stood in the pub and the pub owner was tapping beer in our pitchers. At that moment, the tanker blew a pavement cube out of the belt, going through the window to the pub and broke the glass. And then the pub owner shouted, "Jesus, they are shooting at us from the tanks!" And they all laid down the ground. And I did not have the beer served, but the neighbour, as as he was laying, he poured half the pitcher out. And then we carried it home, and I heard at the door, "You have been drinking the beer again from the pitcher!" And the neighbour said, "No, dad, we were shot at by a Russian tank!" - "I'll give you a shooting tank!" He did gave him a slapping over his face, and since then my neighbour hated the Russians.”

  • “Sometime in '77, '78 we learned that here, on the beach of Ostende in Bolevec, the Plastic People band will be playing a secret concert. So we went out there. I was about sixteen, seventeen years old. With our friends, we went there to see the Plastic People. They were forbidden to play. It was known for the professor Patočka was advocating it afterward - though he could not even hear it, not even a piece of her song . There was a lot of trouble due to its existence back then; a big trouble. So we set out for that concert, sitting there - it was out in a nice silence - now they were meeting - they were the kind of hairy boys, and they were called; all the guys with rather long hair. The band was not a too good musically, but we were out there for protesting that it was forbidden; to protest against the regime. And before we sat down [and] sang the slogan, we were surrounded by cops and state policemen. And suddenly the circle closed. We managed to escape. Through Bolevecký rybník we swam in reeds. There we were hiding in the mud. And one of my friends, Lada Klas, was caught and arrested. And he was terribly lucky, because the cop was asking him: "Do you go to school or a professional training? What gymnasium do you attend, or you attend a high school? ' And he said he was trained to become a bricklayer. And those cops now did not know what to do with him, because if he had been attending a high school, they would have to gotten him out of gymnasium, because he attended a forbidden concert, so they could go to a school to complain and he could have been kicked out of school, but he said he was being trained as a bricklayer. And they did not know now-Jesus, how could we kick him out, it's stupid, now we do not have enough of them. So they beat him with a baton real hard. They beat him up and let him go.”

  • “I was chosen as a cadre reserve under the condition that when I was taken to school, in the evening industrial studies - and I did not know - that I would be the so called cadre reserve and that they would come after me and ask me to join communist party. So the cadre man came to me and said, "Will you join?" And I refused to do so. And I was kidding and justified it so that my great-grandfather is still alive and that he is a monarchist and that he would not have survived it at all. He could not stand Masaryk, he could not stand him at all. And that he's over ninety years old and that it would been his death. And they knew it was fun, so they did not accept me.”

  • “The year eighty-ninth it was terrible... It was something unimaginable for the people. We have experienced here that we could not go anywhere. And suddenly, in the 1990s, it was an amazing thing to get into the car and all of a sudden I went through Europe. Without anything... Well you had to show a passport. There were borders, there was no Schengen agreement yet, it could not be normal. But it was something unimaginable. First I went to Vienna to my friend, who ran away there. And I crossed the border to Austria. And then I stopped there and did not want to believe that I was on the other side. Now I was looking at the better roads. And all the shops ... One did not want to believe it. I thought I'd wake up from the dream.”

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    Plzeň, 12.10.2018

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    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Příběhy regionu - PLZ REG ED
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Against the regime, I protested in a Gandhi-like way

Jan Hrad
Jan Hrad
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Jan Hrad was born on September 30, 1961 in Pilsen. After twelve years of civil war in Greece his mother fled to Czechoslovakia. His father came from the Šumava region. In the dramatic year 1968 the witness attended the first class of grammar school. He had heard the sound of Soviet aircraft and omnipresent tanks. In the 1970s he began to devote himself to his great love, the horseriding. He did not finish an evening industrial school, where he was accepted as a cadre reserve. First, he refused to join the communist party, and in 1977 he had to start working in Pozemní stavby. In 1979 he started the obligatory military training in Valašské Meziříčí. He was then transferred to Liptovský Mikuláš. Since 1981 he had continued to work at Pozemní stavby. Due to the incident during the repairs with the former communist party headquarters in Pilsen, he had to leave the job. He returned to training racing horses. Thanks to his riding talent, he acted in a number of movies and fairy tales. He belonged to signatories of the anti-regime petition called Several Sentences. In November 1989 he participated in anti-regime demonstrations in Pilsen. After the fall of the Iron Curtain aong with his mother he visited her native land several times. In 1995 he began working at the emergency services of the Plzeň Waterworks, where he has been working until today. He continues to teach riding and devotes himself to other hobby, which is literature.