Čelelechovský/Mrázek, 2009, digital video, 13 min.,
view from the exhibition Orient V. organized by Fotograf Festival, Prague City
Gallery, 2019, photo: Jan Kolský
Well, I was born on March 26th, 1920 in Otrokovice.
Right after basic school – when I was fifteen – I went to work at a shoe
factory: to the boarding house for Baťa workers... and then... a half year
later I passed the exam to get into the business school: for five years. After
graduating I began working as a clerk in the international sales department –
again at Baťa. I was there until the Nazi occupation...
Though I almost wasn't... You see, one time they came... and said
that I was to report to the personnel department. There they told me: “You’re
going to Indochina!” And I said: “Doggone it! To Indochina when I'm eighteen –
this can't be true. What am I going to do there? And they said: “Here’s the
travel report, read it – you’re going to trade shoes for crude rubber at
Well, so then I requested permission in advance from the Germans
and then from the French – because it was French Indochina at the time - and
they didn't grant me it: The Germans didn’t. But then they ended up giving it
to me and I left for Genoa.
Well and then they sent me back from there – because there was
something wrong with my French visa. If everything had been in order: then I’d
have gone – either into a Western army, as a volunteer, just as our boys did at
that time there, or the Japanese would have sunk the ship I was on...just like
they did to my friend... my classmate... and I would have returned as a
Well, if I could have chosen at that time: I would have gone to
Africa, bought leather.
Yup, even though they've got all those diseases and sicknesses
Yup, there they only look for mates in their own district... It’s
senseless; an extremely dangerous affair... there’s no way knowing that a black
woman like that is healthy.
Well, maybe a condom will help you and maybe it won’t. No one had
heard of them then: then came “aids”. There was none of that then, but there
were other things: sicknesses, etc. My father was a soldier during World War
I... The war taught him lots of things: yellow fever... tape worms a meter
long, revolver, a blanket, fleas breeding under his skin... They took that
blanket away from him at the Sokol in Olomouc – right when he came back from
Yup, but in the end I didn't go anywhere. After the occupation I
went into the army where I did absolutely fuck all: and in six months they made
me a lieutenant.
Well, I was a member of the communist party – which I still am,
even though it hasn’t been what it was for a long time.
Yup, so after the army I went back to Baťa in Zlín: to the Exports
Department. Then I was transferred to Sezimovo Ústí … to the company Kovosvit.
That’s where I met my first wife… then we returned to Otrokovice, then to Zlín
and finally I went to Krnov.
Yup, and there I had problems with the communist party in 1969:
because I said… but it was probably just a misunderstanding. I was doing some
electioneering when I promised that the people can elect delegates themselves
to the Krnov national committee.
Well, that wasn’t true. I arrived at the plant and a safety worker
told me: What the hell are you doing? Everybody knows who’s going to be mayor
and who's going to be the assessors and you say: this one."
Well, each week we had a gathering of all kinds of leaders and
there we said: who was successful, how many people were at the meeting, etc. So,
I got up and said: that people should be elected democratically to the national
committee… I mean, we're always being told that we the people should do the
electing… and yet everyone knows who the manager of this and that will be… and
then the district secretary says: “You know, man, we have to know who what in
will be advance." And I said: “That’s nice and all, but why am I supposed
to tell them that they can vote for who they want when it makes no difference
since the decision is already made.
Yup, and it all turned against me and others. Within two weeks
this guy comes to the factory, says we should be reprimanded, kicked out of the
party, etc. And since I'd opened my mouth…Well, it was a good thing that I had
a cousin named Franta who was a stooge in the party's district committee… they
kicked me out of the party and I thought I was going to lose my job, too…
Well, I was still able to go to the factory and work in the
grinding and drilling unit.
A year later they came to tell me to go back… they realized I was
good… thanks to their good training at Baťa… they taught me to read and write
properly. That lasted until 1970. I was once again a clerk: Purchase and sales…
Yup, and in 1969 I got married again. My first wife and I
divorced: because of her jealousy, even though we had two children… it wasn’t
her fault… it was as if she were ill… it went beyond jealousy…
Yup, and during that time a recruiter came from the state farms
and says: “Come over to us, man."
“Well, damn it. Why not?” – I said. So, I promised to arrange it.
I really didn't want to since I'd been at one company practically my whole
life: at Baťa, even though it was called Svit. I didn’t want to, but I thought
it over. There was no discussing it with him – he kept saying: “For fuck sake,
you promised me” or “Have you given notice yet?” He kept up the pressure and I
began to say: I guess I’ll go for this or that…
Well, eventually I made a decision – so I said: “Since you guys
double crossed me, I’m out of here. They’ll give me better conditions than
Yup, and the farm director had the same education as – me. He was
a great organizer – though it's true he was drunk practically every day.
Yup, we’d be at the bank - drunk - and he was negotiating money…
he was always negotiating money and he always got it … almost always - through
women. Where the odds were completely against him, he’d send a woman. really…
and that’s why they accepted him everywhere.
Yup, there was that time at the hospital when they needed an
operating table from Germany… it cost about a million crowns, a million crowns…
and we didn’t have enough for it. The head physician came in: he started
yelling that he had to operate on someone's eyes – the old way – and that he
needed to get that operating table so that he had all the equipment.
So, I began to run around: to the ministry, to the district
committee, to the party’s regional committee – it was such a sham…
Well, she fell for it hook, line and sinker. I'd go there... and
she'd say: she couldn’t, she couldn’t. And I’d say: “But you’ve got it right in
your drawer." And she’d repeat: she couldn’t… and then finally… she gave
me more than I needed.
Yup, and I stayed there for five years. And then I went to the
District Hospital in Krnov… again in Purchasing and Sales…
Yup, for five years. There I was involved in training staff and
then I retired – that was in 1980. I delayed retirement by half a year so that
they’d give me a higher pension… but then a month later they came for me in my
cottage and asked that I go back – that they don't have enough people… at least
for three months…
Yup, and I stayed there until 1989… when the government gave way
to the new regime.
Well, all kinds of weasels appeared then. A doctor was here: a
dentist… he was – as far as quality treatment - he was a few grades below the
best… but he was very versatile… and even became a director.
Well, for me that meant being released…
Yup, it took a while, but then he went back to his original
calling… everything went back to normal: because those in charge of everything
had to leave in the end, which is why people like the deputies were left and
they made a politician out of me. And since politics is for the dogs – that
meant: to adapt… and a person can adapt… especially if he knows something…
Well, even I was very well-disciplined: unfortunately. For
instance, when I started – during the First Republic – life was really hard.
Only the capable were chosen for Baťa: Those then could advance up the ladder.
Well, then there was socialism: there was a definite ceiling and
so the collective… the collective was the base …whereas now: everyone’s an
Well, then – 1989- the whole structure crumbled. We were told by
the radio… that the government was changing… that a new regime was taking over.
In 14 days, they threw it all away. In 14 days.
Yup, all those ties… Industry was tied to the east: to the Council
for Mutual Economic Assistance… that means that COMECON was tied to state
planning. And then the state planning fell apart and the factories didn't know
what to do… because they didn't have capital. At that time everything was state
Well, for instance, we needed money at the hospital… and no one
knew who'd give it to you since everything was always arranged in Prague.
Yup, and suddenly there was no market, meaning production wasn’t
possible… the steelworks didn’t know what to do… the factories didn’t know what
Yup, and then those weasels got involved… and the factories more
or less came to a standstill…
Well, then it was easy to maintain employment! The Strojosvit
company where I worked – it completely collapsed… a thousand people worked
there… and suddenly all there is are warehouses.
Well now we've got democracy: anyone can prey off the system
because nothing's easy… and the social ties are cut. There are too many
millionaires… and too many people with a low standard of living: up to 40%.
Well, that’s just unjust, unsocial…
Well, for instance: under socialism, an engineer had twice the pay
of the best worker – not a penny more. There were charts and everyone had a
Yup, and now… soon the Czech youth will hardly know how to write…
yup, and you've got to play basketball or some…
You know what I’m getting at?
You know what I’m saying?
Yup, it’s clear alright: really… things are developing their own
way now: because the whole world is changing… especially today – like now. The
whole system will change by 2010 because America is in deep trouble. I was
listening to the news this morning and the situation is such that their largest
store is in deep shit… despite the fact that China is pumping dollars into the
market: which means that it will go bankrupt.
Yup, this already happened once… to a lesser extent in 1928. All I
know is that there was unemployment: until 1937. Only then did it begin to get
better, then the armament began, and they began manufacturing arms: because
Hitler annulled the armament agreement… then everything was fine.
Yup, and then the war came…
Yup, and since America is the largest exporter of arms… that means
that it needs to manufacture… and in our land people begin to lose their job
because we have a strong dollar… I mean strong crown.