Ivan Dejmal was a Czech politician and ecologist. He graduated from a horticulture high school and studied at the Agrarian Faculty of the University of Agriculture in Prague; in 1970 he was expelled from his studies for having been arrested. Dejmal belonged to the leading student activists during the Prague Spring and was an important representative of the Movement of Revolutionary Youth (HRM). As recalled later by a former dissident Petruška Šustrová, Dejmal was not a revolutionary, but rather a conservative Catholic for whom freedom was more important than ideology and that is why, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, he decided to come together with people “who were willing to protest somehow in the time when the majority of others has already resigned”. He did not want to be silent when other people were being persecuted against.
In the beginning of the “Normalization” in the 1970s, Ivan Dejmal was imprisoned twice. Firstly, he was arrested in January 1970 and sentenced for the so-called subversion of the republic. He was released after two years in January 1972. In April 1973 he was called up for military service where he was sentenced to another two years of imprisonment for political reasons. He was released in 1976 and he made his living as a manual worker and was engaged in ecology. In the second half of the 1970s and in the 1980s, he was an important representative of the anti-communist opposition and of the environmentalist movement in Czechoslovakia. He took part in the foundation of Charter 77 and he was among its first signatories. The illegal, so-called flat seminaries took place in his flat. From 1987 he edited and published the samizdat magazine Ekologický bulletin (The Ecological Bulletin) and in 1988 he co-founded The Movement for Civic Freedom and he also participated in the foundation of the Environmental Society.
In December 1989 he took part in the foundation of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and was an active member of the Civic Forum where he managed the environmentalist section. Ivan Dejmal was rehabilitated after 1989 and he could finish his studies at the University of Agriculture. From 1991 to 1992 he was the Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic (within the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic) and from 1994 to 1995 he was the director of the Czech Environmental Institute. Afterwards, he worked as a freelancer, and was also the chairman of the civic association Society for Landscape and a member of the board of the Society for a Sustainable Life. In December 2007 he became the vice-president of the newly founded Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (ÚSTR); he died shortly thereafter in February 2008. Ivan Dejmal supported the founding of this institute because, as he said shortly before his death on Czech Radio, there was a need to investigate the causes of totalitarian power and to show the heroes who opposed it.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
- Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
Gábor Demszky (1952-) lawyer, sociologist, politician, he was a member of the democratic opposition during the 1980s, a key figure in the samizdat publishing, founder member of the Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége (SZDSZ) („The Alliance of Free Democrats”).
Gábor Demszky comes from an economist-family in Budapest, his parents were the members of that reformer economist generation which did not think about economic processes in the Marxist way. This origin influenced his mindset and attitude to the communist system. He graduated from Eötvös Loránt University. In 1972, he was banned from the university because of a demonstration what finally was not held. During this time he was working as a cab driver and a librarian and at this time he wrote his first sociological study. After his graduation, he made interviews, questionnaires in the countryside for some research institute. Thanks to this work he got insight into the life of Hungarian villages. His expulsion made difficult to find a job. He worked for Világosság journal from 1976 to 1981.
The socialist invasion to Czechoslovakia in 1968 was a milestone in forming of his mindset. This aggressive step resulted in his disappointment in the existing socialism but he believed that the system is reformable. The critics of the system were left-sided thinkers, he was interested in the new left movement, the anarchist syndicalism in these years. The 1970s brought a big change, he turned away from Marxism. He explained this with his meeting with the reality of the Hungarian countryside and the real results of the communist redistribution politics. He confessed that not only the realization of the Marxist philosophy but the thinking itself is wrong.
In the 1970s the liberal ideas shaped his activity. Demszky highlighted Adam Michnik’s work titled New Evolutionism in his interview, this essay inspired him and his fellow to establish independent organizations, press, movements. They thought the reform communism was not the proper way, they had to press to the system from outside and gained its change.
He was very active as a key man of the inner circle of oppositional intellectuals. We find his name among the founders of the Szegényeket Támogató Alap (SZETA)/ Fund For The Support Of The Poor, the subscribers of the Charta 77 declaration.
In 1981, he together with Jenő Nagy és László Rajk jr. established the AB Independent Publisher which dealt with political, literature books. Two years later started the journal of Hirmondó („The Messenger”) edited by Demszky. Between 1983 and 1988 26 numbers were published. The aim was to write about the democratic intentions in the Eastern-European countries. Besides this, he participated in the editing of other samizdat journals, too.
The Polish actions had a great impact on him as on his fellows as well. In 1981 he traveled to Poland, get a connection with the oppositional members and learn his samizdat producing techniques.
In his interview, Demszky talked about the fault lines among the different groups of opposition, for example, related to the judgment of the Revolution of 1956.
During the samizdat publishing activity, the police held house search at Demszky’s flat on more occasion as the other prominent persons’ house as well. In 1983 he was sentenced to 6 months because of violence against an official person but it was suspended for 3 years. In the same year, he was awarded a grant of a Freedom to Publish by the International Accessories of Publishers. In 1988 he was a founder member of Szabad Kezdeményezések Hálózata („Network of Free Initiatives”) and Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége (SZDSZ) („The Alliance of Free Democrats”). He was the senior mayor of Budapest from 1990, he was reelected four times.
- Budapest, Hungary
Radek Diestler is a Czech music journalist. He studied history and archival science at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. He has published articles in the music magazine Report since the beginning of the 1990s and worked as a journalist and editor of the magazine Rock&Pop between 1995 and 2002. He was an editor of a department of culture of news website iDNES.cz until 2008. He is also the author of several columns related to the Pilsen region and texts about its music history. He collaborated on the filming of the documentary TV series Bigbít (1998, Czech Television). He initiated the founding of the museum and archive of pop music (the Popmuseum), where the archive materials were originally stored after they were collected for the filming of the TV series.
- Plzeň, Czech Republic