The year was 1980 ...
The year was 1980 and we celebrated some anniversary of liberation. But we celebrated other troop than which liberated us," Petr Hrach says. Although originally, he was an engeneer but he worked as a blue collar at that time. We decided to ask with the petitions MNV and ONV in Klatovy for the restitution of the original plaque on the wall of the museum in Sušice. The plaque evokes that our hometown was liberated by the American army. The petition was signed by one hundred and fifty Sušice citizens and Mr. Stengl, puzzled chairman of MNV, needed an assistance of Pilsner lawyer. Lawyer said before us: "Let seeking as seeking, the petition is legally unchallengeable."
"After some time the directorate of the City Hall began to discuss with us" Petr Hrach continues. "Me and Michal Černegov got the answer that the plaque will not be returned on the museum. USA do not deserve it, because they make war in Vietnam as the aggressor. And they unleashed a thousand local wars since the end of the World War II. We were arguing with them, nothing doing. Michal asked for a assurance that the signatories of the petition will not be prosecuted or persecuted. It was promised (everyone is entitled to their own opinion), but the commissions made of of representatives of the Communist Party and ROH (Revolutionary Trade Union Movement) were in all factories next day. They had invited all signatories separately and forced them to invalidate the signature. If you had not called it off, you would not have got a flat, passport, kindergarden for your child a you would not have got sent to spa. I was employed in paper mill where eight people annuled their signature.
"However, we told tales" Petr Hrach continues. "I sent the information on the plaque to the Voice of America. And everything began after the broadcasting. At first, we spent eight hours at a local ptation, then fifty-six hours at Pilsner-Bory jayl. We may be charged of damaging countrys interrests with help foreign power and we will not get out of it cheap. Or there is another option – we can get an emigration passport, go anywhere, and never come back. In this way StB bothered us for a long time. Finally, some people decided they can´t see no other way and emigrated with their families. I know of three brothers Cernega, Vasek Luhan and more than ten others. Plus wifes and children...
"When my son Vasek signed the Charter, I think in 1980, me and my husband didn´t harangue him," Ms. Luhanova says. "Of course, I trembled for his safety. Twice a week he had to go for interrogation and I was always in tears asking him: Vasik, what do they still want?" They needed to antagonize him same as us. StB officers came to our pub based on state inspection notification a said: "Let´s go, Luhans!" 1982 they told Vasik: "Either you will emigrate, or we will arrest you." This was the last straw! Vasek went to Vienna. It was a time when me and my husband thought we will never see him again. It was terrible, terrible."
Why did I do all of this?" Petr Hrach asked himself. "I attanded school which was called Masarykova, then Z. Nejedlého, then again Masarykova and finally Nejedleho. Surprisingly, the Statue of TGM remained here. But when the pupils asked: "Who is this man?" under first version it was Zdenek Nejedly, then Alois Jirasek and even Karel Klostermann. Is it possible to understand it? We could not stand to only watch this nonsens that they were feeding us. At that time our favourite bands Plastic People, DG 307 and Umela hmota were hunted. We needed some impulse and it was the main declaration of the Charter in 1977. Many people signed it that time. And I was absolutely convinced that there is truth and this idea was kept me afloat.
Hrach, Trs, Matous, Luhan…the most frequent declined names in the files of StB in Klatovy.
"As if we were second class people," Roman Trs and Vladimir Matous added. They also signed the petition for the plaque. JZD They forced me to climb up on the work bench in our JZD and said: Let´s look at him, an agent working against this country. The men around did not like it. They objected they did not want any witch trials and that they kept them away from work for no reason. And this put an end to this case for them. Unlike for me," Roman shared us.
"I was enraged at any moment. Finally they enabled us to go to Bulgaria, but I had to sign a declaration. If I meet some chartists or other suspected persons on the beach I will report this. "Vladimir Matous tels us.
"They have never attacked me physically," Peter Hrach says, "but they were specialists in a psychological terror. I would have withstood it if I had been only on my own, but ... however there was my mom disabled for whole life which suited them very well. They could blackmail me emotionally and she suffered a nervous breakdown twice. One day, I was just detained, they came to her and said that if she wants me to come back she has to show them my letters. She was 75 years old. She showed them the drawer. After they had investigated it for a long time, she asked them for a permission from prosecutor. One of them said that they may all and pushed her. She fell down on the ground. They became afraid and ran away like little boys..."
„One of them played a good cop, the other played a bad one,“ Petr Hrach recalls. "Otherwice alternating intensity and frequency of interrogation. There was a time when they came to me in front of the factory at half past three in the afternoon, they took me to Pilsen and released until the last train. But I had to walk 12km. I came home, had a wash, prepared a snack and went to work. And the same in the afternoon. After a week I was totally tired.
Sometimes a man had fun. At a time when things were just beginning, we tried to discuss with StB officers in Klatovy and discussed and explained our interests and worries. Several times Frank Zappas name was spoken. The officers were pondering that till one of them proposed: „Look, you are always talking about Zappa. Tell him to stop by we would like to have aword with him.“
"The true with hat in hand and without violence as Vaclav Havel says" Petr Hrach concludes his story. "No, I feel no hate to the State Security. I am a believer and I say: "Forgive others, and you will be forgiven." But I can´t acquiesce with existence of The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia that created and needed StB. As you can see you can have velvet revolution but not politics. My correspondence is always controlled. I receive letters in a ragged envelopes. We have not won yet and therefor we cannot stop trying. So that you will not need to put down a plaque that remains my town was liberated by American troops May 6th..."
To District National Committee in Klatovy
We ask for the return of memorial tablet commemorating the participation of the US Army in the liberation of the town Sušice to its original location – that is the façade of the Museum in Sušice where the tablet was removed in 1972 despite the opposition of many citizens.
At the same time we strongly protest against the fact that no steps to remedy the embarrassing situation have been implemented yet although some citizens of Sušice asked for reinstalling of the memorial tablet in 1980 by petition request form.
We believe that the liberation of the town Sušice by American soldiers is an undisputed historical fact and it is a matter of simple decency not to let this fact be forgotten.
Signatures as follows....
December 22th 1989
The plaque was made of bronze by Frantisek Anyz´s Prague factory. This factory was regarded as eminent atelier in Czechoslovakia at that time.
The plaque was installed and dedicated in 1946. The delegates of Susice with the mayor Cenek Vasek and the representatives of American Army were a party in this event.
It remained without attention after the February 1948 until the moment when it was covered by the wrapping paper with very primitive and silly writings. The plaque was removed next day. This initiative was led by the local Czechoslovak Union of Youth. One of blue collar workers was injured in the course of removing.
I wrote a letter to the people's committee in early April, 1968. I required atonement of this cussed act in the process of the Prague Spring.
They say my letter was read in a public meeting of the National Committee.
The plaque was returned to its original place in May 6th, 1968.
It was removed again and replaced by simple stone plaque during the normalization. It was explained by Vietnam War. To add: Susice retired from public life as a "match town" and became famous thanks to this plaque when Czech public recognized this new situation. At the mention of Susice it happened that people who did not know this town were saying: "Susice? Where is it? Oh, there is a plaque against Americans." This plaque was removed under the old regime and replaced by bronze plaque commemorating the local famous countryman, art nouveau painter Max Pirner. However, there was a mistake in the painter´s birth.
Representatives of the American Embassy put the flowers to the museum wall in May 6th during the normalization. These events were overseen by State Security but many local people came and participated.
The plaque was installed on the museum building in December 22nd, 1989. It was third time and last, we hope.
The plaque fighting against something that ended a long time ago ...
A nice slip……phone vs. microphone