Memory of Nation


Karel Šling (1945)

  Karel  Šling (1945)
I’d be ashamed if I hadn’t signed Charter 77 back then

How State Security arrested him and his brother in 1950

“I do remember it. We went to bed as usual; State Security always made their arrests in the night, they learnt that from the Soviets. Because a person the most thoroughly disoriented when they nab him at two in the morning. He doesn’t know what’s going on. So I remember we went to bed, suddenly the light switched on, we got up, there were men in leather coats in the room. State Security copied that off the Gestapo, you could say, the long leather coats, it was a kind of uniform. We got dressed, they put us in a car and took us away. We were in the car with our mum because Dad wasn’t there at all at the time, he’d been nabbed on the way home, he hadn’t come home at all on that 6 October. On the way the comrades managed to get lost, and their car broke down. We finally arrived at the Ruzyně prison, where State Security officers forcibly tore us apart from Mum, loaded us into a second car, and took us away. I know that the separation was very dramatic, I screamed and held on to the car’s door handle. They had to wrench me away, and then my brother and I locked ourselves in the car, so they had to force their way in. We locked the car at one o’clock in the night, because we didn’t want to leave, so we locked ourselves in. We were lured out by Dad’s chauffeur, who baited us with a toy. So we unlocked the car, and then they got us.”

  • born 29 April 1945 in London
  • March 1946, his mother was repatriated from England to Czechoslovakia
  • his father Otto Sling, a regional secretary of the Communist Party in Brno, was executed by the Communists in 1952
  • from 1951, kept in various children’s homes: Racek, Liběchov, Dolní Počernice; forced into seclusion in the Eagle Mountains
  • 1959-1962, Mining Vocational School near Vinařice, worked in Gottwald 2 Mine
  • attended the Secondary Technical School of Mining in Kladno, later graduated from the University of Economics in Prague (with a year’s interruption)
  • 1972, got a job at Obuna, a leather company
  • after a year of mandatory military service, worked as head accountant at Prague Paper Works until 1977
  • signed Charter 77, started working at the Water Works, later the Prague Water Works
  • 1984, emigrated to England; currently lives in eastern London
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