In 1969, Evžen Plocek set Jihlava Square on fire. He fought for his life for five days in hospital News Company Jihlavská Drbna

Today, he is exactly 53 years old, when Evžen Plocek set fire to Jihlava’s place. He died in Jihlava hospital until April 9. Today, his act is seen as a protest against the coming normalization.

“I can say that we never doubted the motives for the act of protest, even though it had a tragic impact on our family,” he added. said grandson three years ago during a reverential remembrance Ales Plocek. His family was touched by the fact that some people questioned the motives of their grandfather’s act. He said he had looked into the circumstances of his grandfather’s conduct and collected a number of testimonies. The Ministry of Defense also handled the matter with other institutions. “Their position is very clear: it was a planned, thoughtful, politically motivated act.” said Plocek. He also recalled that the funeral of Evžen Plock, which took the form of a demonstration, was attended by around five thousand people. The funeral is also captured in the documentary The Story of the Third Torch, which was filmed in 2017 by Martin Řezníček.

The life of Evžen Plock

Evžen Plocek was born on October 29, 1929 to a Catholic family in Jihlava. He trained as a toolmaker and joined Motorpal, where he worked all his life in various locations and in various positions. He married in 1953 and a year later his son Jiří was born. From 1955 he was a member of the Communist Party, in 1968 he was a member of the district committee of the party. After the August occupation, he was a delegate to the Vysočina Congress of the Communist Party, which demanded the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops. Fearing the return of previous conditions, he decided to make a desperate attempt to “wake up” the Czechoslovak people.

Evžen Plocek was the head of the commercial and technical department of the engineering company Motorpal in Jihlava. His wife Zdena, whom he often visited, also worked in the design department of Motorpal. It was his colleague Roman Furstwho thus had the opportunity to get to know Evžen Plock better: “I spoke to him several times, including politics. Even if he was a communist whom I never liked, you could talk to him very reasonably, he liked me. I knew he was the party president, but he had such reasonable opinions that you could talk to him about anything. He didn’t stand up to the criticism either. writes Memory of the Nation.

Evžen Plocek (left) with Motorpal colleagues around 1955. Source: grandson Aleš Plocek

He strikes a match and ignites immediately

On April 4, 1969, Good Friday, 39-year-old Evžen Plocek stopped by on his parents’ work trip. Around six o’clock in the evening, he enters the passage near Jihlava Square. Relaxed by this, he becomes diluted and comes out among the people again. He walks towards the building of the District Committee of the Communist Party in Jihlava. Along the way, he throws two folded papers with the text: “Truth is revolutionary – wrote Antonio Gramsci” a “I’m for the human face – I hate not feeling – Eugene”. Then he stops in front of the party headquarters, strikes a match, immediately lights a huge flame and according to the site, which cites eyewitnesses, Evzen Plocek during all this he cried: “I was a communist for twenty years! For Palach!

From today’s pieta, held in Masaryk Square of Jihlava, source: City of Jihlava

At this time there are carousels on the square and people watching the burning Evžen Plock think it is a fairground attraction. The fact that it is a self-immolation in protest against the occupation and the impending normalization only comes to mind after a while and comes to the aid of Plock.

The badly burned Plocek arrives at the hospital in Jihlava, where five days later due to II burns. and III. degrees on three quarters of the surface of the body dies. Only a short two-line report appears in the press on his death. Although his sacrifice remained a secret to many, as it came at a time when Czechs and Slovaks were already accepting the occupation, despite many obstacles, Motorpal workers managed to hold a public funeral. This took place on April 12, 1969. This public farewell to Plock was not well received politically. The ordeal took place before the Motorpal race in the stands set up for the coffin and the mourners. Then a procession of several thousand people, led by a hearse carrying the remains of Evžen Plock, surrounded by members of the running unit of the people’s militia, headed for the gate of the central cemetery of Jihlava.

The fence is called the third torch

Even after so many years, the suicide wave triggered by Jan Palach, followed by Josef Hlavatý, Miroslav Malinka, Jan Zajíc and Evžen Plocek, is debated. Some admire them as heroes, others view their deaths as an unnecessarily great sacrifice.

“What Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc did does not fit any model. It was a protest against the life of an unworthy free man. I personally admire the moral strength of these two young boys, but I can never be agree with their actions. No nation in the world deserves to be killed by young boys.” says the photographer Bohuslava Marikova.

“I think what Jan Palach, Jan Zajíc and others who didn’t say did was a heroic act. There was something that we all thought there was a certain pride, it was easy to talking about pride and national consciousness. Masaryk and Čapek often follow the example in the media, and where are the normal people?” he says Michal Tumaa photographer who attended the funeral.

Evžen Plocek is considered the “third torch”. He died painfully behind his homeland, like Jan Palach or Jan Zajíc, but he still remains in their shadow.

Honorary Citizen of Jihlava

In May 2017, Evžen Plocek became an honorary citizen of Jihlava. He acquired citizenship in memoriam for the “higher principle”, which he manifested through his self-immolation. His grandson Aleš Plocek received the award at the Gothic Town Hall at that time. “I am happy that the deputies have decided to present this prize to their grandfather”, he said.

Civic Initiative The Legacy of Evžen Plock of Jihlava is striving to obtain a state award for Evžen Plock. President Milos Zeman but in January 2019 he announced that he would not comply with Plock’s demands for state honors. “I can only note that in the case of Mr. Plock, unlike Jan Palach, Jan Zajíc and others, his motivation can be successfully challenged.” he said at the time, referring to the historical journals he had dealt with.

Today’s tribute

Today, representatives of the city – deputy mayor Martin Laštovička, councilor Jaroslav Vymazal and Daniel Škarka, secretary of the office Evžen Zámek and head of the department of education, culture and sports Tomáš Koukal met also remembered by Evžen Plock at his monument in Masaryk Square.

“The events of the occupation are also illustrated by an exhibition on the fence around the construction site on Upper Masaryk Square, which was initiated by the Association for the Return of the TGM Statue to Jihlava.” he added Radovan Danekspokesperson for the town hall of Jihlava.

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