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Evzen Plocek

Evzen Plocek

was born on October 29, 1929 in Jihlava to a working-class family. His parents, Frantisek and Marie, were catholics. His brother, older by a year, was named after his father.
Both boys attended the Orel (Eagle) physical education society and a working-class scout troop as children.

In 1943, after finishing elementary school, Evzen Plocek began studying to be a tool-maker. After the war he entered into the profession at the Jihlava company Motorpal. He worked a variety of positions and functions at this company his whole life. In 1955 he joined the Communist Party od Czechoslovakia and went from the tool room to a paid position as chairman of ROH (Revolutionary Trade-Union Movement). He completed his diploma and in 1958 he began to study by correspondence at the Prague School of Economics. Thanks to the education he completed and his personal abilities, he became the head of the business section and later even deputy director.

Success at work also brought with it a peaceful family life. In 1953 Plocek was married. His wife Zdena worked at the same company as an administrative - technical employee. After a year of marriage, the Ploceks had a son, Jiri. The father and son became very close.

Evzen Plocek enthusiastically supported the changes of 1968. As a party functionary, he looked forward with confidence. At the regional conference in Brno he was elected a delegate to the 14th party congress. His participation supported his decision to continue the reform activities even after the invasion by Warsaw Pact forces. After the April plenum, however, he realized the infeasability of his efforts. He was apprehensive of a return to the pre-reform conditions.

On April 4, 1969, Good Friday, Evzen Plocek left his work on the Jihlava main square. He dropped in on his parents. Around six in the evening he poured paint thinner on himself in a passageway and went out into the square again. He made his way toward the building of the regional party committee. By the road he left two papers with the text: "Truth is revolutionary - wrote Antonio Gramsci" and "I am for a human face - I can't stand the unfeeling ones - Evzen". In front of the party headquarters he struck a match. The thinner caught fire. Because there were still swings and merry-go-rounds on the square for St. Matthews' festivities, people thought they were watching some kind of attraction. They didn't hurry off for help until some moments had passed.

Evzen Plocek was taken to the Jihlava hospital, where he died on April 9.

In spite of a number of difficulties, the workers at Motorpal were able to hold a public funeral in Jihlava. Not a word of Evzen Plocek's self-immolation made it into the central press, however. His sacrifice remained under wraps. It didn't come out until the humbling consequences of the intervention had been accepted by the nation.

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