This is not a joke. In March 1950, the world-renowned author Milan Kundera became voluntarily an informer of the communist regime.
According to Monday’s issue of the weekly Respekt, the twenty-one-year old Kundera was to report to a Prague police station that a certain anti-communist emigrant, whom Kundera did not even know personally, was seen at Kolonka dormitories.
The consequences were horrifying: Miroslav Dvořáček, the man that Kundera informed on, spent 14 years in communist prisons and other people lived through dozens of years of remorse and suspicion.
“The burden of what Milan Kundera has been keeping secret for 58 years is not small. Dvořáček was nearly sentenced to death. And the informer could not have been unaware of the consequences his denunciation will have,” said the authors of the article Adam Hradilek from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and journalist Petr Třešňák.
Hradilek got to the story thanks to one of its main protagonists Iva Militká. Neither the authors nor other participating people could anticipate that they would reach a denouement in which Kundera plays such an important role.
The whole story has many elements from Kundera’s literary world in it. Love and betrayal in the distorted conditions of totalitarian society are key themes.
In the spring of 1950 Iva Militká meets her friend Miroslav Dvořáček in Prague. They have known each other since they were kids and their relationship was particularly close as Dvořáček was the best friend of her former lover, Miroslav Juppa.
The two men decided to leave Czechoslovakia together after the communist putsch in 1948. Shortly after they crossed the borders they contacted the anti-communist resistance movement. Dvořáček returned to the dangerous home country with some spy tasks thanks to the help of guides who took him across the borders.
Militká let Dvořáček see her to her dormitory and offered him a place to stay overnight.
Earlier, she even intended to join Juppa in emigration. But during her studies, she met her future husband Miroslav Dlask and started a new life. And it is owing to Dlask that Kundera enters the story. He was friends with Dlask, and they wanted to build a better future together in the fifties.
After Dvořáček left her dormitory for his anti-communist mission, Militká went for lunch with Dlask and told him about seeing her old acquaintance, since Dlask knew about his emigration. All that followed from Militká’s point of view was that later in the evening, Dvořáček was arrested at her dormitory. “Had I known it earlier, I would have waited at a different place and I would have warned him,” says the woman today.
Respekt wrote that Militká found out the whole truth only now thanks to Hradilek’s search in archives. Not even during almost 50 years of their common life did her husband tell her about the dark secret of the spring of 1950.
“Today at 4pm the student Milan Kundera came to this office… and reported that the student Iva Militká, who lives at the dormitory, told the student Miroslav Dlask from the same dormitory that she met with some Miroslav Dvořáček at Klárov earlier that day,” says the report by the district headquarters of National security at Prague 6 from 14 March 1950.
What remains unclear is why Kundera reported the man. He did not react to Respekt’s request for an explanation. It may have been his ideological loyalty, or mere Dlask’s jealousy. Kundera does not give interviews to Czech journalists from his exile in Paris, where he has been living since 1975, and makes only incognito visits to his home country.
Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.