Prague, July 24 (CTK) – The Jan Patocka Archive gained the rights to the only existing video recordings with the late Czech philosopher and dissident Patocka from France on the basis of the documents that archive director Ivan Chvatik and French Ambassador to Prague Roland Galharague signed on Tuesday.

The recording of French TV news programmes, in which Patocka explained in French what the Charter 77 human right manifesto and movement meant was found by chance.

In the recording, Patocka, a Charter 77 signatory and spokesman, is speaking about Charter 77, its sense and effort, Chvatik told CTK.

The Jan Patocka Archive will complete the recording with Czech subtitles and release it on its website to make it available to the public.

The recording from 1977 lasts some 20 minutes, while the section directly with Patocka lasts four minutes. Its existence was unknown for years.

The Patocka archive workers uncovered it accidentally during their work on a documentary film on the 1968 events in Prague.

“We are grateful to our young collaborators that they found this material in the French film archive. Those are the only recordings thanks to which new generations will be able to learn how Patocka looked like and how he spoke. Only these few minutes with him exist,” Chvatik said.

Galharague reminded of Patocka’s importance for the Czech and European thinking.

The Czech thinker was fighting the Orwell-like regime and helped defeat it and his legacy as well as the legacy of Charter 77, which called on the Czechoslovak Communist government to observe human rights, must not be forgotten, Galharague said.

Patocka (1907-1977) was one of the most significant Czech 20th-century thinkers, dealing with the philosophy of history, Czech literature, arts and culture.

He was forced to leave Prague’s Charles University three times. First, due to the Nazis, second, he was ousted for ideological reasons in 1950 and third, the hardline communist regime forced him to retire in 1972.

In the 1970s, he came close to political dissidents and became one of the first three spokespersons for the Charter 77 movement. He died in March 1977 of heart and brain failure following an 11-hour interrogation by the communist secret police (StB).

The Jan Patocka Archive, supported by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, gathers manuscripts, pictures and other documents linked with Patocka’s life and work.