a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Sent by the secret police to meet my cousin


Taken for interrogation by the state police
Jan Klein Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

When I was still in Prague, one day I received a letter from the police. The state police, which means it's like the KGB. I mean, it was not signed by KGB or something, but I was... from the address I knew where I was supposed to go. I mean it, it was an invitation... you are to come on this hour to this room in this street. I went there. Now, this was obviously very ominous. This was before the Spring... Prague Spring and everything. And I was in trouble with the police already once before. Not only in that with Herzenberg, but then at another time where I was apparently saying things somewhere in the... not in the public, but among friends who were not really friends apparently. And so I was... well, in that case it was actually more dramatic. They just... one day there was a knock on the door and they came and showed me their insignia and you had to come with us. I didn't know... I said, 'Should I take something?' 'No, no, just come. Just come.' And there were two guys and they took me down into the limousine... the blackened limousine like the Mafia here or something. It was Russia-made limousine, and they took me to interrogation. So they interrogated me.  From the way the interrogation was going, from the questions I realized where they had the information and so they kept me. It was like a whole day the interrogation or something. But in the end they let me go. I was still at the university. I expected I would be fired from the university. For some reason I was not, I was allowed to end my studies.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: KGB, mafia, Prague Spring

Duration: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008