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On the restitution of Bertramka


Every effort has been made to give as close translation as possible. Where necessary words have been added and are shown in brackets in italics. These are the translator’s clarification notes to avoid misunderstandings. For legal purposes only the original version in Czech language as produced by the Czech Television station is valid.

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 Czech Television programme Reporters CT:

 “On the restitution of Bertramka“


Editor: “It is a villa in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived (while in Prague), and he actually finished his opera Don Giovanni here. No wonder that for such a gem (the villa) a very protracted litigation has taken place. When we broadcasted about a year and a half ago the programme on the situation at Bertramka, it looked rather hopeless for the original owners. Things have moved since then, perhaps also due to our coverage at that time. However, the defeated side (the Municipality of Prague 5) was not prepared to act correctly and the handover of the property had a very combative edge to it. This exhibition villa appears now more like a building abandoned by the Soviet troops.”

Author and presenter – Reporter Lukáš Landa

Recording of this programme is at:

Transcript of the programme follows: 

Karel Muzikář, the former tenant of Bertramka:
“Aren’t you here to take over the property, “Mr” Doctor (addressing Prof. Volek). We are not here for a lecture! This here, what you see here, there was nothing here at all ....”

Tomislav Volek, Chairman of the Mozart Society:
“Please, I ask you, why should I have to have a conflict here and now with the former tenant?”

“That’s because we are handing over the property to you.”
“No! You do not hand over anything to me. There is nothing I should take over from you. Are you the party with whom we have been litigating?”

Author – the reporter Lukáš Landa:
“Mr. Volek, the Chairman of the Mozart Society, which recently won the litigation for the return of the villa Bertramka, is squabbling with the former tenant of the villa Karel Muzikar, who in fact must now vacate it. The Mozart Society was finally this December, after more than 18 years of litigation, taking possession of this unique house, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived and composed some of his music.”

“The greatest European musical genius of that time deserves backing and support, because the centre, where it was all concentrated was at the Duscheks’ Bertramka. It is also one of the leading cultural and historical sights of Prague.”
“The Mozart Society purchased Bertramka already in 1929 from the Austrian Mozarteum. With the arrival of the Communist totalitarian regime the Mozart Society began to be treated as a so-called non-socialist organisation.”

Volek (Reporters ČT, shown on 1. 9. 2008):
“They (the Communists) confiscated de facto the entire property, including the Mozart Society’s bank account.”

“Bertramka was subsequently finally transferred to the State in 1986. The then president of the Mozart Society - Jitka Snížková - donated it under great duress to the National Committee of Prague 5 (as municipalities were called under the Communists). This was done without the necessary approval of the Society’s General meeting (as the Statute of the Society stipulates).”

Miroslav Komárek, a former professor of music (piano) at the Music Conservatory
(colleague of J. Snížková,+ 2009) (Reporters ČT, shown on 1. 9. 2008):
“Professor Snizkova was frequently attacked by the police, those “estebaky” (the Communist Secret Police) as well as being threatened in many ways, by phone, in person, or when being called in for questioning. This always had a devastating effect on her.”

Elisabeth Wagner, Senior Judge of the Constitutional Court (Reporters ČT, shown on 1. 9. 2008):
“In our Ruling it is stated quite explicitly and unequivocally. Since the year 83 there was continuous pressure exerted to transfer Bertramka to the State.”

“The Constitutional Court’s Decision (to return Bertramka to the Mozart Society) was not respected at all by lower courts still a year and a half ago. After our broadcast (on 1. 9. 2008) something started to change direction and the Superior Court in Prague, after almost 20 years since the litigations begun, decided in Spring (2009) that the alleged donation of Bertramka to the State was made under duress and therefore null and void.”
Jan Pavlok, lawyer for the Mozart Society:
“On 16th April (2009) it was authoritatively determined that the Mozart Society is the owner of Bertramka, but the Mozart Society in fact never ceased to be the owner.”

“From the point of view of the Mozart Society it might have actually meant finally a happy ending. But as we already indicated in the introduction to our programme, the
handover of Bertramka did not take place smoothly. Although the Mozart Society is since September registered at the Land Registry as the owner of the property, the keys to Bertramka were in early December still in the hands of the Prague 5 Municipal Office. The members of the Mozart Society found out, that someone continued to take away objects from the Bertramka’s premises.”

Milada Jonášová, the Mozart Society member:
“We received a message that someone is actually removing from the property objects without our knowledge and without having permission to do so.”

“At that moment (while filming), right in front of the Bertramka’s premises, a removal firm was in action, headed by the spokesman of the Municipal Office of Prague 5 Radovan Myslik and the head of its Property administration department Frantisek Brabec, who was saying: “Get out. Get out.”

Unidentified voice: ”For the Czech Television, you will use anything…”

“Excuse me, would it be possible at least for someone to explain what is going on here this morning?”

Radovan Myslík, spokesman for the Municipal Office of Prague 5:
“I actually have no idea.”
Frantisek Brabec, Head of the Property administration department at the Municipality Office of Prague 5:
“Chandeliers are being taken to the National Gallery, to the Museum of Music.”

“Do not speak in front of the camera of the Czech Television.” (He is saying this to Mr. Brabec)
 “If you want, come inside, I'll show you. We will not speak at this moment in front of the television camera.” (He is saying this to Mrs. Jonášová)

“May I just ask, why you did not inform the Mozart Society that some objects will be today removed from their property?”
“At this moment, I can say only, that the Mozart Society was contacted and knew. It was negotiated here last week on Thursday. There were representatives of the Mozart Society present, and also...... Thank you for your attention.”

“Mr. Myslik, I was present here last Thursday too....” (The author L. Landa was then rudely interrupted by Mr. Myslík)

Myslík: “Thank you for your attention.”

Author: “... and a woman from Centra said, that she will inform....” (The author was again rudely interrupted by Mr. Myslik)
/Note: Centra is the company which is providing management and maintenance of properties owned by the Municipality of Prague 5/

Myslík: “Thank you for your attention, Mr. Landa.”

Author: “I ask you ......” (Here Mr. Myslik shuts the door to Bertramka’s premises, leaving the Mozart Society members, the Czech Television crew and other journalists in front of it!)

“During the removal of various objects from Bertramka on 1st December, in addition to the spokesman for the Municipal Office of Prague 5, the former tenant Karel Muzikar, who was operating the villa Bertramka for the last 18 years, was also present.”

Journalist (from another TV station):
“Would it be possible to see some of the things that are being taken away from here, so we could take pictures of them?
“Well, look here Miss, I am paying hourly rated for the hire of this removal van, okay! I’m not here to wait till you have inspected it. Like what you ... what does not seem right to you... on this theory, so that you want to see it with your own eyes? Are we stealing here something, or what? - No items and things were here. When I came here in 91, there was nothing here at all.” (Uneducated Czech was uttered here by the speaker, so the translation may not be quite up to that standard.)

Volek :
“Mr. Muzikář took over Bertramka, which ... as lessee,…which had its tradition and was functioning over many decades. There was an exposition here. 

Removal van operator:
rapped chandelier, okay! What does a wrapped chandelier look like?”

Cameraman: “I am going closer, there is something to see over there.”

“The Mozart Society does not know who has taken what away.”

(The author is now addressing Mr. Muzikář): “Could you say, on behalf of Comenius, what you took away from Bertramka?”

“We took away the fixtures and fitting of the cloakroom, the seats from what was for us the concert hall, we took away the whole restaurant and kitchen fittings and equipment, which had never been there, and also various external effects, such as vases and bowls made of clay or sandstone.”

“Mr. Muzikář is today saying that he took away only things which he bought himself over the years he has occupied Bertramka. But what the Mozart Society misses most is especially the exposition (all the exhibits), that was still a few days ago displayed there.”

Volek: “Here used to stand a Mozart bust.” 

Author: “And it belonged to you?”

“Yes, that belonged to us. In this place over here, there was originally a large map, which was made by one of the members of our Society the painter Vojtech Kubasta. Over here were hanging three valuable paintings. One was of the composer Naumann, a close friend of Duscheks. – We do not know who has taken what and whereto. We only know that objects, which were here, were removed.”

“During our filming here we found that it was not only Mr. Muzikář removing objects from Bertramka. A great part of the exposition was taken away by the Czech Museum of Music.” (This is an institution run and funded by the State)
Author: “So these objects belong to the State?”

Dagmar Fialová, Director of the Czech Museum of Music:
“These items belong to the State. In the existing Register of acquisitions from the years 65 to 79 was an entry made that around 1,700 objects had came from Bertramka. Here it states - Archive of the Mozart Society - transfer.”

Jan Pavlok, lawyer for the Mozart Society:
“The records could have been simply transferred for evidence purposes in some way, but it does not mean that there is a change of ownership, in other words, that the ownership rights had been transferred.”

“So it seems now that the Mozart Society made a mistake. For almost 20 years it was litigating only for the Bertramka estate, i.e. the land and buildings, but they forgot the exposition and the interior fixtures. 
All the Exhibits, it is claimed, are still the property of the State. Respectively, they belong to the Museum of Music, which only loaned them to Bertramka.”

Karel Ksandr, Deputy General Director of the National Museum:
“I think the position of the National Museum is quite
unequivocal. The Mozart Society has the option - and the National Museum will not oppose it - simply to apply for these objects through the courts.”  
“The Mozart Society litigated for over 18 years for the return of the stolen villa. And now will probably have to litigate for several more years to get back the exposition as well. The museum will not give the exhibits back voluntarily.” 
Jan Pavlok, lawyer for the Mozart Society:
“What the State once grabs and usurps, it will never give back to us? This is what is in this ‘Law and order State (of ours)’
The State should not be obstructive, but should face up to these matters responsibly.”
“Well, to apply the judicial way is again something that brings harm to us. It is quite obvious to everybody that it will take years, and that means, that it (the exposition) would not be at Bertramka for years.”

“The Mozart Society would have to, as did Mr. Muzikar, actually borrow the exhibits, which were once theirs, from the museum, and then through the courts very painstakingly prove ownership of each exhibit. Such a proof would not be easy. One reason is, that part of the Mozart Society’s archives and documents, including chronicles, remained stored in one of the outbuildings at Bertramka. However, the members did not have access to it for (the last) 7 years. When Mr. Volek recently entered it, he found the archives virtually destroyed.” 

“Well, this is only for strong nerves (stomachs). – Here someone must have gone completely berserk. They threw things from the cupboards onto the floor, as you can see, etc. And these here are opened boxes from which, pardon me, can you smell it already?”
René Svitavský, Pests control specialist:
“I can see it here. There are quite visible excrements from a marten. They are over there on the table too.”

Volek : ”Jesus!”

Svitavský: ”There is a lot of it around here.”

Volek: ”Oh, My God, really there is a lot of it.”

“So it will have to be collected, put into bags, loaded into a container and taken to a landfill.”

Volek: ”Well, this is a complete tragedy.”

“Hitherto, the responsibility for maintaining Bertramka and the process of handing over of the entire property lies with the Municipal Office of Prague 5. We caught up with the Mayor Milan Jancik at the City of Prague offices. There he promised us an interview.

Milan Jančik /ODS/, the Mayor of Prague 5: “I have no problem with that.”

Author: “Thank you very much, thank you very much.”

Author: “But a few days later his words were no longer valid.”

Radovan Myslík, spokesman for the Municipal Office of Prague 5:
“The Mayor is very sorry that he has no time now for you, he could give you his comments (on Bertramka) after three months.”

“Well, this would be rather late since the handover (of Bertramka) took place just now, right?”

Myslík: ”What can I say to you, except that the Mayor sends his apology.”

“When they could not in the end stop the Court Decision that Bertramka must be returned to the Mozart Society, then “they” were only about one thing - to plunder it, damage it, in order that Bertramka could not serve for a long time as an important cultural monument of Prague. And they might even be successful in this, because we have been able to restore only the concert room at present.”