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Vlasta Jakubová

Vlasta Jakubová was born on March 13, 1925 in Oždany, Slovakia. During World War II she was engaged in the Czech resistance as a contact to her uncle, Colonel Josef Robotka. After February 1948, she joined the anticommunist resistance, again working with her uncle. She was arrested for this “treasonous” activity on August 6, 1949 and given an eighteen year prison sentence.  Her uncle, General Josef Robotka was sentenced to death and executed in 1952. Vlasta stayed at Cejl, Znojmo, Ruzyně and Pardubice prisons and work camps at Minkovice and Chrastava. In 1959 she was set free on probation.

 

 

“We didn't sit in the corner, we didn't cry. We thought up games,

or we asked each other scholarly questions.”

 

 

 Interview with Mrs. Vlasta Jakubová, née Nováček

 

Questioner: Klára Pinerová

This interview's English translation has been gratefully done by Mr. Ondřej Kalenský.

 

What are your memories of your childhood and parents?

My mother Maria was Hungarian and in 1921 or 1922 she married my father Antonín, a Czech state trooper. I was born on March 13, 1925 in Oždany, Slovakia where my mother was born. My brother Karel and sister Lenka were born there later. Lenka died when she was fourteen days old.   I didn't attend school until we moved below the Tatra Mountains, to Svätý Ondrej nad Hronom, because there were concerns about me being placed in a Hungarian school. Later, I studied at grammar school. From March 13-17, 1939 our family was forced to relocate to the Czech lands. We settled in Náměšt nad Oslavou, a town in Moravia near my father’s birthplace.  My brother and I didn't study at the grammar school because we didn't know the Czech language very well. In Slovakia we were only taught Slovak, thus I attended Third Council School. My teacher Ms. Sehnalová took care of me and six other girls who had come from Slovakia.  She taught us Czech grammar every day. Thanks to her I got into high school. I took exams for vocational and business school and was accepted by both of them. I chose the business school. Meanwhile, our country was occupied by the Germans and our whole family became involved in the resistance.

My uncle came in September 1944 and he resided with us illegally for seven months. We lived modestly near the forest. Uncle, Josef Robotka[1], stayed in a room with my brother. He always left early in the morning, before dawn and returned at night. He had a bike chained up to a tree in the forest. He always walked to the road from Kralice to Náměšt, came across the game preserve and headed toward Velká Bíteš, Velké Meziříčí, or to the forests. In Vysočina, there were two radio stations which were used for sending secret messages to England. I was connected to Dalešice, Třebíč, Velká Bíteš, and Velké Meziříčí. I was in touch with Michal Majer in Třebíč and in Velké Meziříčí and I was connected with staff captain Zajíček. My brother was intermediary to Brno because he was studying there. He contacted staff captain ZdeněkŽárský. Our mother didn't know anything about this.

 

How did your uncle ask you to cooperate with him in the resistance?

We did not discuss it. He just said: "Vlasta, you have a bicycle and I need you to go to Dalešice or to Okarec." In Okarec, there was an estate, where Rada Tří [The Council of Three][2] had meetings:  Professor Grňa[3], General Luža[4], Colonel Šteiner-Veselý[5], Colonel Robotka and Hašek met there.  Later, Ryšánek[6], the first republic's “non-com”, found out and reported the meetings to the Gestapo. Eventually, Hašek was arrested and the others went underground. We weren’t sure if anybody knew our uncle lived in our house.

 

Did you realize what may happen to you as a participant of the resistance?

To be honest, it was an adventure for me. I was seventeen or eighteen years old; I rode my bike and I wasn't afraid. For instance, I went to Dalešice where I had a contact address. I delivered what I had and in return I would get something for my uncle. Later, we managed it this way: forester Sedlák, who was also commander of the guerilla group Bíteš, had an assistant named Luboš. Luboš was a handsome young guy wearing a uniform. I used to meet him at dances. Parties were actually prohibited because we had to grieve for Hitler's soldiers killed in the East, but we were young so we got-together on Sunday afternoons at pubs, either in Zňátky, Vícenice or Jinošov. Luboš always knew about the parties. We often danced together which wasn't unusual and he would give me messages.  We did this long before my uncle was forced to leave the shelter of our house.

 

One day he waited for me at our home prepared with a briefcase containing some papers. While I looked in the case, which also had a revolver and pajamas, he said "You will bring this up to Stany." It was a place above the Náměšť castle. "I'm going to go on foot walking a bicycle and we will meet there." I was supposed to pass him the things at 5:00 pm. I arranged a date with a guy so as it wasn't conspicuous. Trouble happened instead. Uncle came there earlier and waited for me. By this time, the Wehrmacht had occupied the castle. There was the Glazarka factory where the German's torn and bloody clothes were delivered from the battlefront to be repaired. The whole class from my business school worked there. Later, I worked as an interpreter because in the packaging room there were two girls Kathrin and Elen, both from Hungary. Elen was going out with the paymaster and Kathrin with our boss who came from Austria. Because I spoke Hungarian, I helped them with what they needed.

 

I'd like to finish the story about my uncle. I was unable to meet him, because as he told me later, his identity papers were checked by two servicemen. He held counterfeit IDs, but this time he was asked why he was waiting there and where he was going. He said he was waiting for a young woman to accompany her on the way from the railway station so that she wasn’t alone. After he realized they would wait with him, he sat on the bicycle and rode away. The servicemen shot at him, but missed. They waited for the young woman (me) and together we went to the forest office. The paymaster, who knew me, was there and said: "Fraulein Vlasta, what are you doing here?" I said: "I don't know. They could have arrested me, because it’s after curfew." After curfew it was prohibited to go out. 

 

The paymaster told the soldiers to accompany me across the castle park and I ran home. First, I put the briefcase in the rabbit hutch where I kept white rabbits for their fur which I used to trim the bolero jackets I wore to my dancing lessons. The next day Luboš came for the briefcase and, fortunately, everything ended up good.

Then, the year 1945 came and we began to foresee rough times as the communists started to show their teeth. At that time my uncle was at VO-3[7] in Brno. In 1947 he and six other colonels were ordered to attend the University of Vorošhilov in Moscow. From there, they were supposed to leave as generals. There Uncle was contacted by a Russian intermediary who asked him for help for the release of two Czechoslovakian colonels jailed in Moscow since 1945. At Christmas, he and Skokan[8] went home and delivered a note to their wives asking them to send a request for a pardon. They hoped to get it into Stalin's hands. While flying to Moscow with a letter of request, it appeared that there was a possible leak of information to the other colonels and one of them sold them out.  In Lviv they were dropped off, undressed, searched and interrogated. The letters were found so they were sent back to Prague. First, my uncle went to Tábor, but he stayed for only two days. He came back saying he had been dismissed. Then he got sick, went to a military hospital, was discharged and placed on pension.

 

How old was he in that time?

My uncle was 41 years old when he moved to Velká Bíteš. In addition, he had a flat in Brno Alfa where I also lived. I lived in a studio flat and they had a two-room flat. When Uncle came back from the hospital he visited me in Alfa saying: "Vlasta, the time I will need your help is coming." Then, I worked as headmaster Ryšánek's secretary in a construction company where military objects were built.  Zdeněk Žárský brought me a new typewriter and I had to type everything in a secret typeface. I pretended I had a boyfriend in Holland and I wrote him love letters. Between the lines I typed messages in the secret typeface. The letters were delivered to an address in Holland. An appointed person took them away to Munich to two colonels, my uncle's friends, who had been in touch with him before. In the meantime, my uncle sent my brother on the other side of the border to be instructed on being a courier. 

 

In addition, I let agents I didn’t know into my flat. They usually came at night. I gave the agent something to eat and then he asked if he could have a bath. It was a kind of password. He took off his clothes and I looked inside his tie. If the tie showed he was the right man I would give him another contact.

 

Was it continuing likewise to the arrest?

At first my uncle was arrested on July 25, 1949 in Velká Bíteš but unfortunately, I didn’t know it. Staff Captain Zajíček who was sitting in prison since April and was horribly tortured wrote the note: "We will meet at the cross behind Bíteš, Kamil." With this note policemen came on July 25 to my uncle and he didn't think about it and got into the car. They blindfolded his eyes, stuffed his mouth, and handcuffed him. First they took him to Špilberk, Brno. He stayed there only for a short time. After, he was placed at a governmental villa in Pisárky. I didn't know it. When he didn't come home, my aunt went back from Bíteš to Brno and visited me. I wasn't at home. She tried once more and let it be.

 

I realized I was being spied on. If I wanted the spy to sit and wait I went in an elevator on the roof and walked into another elevator. I carried out what I needed and I returned up the same way. Then I did some shopping. I didn't mind being followed.

 

When you were finally arrested?

I was arrested on August 6, 1949 in an office. At 10:10 am, four policemen came and interrogated me. They said their incantatory sentence: "Are you Vlasta Nováčková?" "Yes." "You are arrested for anti-state activity. You will go with us." I responded: "It must be a mistake, mustn't it?" So they searched my table where I had nothing except for one application form of an officer Burda who wanted to work in our company, and a voucher for a holiday stay in Šumava. Seeing the coupon one policeman remarked: "You had planned it well to escape." They thought I had arranged my escape. Actually, I would have fled if I had known my uncle had been arrested.

 

But you knew you were spied upon, didn't you?

I did, but it had been only for a short time. After my arrest, they went with me to my flat and they searched it. In the evening, I was going with my fiancée to the lake. I was asked to write him I had to leave on business. Josef actually received the note and he was angry I dared to go. He didn't know I was arrested even though I wrote him "I’m arrested" with lipstick on my mirror.  He didn't notice it or my message was wiped off. I've never found out. I was driven to an interrogation at Příční[9], where I stayed a long time – even after sunset. Then, I was taken to Orlí[10]. Two female prisoners were already there – Jindra Jetelinová and Nina Tesaříková, both from the Světlana[11] case. Jindra asked me: "Why did they catch you?" I didn't trust anybody so I replied: "I did nothing bad. I don't know why they arrested me." I was interrogated every day and it was much worse than bad. Initially, they gave me dinners from the restaurant but that ended quickly. Sometimes, there were no fewer than seven policemen with me. Once, I was left there for twenty-four hours with my arms and legs bound – it was very unpleasant. Well, I don't like talking about interrogations because it was very demeaning so I don't like looking back on it. After being interrogated I was put in the Cejl prison where the conditions were better.

 

Did your parents know you were arrested?

They knew nothing at all. Even Josef didn’t. Later, he was arrested and sent to Mimoň. My parents were on vacation in Slovakia at that time and when they returned they got a note from Nina who was freed in the meantime because she probably wasn't connected with the Světlana group. The note stated I was in detention under investigation at the police station at Orlí Street. She also told them I could receive a package and clean clothes every Thursday. I had one pair of panties, one brassiere, and one blouse. My parents brought me what they could. In the Cejl prison I finally found out what had happened to my uncle,  that he was in Znojmo.

 

Can I ask you, how you came to know your uncle was in Znojmo?

There were rumors in the prison. Somebody came from Znojmo and gave the information to prisoners who dished up food and they told everyone in Cejl prison. Those who were taken from Cejl to Znojmo did the very same thing. I found out my uncle was in Znojmo through sign language from the prisoners. On the first floor there were open windows and also open windows upstairs so we were able to be in touch. When my uncle came from Znojmo, he was placed in the opposite building and Slávek signaled me: "We are in one cell with your uncle, Colonel Robotka. I'm going to translate what he tells you." I was surprised and this way I came to know he had been at Špilberk a few days. Later he stayed in a government villa and in the end he was placed at Znojmo. He had troubles with his back. He had sciatica and for this reason he went to the hospital where a military doctor Mr. Vyskočil took care of him. We had contact with the hospital as well including Maryčka Filová who cooked dinners for jailers. And with the help of a commander named Nezdařil I could send cigarettes and food to my uncle. I sent him salami with cigarettes because he was a heavy smoker. I had plenty of food because my parents provided it for me. They sent me packages to Cejl prison every Thursday, but it ceased after the trial. Mr. Nezdařil helped us very much. He even arranged evening visits – not for me but for others. This was fatal for him, he was given a fifteen year prison sentence and later, I met him in Znojmo. He was one of the older ones who fought against communism.

 

Could you more intimately describe what the circumstances were in Cejl prison? How many people were in one cell and what hygiene conditions were there?

There were thirteen people in one cell. I stayed in number 64. There were bunks, five cells and at the back, there were rooms for solitary confinement. We were mixed. Female thieves and murderers were there a short time and were then sent to a commando.  Afterwards, they were usually taken to the Supreme Court. Each of us had a blanket, sheet and pillow. In one corner there was a woody shed – a toilet without a roof and a huge bowl used as a toilet. Every day we had to empty it to the drain in the courtyard. We could use one metal-sheet basin and can for water. In the second corner a small heater was placed with the day’s allocation of two kilograms of coal. We could see the courtyard from the window. Opposite were men's cells. A typist and wardens lived downstairs, inmates upstairs. Under our windows there was space for the gallows. At that time, executions were still carried out in Brno. When they were going to execute somebody they always painted our windows with lime so we didn't see anything. It was still a terrible feeling.

 

In the middle of the cell, there was a big table and two big benches. We worked on the table; for instance we glued bags or boxes together and, in the beginning we plucked feathers. We obtained scissors so we were able to cut. Our supervisor was Mrs. Zahradníková, called Máter who lived during The First Republic. The second in line we called Tečka, she wasn't good. But Mrs. Zahradníková liked us. She was so unpretentious and she would have never hurt us. She even helped us. I got along with her very well because she liked soldiers. After learning I was from a military case she used to take me and Jindra to the back to feed the chickens. On the way there we had to go across our courtyard and the big courtyard where men used to go for walks. At that time staff Captain Žárský, who didn't know I was at prison at all, was there. Once while going to the chickens, Máter took my hand and when Žárský was passing by she shoved me and I fell into his arms. This is how he came to know I had been imprisoned. The chief started to shout then so we could just say a few words. On the way back Mrs. Zahradníková asked me: "Listen, one man named Zajíček was brought there, do you know him?" "Kamil? Mrs. Supervisor, he's from my case." We did recognize who was on her good side. If she called you by your first name or nickname it was good. If she called you as a third person it was half-way and when she used the polite form it was pretty bad. I was called by my nickname. She went on: "We put him [Zajíček] just above you. But don’t you dare to communicate with him!" Thus, it was a signal to write him a secret message. So I corresponded with him and he would write me back.

 

Which way did you send these secret messages?

To home I sent them through Commandant Nezdařil. He not only gave us such things as cotton for crocheting, but arranged evening visits, too. I gave him the letters through a window and he delivered them to my parents. We could receive packages every Thursday. We wore civilian dress and had to send our dirty clothes home. My parents included food with the packages.

The prisoners, who were above us, always cast a rope with a bag. We cut it off and fastened ours, and they pulled it up back. My accomplice, Kamil wasn't accepted by his roommates. They didn't believe him because he came in a leather coat. He had been a head of OBZ[12] at VO-3 when he was arrested. Then we were sending secret messages every day while waiting for a trial.

 

When were you judged?

Our judicial proceeding was on May 26 and 27, 1950. I was judged in Brno. A secondary lawsuit took place in Jihlava and Brno.  The twelve of us were sentenced to 188 years, two life imprisonments and one death sentence. We were divided into groups allegedly to not give us so many death sentences. It was the opposite, though. We were given four death proposals they insisted on three and one was finally carried out – it was just my uncle. Two were given life imprisonments – Zajíček and Procházka. Ján Rajmund was given a thirty year sentence. He called himself "Me, Saint Ján" at the court. Interrogations were probably so cruel that he went mad. At the court he had to confirm personal data, then, he stood in a side room talking about the Bible. We got lesser punishments, an eighteen year sentence for me.[13] In the second lawsuit Zdeněk Žárský was supposed to get a death sentence. He got life imprisonment instead. He was judged along with Dr. Káňová from Brno, JUDr. Smolín, and JUDr. Křepelka. In Jihlava Tuček, an agent from the West was sentenced to death. 

 

Could you describe your trial?

It was a two day trial. We were brought in a paddy wagon from Cejl. My uncle, General Robotka was put in solitary confinement. He was in Znojmo the whole time and before trial he was moved to Cejl where I was able to communicate with him through secret messages. To the court, they drove us through the back courtyard where we were dropped off. Then we had to go through the basement and upstairs because our relatives waited in front of the court. We hoped we would see them but only one member of our family (with identification) could be admitted to the courtroom. My father was there for me and Aunt Helena was there for Uncle.  Immediately after reading personal data they had to go out and in the rows were sitting young policemen who were taught there like at school. We sat in two rows and each of us had their warden – we sat this way: warden, I, warden, and somebody else. Uncle was first, then Kamil Zajíček, Procházka, me, and others. We had our lawyers. My parents ordered me a lawyer in spite of me writing them a secret message that there was no point in it because the punishments were already decided and I would speak on behalf of myself and be served by the attorney authorized by the court. They ordered him and paid fifteen thousand crowns. He didn't help me though. The only thing he said to defend me was when he told me: "Miss, it would be best if you confess everything as a hero." When he defended me he said they should take my low age into account, that I was young and I did it thoughtlessly, that my uncle impressed me during the Protectorate and I was under his influence. At the end we said what we wanted. Then they asked us if we regretted our sins.

 

Did you anticipate before the trial that the sentences could be so high?

Yes, I already knew it. During interrogation, they told me that if I confessed I could be given two years but if I didn't I could be sentenced to twenty years. Though, I said: "Mr. Officer, it doesn't make any difference whether two or twenty." Everybody used to say the same because we believed it would change. But at the end it ended up that we were in prison for ten and more years.

 

What did you think about when hearing the eighteen year sentence?

As I said before, eight or eighteen, it didn't matter but there was one death sentence and it touched me. I didn't expect it but still I hoped it would be re-judged. It was rejudged, but the original sentence was confirmed. My aunt hadn't seen my uncle for three and one half years. When they sent each other secret messages they had to burn them immediately after having read them. Always, there was a warden who was willing to help. Therefore, when judging them we should say they weren’t all bad, there were people who helped. It was a great help indeed when my uncle was able to write his last message.

 

In which prison did you stay after the trial?

After the trial I was in Znojmo for a year. We were brought there in June or July. We were driven in a bus and didn't know where we were going. There were twenty-two female political prisoners. We were abruptly dropped off at Znojmo prison courtyard and put into two rooms. They were big cells for eleven girls. There was a flush toilet. At Cejl prison we had only a bowl to use for a toilet. We did nothing there. For breakfast we got black soup with bread and something different for lunch. Along with Jana Papíková we used boxes from cotton to make playing cards and we played mariáš for whole days. On the opposite side was a court building so we couldn't send secret messages to anybody. A female retribution prisoner[14] distributed food and for half an hour she took us for a walk in the courtyard which was about six meters long. One day while we were walking there I suddenly heard: "Ssss, fifteen!" At Cejl when we felt somebody was spying us we cried "fifteen." It meant pay attention. Jindra and I looked at the windows and at once we saw it was Nezdařil who helped us at Cejl. At Znojmo we stayed for a year and we couldn't go anywhere. Downstairs there were dirty tiles. We scrubbed these tiles with sand so we knew who came into the prison and who left. There I found out my uncle was at Ruzyně prison. Even his wife didn't know it. She was united with him just four hours before his execution. My uncle was executed on November 12, 1952.

 

Where and why were you transported from Znojmo to other prisons?  

We wanted to go to the  commando because we heard it was cool there. From Znojmo we got there by pure coincidence. While we were cleaning the tiles two men came in and one stood there saying: "Oh my god, Vlasta, what are you doing?" It was my brother's schoolmate from Brno and later, he was a supervisor in Znojmo. He asked me if he could do something for me. I replied: "Yes, and not only for me but for everybody. Could you take us to anothercommando? We have nothing to do here." This discussion took place on Friday or Saturday and on Monday or Tuesday there was a bus prepared for us. We were brought to Brno and in two days we were taken to a commando in Liberec where the supervisor organized us. Maryčka, Marie Havelková and I stayed at the prison. Maryčka was in the kitchen, Marie was in the laundry room and I was with another retribution female prisoner named Romana who did a good job as a custodian. Other girls were taken to Minkovice, Chrastava, Varnsdorf, and Jilemnice. There were approximately six commandos in the district of Liberec. Immediately, everybody knew a transfer came from Brno and inmates who were there gathered chocolate and smuggled it up. In addition I tidied up the supervisor’s office. Two days later I requested to go to the commando. I was there twice and the third time he let me go. So I went to Minkovice[15].

 

What were the accommodations in Minkovice like?  

We lived in a villa where there were double-bed rooms. There were more than sixty people. We ground glass into small stones which were gilded from the bottom side for costume jewelry rings. They were sent to many countries all over the world. In Minkovice we had some free time and played volleyball. We were allowed to have visits every month and we could sit together at one table. We had contacts with Jablonec where they made glass jewelry and buttons, too. There was one engineer who delivered materials to us. Once, we told him we would like to have some glass beads and he brought them to us. We made a variety of boxes and gave them to our families during visits. They were beautiful things. You may be interested to hear that once, we persuaded the supervisor in Minkovice to allow us to go help farmers. It was summertime and we said: "Mr. Supervisor, there’s a lot of work in the fields, isn't there? Some help would make things easier for the farmers, wouldn't it? Shouldn't you suggest that our commando go from Minkovice to Dubí where there was a lack of a work force to help them harvest their corn?" He did suggest that. A bus arrived and they arranged it with JZD[16] in Dubí near Česká Lípa. We stayed in the castle of Rohač z Dubé which was in horrible condition. They gave us some straw and two blankets and we were satisfied. We were in the fields every day. We helped the farmers and we were out in the sunshine. We were there for a week or two and our supervisor was kind. He was married with two kids. Once, Jindra and I went to the woods where we picked some heather. Even though we walked an hour there and an hour back, nobody was looking for us.

 

Did the thought of escape cross your mind? 

No, to the German Democratic Republic, no chance! There wasn't a place where we could escape. Maybe if it had been to West Germany or to Austria. We liked the harvest time. From Minkovice, Jindra and I wanted to get to Mamka who worked in the laundry room in Chrastava[17]. Mamka Jetelinová and Jindra Jetelinová were mother and daughter. Both were sentenced; Jindra got a fifteen year sentence, Mamka got a seventeen year sentence. Later Jindra's punishment was reduced to five years and she went home from Želiezovce[18]. They never were together except for at the Tuchněchody brickworks, but it was only a short time after the trial. Mamka was placed in Chrastava. Mothers and daughters or sisters weren't allowed to be together. Despite this fact we wanted to try it. I told Jindra to request first because they would allow it for me and reject it for her and we would be separated again. She said, though, I didn't want to go with her so we applied together. The supervisor allowed it for me and Jindra's application was refused. So I was in Chrastava with Mamka. In March 1952, we were brought to Pardubice. On the way there we took girls from Kutná Hora, so we had a full bus, forty women came to Pardubice where it was filled gradually. I was in the second transfer that went there.

 

What conditions were in Chrastava?

In Chrastava we worked in a textile mill where one male supervisor or female supervisor guarded us. There were more than sixty of us. We lived in an old prison probably from the time of Maria Theresa, but we were free, only at night were we locked up on the floor or in the whole prison. We could go out of our rooms because the toilet was in the corridor. They were single rooms but, two lived there. In the morning at five we got up. At six o'clock we had to be out in front of the prison and we walked to the factory in three or four lines. We walked across the whole town square, everybody knew who we were. We were perfectly dressed in working clothes. We had white blouses, in summer working clothes made from unbleached linen. We marched like a company of soldiers. The supervisor walked at the end and delivered us to the textile mill, where we changed to working dress and went to the working place where we were taken by civilian female wardens. There were many Germans and they helped us a lot. For instance they received packages sent by our parents to their homes and then they delivered them. First, I was at Abzugkolony, where we worked with spinning sixty-eight spindles of yarn. We had to hold it tightly and thread it quickly.  In the beginning we all had burned hands. Once I worked for a while at a weaving mill while Mamka was at the roll of cotton which was used for thicker thread. We also took some spindles and at home we made one thick and then we knitted a sweater without permission. We dyed it in prison. I even had it in my civilian life.

 

How did you get knitting needles to knit a sweater?

We smuggled them from the mill. The supervisor couldn’t examine us when it was a man. Actually, there were only men. We smuggled everything – from food to panties because it was trendy to have silicone panties and we didn’t have them.

 

What was arrival and welcome at Pardubice like?

Arrival wasn’t easy. We got off a bus and they led us to Václavák[19]. And then every two steps we saw a guard standing with a machine gun. We looked surprised, like fools because we had never experienced anything like this before. There stood a female supervisor with a machine gun. We later called her Eskule. She was Slovak, short, evil, unpleasant and fat; she hated us  from the beginning. Nevertheless, the guns surely weren’t loaded. So they took us to "A" because that time only "A" operated because at "B" there were still men who were later transported somewhere. We had to clean and paint there and place beds. Then, we were divided into “A” and “B” because we grew. In one room there were twenty-six people and thirteen double-beds. There was a narrow aisle and two windows. We walked barefoot because the floor was so clean that one could eat off of it. Sometimes we had to scour it twice a day as  punishment because the beds or blankets weren’t straight according to military directive. We were tyrannized that we had to wash the floor again and again even though it was clean. We found the best way to deal with this was to soak it with water. As time went by the floor began to rot. Then, they had to move us and started to build wooden houses. At first we all were at "B", then "C", "D", and finally "E" building was built.

 

At Pardubice there were a lot of female university students, who took care of us and gave us talks. Fráňa Zemínová[20], congress woman for the National Socialist Party always invited us to the hospital sick house and when she was in a good mood she told us stories about parliament.

 

You mentioned sick house, could you please specify what it exactly was?

It was a section of the hospital on the third floor of the “A” building. There were three rooms where sick or elderly women were, for instance, Fráňa Zemínová. Our doctor, Mrs. Koláčková from Brno worked there as a prisoner-doctor. She was from the Světlana case, then she was freed and another woman assumed her place. She was a half-retributive woman-prisoner who wasn’t very helpful to us. Then, sick house was made at "B". There were also tuberculosis patients who had to be separated. When the building “E” and hospital were built, these tuberculosis patients were taken to the hospital.

 

The hospital was a special building?

Yes, a special building. There were "A", "B", "C", "D","E", and sick house. All around was a sniping zone where there were five watch towers which guarded the whole prison. On Václavák, there at the end were a laundry room, the only showers in the prison where we could go once a week to take a shower, and a kitchen where we went for breakfasts and dinners. In addition, at back at the left hand side was a house where there were servicemen. Their supervisor was a civil servant and there was Jech[21], a well-known safebreaker. He hated women. He robbed safes all over Europe and was arrested in Holland, where his girlfriend betrayed him. He got a life prison sentence and was freed after twenty-three years from Pardubice. In a week he was back, saying he couldn’t go back and that he couldn’t get used to his home in Pardubice. I don’t know how it ended up with him.

 

Did a serious injury happen to you in prison?

Just once, when steam went off onto my face. This happened in July 1959 and in October I was released from the hospital. I had blotches on my face. I couldn’t wash for two years; I could just spread it with some creams.

 

How did the injury happen?

Steam from a thermos bottle spurted out at me. It was a small thermos bottle which miners or laborers took to work. Every day we made chamomile tea for Mrs. Kriegelsteiner, because only  the technical department had a stove in our work area. When this happened, Helena had put the lidded thermos on the stove. It started to heat and I opened it. The lid flew up and all the liquid came at me. The worst was my nose and mouth because I cried out. They took me to the germ-free ward and covered me, even my head. I had a tube to breath. Sister Madla poured oil on me, applied sterile gauze, oil and then gauze again. I laid there and Dagmar Farská, the youngest prisoner, walked around, saw me and thought I was dead. She went in the other room asking: "Madla, who’s lying there?" And she responded: "Well, it's kind of tragic, Vlasta Nováčková..." She didn't wait, but, ran out and in ten minutes the whole camp knew that Vlasta Nováček lies dead at the hospital. Immediately the supervisor[22] found out, came running saying to Madla: "Why don't I know Vlasta Nováčková is dead? I'm the supervisor of her department!" And she said: "Mr. Supervisor, who told you she was dead?" "Well, the whole camp knows this." The supervisor finally went there every day. After eighteen days, they removed the mask I had on my face.

 

At Pardubice there was a hunger strike in 1955, do you remember what happened?

The hunger strike started at the call to breakfast. We lined up at the gate and when we came there some girls said: "Today we won't go to breakfast, because a hunger strike is starting." So we went back, only a few stayed. At that time they deliberately made us stuffed peppers; we never had them again. A representative of the minister came and talked to us to try and convince us to give up the hunger strike. We, who starved longer, were put on the first floor in the "A" building. We weren't put in solitary confinement because we couldn't fit there. At that time this part of the "A" building started to fall[23]. There were in total sixty-five girls. Every day, they brought us twenty-five liters of warm water and food, which we didn't use. The girls made sugar water, however. We stayed there longer than a week and I think six girls were taken to the Pardubice StB station. We gave up after a week or so, then the girls from Pardubice were brought and Komár[24], was the one who fasted the longest. She was in the hospital and they fed her, but finally she gave up, too. Nothing changed anyway. Newspapers weren't allowed and the food was the same.

 

What caused the hunger strike?

Because of ill-treatment, the food, we wanted newspapers, and some female supervisors were horrible. One of them we called Elsa Koch[25], then we said we started the hunger strike because of her; she was one of the worst. She was arrested at Kostomlaty[26] as a teenager and she signed up for the corps there. There were also two Slovak supervisors who threatened us with semi-automatic guns. And, we started the strike because family visits weren't allowed. At the beginning we had visits once a year, then every six months and finally, every three months. Then we broke the connection with our families, so we didn't want the visits because it pointlessly disturbed us. For instance, a week before a visit I was out of sorts because I was thinking about what I would tell them, what I would ask. The week after the visits it was the same. It was very sad. I myself liked when the visit was as late as possible. And when they left I was calm. At the visit I never complained. I was wondering what was going on at home. The worst were mothers; it was so tough for them. We had to care about them and look after them. When they got depressed they were somewhat mad. Some had kids at children's home, some with family. Two of them even wanted to commit suicide. We had to guard them so they wouldn’t do anything. We didn't guard Hroncová. She was a Slovak who was supposed to go home on a Tuesday, but one Saturday she hanged herself. The majority of her home village warned her that she would be killed if she came back. The second one hung herself on the day of the death of her children. She had murdered her kids by hanging them from a ladder.

 

When those that were married started to divorce, we guarded them at night as well. One woke up another. When one went to the toilet we immediately followed her. Sometimes the supervisors informed us about divorces to alert us to guard them.

 

Could you describe what the relationship among you, politics, and retribution prisoners was like?

I didn't encounter them until I was at Cejl prison; there were just a few of them. Then, we were moved to Znojmo and there was one retribution female prisoner as a warden. She received a short sentence; six years I guess, and she was very helpful to us. She tried to help us. There wasn't any food; we used to get two hundred grams of bread a day. We did nothing until winter when they started to bring us some onion and we peeled it. In this environment we had to sleep and eat everything so we started to flush it down the toilet until we plugged it. Then they took the onion away. Later they started to bring us cucumbers but only for a short time. Then I came into contact with retribution prisoners at Pardubice where we were brought in 1952 after  commandos were abolished. At Pardubice I met those I hadn't seen for a long time and it was rather pleasant. Retribution prisoners were taken there for a year. There were such cases as the directress of the employment office in Plzeň who hated us. She was named Matylda. I don't remember her surname. When they were set free in 1945 before being arrested, people hated her because she sent thousands of people to work in Germany. They dragged her on Plzeň's streets and they broke her legs. Despite her limp, she was still an attractive blond. We knew what she used to do so we didn't meet her and she didn’t want to meet us. She hated us saying: "If you hadn’t let yourself get arrested, we would have been in Germany." She might have been right, but she wouldn't have stayed there alone. There was, for instance, Anička. She was Czech but, she married a German and she was arrested for ten years, I think, despite doing nothing wrong. Or for example, Inka Tolišusová whose husband warred in the East as a German soldier; she helped somebody escape to the West and got a fifteen year sentence. After being freed she didn't forget us. Once a month she called me and others. I also met Manuel there. She and her husband were in the German army, but both as artists. She was a dancer and he a painter. Both were sentenced to death but, finally got a life sentence. She was freed in the 60s. She was a great woman. There were some women who informed on others during the time of the Protectorate, but we didn't have to meet them or talk to them. We didn't judge them. We were all in the same boat.

 

 What about relations with criminal prisoners?

They came after the retribution prisoners, after abolishing Řepy prison[27]. A lot of them came, mainly those who were sentenced to more than twenty years. They were from all parts of the republic; some of them were imprisoned since The First Republic so they didn't experience the Protectorate, or communism. After coming to Pardubice, they were surprised that there was a State Court. They weren't informed at all.

 

We didn't usually live together; although we didn't mind it. We got on well with them. Murderers said: "Don't you want my bread? I'll stay there for some time. You'll go home soon." Those who were arrested for embezzlement were pretty bad – they informed on us and didn't like us. They had to make money so they were given better work. When screens were manufactured, this was work they did. Previously, our girls who had children did this work so they would have money to send home. I can tell you that we never stole anything – when we wanted something we asked for it.

 

In addition to those who were arrested for embezzling and criminals at Pardubice, were the Romany arrested as well?

Yes, they were in one cell in the "D" building. Once, six or seven sisters were arrested there. During that time I worked at “B” in the technical department where we had an office made from a solitary confinement cell. One of the young girls had epilepsy. We heard an awful cry and she was dragged to the hospital. We looked from the window and talked about what they should do. They were quite polite towards us even the two who were political prisoners, for example Iboja and Ilona who were arrested because of Gypsy king. They received fifteen year sentences and they were excellent girls. They didn't live with Romanies, but with us.

 

At Pardubice there was a department called "Castle"[28], do you remember it?

There were women such as Zemínová, Kleinerová[29], Rakša[30] and Kohoutová who lived at "B" on the third floor. We called them "Castle's ladies". There was also "Vatican", where the nurses were. When they went for meals they were accompanied separately. They were rather content there. Only they weren’t allowed to communicate with us and I don't know if they had contact with their families. Later they moved them and they lived with us.

 

How did wardens treat you?

We said we brought them up as we wanted. When they put murderers, thieves, and prisoners who were arrested for embezzling with our group, they recognized the difference. When they released us for home, they said: "What will we do there after having freed all of you?" We replied: "Mr. Supervisor, you have to get used to the new generation. We weren't swanky enough for you, we were the worst ones." "No, we've always gotten along well with you." Indeed, they were polite to us, it wasn’t the 50s. We stayed at Pardubice for eight years. I sat in prison for ten years and three months.

Could you compare the behavior of male wardens and female wardens?

I think men kept their distance and dared not to be rude. Female wardens were deliberately very rude, though, and didn’t treat us well. We had to scour rooms, even if there was nothing unclean. One warden, for instance, saw a small spot so she kicked over a bucket so we had to do it all over again.

 

Could you describe what a day in prison was like, from reveille to lights-out?

Líba Žilková and I got up at four o'clock. We had a common bathroom which was large like our cell and there were two gutters; in the middle was a fountain. It was built for inspectors that came to show them we had a bathroom. The gutters were made from sheet metal and we only had cold water. If we wanted a shower we could use the laundry room once a week. There supposedly was warm water but it ran out because there were so many of us. So, Líba and I got up at four to get water before it stopped flowing, because at six it didn't flow on the second or third floor. Then, we dressed and waited for roll-call. We lined up on the roll-call square. At that time there were about 360 of us, before people came from county courts[31].  The commander, second commander and sometimes the head supervisor came and the muster was carried out. They counted us and gave a command to start work. There were three dressmaker's rooms, one knitting room and a room where beads were strung. In summer we stripped the skin off of coypus. A few of us worked in the courtyard, taking rubbish away and caring for drains. At the midday we went in a line to lunch; the kitchen was at the back before the bombarding zone. After lunch we went back to work where we stayed until four or five o'clock – it depended on when our work had to be completed. We usually had free time in the afternoon and we could go for a walk and meet each other in the courtyard.

 

How do you remember Christmas?

It was horrible, in spite of the tough situation I said: "Girls, we won't celebrate Christmas because you will cry and I will have to look at you." We had carp and potato salad. The first Christmas at Pardubice was awful. We didn’t even have a little tree. 

 

I'd better tell about our ball at which we wanted to surpass women working at a workplace where cables were made. They made the first ball. It took place on our floor in "A". It was a beautiful ball because they could afford jewels which they made from miscellaneous wires – both aluminum and brass. It was spur of the moment. On Saturday they told us: "Girls, there's a ball in the evening. It'll be in the mirror hall and in the bathroom." We had a fountain there. We dressmakers really admired it. We brought together, me, our supervisor, Zdena Řehořová, and Olina Keithová who was an artist. Zdena invited us to the toilets in the dressmaker's room and said: "Girls, we have to outdo them! We had to organize the ball, but make it respectable! It has to have class." And Olina said: "What about having a theme, for instance 'from fairytale to fairytale' ". We assigned fairytales to girls, for example, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Salt Is More Than Gold, all fairy tales written by Božena Němcová, there was Rat-catcher by Viktor Dyk and everybody had to make their own masks. We didn’t have any material so we had to smuggle cloth from the dressmaker's room. We didn’t have any gold or silver like the women at the first ball had. I played Hadrián from Římsy with Fatima, an Indian dancer and black child. Olina dressed us up beautifully; I even had a false nose and visor which unfortunately kept falling down. Lili got a lovely crown and a beautiful robe; we colored the child black with coal and it had a turban. It was Jarka Stará. She made a fan from a broom to fan the princess. Mary played a dancer. She had to be mixed with Arabian or Gypsy because she had beautiful chocolate skin. She made a mini skirt, brassiere, and collected some beads. She was barefoot. Other girls: Béba played Snow White, because she had consumption so she had white skin. She had seven dwarfs who played Hasilky. They used a duffle bag for beards and caps. The prince was Zdena Řehořová, our leader, because she was tall. We had Nelson and two English soldiers. Some girls made English uniforms with crests. We even had Lady Pompadour there. Slovak Elena played Rat-catcher. How did it end? We had a great line-up from the mirror hall, in the middle there was the fairytale. Bobina Livorová stayed in the fountain and Nina Svobodová[32], our authoress, wrote everybody a verse. There was someone who introduced us and she read the poem to everybody. Komár and Merina performed the music – they drummed the pots. We didn't mind the consequences; the wardens knew from five o'clock that something was going to happen. We knew one informed on us. It was the stroke of nine o'clock when a metal gate opened. They were totally surprised; they didn't expect it would be like it was. They shouted: "Where did you take the material?  Jarmila Nováková had to write down our names, because we were introduced as, for example, "Hadrián from Římsy repors!" And Jarmila said: "Who are you actually?", because even she couldn't recognize us. There were about sixty of us. The organizers had to report to the supervisor in the morning. We all came there. At that time, our supervisor was Sultán[33] and he said: "What were you thinking? Why didn't you ask if you could do it?" And Olina said: "You know, Mr. Supervisor, we wouldn't have been allowed to organize something like that under the power structure." "Under which power? You have cultural opportunities.”  And Zdena said: "And you would go there and look and we wouldn't want that." "You know what, Řehořová? I regret most I didn't see you." He was in Prague at that time and he regretted it. Then he said: "Well, I should punish you harshly, but I won't. You have no privileges for three months." It was a minimum punishment.

 

We had to  visit Fráňa Zemínová at the hospital. I wanted to tell you that that afternoon Jiřina Štěpničková[34] was brought there. She didn't know it and nobody told her about it. She stood at the bathroom crying. We said to her: "Jiřina, don't be silly!" "But it reminded me of Barrandov. You can't imagine how beautiful you are. Even there they wouldn't do it better." She cried the whole evening and she regretted she didn't take part. Later she arranged cultural and dramatic gatherings. Mainly she narrated experiences from Barrandov. 

 

Were there any other projects you carried out to make evening more pleasant?

Jiřina Štěpničková started to organize theatrical activities. She was permitted to have a club. They always went to Václavák. There was the office of dentist Božena Káňová and it was liquidated and turned into a cultural room where girls could let their hair down. They went there to recite and they learned various characters. I didn't go there because I didn't like this sort of activity. I preferred Olina Keithová's club where she painted. We crumpled clay and she made figures from it. It amused me. Or, for instance, we kneaded bread. She made everything from bread. She did it at Cejl as well.

The first theatre carried out under the prison's direction was at Znojmo prison. Except for us the prison was full of blackguards and murderers. Once every fourteen days we went to the cultural room to read something and later there came the idea of playing theatre. When it was to start it was prohibited. There was interest in it then, but they never could carry it out.  At Pardubice at the end there was no performance. Jiřina obtained movies to watch. However, it was films such as 'Anna Proletarian' or 'How to Temper Steel'. They started to show us them when Antonín Zapotocký was the president. He wasn't a murderer like Gottwald, the previous president of Czechoslovakia. At that time there was an amnesty for mothers with children younger than fourteen.

 

When we are talking about culture, was it possible to borrow books or newspapers?

No newspapers, but as I told you we could borrow books such as 'How to Temper Steel' or some Russian translations. We didn't go to the library because there were only proletarian books. We weren't allowed to get books from home and we smuggled newspapers from men who were there.

 

Did you know about informers, for instance? 

We knew about two who informed. When we wanted guards to know something in advance we said it in front of one of them so we could get her to report and we could complain. On the other hand you could apply to report but it could have been refused. The second one was more intelligent. She was a Slovak prosecuting attorney. She was used to reporting to the women who were investigated. I don't even remember their names, because we didn't talk to them often, only when we needed something to report.

 

What about former communists?

There were only two: Jarmila Taussigová[35] and a secretary of Mr. Slánský, but she was polite. We didn't talk to Jarmila. Anyway, we could have never been friends, but we didn't do what the command wanted. We gave her a break. She was an honest communist even we could believe.

 

You mentioned that you worked at the technical department. Could you tell me, what was it like?

From 1956 I worked at the technical department till my release. At first we were sent to Ruzyně where they gave us an office. At the left hand side, we were working, while at the right hand side, there were offices for our scientists who were brought from Opava, Mírov, and Leopoldov. The Russians provided weapons to the Near East and we had to write the documentation. There were four girls and about twenty or thirty men. They translated it and gave us a transcript. We had to sign so we would never talk about it. At first they took sixteen or eighteen girls who had been chosen by their  documentation. It wasn't good because a few girls were immature. Molnárová didn't want to do it because she got a twenty-year sentence for sending documentation from MiG[36] 15 and 17 to the West. Now, she was supposed to work on it. She said: "Vlasta, I'm not going to tolerate it. I got twenty years for it and now I should do the documentation for it?" We reported to the Major who was in charge of our department and we applied to go to back to Pardubice. After some time we all were sent there. In a week they chose only four people. There wasn't Molnárová, it was Nina Švarcová who is a nun from Krakow, Blažena Kovářová, Jana Kučerová, and me. We were there two months and we started with sending secret messages to inmates. They found out from Jana Kučerová. At first, she was summoned and then the rest of us were interrogated. As a punishment we were sent to Pardubice. We made a lot of money there, but I was happy I was going back to Pardubice. In fourteen days we went back again because they needed us. So I, Božena Kovářová, Mimi Dřevíkovská, and Helena Huňková went to Ruzyně. We were back in Pardubice in a month again for punishment. This annoyed our supervisor in Pardubice because he was never told the cause. He furnished an office for dental surgery at Václavák in Pardubice prison. Then we had an office in one solitary confinement room. I worked there to the end of my imprisonment.[37]

 

As far as the technical department is concerned, when it was moved to Pardubice, it had to be incredibly classified. You weren't allowed to talk about it even among yourselves, were you?

Nobody knew. Everybody was curious. A few of them knew we worked there and they condemned us. I said to them: "It's the same command for us as well as for you. That I work at the office? I didn't apply for it. We were chosen. Unfortunately, though, we aren't allowed to talk about it." We were a thorn in their flesh for some girls, especially for heroes. We called them heroes because they were selfish and thought only about themselves. On the other hand we thought it was normal. We were arrested and we were ordinary prisoners like everybody else. They were annoyed that they didn't know what was going on.

 

Sometimes, we had to work through the night because there was a call from Prague they wanted it a day earlier. At night, in Václavák two guards walked. When they came to control us we unfolded everything on the table. Even the guards were curious. Only the supervisor knew what it was, because he was commander of our department. The guard quietly walked around and sent the second one.

 

Do you remember when and how you were freed?

I was freed on October 22, 1959. At that time, military cases were freed: successively Uhlířová, Kovářová, Jelínková, I, and Maryčka Fialová. I was freed on one day with Maryčka. We went to Brno and then I travelled further. In May, almost all the people from my group were freed.

 

Did you apply to be freed or to reduce your sentence?

I did not apply, my parents did. It was useless, anyway. At visitation, I said to my dad: "Don't demean yourself, it is useless." My fiancée Josef said: "I will try it. I have a few friends at the ministry." Even they didn't help. They just told him: "Josef, hands off the Robotka´s case." After being freed I had a ten year suspended sentence which ended in 1969. A year before I got amnesty for one year from president Svoboda because in 1968 I applied to go to America to see my brother and I had to have a clear criminal record.  On May 28, 1968 I departed for the  United States.

 

Did you know you were going to be freed?

No, I didn't. It was out of the blue. They came in the morning saying: "You are not going to work today. You are going to the release commission." A week before me, Jiřina Jelínková was liberated. We were brought to the railway station. We wore working clothes and one Jewish woman lent me her coat. We always wanted to depart in our military clothes because we could send back the clothes and six kilograms of food. It was a kind of thanks.

 

During these ten years in prison I made twelve hundred Crowns – I used it to buy a coat in Prague. My mom prepared some cloth for a skirt suit. After my release I had nothing to wear so I wore my mom's clothing as well. Later, my sister-in- law Valentina sent me clothes from the USA.

 

Did you have problems finding a job?

To be honest, I didn’t, because we were immediately directed to a position. When I came back to Valašské Meziříčí where I had temporarily stayed at my parents,  I had to go immediately to the StB station and then to the doctor. Before we were freed, chief Huňáček said: "If you have any problems, call me. Here is my telephone number. Nobody can cause any problems." I went to the StB station and they said they had prepared a position at the brickworks. My father was with me and said: "Well guys, no brickworks. I, even with my retirement pension, can provide for her according to law." They responded: "Neither you, nor the miss will decide it. We have a position at brickworks." I replied: "Could I have a call? I want to call to the supervisor in Pardubice. He gave us the telephone number in case we have problems. You don't have the right to put me at the brickworks. During the ten years I enjoyed enough similar employments. I can go anywhere I will be admitted." So they resigned. I started to work at a creamery. I was in a laboratory; I checked grease, butter, milk, etc. Everybody treated me marvelously and they wanted to feed me. I explained to them I had horrible problems when I drank fatty milk instead of skim milk.

 

The trustee of the whole plant gave me a section of butter, and I could take as much milk or cream as I wanted. When I moved to Brno, they wanted to put me at the creamery in Židenice,  but, I didn't want to because I still had one foot in prison and  I had to be careful. Somebody stole something and then it was missing. I went to a machine works at Královopolská Street.

 

Did you have any problems with your workmates that they were looking suspiciously at you or were getting you into trouble?

No, only when I came back to Meziříčí to my parents' and I was walking to work through the square I found out there was nobody in my way and people were avoiding me. I didn't realize it at first but later I found out they didn't want to talk to me because they were afraid for themselves. So, then, I took the back way to work and I made it easier for them. In time, they forgot it. You wouldn't believe it, but one evening they came to our flat to apologize. During the day, they were afraid but in the evening, at about 9 pm they rang and said: "We are sorry, but you know, we are afraid for our families. We aren't allowed to talk to you." I said: "It doesn't matter. I won't go through the square." I tell you, the first days were rough for me. You will be surprised where I used to go. I used to go to the cemetery. My parents didn't know it. I was calm there. After some time I found out I was followed. I didn't think it was policemen I thought it was a pervert instead. So I stopped going there.

 

Did your parents have any problems with you having been arrested?

Sure they had. My daddy was fired immediately after my trial. He was a county police chief in Valašské Meziříčí. He retired, but he didn't get any money so he had to find a job. Because he was a very good accountant his first employment was in RaJ – it was for restaurants and cafeterias. In half a year he had to be dismissed. When the boss asked why because there weren't any problems with him he was told that other employees might start to like him.  So he went to candy stores and bakeries. When President Zápotocký was elected it ended. At that time my father worked at a slaughter house and he stayed there. I found out about this from the packet they sent to me at prison. The whole firm helped us. After being freed I had no problems at all, especially at Královopolská. There were only people who did not cooperate with the state and were unreliable with police so we were accepted with open arms. There were about six or seven of us. Even communists treated me well. I stayed there for twenty-two years; then I retired.

 

After being freed, did you talk about prison and the things that happened in the previous?

Well, yes, when I was asked. I just told them: "Mom, Dad, don't ask me about the interrogation, because I don't like looking back at it. About other things feel free to ask." This is taboo until today, because it was so humiliating, not just for me but for everybody. As I told you, we didn't sit in the corner, we didn't cry. We thought up games, or we asked each other scholarly questions. There were three of us so we made an effort to think about other things and we didn't talk about what happened in the morning. I talked about our ball. We wanted to amuse each other. In the evening Zdena Řehořová and I continued with telling a fiction or detective story.

 

Thank you for the interview.

 

 



1 Josef Robotka [1906-1952]. Participant of antifascist resistance. Co-founder of Rada Tri [Council of Three]. In autumn 1939 Robotka joined illegal activities of Obrana Národa [Defense of the Nation] in Brno. In 1942 he cooperated with staff Captain Karel Štainer-Veselý, General Vojtěch Luža, and Professor Josef Grňa. He continued work in the military resistance organization Rada Tří (Council of Three). He became a member of the staff and later military assignee of the whole organization. He received many honors for his activity in the resistance, including the Czechoslovakian War Cross in 1939. He became involved in anticommunist resistance after 1948. He was arrested on July 25, 1949 and indicted for treason and spying. He was executed in Prague on November 12, 1952 at 5:40 am. After the fall of the communist regime, he was rehabilitated and in 1991, he was promoted to the rank of Major General in memoriam.

[2] Rada Tří [The Council of Three] – also known as R3 was the largest resistance organization in the district of the protectorate from 1944-1945.  Its political leaning was democratic, non-communist.

[3] Josef Grňa [1897-1967]. During World War II, he was involved in domestic resistance [in March 1939 he cooperated at the birth of resistance organization Petiční výbor “Věrni zůstaneme” na Moravě – The Petitions Committee “We will remain faithful” in Moravia]. On October 2, 1941 he escaped before being arrested by the Gestapo and he lived illegally until the end of the war. He was a leading member of the resistance organization Rada Tří. After the war, he was a prominent representative of Svaz národní revoluce [Association of National Revolution] which unified the members of the resistance. He was arrested in January 1950 and sentenced in 1951 for "not hindering and not announcing the punishable crime of anti-state activity of other people." His family was violently moved out from Brno to Rataje near the town of Kroměříž. In 1965 he was rehabilitated.

[4] General Vojtěch Luža [1891-1944]. Czech general, Legionnaire in World War I, leading member of Czechoslovakian antifascist resistance.

[5] Karel Šteiner-Veselý [1906-1993]. During World War II he took part in the domestic resistance, working with General Vojtěch Luža and Josef Robotka.

[6] Viktor Ryšánek, informer for the Gestapo of Brno. He was born on December 25, 1902 in Brno. He worked in the Czechoslovakian army and after the occupation he joined the resistance with Obrana Národa [Defense of the Nation]. The Gestapo apprehended him on December 10, 1939, and by mid-January 1940 he agreed to cooperate with them. He eventually formed an extensive conspiratorial web of people who cooperated with him and the Gestapo. To improve his trustworthiness, from autumn 1943 he had been stating he was connected with General Luža and that his group was a part of the resistance organization Rada Tří. After the war on October 7, 1946 he was sentenced to death and executed by Extraordinary People's Court in Brno.

7 Military district 3 in Brno.

[8] František Skokan [1912-1950]. During World War II he co-founded the Czechoslovakian unit which defended Libya's Tobruk Harbor. Later, he battled in the east front line with General Ludvík Svoboda. He was injured and went through a bloody battle on Dukla. After the War, he studied in Moscow. On October 8, 1949 he was arrested and on July 8, 1950, in a fabricated process, sentenced to death by the State Tribunal in Prague for treason and spying. He was executed on October 7, 1950.

[9] Office of StB [State Security] in Brno, interrogations were carried out there.

[10] Jail of local command of National Security at Orlí street, Brno. The prison had capacity for 80 prisoners. To this prison were placed prisoners of StB, National Security, and financial offices.

[11] Světlana – a resistance group in the region of Czechoslovakia which was founded by former guerilla Chief Josef Vávra-Stařík [his role is still debatable]. Světlana was founded in 1948 in Zlín. The group was named for tribute by Vávra-Stařík's daughter called "Světlana". The leaders were three men: Vávra-Stařík, Josef Matouš and Rudolf Lenhard. From March 1949 to May 1950, Státní Bezpečnost [StB, State Security] arrested over 400 citizens on the Moravia-Silesia border and in southern Moravia. The prosecutor's office along with investigators of the StB divided the members of Světlana into 16 groups which were in two years from April 1950 judged in 16 separate processes. All in all, the State Tribunal sentenced 16 people to death. In the end, 13 people were executed including Josef Vávra-Stařík, Josef Matouš, and Rudolf Lenhard.

[12] OBZ [Obranné zpravodajství] – military intelligence. OBZ took part in gradually assuming power over Czechoslovakia by the KSČ [communist party] in 1945-1948. After assumption of power in February 1958 it took part on disposing real or fabricated opponents of KSČ in the Czechoslovakian Army.

//

[13] Further punishments: Josef Štorek was sentenced to 25 years in prison, Rajmund Palásek to 20 years, Karel Hájek got 15-year prison sentence, Alois Tomášek 13-year imprisonment, Bohumír Endlicher 12-year imprisonment, Rudolf Tomášek 10-year prison sentence.

[14] Retribution prisoners – prisoners who were sentenced according to so-called retribution decrees for collaboration, whistle-blowing and other cooperation with the Nazi regime. In 1955 there were German retribution prisoners who after being freed moved to Germany and Austria.

[15] Working unit Minkovice for women in Liberec district. Female prisoners worked there for company Preciosa.

[16] JZD [Jednotné zemědělské družstvo] – United Agricultural Association

 [17] Working unit for women Chrastava in Liberec district where women worked for the Frýba cotton company.

[18] Želiezovce was a prison appointed for women found in Slovakia. The women were forced to work in agriculture in exhausting circumstances. For more at this prison see interviews with D. Stuchlíková and K. Moravečková at www.politicalprisoners.eu.

[19] Václavák – open space at Pardubice prison. It was actually a road leading through the whole prison. In the 50s there was a tree alley at both sides.

[20] Františka Zemínová [1882-1962] was a Czech female politician. During the years 1918-1939 and 1945-1948, she was a Member of Parliament for Československá národně socialistická strana [ČSNS – Czechoslovak national-socialistic party]. In the autumn of 1949 she was arrested at the age of sixty-eight and sentenced to twenty years in prison in a false trial with Milada Horáková. She was freed in 1960.

[21] František Jech who robbed the Imperial Bank in 1937.

[22] In the time when the injury to Mrs. Vlasta Jakubová happened the supervisor was Jaroslav Huňáček [1924].  He acceded to service of Ministry for the National Security in 1951. In October 1955 he was appointed to the function of chief in Pardubice prison [NTP no. 1 Pardubice]. He was dismissed in June 1964 allegedly for imperfection in 'agency and operative work' and mistakes in management. To this date he left on his request the service for Ministry of the Interior.

[23] About the reasons for the falling of the building, see the narration of Julie Hrušková (www.politicalprisoners.eu).

[24] Nickname of Julie Hrušková. For more about the hunger strike see her narration.

[25] Prisoners in Pardubice chose the name of a real person for the nickname for the warden Ilse Koch -  Margarete Ilse Köhler [1906 – 1967] was the wife of the commander of the Buchenwald concentration camp.  In 1941 she was appointed as the main commander of female supervisors at Buchenwald camp. She was infamous for sadism and the torturing of the prisoners. On her rides around the camp she chose prisoners with tattoos and she had lampshades made from their skin.

[26] Youth detention center in Kostomlaty pod Milešovkou.

[27] Women’s prison in Řepy was founded in October 1865. Sisters of Mercy of St. Borromeo took care of it. For a short time a laundry room with wringer was established and estates in the neighborhood were bought. A well was drilled and ducts established and provided for people living in the vicinity. The prisoners worked in agriculture, on fields, in the laundry room, or in the kitchen. In work rooms, they made sacks, repaired shoes, embroidered and tailored for business. An interesting fact is, Václav Babinský (1796 – 1879), the legendary and famous criminal from Špilberk, lived, worked and died in Řepy.  On November 30, 1948 after eighty-three years of existence, the women’s prison was dissolved. Here, Mrs. Vlasta Jakubová is incorrect. Criminal prisoners could not be transported from Řepy prison.

[28] Special department called "Castle" was built in November 1953 for "the most dangerous" political prisoners. Sixty-four women prisoners were placed there in isolation from other prisoners. For example, In this department were placed professors from Charles University, Mrs. Růžena Vacková, Dagmar Skálová, or Vlasta Charvátová. This department was dissolved in 1956. Besides this department, there were created departments "Vatican" for nuns, and "Underworld", where were placed women infected by venereal diseases, prostitutes, women suffering with mental disorders, or criminals.

[29] Antonie Kleinerová [1901 – 1982]. After the outbreak of World War II, Antonie Kleinerová became involved in anti-fascist resistance. She was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941. She was kept in the  Ravensbrück concentration camp. After World War II, she joined Československá národně socialistická strana [ČSNS – Czechoslovak national-socialistic party] and she was voted to the constituent National Assembly. In 1949, she was arrested and in a trial with Milada Horáková she was sentenced to life. She was freed on amnesty on May 10, 1960.

[30] Dagmar Skálová [née Šimková]. As a scout leader she was engaged in armed revolution against the communist regime which was organized by Major Květoslav Prokeš and lawyer Jaroslav Borkovec in May 1949. In 1949, she was arrested and on August 8, 1949 sentenced to life in prison. She was among the twelve women who sent protest letters from Pardubice prison to Secretary General of United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld in 1956. They expressed complaints about the denial of prisoners' rights in Czechoslovakia. She stayed in prison for sixteen years.

[31] Mrs. Jakubová means criminal prisoners.

[32] Nina Svobodová [by own name Antonie Malvína] [1902 – 1988]. Writer and translator. In 1931 joined the Czechoslovak folk party, since 1945, she was congresswoman of Czech national committee, since 1946 to February 1948 vice chairwoman of county committee of Prague. In February 1948, action commission expelled her from chamber of commerce. On December 23, 1949 was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of hard jail. In 1960 she was freed on amnesty with ten years of suspended sentence. On June 6, 1961 she was arrested again. In another fabricated trial with the Christian-Democratic  Party [Ing. Cuhra and others] was sentenced to 2.5 years and she had to finish her probation in prison – 4.5 years. She was freed on July 6, 1967 – again on probation. She was fully rehabilitated in 1974.

[33] His own name is Bohumil Mikovec [1919]. In 1950 he joined a group of prison guards. On December 1, 1952 he was appointed as a chief of Pardubice prison. From the service for Ministry of the Interior was released to March 31, 1955. The main reason was an intimate relationship with prisoner-doctor Jana Hánová, who he married after releasing.

[34] Jiřina Štěpničková [1912 – 1985]. Czechoslovak theatre and movie actress. Her son is the actor Jiří Štěpnička. During the First Republic she played in Osvobozené Divadlo, National Theatre, and in Theatre on Vinohrady. In film, she made herself visible in a movie Maryša where she played the main character. After the war, she lived abroad for a short time and came back to Czechoslovakia. She was a victim of one StB action when was caught when trying to emigrate. In 1952, she was sentenced to fifteen years confinement. A few of her colleagues received death sentences. She was freed in 1960 and nine years later obtained the title of renowned artist.

[35] Jarmila Taussigová-Potůčková, née Jankovská [1914 - 2011]. Member of the Communist Party, one of the main representatives of a Commission for party control. She was responsible for political activity in the Communist party of Czechoslovakia. She was sentenced in a fabricated trial with Rudolf Slánský in 1952 and was freed on amnesty in 1960.

[36] MiG [Mikolaj-Gurjevič] was jet interceptor designed in SSSR in turn of 40s and 50s. MiG-15 was one of the first successful jet interceptors with arrow wings. Its qualities showed especially in battles above Korea. Similar conception has more powerful type Mig-17 which progressively replaced it. MiG-15 was one of most widespread jet interceptors. In SSSR were made more than twelve thousand of these planes, license production in other states [including Czech firm Area Vodochody, where this interceptor was made till 1954] raised the number to about eighteen thousand.

[37] While reviewing the interview, Mrs. Jakubová added: "In civil for this department Božena Kovářová worked;  they delivered the work to her home. They wanted to deliver it to me as well, but I refused because my neighbors didn’t like that a Tatra 603 stopped at our house.  I told them I would work for them in Prague. They said that on normal circumstances I wouldn't be able to work even as a cleaner, so we broke up the contact. Božena had a lot of money to take care of her mother and father-in-law."

 

 
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