Jana Andrlíková

* 1939  

  • “The main thing is to be honourable, principled in life, and to do work that you needn’t be ashamed of. And to always tell yourself: ‘Yes, I didn’t do anything wrong.’”

  • “People said we were liberated and occupied. It was both at once. Dad was the chairman of the [local] national committee, and he said we should pack up fast and head home. The before we were shopping with Mum in Prostějov. Mum had told me to buy half a bread, that we’d buy a fresh loaf the next day. So all we had was half a loaf of bread for supper and breakfast. We couldn’t go to the town any more because we were in a hurry to get home. We came to the end of Prostějov, where the petrol station used to be. There was a queue there. My husband went there. At the time a litre of petrol cost about two [crowns] fifty. My husband paid a hundred crowns for ten litres of petrol and said: ‘Please, give us the petrol. We need to drive to Bohemia.’ The whole journey we had the radio on, and there they said that the main roads were blocked and that they were looking for military personnel and Communist Party members. Dad was the national committee chairman, and we were both soldiers. We wondered what would happen to us, that they’d probably shoot us dead, and what should we do. As a pilot, my husband knew the area, so we drove along all kinds of roads and country lanes. I have no idea how we got to Jičín. We arrived home. We left our daughter there. We gave Mum everything we had to eat because the shops were all cleaned out.”

  • “People blamed us for not defending the country [in August 1968 - ed.], but trust me that all of us would have defended the country until the very end. We’d never give our country up. [Q: Did you consider it an injustice?] Yes, we did consider it an injustice. We didn’t want to speak with the Soviets at all, nothing... Some camaraderie or something, not a chance. We saw them simply as aliens. And wherever we could, we made them squirm.”

  • “[Q:... the signing of Charter 77, or the fact that there were dissenters, people who were against the regime. Did the army know about that?] We were completely cut off from everything. We didn’t even know what people were discussing, you know? We didn’t even know what the Charter was about. We couldn’t even imagine it. We all had to be subscribed to Rudé právo [Red Law; the main Communist newspaper - trans.], so we read about it in Rudé právo. But we just couldn’t imagine at all [what] freedom of the press or freedom of opinion [meant]. When I wanted to say something in the army, I had to ask for permission. And when they said no, I kept my mouth shut.”

  • “The Soviets were here for an exercise in May. There was a regiment here from the Masurian Lakes in Poland. It was an exercise, they weren’t occupying us yet, we were still friends at the time. We played football, that was still fine. Before they flew in here, our regiment flew to Malacky, and the Soviet regiment trained on our airfield. The engineer told me: ‘Please, draw them the whole airfield. The stands, the inner and outer markers, the floodlights, the beacons, and where the tower is.’ So I drew them the whole airfield on a big canvas. Just imagine, they used it to land during the invasion. I thought I’d get a stroke when I worked that out later on.”

  • “Before they came, there was a spook [military counter-intelligence] opposite us, and we would always go with them on the bus. One time we were sitting next to each other and I told him they should strengthen the guard at the back gate because there were just three soldiers there, taking turns every eight hours. And just imagine, the tanks came in through that back gate. They broke through and came in that way. No one knew they were on the airfield. I wasn’t there at the time, but I heard all about it afterwards. They came to the tower, and everyone from the tower had to come out. They confiscated everything and re-tuned it to their frequencies, and suddenly planes started landing and that was that. We were occupied. Then they allowed our dispatchers back into the tower. So they were serving there together when our regiment came back from Malacky. There was a forest some fifty metres beyond the airstrip, and there were some soldiers camping there. I don’t what soldiers, but they were poor sods, the boys. They didn’t even know where they were going.”

  • “Until sixty-eight we weren’t allowed to be in touch with civilians at all. If there was some entertainment, it was held at the ‘L-norm’ [air-force canteen - transl.]. We were a pretty closed community at the housing estate in Mimoň. We had schools, shops, a supermarket, groceries, a playschool, tobacco. It was a big supermarket and it sold the same things as they do here. We didn’t even go into town. When we did go, it was only to buy a pair of shoes or something to wear. Otherwise we got in the bus at seven a.m., that took us to the airfield, we finished at four, got on the bus, and it took us to the housing estate and we went home.”

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A woman in the Czechoslovak People’s Army

Jana Andrlíková
Jana Andrlíková
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Jana Andrlíková, née Pulcová, was born on 24 July 1939 in Jičín. Her father Jaroslav Pulec was an important Communist politician, and from 1960 to 1970 he chaired the Municipal National Committee in Jičín. From her sixteen years of age until her retirement, Jana Andrlíková served in the army. In her story she thinks back on the tough times beginning in the army, when women comprised a minute percentage of soldiers. While stationed at Hradčany Airfield she experienced the military exercise Šumava of the Warsaw Pact armies, and the subsequent occupation of the airfield in August 1968 during the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. She now lives in Prostějov.