Jitka Borkovcová

* 1936  †︎ 2020

  • “I saw the reactions of some of our fellow citizens to whenever somebody treated the Germans humanely during the expulsion. The Germans were passing through our region; among them was a lady with a small child. My aunt gave them food and the village then blamed her for it. She then wondered about it, saying that those specific civilians did us no harm.”

  • “During the Hungarian uprising we had night shifts during which we recorded the broadcasts of foreign radio stations. Editors would come to visit us; as I was recording, Erika Hájková who was Hungarian by origin came to see me. I turned to her during the listening: ‘Can you tell me why do the Russians intervene in this situation?‘ She got very angry at me then, ran out of the technical department and looked for the boss to file a complaint at me. I was twenty years old back then.“ – “Did it have any consequences for you?“ – “It did but the head of the department Šindelář defended me and enabled me to stay. This incident even gave me an advantage. When the boss was about to ask his subordinates to join the Communist Party, he told me: ‘I am not going to ask you, there’s no sense in doing that.’”

  • “How did you pass the vetting? Was it difficult?” – “The vetting was funny. Colleagues were screening other colleagues. They asked us naïve questions. For instance, they asked us what a capitalist could request from us. I replied that I didn’t know, that I was never in the West. The commission gave hints: ‘What should you be doing on Sundays? Going to church!’ I retorted: ‘What are you asking me to do on Sundays? To go to work. So what do you want?’”

  • “My daddy’s cousin, whose name was Januš and who was in the party, worked in the radio. He liked my father very much and he said: ‘That’s how my party hurt you? So I’ll take care of your daughter’. And he got me a job in the radio. So it was luck. What can I complain about? In 1955, right after my school-leaving exam, I got work in the radio as technician.”

  • “When I went to grammar school, I was crazy for the opera. I went to the opera once or twice a week. Once I got an invitation for a play by a gentleman who played in the orchestra. It was for the rehearsal of Libuše. I think it was in 1954, at the occasion of some anniversary. It was before noon and I said to myself that it was impossible for me to not go there. My first class that day was gym and I asked our superb gym teacher if she would let me go to the opera. She told me to go and that she’d say I was sick. But unfortunately, the moment I got out of the school building, I ran into our class teacher. The only think that came to my mind was to say that I was on my way to a funeral. So they summoned my dad to the school and he did something that I appreciated very much. He backed me up. He told her that if I had trusted her, I would have told her the truth. He said that apparently I didn’t have trust in her. So I was punished by getting a bad grade in behavior but I didn’t mind it.”

  • “The poet Vašek Daněk was the president of the Federation of the Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship and he used his position to get Russian movies that were usually not screened here but that were He would always tell me come here or there, there will be the screening of the movie Blumbum. Or it will be down there in Berjozka – the movie Malá víra (Little faith). And I recall that one the most since there were so many people attending that they didn’t even fit in the Berjozka. So we went next door with a girlfriend, there was a hall and we sat down there. There were two rather obese Russian girls sitting next to us. Vašek came out and asked us if we wanted a translation, since it was in Russian. Mrs. Dušková was already getting ready for the translation. Suddenly, the Russians sitting next to us said: ‘Nět, ně nužno!’ And Vašek went all red in his face saying: ‘Madams, are you from the radio? No? So who invited you to come here?’ It was so strong. They just left. I expected that he’d get into trouble for this later on but nothing happened.”

  • “I wasn’t directly at the broadcasting, I would just bring the messages from the shift. It was on the second floor and I would bring it to Studio 7. Opposite to Studio 1 you go upstairs and there is a gallery on the first floor and a connecter. They didn’t find that one either since they didn’t know about it and above it was the Studio 7. A colleague, Miroš Svatoň and I don’t know who else was there until the morning of August 22 and then it was over there.”

  • “Then, in the summer, there came the Sentences. Hanka Kofránková came. Usually, people would just sign it, but I added also that I was an employee of the radio. So the foreign radio stations clung to it and broadcasted it. That’s how my offence started. Those poor fellows sent the kindest guy from the technology department of the radio to me so quite naturally he didn’t get to speak much as I was trying to persuade him: did you read it? Do you have something against the Sentences? It’s all very humane and the claims are quite normal, there’s nothing exaggerated in them. And that Vláďa says at one point: ‘hey, don’t you want to take it back?’ ‘What?’ ‘Well, take back that signature’. ‘Have you gone crazy?’”

  • “We went to the radio from Pankrác, Olbrachtova Street, where we had a flat. But I didn’t walk in through the reception, but through the garage. The radio was still broadcasting even though that the Russians were already there. I was carrying the messages from the shift on the second floor to a number of places from which they broadcasted. Jarda, my husband, was in Balbínova Street where the Russians were arriving with their tanks and the people were fleeing. I met Vlado Príkazský and I showed him through the window: ‘look, Vlado, over there in the door, that’s my husband. Do you think you could bring him here?’ So he took him there and then we spent the rest of the day there with Jarda, until the evening. It was the last day when they still broadcasted from Studio 7. Then they packed it up and the broadcasting continued from the various bureaus.”

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„People tend to focus on the inconveniences and they forget what they have“

Jitka Borkovcová - Contemporary portrait - the cut
Jitka Borkovcová - Contemporary portrait - the cut
zdroj: Soukromý archiv pamětnice

Jitka Borkovcová was born on December 18, 1936, in Prague. She spent the war years partially with her relatives living on the countryside, but after the war resumed living with her parents in Prague. Her dad was a traffic policeman and later became a chief constable at the police. However, as he did not join the Communist Party, he was dismissed after 1948 and had to make a living as a manual worker. Jitka was lucky as she was allowed to graduate from high school. However, at a later stage, she did not get a recommendation for university studies because of her father. Thanks to the intercession of her relatives, she joined the Czechoslovak Radio in 1955 as a technician. In 1957, she married the „politically unreliable“ Jaroslav Borkovec, who had been in jail for trying to illegally cross the border. He had also to do his compulsory military service with the auxiliary technical battalions (so-called PTP). Since 1960, Jitka worked in the radio as a sound technician and began to work more closely on literary and dramatic radio production. In August and September 1968, she participated in the anti-occupation broadcasting that was based in a makeshift studio on Vinohradská třída Avenue. In the era of the so-called ‚normalization‘, she became involved in developing stereo radio broadcasting and frequently collaborated with director Jiří Horčička. She also participated in his extraordinary radio dramas of the time. In the mid-1980s, for health reasons, she left her job as a sound technician. In 1989, she became a signatory of the petition “A few sentences” and for this she was persecuted in radio. But events soon took a different turn; Jitka Borkovcová remained working in the radio even after her retirement. After 1993, she spent seven years as a technical editor on the editorial board of the “A Guest in the House” program on Radio 2 - Praha. She also briefly worked for the private radio station Classic FM and since 2001, she has cooperated with the youth editorial board of the Czech Radio training young people interested in working at the radio. Jitka Borkovcová died on 12 April 2020.