“A door bell rang just as we were washing the floor with the girls. I had a bucket with water there and now I opened the door there was a bunch of men. One of my daughters moved back and spilled the basket; the hallway was full of water. I told them to wait until I clean it up. That was the kind of nice entrée. Then I told myself I didn’t care about them at all, so I said I got to make food for my kids. But they could not just walk around the flat on their own, so they kept waiting some more for me to finish making lunch. Then I poured myself red wine and asked them if they wanted to have a glass with me. Then I made a statement into the protocol, a terribly witty one and they left.”
“We met as the three friends. We had a flywheel dancer and banner with label: ,No military toys.‘ We took our children carrying their whistles and rattles. We sent the flywheel dancer past the Czech street. Then they made us scatter. Well as it went on, we were letting the flywheel around and whistling and then we left. I also went around toy stores with the leaflet and talked to the shop assistants who agreed with me and neither liked selling tanks.“
“I sometimes went to get something printed and they were sending the policemen right there pointing to the materials. So it was not really possible. Those were a kind of print faces in wooden frames with a text on the faces. You put black colour over it and then rolled a wall paint roller to make copies. I believe it is something totally strange for today´s society and still it was a primitively simple to work out. Then we issued a magazine in the framework of an Independent Peace Association, which was also multiplied that way. I think I never re-wrote anything in hand. My most important multiplied copy was a simple leaflet to make people come to the square of Freedom on the 17th November. That was my most significant home-made leaflet. But we already had a computer, so we used a modern technique.“
“In our block of flats I went to a certain meeting of the communist women or whatever it was. It took part in the school canteen I used to go to and where my children used to go. I listened and then asked why they have no bread rolls in the self-catering already at 4 o´clock in the afternoon. What silliness and it was terrible. It looked like they were going to spank me like a little child, who´s just messing about with what´s none of her business. Then I went to a meeting again and they did not let me speak at all. They already supposed I was going to ask about issues. But what a silliness it was. Today it makes no sense asking why there are no bread rolls in a shop, but back then everything was centrally controlled. Probably no one ever said anything to doubt their attitude. And no one at all came to me to tell me anything; even though some people knew me from the place of residence or school.”
"Just as many people thought it was impossible, meaningless, incomprehensible, timid or too brave on the contrary, I, on the contrary, had to. The primary reason really was that people who think what I think, got locked up for it. I stopped understanding it all. It was a completely absurd situation. So it didn't take me out of any of my protective zones, on the contrary; it seemed like the only possible way to continue living. Actually even for children. Even if they didn't get into universities, if the regime remained. So, it was very important to me that they realize that it is not a free life. That those guardrails allowed everyone to live freely. No one went anywhere with a gun around the houses and actually did not limit freedom. But personal freedom is broader than the fact that we have a nice life at home, we can go on trips around Czechoslovakia. For me, freedom is a much deeper and broader term."
"When Jaroslav Šabata and I went to the restaurant to get to know each other better, I think that he soon found out that we are no spies nor confidants, that no one put us there. And we got close quite quickly there. We trusted each other. However, he had the idea that if we are not yet well known generally in the dissent, then we will be suitable for such 'espionage activity'. He even suggested that we should join the Communist Party and transform it from within. I completely refused it. I said that it was not my interest at all. That I would either help the dissent, or nothing at all. So, we agreed pretty early on that I would help the dissent and there would be no “or and nothing”. He did not mean that I would cooperate with the Communist Party. He rather meant that like-minded people would actually be infiltrated in certain official structures."
„At home we listened to the Voice of America and Free Europe, which was not unusual. A lot of people did that back then. And once I heard a conversation between Václav Havel and Pavel Tigrid, and it made such a powerful impression on me that I thought I had to support those people at all costs. That they are sitting in prison with no chance to get their books published, and I'm actually doing relatively well, but that I have to start doing something about it. I have to join them.”
A mother on maternity leave fighting for freedom and democracy
Hana Holcnerová, née Ryšková, was born on 18th November, 1960 in Brno as the only child of the parents Arnošt and Zdenka Ryškovi. Shortly after graduating at the construction faculty VUT in Brno she married Petr Holcner in April 1984. The same year the husbands had a daughter Veronika and two and half years later another daughter named Eva. During maternity leave Hana Holcnerová was reading the samizdat literature and listening to radio broadcast of the Voice of America and the Free Europe. While listening to an interview of Pavel Tigrid and Václav Havel she decided to join the dissent and then became one of its most significant and followed characters of the dissent in Brno in the later 1980s. She signed the Chart 77, co-founded the Brno forum, printed and distributed samizdat, participated in demonstrations and as a reporter of the Eastern-European information agency (VIA) she was informing the foreigh press on violation of human rights in Czechoslovakia. Therefore she was persecuted by the state police, also had her telephone tapped and was arrested several times and then kept in custody for interrogation. In Brno she also actively participated in events related to demonstrations shortly after the 17th November, 1989 and co-founded the Civic Forum in the city. Following the revolution Hana Holcnerová had another son Jonáš. Then she worked for the Civic movement and in 1995-1996 as a press speaker of the successor party SD-LSNS and later the movement DUHA („RAINBOW“) in the office of the public ombudsman and a reporter of the home newsroom of the internet daily called Referendum. In 2017 she lived with her second husband, Václav Pokorný in Jeseník.