“I am a co-founder of K 231. In 1968 I had a public speech on ‘Women in the dark ages’. We had a motto: ‘For This To Never Happen Again.’ This motto loosened and fell down during the meeting. We thought: ‘It is a bad sign.’ And it really was a bad sign. Then it all began. After 1968 I was called in to the state police to explain what I had then said at the meeting of convicts in Reduta. I was so scared, because my daughter was five months old, I was still breastfeeding and I had to report at the StB in the evening. The interrogations were tough again. And I said: ‘If you had behaved then like you do today in 1968 and hadn’t sentenced people to prison for long years it wouldn’t have happened.’ … And the nasty things they said: ‘So, you married a political prisoner – unreliable. There wasn’t anybody else left for you?’ And I said: ‘How dare you insult my husband, an honest and hardly working man from a pharmacist family? He won’t get any proper job and that is why he is doing what he does.’ So I was the only one punished for the speech. And hard times came again.”
“I never was in a correction cell. I don’t know if women had any. I remember the constable František Dvořák from Hodonín that was executed. We cared about the corridors and it was our tast to hang the laundry. There were nets in the corridors so that no one could commit suicide and we were hanging the laundry in those nets. So we were traveling between the laundry and the corridors and so we knew where were the solitary cells, who was where and so on. Once, Lola Horníčková was a guard and we begged her to show us the correction cell. She was quite tolerant and so she opened the cell for us and we saw the retractable plank beds and a small dark window by the ceiling. And I saw Mr. Dvořák, he had to walk because there was nowhere to sit, the light was sharp and he had those sad black eyes and we knew we couldn’t help him anyhow. We knew that he would most probably be executed… This sight was a nightmare for several years. I saw the eyes in my dreams. It was the worst experience I ever had… But women didn’t have correction cells. There were slaps and the kind. I remember that Jarka Obrtlíková came back horrified that they gave her foot beating. Foot beating was quite common and it hurt a lot.”
“That was in Uherské Hradiště in 1950. There were confession booths left from the time when there were the Germans. The guerilla resistance there was strong and they executed a lot of those Nazis, who of course were allowed to go to church. And they [the state police] dressed up by the liturgical calendar. There are different vestments for Easters, Christmas and so on… and some women, who weren’t yet interrogated or finished with, went there for the police to obtain more information. They went there several times until they found out and spread it among the others and they didn’t tell the police anything more so the booths were closed. That was in the beginning of 1950. At Christmas we got pickled herrings because after that you were thirsty and water was scarce. We had it in a jar both to wash and drink and we had to be careful. We were allowed to go to the showers only after several months and we had to be economical with water, so we took parts. Later we also got a piece of a meat loaf. And we were also singing but the guards didn’t like it and they kicked at the doors of the cells. We weren’t allowed to do much but were singing. It was a mercy summer so we also prayed. But in Brno and everywhere else the guards kicked at the doors. And the Easters, we didn’t have newspapers, we didn’t know what day it is.”
“I accepted a job offer from Mr. Bruštíka who had a big food company in Brod called Raciola. They built a big factory with the money from a grant of the ministry of nutrition, released in the two year plan. And I started working as an accountant. There was a section of herbs, which was a substantial source of income to the state. There were modern mills, the herbs were drained and processed for export to western countries. We exported to Brussels, Belgium, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, New Yorku and Johannesburg. We had two international correspondence clerks in the office who spoke English, French and German and translated all the correspondence. And there was a representative in each state that provided a net of customers. This was done when Mr. Bruštík run the company. Everybody was against the system. We thought that it cant last very long, that it must fall down. And So we inserted pamphlets and other material into the sacks to refer about the state of democracy in our country. I remember the head of the factory committee was sentenced when they found one of the pamphlets. No other evidence was found but they already had suspicion that the information are leaking. I knew about it but I didn’t take part in it. The collectivization came in March 1948 and in February 1950 Mr. Bruštík was arrested.”
“I never had any beatings maybe because at the other interrogation, when they told me that they were going to beat me, I told Holub, who, after Grebeníček, was the second most brutal interrogator and he told me: ‘I will hit you so that you won’t recover. And I told him: ‘Look you are a man and I am a woman. Would that be brave to hit a woman? You come from a working class family and me too. And after all, Gestapo did that. And you are an officer of the Czechoslovak police and they don’t do not have the same practice as the Gestapo.’ And he was so stunned that he didn’t hit me. Because these people were scared, I wasn’t, I didn’t know about the brutal things they are capable of. And they tried different methods on me because they still had nothing on me. It was after we came back to the cells which was at four or five o’clock. The guard opened the cell and called my name, my maid name was Krmenčíková. ‘Krmenčíková, you didn’t wipe the dust properly. Go! The duster is over there. Go and wipe the dust at the office.’ I thought: ‘Would I skip on dusting the furniture…’ When cleaning, we were always looking for a piece of a newspaper or any information. Because we couldn’t read newspaper, not even have a pen. I told myself: ‘This must be a trap. And it was. A young man came and says: ‘There is an illegal movement, we are getting prisoners abroad. You are such a useful person, we will get you out, don’t worry.’ And I said: ‘Go to hell, I’m not going to listen to that. I shouldn’t even be here.’ And I run out of the office and I saw a man, we called him Chiang Kai-shek, poked his head out. He belonged to the guards upstairs where they kept the worst cases. And then I knew for sure it was a trap.”
Communism devastated the soul of the nation. They stole our future
Anna Honová, was born as Krmenčíková on August 8th 1926 in Uherský Brod. After her graduation at an economical school at Uherské Hradiště, she worked as a cashier clerk and accountant in Luhačovice. For a short period of time she lived in Prague in the flat of Mrs. Pokorná-Purkyňová, a granddaughter of Jan Evangelista Purkyně, which was frequented by the Prague intelligentsia, which also formed Anna‘s patriotism. After her return from Prague, she returned to accounting and accepted a job offer from Mr. Bruštík, the owner of a food company Raciola. She was accused of marring the interrogation, grouping with other subversive individuals and distribution of anti-communist pamphlets, and spent two and a half years in custody in Uherské Hradiště and Brno. In Uherské Hradiště she was interrogated and threatened by the feared interrogator Holub. In 1968 she co-founded the K 231 organization i.e. the Club of Former Political Prisoners and was again interrogated at the state police. She is an administrator of the local branch of Confederation of Political Prisoners in Uherské Hradiště and a chairlady of a Revision Commission in Prague. In 2007 she was honored by the Czech president Václav Klaus with the Medal of Merit.