“It didn’t take long, we were already occupied, and because Mum was Jewish, she wasn’t allowed to go [to the theatre - ed.] or even watch me play. Because she already wore the star back then and she wasn’t allowed into the theatre. Soon after, someone denounced me – how can a child perform at the National Theatre when their mother is Jewish. I was immediately banned, and I wasn’t allowed to go on stage at all. Mum and I also agreed that I would leave Mrs Zdeňka Zabilová as well, so as not to cause her any trouble. So that was my first experience of prohibition.”
“My parents were arrested in August 1943; someone probably reported them. I escaped because it was in August, it was summer, and I was on holiday away from Prague, I wasn’t home. So when the Gestapo came, originally, just to arrest Mum, and because the flat was very pretty, Mum told me that when she came back from the concentration camp in 1945. That she was there when they went through the flat, and the y really liked it a lot; they had originally came to arrest only Mum. But when they had checked out the flat, they went back, and Mum heard them talking, and they said ‘beide’, which meant ‘both’. So this pretty flat was Dad’s misfortune, because they arrested him just because they liked the flat and wanted it for themselves.”
“And in the meantime I always played on the piano, and the officers from the [Soviet] HQ heard it and would come by our place to listen to me play. And one time, that was about a fortnight after the revolution, I was playing on the piano again, and moment later my auntie came into the room and said: ‘Come and see who’s here!’ And I stopped playing, I went to the door – and it was Mum. My mother, who had gone on a death march from the concentration camp in Auschwitz. I’ll never forget that. Whenever I recount that moment, I have shivers all up my spine. When you suddenly see someone whom you’ve almost given up on, and he’s standing there before you, that dear person that you love so much, it’s an unforgettable experience.”
Vlasta Janoušková, nicknamed Aťka, was born on 16 March 1930 into the family of the Prague jeweller Rudolf Janoušek and Hedvika née Neumannová. Even as a child she showed artistic ability and a talent for languages. During World War II she was hit by a denunciation report and had to give her position at the National Theatre due to the Jewish origin of her mother. In August 1943 the Gestapo arrested both of her parents. Her father died in the Dachau concentration camp just before the end of the war. Her mother survived a death march from the Ravensbrück camp and returned home after the war. Vlasta graduated from grammar school and language school and was active in the Chamber Theatre until she found employment at Centrokomise and E. F. Burian Theatre in 1950. From 1956 she was part of several music ensembles and collaborated with numerous prominent artists. She was a guest performer at the National Theatre in the years 1984-1989 and at Rokoko Theatre in 2000-2009. As of 2018, she is still active, she takes part in talks in senior care homes and lives in Prague 10.