Romana Křenková

* 1955

  • “Our comrade teacher came into the class, and - being quite empathic already - I could see that she was close to tears and that something grand and magnificent had happened. And holding back the tears and clutching at her heart, she told us - she had also brought with her a model of the Sputnik, which was a common decorative element of offices and homes at the time - so she held the Sputnik in her hand as if in orbit, and with tears in her eyes she told us that this very day, the Soviet cosmonaut Gagarin was flying or had just flown into orbit around Earth. She was on the verge of crying, immensely moved, and I too, and the children held bated breaths. It was very profound for all of us. I dare say it was like no other announcement, except the birth of my daughter, which was also powerful, and the revolution in eighty-nine, when I felt like dying, I reckoned: ‘Let it all end now, I’ll never be happier or more touched.’ That Sputnik and Gagarin flying in orbit around the Earth, that was so orthodox, so full and true that I think that I have never experienced a greater truth or more deeply felt human sentiment.”

  • “Then there was a fabulous week, weekend, or several days, on the occasion of the anniversary of the occupation - in eighty-nine, those were massive demonstrations in Wenceslaus Square and all over Prague. And at the Faculty of Arts and what is now Jan Palach Square, for instance. Those were grand days. Things were really picking up speed by then, so we took part in the demonstrations. They had the water cannons there, and it was great fun when it hit you, it smashed into you really hard, but at the same time it filled you with adrenaline. Those were really nice days. And I met all kinds of people there - like Professor Hájek. He was running along there in his caftan, running, and he was quite an old man. It was lovely... I could feel, and my friends, those I spoke with about this kind of thing - even in Řempo - we all felt that something was happening, that it was an unstoppable process.”

  • “I sent him [Charter 77] while he was in the army, and the consequences were that they started going after him. Basically, the situation developed into them persecuting him for giving people the Bible and reading from the Bible, and that he got the Charter there and was passing it on and reading from it, well, and they started going after him for inciting revolt in the army. In the end the public prosecutor filed charges against him, and there was a trial in Příbram, where they sentenced him to eighteen months of prison, unsuspended, for the crime of incitement to revolt.”

  • “They persecuted us for incitement to revolt at first. It began while we were still living in the parish house, where we behaved... My husband decided - after there had been no water in the village for a week - that he will go and wash himself in the house of the chairman of the national committee [something like the village mayor - trans.], who did have water. Well, but of course that was an act worthy of a revolution. So he went to have a wash, he put one foot into [the chairman’s] flat, which was presented as a violation of home privacy, and then he lost his permission to provide spiritual care, and it all went downhill from there.”

  • “Unlike people who were afraid of the Charter, I - why am I taking so long to say this - because for me, [the decision to sign Charter 77 - ed.] was no act of bravery, but deliverance, existential deliverance. I needed to be with someone, to be in a group with someone. I was alone for so terribly long, for everything. I needed to at least be part of something, with the Charter. Why not? I liked the ideas behind the Charter, so I really wanted to sign it. But fate took me down a different path.”

  • “Right after the revolution one friend told me: ‘Look, a friend of mine is a minister, would you like to be his chief of office?’ So I took the post of chief of office for one minister, and I was full of revolutionary zeal and enthusiasm, and those beginnings were amazing. But to be honest, in time I came to understand that the functions that had previously been held by various Communist leaders and people who had been very close to the previous regime, [these people] started switching over to new functions, new positions. So I was gradually burdened with a deepening feeling of disappointment. I don’t know how you see matters today, but I am dismayed by many things. But I have come to the conclusion that it is not so much political dismay, but rather I have realised that this is kind of how the human soul works.”

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From the depths of persecution and solitude

Křenková Romana - svatba 1974.jpg (historic)
Romana Křenková
zdroj: archiv pamětnice a natáčení PNS

Romana Křenková was born on 13 July 1955 in Prague. She had one brother. Her family moved often - they lived in Karlovy Vary, Kralupy nad Vltavou, and Velvary. After her parents‘ divorce she and her brother joined their mother in Mělník, where she completed primary school and began attending grammar school. She did sports, she competed in athletics and enjoyed learning languages and history. The witness remembers the trauma and gross awakening from a child‘s vision of the world that was caused by the Soviet occupation in 1968. Her friend and classmate Blanka Trojanová introduced Romana to people who associated with the Evangelical pastors Jakub Trojan and Alfréd Kocáb. After grammar school she wanted to apply to university and become a doctor like both her parents, but she was denied a recommendation due to her political background. Aged nineteen, Romana Křenková married the Evangelical pastor Miloš Lojka; the couple moved to the parish house in Kralovice. She applied to Komenský Evangelical Faculty of Theology several times. But the Communist regime denied her the opportunity to study theology. Her husband was later stripped of his „state permission to provide spiritual care“. The witness had trouble finding employment - she worked as a laundrywoman, a cleaning lady, and a manual labourer. In 1977 her husband was drafted into military service, and soon after he was charged with inciting revolt by reading from the Bible and distributing Charter 77. Romana Křenková had to endure a house inspection, interrogations, and surveillance by State Security. By the time Miloš Lojka returned from prison, the couple was completely estranged; they divorced. Romana Křenková moved to Prague. She found a job in the legal department at Řempo Praha. Through contacts with Communists who had fallen from grace after 1968, the witness succeeded in enrolling at the Faculty of Law of Charles University. She participated in the demonstrations during Palach Week in January 1989 and the anniversary of the Soviet invasion in August later that year. The Velvet Revolution was one of the happiest times of her life. She quit her job at Řempo and joined the secretariat of the new minister without portfolio, where she worked for a year before going on maternity leave.