Zdeňka Křížová, rozená Hnitková

* 1940

  • I´ll get back to the end of the war in 1945 and have to mention that in fact after the air raid we could not live in our house because the roof was damaged and probably the statics was destroyed. Nevertheless the house was standing unlike the neighbouring houses. My grandfather and grandmother moved in to our place from the distillery, which was damaged too, no wonder. And to make matters worse, my grandfather had to leave the post of the manager of the distillery after 1945. He was thrown out of the job referring to the Beneš Decrees as local people claimed that he had made friends with the Germans. The truth probably was that a lot of German officers and soldiers had visited the distillery, a rather attractive place for the Germans, and asked my grandfather to send his employees to work in the Reich, which he never did. He managed to keep all his employees off the Reich. Anyway, after 1945 or perhaps in 1946, I am not so sure, he was kicked out and came to live with us. As I said before, we couldn´t live in our house and had to move to a nearby village Olovnice where a relative of ours, Ing. Brejník, an owner of a mill lived. He was helping people throughout the war giving them some flour whenever he could, which helped them survive and, of course, he met the same fate as my grandfather. After the year 1948 he was not only expelled from his mill but also deprived of his property. Until the year 1948 my grandfather, being a chemistry engineer, worked at a research institute in Prague. After that he remained completely without any means. He was refused any retirement pension. My grandmother, who was not accused of any so-called wrongdoing, was later granted some 100,- crowns. So from the start they had no means to support themselves, money was of no value of course, so the only thing they could do was to sell gradually out all their belongings. Carpets, furnishings, etc.

  • My first more self-contained memory is of the year 1945 when Kralupy was bombed and a large part of the town destroyed. Kralupy was an industrial town near Kladno, at a railway track, which meant that the Kralupy inhabitants had worked in fact in local or nearby factories or Kladno mines. On 22nd March 1945 sounded, as many times before, an alarm to alert us of the bombing. This meant that we had had to run to a shelter or a cellar, whatever was available. Our house was relatively new, so we were quite safe in the cellar and we always hid there whenever we heard the alarm. As the end of the was approaching, a number of bomb alarms was increasing. Because nothing had ever happened during these alarms, there had been no bombing so far, in 1945 with the war coming to its end, many people didn´t believe something would happen on that particular day of 22nd March. So, we ran into the cellar after hearing the alarm, apart from my father who was feeling ill and refused to go to the cellar. We were standing there waiting what would happen. After a short while, the first bomb fell down, I am not too sure, on the so-called “Petrolejka“, the factory very near our house. This alerted my father to run quickly down into the cellar. We spent some three quarters of an hour there until the bombing stopped. During this time a part of the town got damaged. Small suburban houses were destroyed and many people were killed. In fact, there was no announcement of the end of the air raid as the signaling system was damaged. We waited until we didn´t hear any more bombing, then walked carefully out of the cellar and saw that the street we were looking at no longer existed, that the low suburban houses (mostly belonging to local craftsmen) were leveled. We could hear tapping and banging as the people in the cellars were trying to alert others, to let them know they were imprisoned there. Unfortunately, most of them didn´t manage to get out and suffocated in the cellars. When the air raid was over, people brought out dead bodies of their relatives and placed them onto the floor of the local church. This was the first blow that Kralupy ... in fact one of the poems of Jaroslav Seifert begins with a line “Kralupy is not a pretty town and has never been.“

  • Since 1948 we, who all had been living in the house my grandfather had built before the war, had to face threats from some street committees whose interest was to throw us out of the house and move in something else, God knows what – some rumours said a kindergarten. I am not quite sure. What happened was that constantly some house confidante kept coming to our house. They wanted to see its size, if this or that could fit in and if it´s not too large for the number of people living there. We were six in the house. We, children, were strictly forbidden to open the door to anyone. The rule made it a matter of principle not to let anybody in, to prevent anyone from seeing the house for what it actually was. Finally, we managed to keep the house, we stayed there and towards the end of the 1950s these inspections stopped. I started school in 1946. I remember we had religion classes for the first two years but then they were cancelled, that means it was until 1948. During the war but also after 1948 we had a housekeeper. I remember the one who sang moving songs. I sang with her and liked it. She also took me to school, which I hated a lot. All the housekeepers were nice, especially Mařka. The housekeepers remembered us with fondness and visited us long time after the war had ended. We visited Mařka too. She, in the beginning, was a housekeeper with my grandmother Marešová who passed her on to my mother and then Mařka with Alois, her husband, lived in our house in the basement. My mother´s upbringing didn´t include the art of housekeeping, tidying the house or cooking. She had to learn all this by doing after the housekeepers had gone in 1948. She was hopeless especially with money matters. She was used to dealing with larger amounts.

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Zdeňka Křížová, rozená Hnitková
zdroj: archiv Míši Čaňkové

Zdeňka Křížová (rozená Hnitková) was born on 26th March 1940 in Prague. Her parents and grandparents from both sides lived in Kralupy. Father of Zdeňka´s mother was an important town citizen, the director of the local distillery. The first self-contained memory of the witness is of the devastating air-raid of Kralupy, in March 1945. Afer the war, her grandfather was deprived of his work post and accused of the co-operation with the Germans. The family lost its social status and property and was labelled as politically unreliable. The witness completed her studies of the Pedagogical School without having a chance to study at university. She was sent on a job offer to different schools . In the 1960s she succeeded in adding Russian, Music and later English to her qualifications. English has become her lifelong profession and interest.