In the greatest of horrors, every speck of humanity has the power of hope
Irena Kroupová was born on 16 September 1924 in Hlinsko, into the family of the headmaster of the local business school. Her father was transferred to a teaching position in Litomyšl and then in Středokluky near Prague. The inhabitants of this village witnessed a horrifying event: the nearby village of Lidice, which was closely connected to Středokluky by numerous familial ties and friendships, was eradicated by the Nazis in June 1942. A year later the witness was assigned to forced labour in Modřany, at an auxiliary arms factory of the Junkers plant in Vysočany. After the war she and her brother and a friend set off in a small lorry to Rosenheim, Bavaria, where a large group of people had been held in forced labour in the arms industry. After sorting out the necessary formalities, they received other vehicles, and the whole convoy then returned to Bohemia. After the war she renewed her activities in Sokol, which had been banned by the Germans. An enthusiastic Sokolite, Irena Kroupová was active in her local Sokol organisation and even became the chief of its female section. However, Sokol was abolished in 1948, and as a former chief she was considered politically unreliable. As such, she had to make do with a job at Coal Storage. She met her future husband there - they have two daughters and are still together to this day.