“We had drinking machines. These were basins where animals would insert their muzzles and thus press a switch which would allow water to flow into the basin. I think that apart from us no other farmer in the village had them. We also had a great potato boiler for the pigs and flowing water. Nobody else in the village had such equipment, either. We were thus able to keep the pigs in good sanitary conditions. I was doing all this by myself as a sixteen-year-old girl. The pens in the pigsty were made from welded iron bars. The pens were ingenuously devised so that as soon as you entered the pigsty, the door opened and you knew immediately where the pigs were and how they were doing, or if they had clean straw. Other people only had pigsties made of wooden planks, but ours were sort of luxurious. Daddy thus did not want to join the cooperative. He would say: ´What for? We have everything we need.´”
“I was milking a cow when Knytych came in and showed me his Communist Party badge. He had it hidden under his lapel. He came in trying to look important, that’s why he showed me this badge. I continued milking and he walked through the whole farm. He looked into the cutter where I was cutting straw for the cattle. We had four cellars for storing potatoes, milk and fruits. He walked through all of them. My seventy-six year old grandmother was watching him and she was just clasping her hands and repeating: ´Virgin Mary, what will happen to us?´ That was just like her. She used to say every day: ´One Hitler left and another one succeeded him.´ This Knytych intruded everywhere. He didn’t even knock on the door. He came into the hall, walked through the attic and the corridors, took a look into all the rooms. With this self-important face. His face just called for good-aimed blow. I don’t know if I would have been able to stand it in the cooperative if they had accepted me in, because if somebody looked at me like that... I was sixteen at that time. They made me develop such hatred against them that I really hated them at that time. I cannot say that I hate them now. I rather say: ´Good God, don’t let them rule over us ever again.´”
“Father was arrested as a warning for all the other farmers. They demanded very high delivery quotas, which the farmers had to meet. Dad harvested several hundred kilograms of potatoes from a field, and he had to deliver a certain amount of it to the cooperative. The quotas were purposely set so high that it was impossible for the farmers to meet them. The same for wheat or oats. Dad had a prescribed amount of oats he had to deliver, but he was not able to produce so much. He was thus imprisoned for half a year for not meeting the delivery quotas, and on top of that he had to pay a penalty of twenty thousand crowns. And since he did not have the money, they took our cattle instead in order to get the money.”
“The other farmers joined the cooperatives because they were forced to. When they saw what they had done to my daddy, how they had imprisoned him... The cooperative leaders took dad’s field behind our barn, planted the cooperative’s potatoes there and they assigned a field about a kilometer and a half from the village to my dad to work on instead. It was a field by the forest and nothing grew there. When dad went there to plow it, he had only one ox he could use. The other ox had a bad leg, and dad had to kill him. He thus had just one ox left, and when he went there with it to plow that field, the ox was not able to endure the plowing. He was already too old and the work was hard. The ox just fell to the ground and died there. Another time father would make something in his garden and somebody would come in and destroy it. Or they were intruding into our house. They were walking on our farm just as if it was theirs.”
“I was thinking about what would happen to me. An agent from the StB contacted me right away. He immediately scheduled a meeting with me over there. I thought that I had no use for such a life. I would not do this. As a nurse, I knew about pills and I knew what their effects were. I thought that I would poison myself and that would be it. I took a package of Phenobarbital. I still hesitated for about three days. Damn it, should I? Or not yet? Then I thought: I will really take these pills and I will not give a damn anymore. I was thinking about what they had done to daddy, about the imprisonment. There was no better future waiting for me either. I hated the idea of signing the agreement with these dimwits and being like a whore. No way. I would just take the pills and end it myself.”
“While he was imprisoned I was allowed to visit him only twice. I could not even kiss him, only through the bars. The warden let us be there for only ten minutes and then I had to leave. I was sixteen then and after a year I had to quit the nursing school I was studying. They told me I was not allowed continue with my studies. And then they arrested dad in November. They put him to prison and I – a sixteen-year-old girl – had to take care of the farm. Grandma was seventy-six and she could not work anymore. She was so skinny and she was just clasping her hands and repeating: ´One Hitler left and another one succeeded him. What will happen to us?´ I was taking care of sixteen cattle, about thirteen pigs, around fifty hens, some forty rabbits and a goat. Not a single animal died. I even managed to deliver calves when a cow calved. Well, the cow saw what a muff was standing behind her, and so she gave birth herself. But I was standing by.”
Juliána Lápková, née Pecháčková, was born in 1935 in the small village Vřesce near the town of Tábor. Although she has spent a small portion of her life during World War II when the country was ruled by the Nazis, it was the subsequent communist regime that has impacted her life most profoundly. During the collectivization process of countryside farms her father was imprisoned for half a year for having failed to meet the exceedingly high required delivery quotas. Her brother was sent to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions and Juliána had to work as a nurse in the medical facility of the labor camps in the Jáchymov uranium mines. Nevertheless, her father still did not give in to the pressure, and he resisted the incorporation of his farm into the Unified Agricultural Cooperatives until the end of his life. However, shortly after his death the farm and the surrounding fields were confiscated in 1958. The communist regime kept persecuting the family even after their father‘s death. Juliána was being monitored by the StB Secret Police and she eventually succumbed to the pressure and signed the agreement of collaboration. This was the most difficult time of her life and she contemplated suicide. It was actually her husband-to-be Miroslav Lápka who saved her life. He worked as a mine inspector in the Plavno mine and he allegedly arranged the annulment of her agreement with the StB. In 1962 the couple moved to Havířov. Juliána died in 2015.