Zdena Mašínová

* 1933  

  • "She died a few days later. The police came in the night again to tell me she'd died, but they didn't say where she'd be buried. So I set off for Prague and tried to find out, I went from one prison to the next, asking them to tell me where she'd died and where she'd be buried. It wasn't till at the police station - someone had sent me to ask at the police station in Hybernská Street - after an age of waiting one policeman sort of suggested indirectly that I should go to Ďáblice to ask the gravedigger when she was taken there. So I drove to Ďáblice, I didn't even know where that was at the time, and there after bribing him, the gravedigger told me that she was buried without a coffin, together with thirty-two children that had died for women at the Pankrác Jail, and because they were missing... The shafts were in thirty-twos at the time, so they put her remains there. [He said] that I mustn't mark the spot, but he was at least kind enough to show me on a map where her resting place supposedly was. So that's where I went to visit the next forty years. That part of Ďáblice was full of rubble, it was a dump for the whole cemetery, kind of a rubbish dump. So I would go to this rubbish dump to visit the grave. I only always recognised the spot because of a small plaque that was set down there by the family of one small boy, one Josef Baumruk. That's how I recognised the place, otherwise it wouldn't have been at all possible later on. So that was where my mother came to her end."

  • "Yes, the whole period is no doubt very positive, and I think that if this society did receive some physical benefits, then that's a very positive thing. But from a moral point of view, I think that decline is so great that I just can't overcome this feeling of sadness about the current times. Unfortunately, a society that lived through two totalitarian regimes, and the second of them lasted an especially long time, it's not easy for it to recover from that - and the way in which the changes in our country came about. Right from the start I had this feeling like it was some sort of happening, that it was all a happening, and that after such totality that we had been forced to live through, that it just wasn't done right. And that the consequences are, and probably still will be, significant. That's my opinion, and I very quickly... I was sceptical right from the start, and I'll say why, according to the kind of people that appeared there right at the start. No one was prepared for it. We did have the so-called dissent, for years it had existed, but the people who were part of it, no doubt they suffered, no doubt their lives were also full of hardships, but they were completely unprepared to allow the society to... to have it prepared for the democracy that we remember, us older generations, that knew what it should look like."

  • "I was more or less aware of it, just of some of it. Because at the time I was living here in Olomouc, round about 1953, and they would stop by and sleep over when they did their sabotage runs here around Pivín in the Prostějov area, on those co-op haystacks and such - they'd dry out the burners etcetera at my place. I was more or less... Well at the time... you know, I was young, an adult, yes, but I didn't know anything specific, I was just sort of aware of something."

  • (Q: "What was the arrest like?") "Well, it was just like how they did it in those days. State Security came in the evening, I was living here in Olomouc at the time, and they took me to the prison that's just a few metres along the road. There they kept me in solitary confinement, in pretty poor conditions, with no clothes, under constant surveillance, light. There were interrogations every day, they asked if I knew of my brothers' activities, who met with whom, those kind of questions I guess. I must say I really did force a lot of this period out of my mind."

  • "The atmosphere was terrible. There were people brought in to the big assembly room in Pankrác. We were probably seated... You know, those are things I still can't remember exactly even today, because in a situation like that you feel a bit like in a dream. We were somewhere up the top, the convicts were down below. I would focus on one of them, say on Švéda, Václav Švéda, the uncle, the look, that was really like in a dream. Even today I still can't say if it took a day or two days, or three days or how long. In any case it was terrible. Then just afterwards, before my uncle's execution, my grandmother asked to see him a last time, and they told her that he didn't want that. Which wasn't true. So even that wasn't allowed. It simply was a great big act of revenge. Against my mother - it was just a matter of what such a hideous regime is capable of, the only thing - that is revenge. These regimes, if they were outwitted somehow, if someone stood up against them in this way, they would not forgive them one bit."

  • "Those years were really very traumatic for me. I was considering whether to go on living at all. That was a serious matter for me, especially after my mother's death I didn't feel like keeping on. But I had to decide. And because I still had my grandmother around - she was a very strong family character... In fact at the time, the worst time for me mentally you could say, but also pretty much physically - I had gone through fifteen operations - I knew I couldn't leave her here alone. I mean, her son had been executed, her daughter had died, that was really tough for her. Despite our relationship being quite a troubled one, considering her personality, I was deciding whether to go for it or not."

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It was an act of revenge on my family

Zdena Mašínová, 2017
Zdena Mašínová, 2017

Zdena Mašínová was born on the 7th of November, 1933. She is the daughter of the resistance hero Josef Mašín, and the sister of the anti-communist fighters Ctirad and Josef Mašín. After her brothers fled in 1953 and her mother‘s arrest and subsequent death, the handicapped Zdena Mašínová had no family left. She spent a month in communist custody therefore, she did not take part in her brothers‘ resistance efforts. Her entire life, she was persecuted by the regime, the only work she managed to get was washing laboratory glassware. She blames the post-November society of being morally decrepit -- according to her, the dissent was not at all prepared to lead the country into democracy. She took an active interest in the case of Vladimír Hučín, who was arrested multiple times for spreading anti-communist propaganda. She received part of her family‘s property through restitution agreements.