Helena Pražáková

* 1928

  • “The father of this Lída Cemprová was an American Czech. He had gained some property in America and he returned here with his family and he bought a homestead. He kept some old American newspapers in the attic, but it was purely by coincidence. They had been probably after him for some time before because he was an American Czech, and they discovered the newspapers there. They arrested him immediately. The following day the radio broadcast announced that Cempr was a traitor of the nation and they had killed him for that. But Lída had to go to school. Her mother did not dare to let her stay at home. I still remember it, Lída was leaning on the desk with her head on her arms and crying. None of the teachers paid attention to her, none of them dared, only teacher Mr. Svoboda sat down to her and he was stroking her hair and saying: ‘I know, Lidunka, I know, Lidunka.’ Those were strange times.”

  • “Every time there was an election, those communists, those dyed-in-the-wool communists – often they were not even too smart – they would always boast that that Party won the election with 100 percent votes. And although I knew that I would not change anything, and I thought: One day I will try it, when I was at the first election; I will put a blank paper inside and see whether they admit it or not. I tore out an A5 size page from my notebook and I hid it and I went to cast the ballot behind the screen as usual, but instead of the ballot with the list of Communist Party candidates I put the blank paper inside. When I later met some of those communists, I would ask them about the outcome of the election, and he said: ‘Just imagine that, there was some bitch who put a blank paper in there, and she ruined it for us.’ I was secretly laughing. But they did admit it, they admitted that they had not attained one hundred percent of votes, and it was a big shame for the village.”

  • “It was in 1939, on 15th March, and we were listening to the radio with dad. I did not recognize it, but he told me that they were broadcasting music from Smetana’s symphony Our Homeland and a male voice, a strange voice, was speaking: ‘Citizens, keep calm. We need to face those who are already in our territory, with dignified calmness.’ We went with my mom and dad to see the Germans who were arriving. Most of them were riding in motorcycles with a side car. One was driving and the other was sitting behind him and pointing his weapon. The weather was horrible, it was raining and the wind with snow was blowing. They were passing through the street and there was one slightly crazy or confused boy and he threw a little ball at one of the soldiers. The soldier pointed his gun at him, but of course he did not fire.”

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    Mělník, 14.03.2018

    (audio)
    délka: 01:22:23
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu The Stories of Our Neigbours
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After 1948 it came to a halt...

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Helena Pražáková

Helena Pražáková, née Šteflová, was born on June 15, 1928 in Byšice, Mělník district. The life of her family was affected by both totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. As a child she witnessed the arrival of the Nazi occupying army and her brother was sent to Austria to do forced labour. Her fear of the war became even more intense when the father of her classmate was executed in the period of terror following Heydrich‘s assassination. When she was a young girl, Helena did not have much time to enjoy the years of peace and she did not support the coup d‘état in February 1948. Their family farm was confiscated by communists. Helena married in 1950 and she describes this year as a horrible time. She has never become a member of the Communist Party. Her husband was demoted from his managerial position in a dairy factory due to his unfavourable political-personal profile and subsequently he did manual work in the company Spolana, and their children faced problems when trying to continue with their studies. She tragically lost her son in 2000.