Lída Rakušanová

* 1947

  • “It was not the case that we had to apologize to the Sudeten Germans. The point was for us to realize for ourselves that what had happened here after the WW2 wasn't quite alright, that it indeed might be classified as genocide, and that we were burdened by it and felt guilty. And indeed, due to this guilt, we are willing to listen to all kinds of demagogues. And it has been happening till today. As you can still score some points in politics by playing the Sudeten German card and scaring the people, by all this utter rubbish. And there's this connection with the Beneš Decrees. As that's still something like the word of God in the Czech Republic. Everyone claims – well the politicians claim that the decrees are no longer relevant for the present – but as soon as you can score some political points on it, they just love to do that, especially before the elections.”

  • “On the next day we strolled around Prague, Pepa and I. We were living in this stylish Hotel Evropa, that's where we would put ourselves up.... And the receptionist, who was quite happy to see us, told us that Pecháček had been staying in the hotel maybe three weeks ago... And he told us to be careful, as the whole hotel might be still bugged, as there had been this room in the hotel, a State Security office. And that it was still locked, thought it seemed they had left, but still, the room was locked... But we didn't discuss anything important that they wouldn't know already... So we would just stroll around, we went to see the St. Wenceslaus statue of course. And the statue was covered by various posters. And there were two boys doing this like an improvised Hyde Park thing. And as they saw – as they saw me on TV probably, so they recognized me – they went like: 'Come on, Mrs. Rakušanová, tell us something...' So I climbed up the plinth and I said that the real work was still ahead of us, that it was just a beginning. That there will be no excuses, that it will depend entirely on us what we will do with our restored freedom... And I didn't feel like people watching liked that very much – maybe they expected me to just celebrate with them. And I thought: 'Well, they would get hungover for sure!'”

  • “Before the noon, Petr Uhl called – he was the head of the East European Information Agency back then, a dissident enterprise that was trying to acquire an official status (which didn't happen in the end). And Petr Uhl told me that there was this woman, or a girl, who came to their office, who stated her name was Drahomíra Dražská, she said she attended the protest – and that next to her – that she saw policemen killing a student, that there was this dead student lying on the ground, and that his name was Martin Šmíd. And he said he has been trying to verify the information, but it just couldn't be verified, as there was no one who could corroborate such a thing. I told him: 'So get it done, as that's something of the utmost importance, but we can't just broadcast things like that until you'll find someone to corroborate it.' And he was trying to verify it, but then he called me again and said that they already released the information, that they stated they weren't able to verify the information.... The press release by the East European Information Agency stated clearly that they weren't able to corroborate this information, that it was just a rumor... But the media took over this information, it got a life of its own, so TVs and radio stations all across the world started reporting on it, and in the early afternoon, I would hear it even on our news. So I rushed into the newsroom and I told them: 'That's unverified, you have to say that no one was able to verify that!' And they said: 'They sent it like this from the central newsroom.' So I would run to the central newsroom and say: 'That's unverified!' And they said: 'How come? Unverified? Jesus Christ! Just look at all those sources – Voice of America did it, Deutsche Welle did it, an Austrian radio did a report on it, the TV, it's just everywhere – so how can you say that it isn't verified?!' It was like Chinese whispers, as in the end it would seem like it had happened, and not that it maybe had happened and no one was able to verify it.”

  • “So in the course of that year we gathered this huge database of addresses, of emigres from all over the world, and later, before Christmas, we were packing the calendars at our flat. We made this like a makeshift conveyor belt to do it, we invited our friends and everyone took part in the process. And all of a sudden, someone rang the doorbell, so I went to answer it, and there was Minařík, who told me that he came to help us. And I said: 'Oh come on, we are full already. There's just everyone in the place. We don't need anyone, and I don't understand why you didcome in the first place, as we didn't agree on anything like this. So there's just no place for you, see you.' And I didn't even let him in. Only later, after he showed up in Czechoslovakia, did I realize why he came – to get all the addressees of all those immigrants from across the world.”

  • “Before I entered the studio for the first time, I had to decide whether I would go there as myself or I would use a pseudonym of sorts. As it was quite common at Free Europe to use pseudonyms – almost all senior employees after 1951 had one. They did it to protect their relatives and other people, who didn't leave Czechoslovakia. So I was thinking as well, whether to use a pseudonym... Well I wasn't thinking too much about it, it just turned out like this, as when I went to the studio for the first time, Pepík's mother, my mother-in-law, was visiting us, and she would lament that they would cancel her retirement pension if she would announce myself as Rakušanová while on air. So I decided to act under a pseudonym Šindlerová, as there was this legendary aunt of Pepa living in the United States, who crossed the sea in the 1920s and got married – in fact, she replied to a marriage ad, and her maiden name was Šindlerová. So I thought that maybe it would be fine to announce myself as Šindlerová in the Radio Free Europe broadcast. I started using my real name in the early 1980s, after my mother-in-law passed away. And of course, listeners thought I just got married.”

  • “Pepa and me – we just got together – we went on holidays, hitchhiking all the way across the Balkans, especially Yugoslavia. And as we were hitchhiking back home (it had to be on 18 August or 19 maybe), we came to the Hungarian-Slovak border. We were hitchhiking and somewhere maybe three kilometers before the border we had to get out, so we kept walking that road. It was in the evening and we were thinking – what to do now... we need to find someplace to sleep. And all of a sudden we came to a village where this truck was, and there were Hungarian soldiers unloading weapons from the truck. And we would even watch them, and we were thinking: 'That's funny, what are they doing here, are they preparing something like 1956 or what.' We were making fun of it. Then the commander came and he wanted us to show him our id's, and when he found out we were from Czechoslovakia, he started acting crazy, he started to yell at us that we must leave immediately. That either we would get lost or he would lock us up. We were explaining that we didn't want to stay there, that we just wanted to find someplace to sleep... And he just kept yelling at us like crazy that we must leave at once. So we went into the nearest cornfield and we slept there. On the next day, it was all peaceful and quiet, they were all gone. So we would hitchhike to Czechoslovakia and then we went on. I returned to České Budějovice and Pepa went to Prague. And on 21 August at five o'clock in the morning my mother woke me up, crying and telling me that we were being invaded again, so I would say: 'What do you mean, again? How come the Germans... what are they doing here?' And she said, 'No, the Russians.'”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, 07.06.2021

    délka: 01:42:07
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 23.08.2021

    délka: 01:37:09
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 21.09.2021

    délka: 53:55
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

Even people in the remotest village could hear what was really happening at the Wenceslas Square

Lída Rakušanová in the late 1970s/early 1980s
Lída Rakušanová in the late 1970s/early 1980s
zdroj: archiv pamětnice

Lída Rakušanová was born on 26 May 1947 in České Budějovice. From 1965 to 1968, she studied Czech, History, South Slavic Languages and Aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts in Prague. After the invasion of August 1968, she and her boyfriend, Josef Rakušan, a photographer, left the country. They settled down in Germany, got married and since 1970 they had been living in Munich. Thanks to their friends, Sláva Volný in particular, they got involved in the cultural life of the emigres. In December 1974, Rakušanová gave birth to her daughter, Lucie. In 1975, Lída Rakušanová started working for Radio Free Europe as an outside worker, featuring in ‚Rozhledy‘ show. Since 1978, she had been a permanent member of the staff. She created a number of popular radio shows, like Literature Uncensored (Literatura bez cenzury). She came back to Prague for the first time during the Velvet Revolution, and since the 1990s, she had been living in the city for part of a year. She collaborated with the local Free Europe editorial office and wrote for German and Swiss press. In 1993, she won a Czech award as the Woman of Europe Award for her civic engagement. In 1997, she published her book, Václav and Dagmar Havel: The Two Life Stories in One Volume, and two years later its German translation was published. She had her own show at Czech TV, ‚The moment with Lída Rakušanová‘ (Na pozvání Lídy Rakušanové); from 1997 to 2003, she made a documentary series about Czech society with Jiří Krejčík Jr., ‚In the Tentacles of Corruption‘ being the most successful of them all. From 2002 to 2015, she had been working for the Vltava-Labe Press as a journalist and an education coordinator. In 2004, she founded the Institute for Regional Journalism with Ivo Možný. From 2004 to 2005, she was the head of an European journalist association. She was awarded many prizes and awards, like Der Kunstpreis zur deutsch-tschechischen Verständigung (Umělecká cena česko-německého porozumění, 1997), Cena Jana Palacha (Jan Palach Award, 2000), Cena ministra životního prostředí (The Minister of the Environment Award, 2001), Opus vitae Award (2019). In 2020, her book of memoirs, ‚Free in Europe‘, was published. In 2021, she had been living mostly at her cottage in the Bavarian Forest, but was visiting Prague on a regular basis. She has been working as a commentator for the Czech Radio Plus and was engaged in public affairs, speaking for the media, giving lectures and participating in discussions.