„A group of Italian Catholics invited us and we drove all through Italy. We were in the mountains of the Dolomites, in Sicily, in Rome, and half-way to that came the 21st of August, so we've been through it that far. The Italians took us to watch TV here, and radio station signal have been received. From Prague we heard it all the way to the south of Italy, so strong radio transmitters were! Those were secret portable transmitters, this way we got the messages. But everything was piecemeal. We finished our stay in Rome, and we were taken over by father Reinsberg and accompanied us via Rome. Many people were running away. [From our group] one boy stayed in Italy to study to become a priest and a girl joined monastery. I already negotiated beforehand to go to France for a year. I arranged housing in exchange for work at the nuns of St. Voršily that had accompanied us all my life. I already negotiated everything in advance. But I was supposed to come back from Italy and then go to France. In Italy, however, I had a valid passport for all countries, and I knew that if I had returned to Bohemia, I would not have gone anywhere. Someone let me call home to my parents, we discussed the matter and I went straight to France. I lived there with the Voršila nuns. They even got me a scholarship. At that time they cared well for the Czechs all around the world. I went to the courses at Sorbonne and I did not have to do any work. I spent a good year there. But I could not go home. It was hard. Even the events of Jan Palach I witness from there, and it was even worse at a distance.”
“It was funny that my nuns were accustomed from Italian films, that the husbands yell and quarrel. I told them they were not arguing yet, but they were just talking normally. I do mind when in Czechia they use the expression "Italian household" that it says explicitly Italy. This is not a straightforward arguing, it's both arguing and being hot headed. They [Italians] are more hot blooded. They start at you, but do not know about it in a moment at all. At the beginning, when I came here, they [Italian women] seemed very different. They were satisfied at home. At least the ones I've met. But then ... Maybe in the south you could say that they are far more under the control of their husband, but it is not so much because it is just what you see on the outside. Saying´my husband does not wish that” in fact means she does not want it. A woman manages everyone – arguing with the fact that daddy does not want to. They also know their ways. And they work a lot today, and they are similar to us here.”
“[Parents] were used to community life and friends. At the beginning there were the Voršilky nuns in Liberec, which had similar tendencies as the benefactors in Vienna. They also brought together families and we went to school there. They had a school in Liberec similar to today's church schools. I could still go to the kindergarten there. In the 1950s they were all moved to the monasteries, but they were more like concentration camps. The crazy isolation began. We were afraid of each other. We knew each other - especially the larger families - that were exotic. Or those who went to the church knew each other, but they were rather glad to glance at each other and went on. We had very few friends, because we did not go the Pioneer group or any kind of physical exercise. Parents were afraid that there would be much communist ideology there. We were dragged out of everything. We had only some buddies in the class, and we used to meet them. We did just fine on our own. We really managed on our own and we felt well together.”
I enjoy both the Czech and Italian cultures, and so I live for 200 percent
Růžena Růžičková-Sanicola was born on 5 March, 1944 in Vienna in the family of Czech patriots, Maria and Julius Růžička. Following the war the family accepted the challenge to resettle the borderland and left the bombed down Vienna to settle down in Liberec, where the witness´s father followed his furriery craft. The family was in a difficult position due to its German origins, catholic tradition and undisguised faith practice. The witness attended the school for twelve years in Liberec, which brought her to love to the French language. Then studied French and Italian at the Philosophical Faculty in Prague. She was on a trip in Italy, when the August events in 1968 took place and never came back; she moved to France, where she had a pre-arranged annual stay in Sorbonne. There she had many foreign friends, and a special one, a Sicilian Onofrio. In 1969 she returned to Czechoslovakia and finished studying FF UK. Onofrio Sanicola came for the witness and at the end of 1970 they married at the Old Town hall and then moved to Milan. Růžena Růžičková-Sanicola gave birth to four children that she tried to bring up bilingually and supported their relation with Czech culture. In Italy her Czech studies have not been recognised; she studied theology and taught theology at the secondary expert school. She gathered an active Czech community, led a home school for children of the Czechs living in Italy, organised many meetings of the Czech nationals and her activities were channelled into foundation of the Community of the Nationals and friends of the Czech Republic in 1994 in Milan, through which she followed her parents‘ work. Lately she handed over the management of the Community to her followers and devoted herself to translating Czech movies to Italian.