Ljuba Václavová

* 1941

  • “... and then I took the metro and went to [the staff office of] Respekt - I’d made my decision during that time - I went to Bolzanka because I knew they were there. I knocked. Hrabina, who managed the production side of things, or how to call it, opened the door and said: ‘I’ve been looking for you all day. I got a scholarship from America and I need a substitute here.’ And I said: ‘Well there you go, and I’m here because I need to work so I can get out among normal people.’ And I stayed there. I came up with their Respekt Club, so that a political weekly would have its own club, and I started shooting for Czech Television. My husband said: ‘You never cost me anything,’ and he lent me some cameras. Within a week we’d prepared a programme from a club in Řeznická [Street]. I edited it, brought it to the television, and they broadcast it that evening. And that’s how I caught on at the television. And I did those Respekt clubs, we called them Respektování [Respectation], I won a FITES Trilobit for it because the newspapers immediately wrote that this was the only correctly organised discussion, debate club. Because I didn’t do it live, that is, the stupid stuff got cut out, when people blabbed on. I invited politicians there, normal people, and then there were expert on the given subject at the middle of the table. So the first thing we did was the Czech Republic.”

  • “All the wiser from how we’d set up the organisation at primary school to get to secondary school, I thought that if you were clever and capable, that you could get round even this regime. It was after Stalin’s death, after Gottwald’s [death], Zápotocký was in office when I was at the school. Of course, nasty things still happened, but even so we thought that something could be done. And we did things. I joined the Czechoslovak Youth Union committee [at the conservatoire] again. We could publish the magazine thanks to that... So at the time, we discussed it with my parents, up front and honest, and I said: ‘You never did anything,’ and Dad told me: ‘The only way to do it is if you were to get in among them and started breaking it up from the inside. And none of us has what it takes to do that.’ And then I told him: ‘We have what it takes!’ And I really went there, with my husband and some friends, we talked with several of the reachers, and they said: ‘Yes, we’ll help you, and we’ll start managing the [school CPC] organisation with that you’ll get the Stalinists out. You’ll come in as fresh youngsters, we’ll vote you in, and so...’ And this thing completely, utterly smothered me. And the main thing was that I saw that the people who promised, who we spoke with in the corridor, they were normal, and they promised us they’d support us when we proposed something. But the moment the door closed and the meeting began, Party discipline came up in the full. No one dared say their opinion, they only gave that when back in the corridor again. And I realised what I had gotten myself into, and that for the first time ever I had done something antagonistic. I had turned destructive for the first time. And you mustn’t do that! I’ve known that since then, that you mustn’t do that. I really stopped going there, I made excuses that I was pregnant. I have no idea what happened next. I kept pushing it out of my mind for years, but I know that I decided I just wouldn’t go to university, because I knew that if I got there, I’d only be accepted because I was in the Party. Or people would think that I had gotten in because of it. So I didn’t even apply, even though I wanted to do opera direction oh so terribly much.”

  • “And I really started working just on contract, so I wouldn’t have to explain anywhere that I was in the Party. I was terribly afraid to do anything about it and quit. I was scared of them for the first time in my life. For the first and last time in my life I was truly afraid of the silence, that dreadful organisation. I found a place as an assistant at the television, but again, like I said, just contract work, and again, I didn’t tell them about it. I just hoped that if I disappear like this, that they’d forget about me. Total nonsense. I was always a rational person, but my mind completely froze up back then. Well, and then some comrade roared at me in the corridor: ‘Václavová, come here! You belong to us. We’ve found you.’ Well, and then for another half a year or so, I kept telling myself I didn’t know what to do. Then I went to a meeting, and I asked the wrong question, and they basically told me not to come there again, that I wasn’t employed there, and that I should sort it out myself. That was Director Pelikán. And I came to the meeting, I handed in my membership card, and all I said was that I was ashamed to have been there so long, and that I was giving it back to them, that I was leaving. And he said: ‘You can’t leave. Only I have the authority to expel you.’ “Then expel me,’ and I really just left defiantly through their midst.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, Strašnice, 18.05.2017

    délka: 02:45:01
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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    Praha 10, 08.01.2018

    délka: 01:34:36
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Live in such a way that you will be fondly remembered when you are gone

Contemporary photo
Contemporary photo
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Ljuba Václavová was born on 19 May 1941, and as a child she experienced the end of World War II, she witnessed the deportation of Germans from the western Sudetes, a personal clash with the totalitarian regime, and the Velvet Revolution in 1989. A misguided decision led to her brief membership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. During the 1970s normalisation she lived in professional seclusion, but after the Velvet Revolution she quickly achieved success and became a prominent Czech film documentarian, who has received several awards for her work.