JUDr. Ema Barešová

* 1932

  • "When our Marek was about three years old, he heard demonstrators chanting on the Old Town Square: 'Long live Havel!' Then he climbed onto the balcony of his second grandmother and shouted: 'Adži Havel! Adži Havel!' ('Long live Havel' said by a child Marek). The grandmother tells him: 'Mark, come on, you mustn't shout like that. They would lock you up.' He immediately went full circle: 'Don't lock me up!'"

  • "After the revolution, the time, when communists began to fear, withdraw and move, began. We loved Havel. I just wondered why the excellent experts I knew who were not in the party never made it to the top. When someone like that was appointed to a position, they dismissed him again after a while. There were several cases: for example, a younger colleague got a high position in a ministry and was fired shortly after. Although she established herself somewhere else and was successful, she was never in a leadership position again. The same thing happened to two of my friends: they were soon ousted out of the director positions. And it happened to me too. In 1990, I became the director of the legislative department in the federal ministry, then the federal authorities were abolished, they merged us with the planning commission, people from the federal ministry of heavy industry came there, so there were more of us. And the communists chose a person for the leadership position! For the first few years I was confused by this and did not understand why such things happen. Today I have the feeling that it had to be arranged somewhere - also because our revolution was different from other countries. After all, communists were in the first government, for example Čalfa. So the revolution may have happened, but someone stole it. Škoda, že to takhle dopadlo, lidé z toho byli otrávení. Pak přišla Klausova privatizace a lidé opět nelibě nesli, že se tu podivně ztrácí majetek.“

  • "One morning people came and said: 'You have Russians in your country.' We were in shock, we had two children, we were sleeping under a tent and we were still deciding whether to return or not. Czechs huddled in small groups, we listened to the transistor. One said, 'I'm going to Switzerland.' The other said, 'We'll go back.' It was a complete nightmare. Then I was sorry that I wasn't in Czechoslovakia that day, but it happened anyway. Even when we were coming back from vacation, we didn't know if we should stay there. I wanted to return, but my husband didn't - as a civil engineer, he would fit in well abroad. We eventually came back and were still debating whether or not to emigrate. It was still possible for the whole year! Then one day I met my cousin in Vodičková street and I told him that we were hesitating whether to leave or not. He widened his eyes at me: 'And why would you leave? I never thought of that. I'm at home here, not the Russians! So, why would I leave?' That calmed me down - I told myself that my cousin was right and that we were staying. We never regretted it. My daughter still tells me, 'Every time I think about it, I'm so glad you came back.'"

  • "In Romania, we lived the life of wandering children. The adults were sitting somewhere and discussed the situation without us children. It's a special memory for me. I remember that time a lot, even though I was little. The journey was extremely wild." - "Why?" - "It was a long drive and we always stopped somewhere because the trains were not running. Once we even got off in Přerov, I slept under the table there, and at about four in the morning we left for the train again. It was something completely out of my life for me! I also remember how children were running along the train, begging and we were throwing sweets to them."

  • "After August 21, many of our friends emigrated to Germany, the USA, and Canada. I am still in contact with some of them today, and perhaps none of them are happy there. Their children are somehow acclimatized there, but they are not. And God forbid if they are our age and don't have children. In short, even if they were successful, today very few people abroad are happy."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 02.02.2021

    duration: 01:02:38
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 05.03.2021

    duration: 47:40
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Praha, 19.10.2021

    duration: 01:17:24
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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In the end, we didn’t emigrate. And we´ve never regretted it

Ema Barešová, circa 1940
Ema Barešová, circa 1940
photo: archive of the witness

Ema Barešová, née Kozáková, was born on March 17, 1932 in Prague. She comes from the family of ministerial official Jan Kozák, cousin of architect Bohumír Kozák or philosopher, theologian, politician and member of the Friday men Jan Blahoslav Kozák. At the time of mobilization in 1938, she experienced an evacuation to Romania, where, according to her memories, the Ministry of Finance hid the wives and children of many of its employees. Between 1945 and 1948 she was a member of Junák. After the communist coup, her father lost his job. The new conditions at the end of the 1940s worsened the health conditions and thus indirectly shortened the lives of both her parents. After graduating from high school in 1951, she was not recommended to the Faculty of Philosophy for political reasons, and then she accepted the offer to study at the Faculty of Law in Prague. As a recent graduate, she was assigned to the court, and worked in the judiciary with breaks until her retirement. She never joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. At the end of the 1960s, she organized a discussion on the topic of problems in the justice system after February 1948. After the August occupation, the family considered emigrating, and finally decided to stay in Czechoslovakia. At the time of normalization, Ema Barešová worked at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. In the mid-1970s, her husband Petr Bareš collaborated on moving the Most church. At the beginning of the 1990s, she returned to the judiciary, from 1994 to 2002 she was a judge of the Supreme Court in Brno.