Jarmila Bočánková

* 1931  

  • “When the Germans were taking over the Sudetenland, we were living in the Sudetenland, in Šternberk, which is a little town near Olomouc. And at that time, in 1938, during the Sudetenland takeover, my father was a leader of the local Sokol, and my mom was German, and there was the problem that my father would have been shot by the Germans because he never conformed, he would not let anyone interfere with his Czech patriotism. So my dad would have lost his life, therefore one night…. There was one German who knew my mom – although she did not really have friends among the Germans, not at all, but they knew she was a German, and this German man visited my mom and told her to take the child, I was seven then, and her husband, and leave everything and run away. Thus we escaped Šternberk the very same night. On foot, we did not have any car. On the way, farmers gave us a ride the following morning, when the villagers were going into the fields while we were walking. And each of us had just a few personal things – nothing really, not even money from the bank, nothing, just some small things. And we walked to Tovačov, because my father came from there. My mom was from Olomouc, and dad from Tovačov. And we headed there, the brothers and sisters would receive us. But because my mom was a German, and dad’s siblings were narrow-minded well-heeled Czechs, they did not like my mother. Even though both granny and grandpa had died in her arms, because always, all of them, went to seek help from my mom when they were in trouble. Because my mom really was special person, she always received them, without giving it a heed. So this is how it was. And when we got to Tovačov, it was the following day in the evening. Grandmother prepared a place for us to sleep on hay in the loft, and all three of us fell asleep there, because we ere so exhausted. And at four in the morning, there was somebody banging on the door of this shed where we were sleeping. It was my father’s brother, who was saying to him: ´Jaroš, get up, it’s mobilization time. We are going to the army.´ Thus father went to join the army. And I and my mom stayed in Tovačov.”

  • “And in 1945, when the Russians liberated Tovačov, I put on my folk costume from the Haná region, which in my opinion was the most beautiful in the world, because my mom had made it, there was lace on it, my mom was very skillful in handiwork. So I put on this dress, my mom was not at home, she was in the chateau in Tovačov. The caretaker, who was an Austrian, was there, together with my uncle, who was also an Austrian, and my mom. They had been sitting in the basement already for about a week. Because the schoolmates of my father’s, his former friends... since my mother was a German, and the Germans have lost the war, they took my mom, and brought her into this chateau and she was sitting there for three days with this caretaker from the chateau and my uncle in the basement, sitting on crates from fruits and vegetables. There was water down there, they could not even put their legs on the floor. And these three people were there for three days. And then, when the Russians came, me in this folk dress and my father were on our knees, entreating one of these Russian officers, who had a rifle, we were kneeling there, raising our hands to him and pleading for our mom, entreating him not to shoot her as a German. I don’t understand Russian, but he said something like: ´A što ty?´ And who are you? And I said: ´This is my mom.´ And he asked me: ´To je mať?´ And I knew that he probably meant mom, so I said: ´Yes, she is my mommy.´ And he untied her hands and told her: ´Idi damu.´ I also understood this, he was telling me, my mom ´Go home.´ So we went home. And when then there was a celebration to give welcome to the Russians, a friend of mine hit my head with a stone and she yelled at me: ´You German!´ So this was a clash with the liberated society.”

  • “I have an unpleasant memory from that time, of them being mean to us for having been imprisoned. My children were four and five years, little kids. And one day my dad came home and said: ´Jaruška, get the children dressed. We´re going to Blatná, there is a St. Nicolas party for the employees, let’s take the children there.´ It was some eight kilometers from where we lived, really close. So we went. And I explained to the children that there will be those three figures, St. Nicolas, the devil and the angel. And my daughter who was six year old, she was sort of curious and smart, and she assured herself: ´Mom, we did behave, right? We will get presents from St. Nicolas.´ I told her: ´Of course, Jaruška, sure you will get a present. St. Nicolas will bring a present for each child.´ So we went there, my dad and me, and our two kids sitting between us. And St. Nicolas was handing out presents, taking them out of his basket. And all of a sudden, he just said good-bye and left. My children did not get anything. Both started crying, asking me: ´But why, mom, we behaved, why did not we get anything from him? He forgot about us, he did not give us anything. But mom, why, why?´ And I said, I did not know what to say at the moment, so I told them: ´Jaruška, he did not give anything to you, because we don’t live in Blatná. He brings presents only for children from Blatná. And since we live in Lnáře, your presents will be in Lnáře. We will check when we get home, and they will be ready for you at the window sill. Don’t cry.´ They calmed down a bit. Still, about two days later dad went to an office in the place where he worked, and he expressed his discontent about what had happened to his grandchildren. And they told him: ´Well, Indrák, but what do you expect? For you are a criminal!´ So the children were also suffering from this – a lot.”

  • “My mom, because she had attended school in Olomouc, and since she came from Olomouc, she had friends there: the Germans. She attended a German school. And one German, this head of the Gestapo in Přerov, he would always come and leave his car a bit further from where we lived, I saw him there many times, he would leave the car there and come and ring our doorbell and tell my mom: ´Steffi,´ my mother’s name was Štěpánka, so he knew her by her German name Steffi. And he would tell my mom: ´At seven in the evening the Gestapo from Přerov is coming. Go to house number...´ I don’t know, for example, ´house number 70, and tell them to hide the radio, because they had been reported, somebody had reported them that they were listening to the Moscow and London broadcast. So go there please.´ And my mom would always go to these people and tell them. But then, in 1945, she was criticized for having maintained contacts with the Gestapo. But it has saved one hundred people.”

  • “On December 31, 1948, some men came, they kicked the door out and they simply behaved as if they were at home – terribly. They tore down pictures, they stuffed gold into their pockets. Because my uncle was a dentist, and as he had explained to me, at that time, people were paying with gold, they simply had some golden things and they used it to pay the dentist, because these people who were working the fields had no money, and they were thus paying this way. So I would always get some gold from my uncle, a bracelet, necklace, and my mom too. Therefore we had a big wooden box full of that. And these men stowed all these things in there, as if they knew that we would be imprisoned. Well, they knew it, otherwise they would not be able to behave like this in another people’s home, but we did not know that. Thus on December 31, they took us to a prison in Olomouc. There they put us into cells in the basement, which were for people who were awaiting trial. And it was really not nice there. In the corner there was just a bucket in place of a toilet. But it was really tough, because I was 17, and at that time I believed that I would have a baby if a boy kissed me. It was so at that time, today it is different, but at that time it really was this way. And there you went to pee and suddenly an opening in the door opened and a man’s face appeared there. This was really tough. And in the corner there was one raised bunk, about half a meter above the floor. And there was only one dirty torn grey blanket. There was nothing more. Thus in the morning they would bring us a basin and little water. And that was it. We were there till July, till the trial. My mom was also there, but before that she had been taken from home straight to a prison hospital, because she was ill with pneumonia at that time, and thus she stayed there for a very short time. But my dad and I were there for a long time, till July. And when we returned from interrogations, I was not getting beaten, I have never been beaten, but my dad, they would always drag him on his back – either holding him by his legs or arms. But there was one warden who was really nice. He would always come to me and say: ´There is some ointment, and your father is lying in number four. Go to him and put some of it on his wounds.´ Then, they also smashed my dad’s nose and ear, so afterwards he could not hear and smell at all.”

  • “In Lnáře things were already normal. The place where we lived was a former monastery. It almost felt like being at home. Only that in the cell we had to report each morning: ´Comrade commander.´ Comrade commander. Each day, one of us was on duty, and she had to report: ´Comrade commander, I report that the number of women in the cell is seven.´ And I always hated saying this, so I would always say: ´Mr. comrade commander.´ And I was being reproached by them a lot for this. But otherwise it was quite lenient, it was not really like a prison. Of course, it was a closed place, we could not even go outside, not at all. Thus for the juveniles the imprisonment was easier to bear, including the work and the living conditions there. It was not so demanding anymore. And we were young and imprisoned for political reasons. We felt very proud of it, of being political prisoners, and anti-communist prisoners. And we felt this intensely and we were terribly proud of it.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Plzeň, 12.10.2009

    (audio)
    duration: 01:47:25
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Byt paní Bočánkové v Plzni, 06.05.2014

    (audio)
    duration: 09:24
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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I am willing to forgive everything, but I will never forgive the communists this one thing: that when I was young, no boy has ever just simply told me: I love you

foto dobove.JPG (historic)
Jarmila Bočánková
photo: dobové: kniha Zkouška odvahy, současné: Eva Palivodová

Jarmila Bočánková, born Indráková, was born August 14, 1931, to a Czech-German family. In autumn 1938 after the occupation of the Sudetenland, they had to flee Šternberk near Olomouc where they lived, because the father was a Czech patriot and a local Sokol leader, and he was thus in danger of being persecuted by the Germans. During the war the family lived in the Czech town of Tovačov. Here, the mother, who was a German, saved the lives of 120 people thanks to her contacts with her former classmate, who was then the head of the Gestapo in Přerov. She warned those who had been reported to the Gestapo for listening to London or Moscow radio broadcast; therefore they could dispose of their radios beforehand and thus evade the danger. In spite of that, the National Guard imprisoned her after the liberation, and she was in risk of being killed. She was eventually helped by a Russian officer. The Indrák family then moved to Hlubočky u Olomouce, where they were all arrested by the State Police on the New Year’s Eve of 1948. The authorities also took away a little girl, whom the family had adopted, and they never saw her again. After half a year of detention in basement prison cells, a trial was held in Olomouc in July 1949. Seventeen-year-old Jarmila Indráková was sentenced for high treason and espionage. She spent four years in imprisonment and was held in prisons in Prague-Pankrác, Hradec Králové, Kostelec nad Orlicí and in the Institution for young delinquents in Lnáře. Her mother was imprisoned for six years in Znojmo and Pardubice. Her father was held for nine and a half years in labour camps in Příbram and in the Jáchymov region. As a result of his imprisonment, he developed lung cancer to which he succumbed. After her release, Jarmila Indráková married Cyril Šollar, whom she met in prison while he was helping the imprisoned girls. However, after four years of marriage she became a widow and she remained alone with two little children. Being a political prisoner, her situation was even more difficult, the regime kept persecuting her. Later she worked in Pilsen as a janitor in a hospital. She completed her education and then worked as a nurse in the psychiatric hospital in Dobřany.  She was working there for over twenty years till her retirement. She remarried. Mrs. Bočánková is a member of the Confederation of Political Prisoners in Pilsen.