PhDr. Věra Břeňová

* 1935

  • "They were just reopening the Higher School of Social services because there was a shortage of social and healthcare worker. So, he sent me a letter that I would be allowed only to enrol at that one. It was so liberating that I could start going to school. After two years, thy found out that there was a lack of teachers so the school changed to a school for kindergarten teachers. It was absurd because in this four years college, we were sort of outcasts, all of us. Children of kulaks, smallholders and small business owners. On the other hand, there were teachers who were kicked out of Gymnasiums [top tier secondary schools]. There was a choice of excellent teachers, that was very positive. There's something positive in every negative situation. At the end, we had excellent teachers for Czech language, for mathematics and for other subjects."

  • "In the Museum of Czech literature, which was established in around 1951, I don't know for sure, in the Premonstratensian monastery of Strahov, after Bedřich Václavek, the new director was Dr. Václavková. She was an outstanding lady because she shielded us, so to say, with her mighty widow's wings... because nobody dared to criticise her. There were so many people who had been released from jail... one of them was Professor Ryba, in 1948, he stood for the students and then he was imprisoned. Then, there were two Jesuits, one Piarist and a bunch of people who wouldn't have had any other chance otherwise. Excellent company it was. But she was wonderful, she smiled at everyone and nobody dared to interfere. „V Památníku národního písemnictví, který byl založen asi v roce 1952, nevím přesně, v premonstrátském Strahovském klášteře, tak tam byla ředitelkou po Bedřichu Václavkovi paní doktorka Václavková. To byla neuvěřitelná žena, protože pod svými vdovskými křídly, mohu-li to tak říct, pomáhala… protože si na ni nikdo nedovolil. Měla tam tolik lidí, kteří se třeba vrátili z vězení… Byl tam třeba pan profesor Ryba, který se v roce 1948 postavil za studenty, tak ten byl zavřený, pak tam byli dva jezuiti, jeden piarista a spousta lidí, kteří by jinak neměli vůbec šanci. Takže tam byla skvělá společnost. Mnoho lidí, kteří by skončili kdovíkde… Ale ona byla skvělá, na každého se usmála a nikdo si na ni netroufl.“

  • "That was terrible. We arrived to the Příbram train station, relatives of the prisoners gathered there, a bus came to pick us. There was an armed guard with submachine guns and they drove us outside the town. There were long wooden barracks, not a single person there, just some wires [fences]. They let us out and we were allowed to talk to Milan for half an hour. What could we say... nothing. We just stared at each other. That was the only thing [we managed]. The worst thing was probably Jáchymov [labour camp] itself. Milan sai he had almost died there. He was in solitary confinement and he got nothing to eat but he still had to work."

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    Praha, 09.02.2021

    duration: 01:35:14
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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    Praha, 16.02.2021

    duration: 01:35:39
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Na bratrův monstrproces se vydávaly vstupenky jako na divadlo, rodina tam nesměla They issued tickets for brother’s show process as if it was a Broadway hit. The family was not allowed to attend.

Věra Břeňová
Věra Břeňová
photo: pamětnice

Věra Břeňová, née Netušilová, was born on the 8th of April in 1935 in Heřmanův Městec to the family of Josef Netušil and his wife Marie. Věra had an older brother, Milan. Their father was the head of the Town Library in HM and the director of the savings bank in Chrudim. Their mother was a homemaker. In 1950, Věra finished the basic school but because she was of bourgeois extraction, she was not allowed to apply to the Gymnasium [top tier secondary school]. She managed to be accepted to the Higher School of Social Services, she got a recommendation letter signed by a member of the town council and a Party member after her mother’s pleading. In 1952, Věra’s nineteen-year-old brother Milan Netušil, student of the first year of the Teachers’ College in Prague. He was a member of the Heřmanov Městec group which called itself [President] Beneš Scout Resistance; members of this group were tried and sentenced in a public show trial in Heřmanův Městec. Milan distributed flyers which was classified as grand treason and he was sentenced for 12 years of hard labour. He served most of his sentence in the Jáchymov uranium mines and he was released after 9 years in an amnesty. After Milan’s arrest, his father was kicked out of his job and until his retirement, he worked on low positions in a chemical plant. Věra graduated from the secondary school in 1954, then she worked in the library of the National Museum in Prague. After one-year evening course, she reached the qualification for a librarian. In 1959, she married an archaeologist, Jiří Břeň, in 1962 and 1967, their son and daughter were born. V. took distance courses in library science with specialisation in literature. She passed the state exams in library science, bibliography and history of printing in 1970, after she returned from her maternity leave. Five years later, she got a doctoral degree in philosophy. Věra Břeňová worked in the Museum of Czech Literature and in the State Library of Czech Socialist Republic (National Library from 1990), since the first half of the 1990’s, she closely cooperated with Vilém Prečan in the Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences.