Hana Čechová

* 1954  

  • “I was given a task to process films of foreign production. There was huge political pressure. Back then, forbidden films appeared mainly in Polish production. I was in hot water there. I was literally given boxes of forbidden and allowed titles and they were supposed to be on at some time slot. First, it was necessary to watch the film and then to write a short abstract of it, technical parameters, and its purpose - I mean what time slot it might be on. But there was an enormous amount of limits. I could not even take out some films, some films were so-called 'to consider' and were to be evaluated by the dramaturgical projection and considered whether the viewer is allowed to see them. So I experienced strict censorship.” - Who was the censor superior to you?” - “I do not know if I can talk about it, I feel uncomfortable but it was Mrs. Adamcová. She was the head dramaturge, and then there were other ladies.”

  • “I was fired after a considerable disagreement about the film Pharaoh directed by Kawalerowicz. It was a story about Pharaoh with an Egyptian wife and Jewish lover. I watched it and did not find it harmful - why such a beautiful historical film should not be on Czechoslovak television. However, the then dramaturge told me that I had to know and that the film was quite clear. She meant that the Pharaoh´s lover was from Israel. At the time, Israel was seen that way because we were a pro-Arab state. That is one example of censorship. I could not stay there for a long time, so I was fired from that position.”

  • “It was not easy for my grandfather as well. They earned some money there, so he had some money with him, so-called “Catherine coins” which were allegedly worth twenty-five roubles. So grandpa bribed an employee of the station so that he could get on the train. Everything was guarded and controlled and it was impossible to just pass through there. The only thing that helped was money. So he bribed him. The train was sealed and they set off the journey. He had some dried bread crusts and little water and it had to be enough for the journey to Kyiv. He did not know where the train would stop and so far, everything was calm. Only when the train stopped after several hours, he tried to open a little window. He had bad luck. The window led straight to the train driver and he was not at all agreeable to any bribe. He reported grandpa and grandpa was taken away. It was somewhere in Kursk. It made things worse for my grandpa. It was at the turn of 1917 and the Russians were afraid that he was a German spy. Grandpa explained that he was not a spy and that he wanted to fight for our country in the Legion. At the time, the idea of the foundation of Czechoslovakia already existed. There was an investigating German - it was interesting that there were unpleasant and anti-Czech Germans among the Russians - and he sentenced him to death.”

  • “He was twice sentenced to death and he twice escaped it. His life story ended when he was sentenced for the third time by the Nazis and did not escape again. He was executed by guillotine in Dresden in 1943. He was imprisoned and buried there. There his, for me a great man, extraordinary destiny closes.”

  • “He was arrested in 1941 and as mum remembered it was under unclear circumstances. It was unclear why it happened and it was never made public. Allegedly, someone got to see the file and it had been crossed by the Nazis. His conviction is therefore shrouded in mystery. I know exactly what my grandpa did from 1917 to 1920, but the time of his sentence is mysterious to me. No doubt, my grandfather participated in the resistance, but I do not know any details. They tried to keep it a secret so that children did not get to know it and did not tell it anywhere. Then he was arrested in Dresden so it is hard to understand it. If he had come back, I would be able to tell you because I and my grandpa would have been able to meet each other.”

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    Praha ED, 15.12.2021

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Democracy is not a matter of course. We have to fight for it even nowadays

Hana Čechová
Hana Čechová
photo: Witness

Hana Čechová, née Hornová was born on 13 April 1945 in Pilsen, she grew up in its suburbs, in an almost rural environment. She graduated from a grammar school in Pilsen and read Cultural Theory and Aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University. She graduated in 1978. After maternity leave, she started to work in Czechoslovak Television in the editorial department of foreign programmes, where her task was to process films of foreign production. There she encountered censorship for the first time and started to have disagreements with her superiors. She had to leave the position after a year, she then worked in Czechoslovak Television until 1988 in the dramaturgy of the show Studio Kamarád (Studio Friend) and Televizní klub mladých (Youth Television Club). As an adult, she started to search for the destiny of her grandfather Jaroslav Komorous who was twice sentenced to death during WWI before he joined the Legion. However, he did not escape the death sentence during WWII and he was executed by the Nazis in Dresden, probably because of resistance activities. The family never got to know the reason for his execution. Hana Čechová transcribed his hand-written diary about his experience during WWI and provided Post Bellum with it.