“They had a quite an adventure with us here on the border. We had to be probably the first people who’d come from Zittau to Hrádek from a capitalist foreign country. So, they all came out of the woodwork at the border. They came in civilian clothing and went over everything with us. For example, in Lahti we had visited a church designed by Saarinena and we had the address of the pastor there written down and ended up having dinner with him. So, they wrote that down immediately. It was comical, they unpacked all our stuff. We had our dirty laundry there with the things we bought wrapped up in it, mugs, and that kind of thing, they searched through everything. We spent about two hours on the German border before they let us into Liberec, that was quite a day. Because someone coming from a capitalist country to that border crossing was obviously a first for them. So, that was our trip to West, and then we didn’t go anywhere else after that for a long time, obviously.”
“I had a good friend who I went to high school with, we sat at the same desk, then we lived together in the dorms while we were both studying medicine. Her family had a cottage at the Seč dam, close to Ústupky. We always went there during the last week of the summer break and our classmates came and we all prepared together to go back to school on the first of September. Her grandmother was from Heřmanův Městec, where there was a town fair at the end of summer, so we would go there from Seč to the fair and to visit her. We were also there for sixty-eight. We played canasta till two in the morning before we got the news. In the morning, Daša’s mom called and told us the Russians had come. Then we saw how there in Ústupky, where there was a small store for the weekenders, how people were lined up in front of it, all crying and buying huge bags of flour and sugar; they had no idea what was going to happen. Mom came to take us back home to Pardubice because she didn’t want us to leave us there.”
They could have gone to Finland, but the kids stayed at home like hostages
Hana Čejková, née Augenthalerová, was born on 5 August 1952 in Pardubice. She grew up as an only child among six adults. From the time she was young, she was exposed to hiking. In 1970, she began studying medicine in Prague. During her studies, she met an architecture student named František Čejka, who she married soon after. Initially, she began working at the anesthesiology department of Pardubice Hospital, and, later, she and her husband relocated to Liberec. Again, she found work there in an anesthesiology department while František took up a position in a company called Stavoprojekt Liberec. In 1979, the Čejkas were allowed to travel to Finland and they hitchhiked their way through part of Scandinavia. In 1981, František Čejka signed the Charter 77, after which the State Security started to take an interest in him. During the 1980s, the couple maintained contacts with some of the signees of the Charter as well as took part in the distribution of the Charter’s publications and František’s magazine Váha (Weight). They raised three children together. In November 1989, František got involved with the Civic Forum and had a short stint in politics. Afterwards, he lectured at the College of Architecture in Liberec. In 2000, he went, along with his oldest son, to the Himalayas, where he succumbed to hypoxemia and died. After the death of her husband, Hana Čejková continued to travel and today her several grandchildren are her biggest joy.