Věra Cepková

* 1942

  • “On the one-year anniversary of the Warsaw Pact Invasion, a leaflet was distributed saying that we should wear black, that we shouldn’t go shopping or take the public transport, so I walked to work. The trams were really all empty. And when I walked down the Vinohradská boulevard towards the National Museum, it was already like a May Day parade. We knew that a demonstration was supposed to take place around noon, so me and one other girl sneaked around the reception and went to the corner of Krakovská street and the Wenceslas Square to look at the demonstration. We arrived when a student was climbing up a statue, hanging the Czechoslovak flag. At that moment the procession lined up and walked down from the horse to Můstek and the whole thing was incredibly peaceful. When it arrived at Můstek, the front end of the procession turned around and was heading back to the Museum. When the front end got back to the statue of St. Wenceslas, a great number of people emerged from the side streets, mainly from the Opletalova street. To me, looking from the other side, it looked like a waving field, well and it was members of both the National Security Corps, the state forces and the militias, all coming to suppress the demonstration. And I have to tell you, they sure suppressed the demonstration perfectly. When they started beating people, I knew that I had to get back to work.”

  • “My grandma had a small farm and they weren’t really capable of taking care of it with my grandpa anymore, so my mum used to help them, which is why I went to school there, in fifth grade. Of course, in the 1950s officials visited my grandma and their goal was to convince her to join the collective farm. But my grandma resisted it fiercely and she never joined. And when she knew they were coming or when they announced a visit, she ordered me to study Russian. I had to put my textbooks on the table and pretend I was learning Russian, and I couldn’t understand why. Then during one visit I understood it, because when she refused to join the collective farm, she said: ‘We’re a progressive family, even the child is learning Russian.’ Only years later I appreciated how smart she had been.”

  • “The Normalization period started in 1971 when the screenings began, when everyone was asked whether he or she agreed with the entry of the Soviet army or not. Many people settled their personal scores. And this was a time of enormous disappointment, seeing how the emerging freedom had ended. I myself struggled with it a lot; I was afraid to speak my mind. Eventually a colleague of mine helped me. He was about sixty and when us young girls asked him what we should do, he told us: ‘Act in such a way that you can look yourself in the mirror.’ Well, and that was it, I said I disapproved of the occupation, then I got on the blacklist… I didn’t get fired, that’s true, but my salary was deducted, I had no bonuses and no chance of a career advancement and I couldn’t even really change jobs because I wouldn’t get any decent job with such an assessment.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 05.11.2019

    duration: 58:46
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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I realized how unfree was the world I lived in

Věra Cepková - current picture II
Věra Cepková - current picture II
photo: Post Bellum - foto z natáčení

Věra Cepková was born October 8, 1942 in Jilemnice in Podkrkonoší. She has vague memories of the end of World War II and of the beginnings of agricultural collectivization. She graduated from high school in 1961 and became an office worker. She was assigned to Prague and so she moved there and stayed there for good. In August 1968 she saw the tanks and soldiers in the streets of Prague and remembers the unity and cohesion between people. In January 1969 she attended Jan Palach’s funeral and participated in the demonstration against the Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czechoslovakia in August that year. Because of her vocal disapproval of the occupation during the Normalization screenings, she was denied both career advancement and bonuses. She welcomed the Velvet Revolution with excitement, although for a long time she didn’t believe the Communist regime would actually end.