Magdalena Čtrnáctová

* 1971  

  • "I also wanted to mention that the beginning of the 1990s was simply such an incredibly euphoric period, not only in terms of the political situation, but also in terms of culture, all the cultural clubs that were formed, one could travel then. In the summer of the 90's we went away for a month after a graduation with the so-called Interail ticket, which was a ticket for quite a lot of money at that time, about three thousand, we could travel by second-class trains all over Europe. We really travelled all over France, Spain, Italy. The period after the revolution was just like that for us... We were so very lucky to be just adults at that time, we were eighteen, so we could actually start living a free life. And yet we experienced the totalitarianism again, we were already big enough at the time of the fall of the regime, in that year 89. The people in my class were around 18 years old, so we were already well aware of it. For example, my brother, who is six years younger, has very vague memories of it as such, he probably wouldn't put much together if he had to remember. So, we were actually adults and we were very well aware of what we got, that we got that freedom. And I think that maybe people appreciate it and will appreciate it..."

  • "And my mother, who was always very anti-communist, had a special sense of intuition, and I know from the beginning she said to me, 'Watch out today and don't go to that demonstration, if something goes wrong, from Albertov, don't go there.' And I basically promised her I wouldn't go there, so I didn't keep it because I couldn't, I knew I wanted to continue the demonstration. And then I knew I wouldn't really get out of it. That it was clear that this would be a problem. In addition, she had her birthday in the next day and we were supposed to celebrate it. And I thought I really screw it up, because on her birthday, maybe I'll be somewhere in Bartolomejska street or maybe somewhere taken to the woods, and who knows if they don't beat us there, it was usually happening at that time. So, I just broke down and started crying, so I just stood there crying and a secret cop came there, I see him like today, he had such a plaster on his face, a relatively young guy, he didn't really look like any scary type. In the end, it turned out that maybe he wasn't such a bad guy. And he asked me, 'Why are you crying?' And I said, 'Since my mom's celebrating her birthday tomorrow, and I'm here, and who knows what is going to happen to me. So, I feel sorry that she will be very worried and stressed about it. 'And he looked at us and then said to a colleague of his: 'Let these two girls go to Jilský street.'"

  • "And the main stress began. Actually, the situation that the cordons began to move against us and they probably proceeded from the other side too. I do not know, because there were a lot of people from the side of the National Theater. And they began to push the people together. There really was little space, and because I have been suffering from such a mild claustrophobia since childhood, I am really very scared of these cramped things, so I got such a panicked dread of it. I thought, I won't be here, they have to let me go, and I grabbed my friend Caroline by hand and I said, so we're going out of here for now, we won't be here. And I went straight against that cordon of those cops and I said to one of them, 'Just let me go right away!' And I personally believe what was said at the time, that the cops, the young boys, were on some pills, doped with something, they had a very strange expression on their face, as if they were absolutely absent. However, when I knocked on them, on the Perspex and told them that I wanted them to let me go, the one said, 'Do you really want it?' And he turned back and asked the others, 'Should I really release them then?' And someone from behind said to him, 'Yeah, let them go.' So, they parted, we went to that Maypole, to the crossroads, and there it was all closed and there were only Police Antons (cars for transporting detained people) in the area and there were secret policemen. who took the people they arrested there. So, we were immediately arrested with my friend. I was caught by a policeman from each side and they took us to the Anton and they wanted our ID there, so of course we always carried it with us, we knew that we had to have an ID card for demonstrations, so we legitimized and they said, 'So, girls, what are you doing? Are you studying? Are you in your fourth year? Now you won't graduate, just count on it...‘ So, they wrote down our names in the record and they wanted to put us in that car, into those Antons. They often did such things as either taking people to Bartolomějská for questioning, or perhaps their common practice was to take people outside of the city, for example thirty kilometers outside of Prague to a forest, they took their jackets, they took their things and they threw them out of the car and just left them there in the woods somewhere in the middle of the night. Things like that were happening. So, I knew it was a risk."

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    Praha, 13.03.2019

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    duration: 01:12:50
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We realized very well what we got, we got freedom

Magdalena during her studies at Hollarka
Magdalena during her studies at Hollarka
photo: provided by the witness

Magdalena Čtrnáctová, née Sklenářová, was born to young university students on December 11, 1971 in Prague. They lived with their grandmother in the Old Town near the Jewish cemetery. Her grandmother and parents often took her to classical music concerts and led her to love culture. At the same time, the family emphasized education, and therefore Magdalena was enrolled in the second grade at the then well-known primary language school in Ostrovní Street, which many children from artists’ families attended with her. At the lower secondary school, she was already preparing for the talent exams for the Václav Hollar Secondary Art School in Prague, of which her mother Marie Sklenářová was a graduate. She was accepted to the so-called Hollarka in 1985, and when she was in her fourth year, November 17 and the Velvet Revolution came. Magdalena and her family took part in various forbidden events and demonstrations before November 1989. Therefore, the participation in this demonstration was basically a natural thing for her. After the end of the permitted part of the demonstration, she got in the front of the parade, which was later blocked on Národní třída, and the police brutally beat the protesters. Magdalena was lucky, she begged the police officer and he let her go, so she got home safe that day. Immediately on November 20, she took part in a student strike, and at school she participated in the printing of promotional leaflets supporting the general strike and the Civic Forum. After high school, she worked as a passe-partout worker and as a documentary filmmaker at the Institute of Archeology in Prague. From 1995 to 1998 she graduated from a private school of restoration and conservation techniques in Litomyšl. Finally, she settled as a restorer in the National Archives, where she still works today (2020). She is still interested in what is happening in the society and is civically active.