Jiřina Doubnerová

* 1922  

  • “During the war, when I was studying sculpting, we also tried to learn foreign languages. I chose Russian because Germans were the enemy. I took lessons from Dr Pavlenko, he was a lawyer, a White Guardsman, and he taught me well by having me read Russian classics in their original language including the old digraphs. He was a very pleasant old gentleman, and I and other of my colleagues learnt Russian thanks to him. What happened to him afterwards, I don’t know. It came in handy because in 1945 our farm was chosen as the base of operations of the staff of the Russian army sent to Prague, and they needed an interpreter. I interpreted for them, I was at hand. I found out a lot about the way of life in the Russian army, how things were there, how the dyevushkas [girls] cared for the colonel and his officers, and the drudges were left neglected. Though not completely, they got a daily ration of half a litre of vodka and a small loaf of bread, and they got porridge in the morning and some kind of mash or similar thing for lunch. I also accompanied them to Schuster, a gherkin firm in Kralupy, where their quartermaster bought strawberries and vegetables.”

  • “In 1942 they assassinated Heydrich, I was studying in Zlín at the time, and suddenly I received a summons to the Zlín Gestapo, that I was to come because of some investigation. Well, that left me rather dumbfounded, but I off I went, and they behaved quite decently to me there, and they informed me I was the owner of a lady’s bicycle similar to the bicycle used by the assassins. I denied it of course, it wasn’t true, but the Gestapo’s investigation was so thorough that all the owners of lady’s bicycles of that sort were summoned for questioning, and the questioning was awfully detailed.”

  • “In 1945, at the very end of the war, we heard that there are Russian concentration-camp prisoners traversing Kačice and the surrounding villages, and seeing that we knew they were suffering from hunger, my brother and I decided to supply them a bit. We loaded up some three churns of milk, my mother made soup, potato soup I guess. She also baked some sweet loaves and cakes, and we set off to give this all to the prisoners. We came upon them on the outskirts of Kačice, and the interesting thing was that even the guards, who were supposed to keep watch on them, didn’t really care much, so we could easily give them the food. They were famished, so they rushed at it. Well, such poor sods, I haven’t seen the like of them since, not like they were, rags on their feet, dressed in torn and filthy clothes. My brother and I felt good for managing to give them at least some food. The guards were so considerate that they moved aside to have a smoke. Then the transports stopped coming from the prison camps, it was the end of the war.”

  • “As far as my publishing activities are concerned, I guess I could mention that in 1972 Odeon published Špalíček [The Chapbook] with a foreword by Prof. Mička. A year later I arranged Aleš’s drawings and sketches into a separate book, also [published] by Odeon, but I wasn’t allowed to sign it anymore, and they had to write Museum of Alois Jirásek and Mikoláš Aleš instead. Apart from that I published a lot of articles on heritage sites.”

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    Praha, 10.03.2014

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When you’re at the top, there is much flattery. But when you fall, there are few who will help you, stay true to you, own up to you.

Jiřina Doubnerová
Jiřina Doubnerová
photo: archiv pamětnice

Jiřina Doubnerová was born on March 31, 1922 in Vinařice near Kladno. She grew up in the family of a middle-class farmer, the youngest of four children. The family was traditionally Catholic, the witness attended Catholic boarding schools. She studied at the School of Arts in Zlín under Prof. Vincenc Makovský. Upon graduating in 1944 she returned to Vinařice and sought employment as a farm hand on her brother’s farm; at the same time she continued to paint. In 1945 she joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC) and began working as a culture officer in the Party’s regional committee. She became a background assessment officer. However, her oppositional stances caused her to be dismissed. The Party sent her for a one-year internship at the Central Committee of the CPC. After completing it she was sent to the Ministry of Education, where she was in charge of fine artists, she directed the Union of Czechoslovak Fine Artists. In 1953 she was put in charge of historic preservation. In the 1960s she founded the Museum of Alois Jirásek and Mikoláš Aleš and became its director. In 1968 she joined the national committee in Prague 1. In the 1970s she was expelled from the CPC. She went into retirement at the age of fifty-three. She and her husband solved personal financial problems that arose by selling crops at the market in Kladno. In 2005 she presented her literary estate (mainly her correspondence with L. Fuks, J. Seifert, L. Halas, and her prints and photographs) to the Museum of National Literature.