I took things as a matter-of-fact. That’s why I wasn’t afraid
Iva Drápalová was born on April 4, 1925, into the family of Czech professor, Antonín Václavík. At that time, the family lived in Slovakia where her father, a talented ethnographer, was sent after the war to help with the formation of the Slovak national identity. In 1939, all Czechs were expelled from Slovakia and the family was sent back to Brno. In the same year, Iva received an offer to study at a two-year boarding school for girls in England. Barely a month after she had gone to England, the war broke out. Iva could not return to Czechoslovakia and lost contact with her family. After two years at the boarding school, her scholarship expired. Due to the intervention of Jan Masaryk, a friend of the family, she was given the opportunity to continue her studies in London. Because of her excellent test results, she was accepted into Edinburgh University where she managed to graduate from two fields of study in record time. With the end of the war, Iva returned to Czechoslovakia and completed her doctorate degree at the University in Brno. In 1947, she married a Professor from Prague, Bohdan Jelínek. However, he emigrated in 1948 and left his pregnant young wife behind in Communist Czechoslovakia. Iva was able to cope with this difficult situation and later married for a second time. Her new husband, however, came from a family that was very uncomfortable with the existing regime. Her new father in-law and brother-in-law spent many years in communist prisons. Iva and her husband, Lubor, got involved in trafficking schemes through the Jáchymov mines. For this, they were sentenced to three months in prison in 1953. With an adverse cadre report, they had trouble finding jobs for a long time. The situation improved only in the sixties when Iva was given the opportunity to work as an interpreter for the Prague Information Service. Thanks to her job, she was able to work in the office of the Czechoslovak international press agency, the ‘Associated Press’, in 1968. After two years, she was in charge of the agency. The entire family was, however, under constant surveillance by the secret police. After the revolution, Iva learned that her file counted over 1,200 pages. She left the Press agency in 1988 but still played a very substantial role in the November events of 1989. As an interpreter, she translated for foreign journalists that were coming to Czechoslovakia to report on the revolutionary developments. She continued to cooperate with foreign news agencies in the years to come.