"For me, it was an ideal setting. Those were ideal times for me. It really wasn't all that ideal, but I lived in a family that was well situated. I didn't feel like something was lacking. And I have a feeling that people were liking each other more and they were not trying to play tricks on one another. It was all well-balanced. It was still that enthusiasm that we finaly after three hundred years got rid of Habsburg rule. And so it was all so joyfull, beautiful and sort of good. I've got the most beautiful memories of the First republic."
"They placed us into the department where we examined and manufactured gas masks. And aside from us there were just German girls from Prague there. We didn't want to talk to each other in Czech because all of those German girls understood Czech. But we could speak in Italian - Andrea Valentino was the name of our teacher and he was such a handsome Italiano - so we spoke Italian. But then some girl who ran from Berlin because in was being bombarded to Prague and she was braging about her speaking Spanish. So we said to each other: 'God, she can understand us.' And you know what we did? We decided to learn some language that no one can understand. And so I became an orientalist."
"Look, it was during socialism so everyone was a member of the party. Only I [from all the people at embassy] was not. And so I was a subject of great suspicion. Milan Mácha, who was, I think, the second secretary and who was such an orthodox communist, claimed that I shouldn't even be able to go anywhere alone, that when I go to shop someone should accompany me. He just absolutely did not trust me. But I wanted to start studying Javanese there. I'd met an assitatnt for Javanese on faculty and we were thinking about him coming to my place to teach me. But Jesus Christ it was not possible because I only had such a tiny flat at the embassy and foreigner wasn't allowed to go there. So I could study only at our business department because it was a separated building. And I was just allowed to sit on the porch. And he [Mácha] was fixing his car the whole hour or two when I was studying, just to hear everything I say."
“On the first of May I was on my way home, I was doing forced labour at Wegena, and people were already climbing up stepladders and taking off the German signs. The next day I didn’t go to work. And on the fifth it was completely clear, something was going on. So I took my little doggy, Zuzanka she was called, and we ran off down from Malvazinky, and at Pařík’s, Pařík’s shop on Štefánik Street, they had a hidden stash of Czechoslovak flags. They were throwing armfuls of those stick flags down from the attic, and everyone could take them and go home carrying the flag. Things were flying all over the place, and there were Germans driving by, and I must say our people were cruel to the Germans, who were on motorbikes, they knocked them down and slapped them...”
“Shortly after the crisis, which was here in the years 1933 and 1934, [my father] switched to a smaller firm, Zemánek and co., he was employed as the foreman again, and it was a Jewish company. When the Germans came, the Jews, who were Germanised, one Müller, he said: ‘Czech is a terrible language, try to pronounce erteh’ - he couldn’t pronounce ‘rty’ [Czech for ‘lips’ - trans.] - ‘it’s terrible.’ They all spoke German, Khon, Güntz, Müller, and there was one called Poláček, also a Jew, an accountant. All the others who had managerial positions, they all legged it in time. But Poláček stayed, he went around wearing the Jewish star, and when my dad died, he stood there after the cremation, he wasn’t allowed in, so he stood in front of the crematorium, and we came outside, Mum saw him and she rushed to him, she wanted to thank him for coming to the cremation to say goodbye to my dad, but [Poláček] turned and ran away, because otherwise he would’ve gotten my mum in trouble for shaking hands with a Jew.”
“When we were in the seventh year [about 17 years old - trans.], Emanuel Moravec came to us for an inspection - he was the Minister of Education back then, originally a legionary and a patriot, and then a damned traitor. First they taught us that, when he arrives, we have to stand up and do the Nazi salute. He came in with one professor [grammar school teachers are all titled professors in Czech, although they almost never hold the actual academic title of Professor - trans.], who taught us Czech and French, she was a big Communist later on, but back then she came in, saluted, Moravec saluted as well, we stood up, but not one of us raised our hand. The professor took him out of the classroom, they entered again, we stood up again, but not one of us raised our hand.”
That everyone would try to live honourably until the day they die
Zorica Dubovská, née Horáčková, was born on April 11, 1926 in Prague. She grew up as a single child in Prague-Malvazinky, and was in grammar school when the German army occupied Prague. Instead of starting her eighth and final year of school in the autumn of 1944, Zorica was assigned to forced labour at Wegena, a company that produced aircraft wings and gas masks during the war. In May 1945 she saw the remnants of General Vlasov’s army move out from Smíchov through Malvazinky and make camp in one of the valleys there. When she was able to return to grammar school she started learning Italian, later progessing to colloquial Moroccan Arabic, at the newly opened Oriental Institute. She focused on Indonesian during her studies at the University of Economic Sciences. In 1950 she enrolled at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, becoming the first recipient of a degree in Indonesian Studies in Czechoslovakia. She was awarded a work permit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from 1958-1959 she worked at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Indonesia, where she was in charge of administration and accounting. In 1964 she became head of the Oriental Department of the Language School in Prague, where she taught Indonesian until 1990. A year later she and her colleagues established the Society of Friends of Indonesia. She continues to teach as an external staff member at the Faculty of Arts.