Olga Dufková, roz. Urbánková

* 1940  

  • “My grandfather Karel Urbánek was an older brother of the historian Rudolf Urbánek, who was born in 1877. They were born in Slaný in a family of eight children. Rudolf went to study at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague after he had graduated from grammar school, and Karel learnt the butcher’s trade in the family shop in Fortenská Street n. 43. In spite of their different professional careers, the brothers had a close relationship, and they kept in touch through letter-writing. While living abroad, my grandfather maintained contacts with other friends from Slaný. Pharmacist Stejskal, who owned the pharmacy on the town square, stayed in grandpa’s house throughout the year. He liked to remember the stay in Siberia, and he always talked to me about it with great interest. I don’t remember the precise name of the company where Karel Urbánek worked, but it was probably the Moravian Agrarian and Industrial Bank. As a butcher by profession, he started a business, trading sheep intestines and sheep tallow. He was purchasing large herds of sheep from Mongolia in bulk. The sheep were of lower quality, though. He hired herdsmen who were herding the sheep on the Mongolian plains where they were grazing. Before they reached Ulaanbaatar, they became ready for slaughter. It was a special breed of sheep, raised for its tallow, which was an important product at that time. Tallow was used for making candles, soap, and similar things. He would also export sheep intestines to Hungary where they were used for production of Debrecen sausages. When the recipe for the sausages became known, in the first decade of the 20th century the European demand for sheep intestines increased so much that his business was thriving. The family lived permanently at the Baikal, since it was close to Mongolia from there. Grandpa met a sixteen-year old businessman’s daughter from Austria, Berta Weber, in Constantinople, and he married her when he was thirty-five. They lived in the Galata neighbourhood, where many other businessman from Europe, mostly Catholics, lived. A Catholic church was even built there. (The attached photograph of Karel Urbánek and Berta Weber was taken in front of this church in the Galata neighbourhood – ed.’s note). Aunt Pavla was born in Galata, and so was my father, probably, but the other children, Karel and Berta, were born in Sludjanka, where the family later moved. Grandma ran a bakery, a butcher’s shop and a confectioner’s shop there. The family lived there until the October Revolution, but grandpa was mostly away on business. He would stay at home just two times a year or so. He became sick during one of his business trips in Romania, and he died in 1920."

  • “Dad began to be cautious after the coup d’état in 1948. He had experienced the revolution in Russia and he could imagine what would follow. Transportation businesses where among those that the communists confiscated first. Father had an estate in Vraný, which he leased from Mrs. Volejníková, and he had the garages, repair workshops, and their apartment there. Dad never bought this property, he only rented it. When father arrived to Vraný, he only found the door of his flat marked with the official seal. Everything was sealed. The entire flat with all the furnishings, paintings, carpets, the workshops, garages, and all property. These are my memories as seen by an eight-year-old child at that time. When I was eight, I attended the school in Slaný and lived in my grandma’s house. The apartment in Vraný had a rectangular hall with a high cast-iron American stove, which heated the whole apartment. The stove used coke and you put it in by turning a handle, which fascinated me when I was a little girl. There were certainly many other more valuable things in the apartment, but when the confiscation became impending, the first thing my dad did – although at that time he didn’t know that our private property would be confiscated as well – was that he asked the owner of the neighbouring estate to lend him a wagon. With the words: ´I’m not giving this stove to them,´ he took it to a ravine near Vraný and dumped it there. Although after his experiences in Russia he more or less anticipated what the further political development would be like, the only thing he took away from the flat was this stove. He still couldn’t believe that people would be able to go that far. Vraný was a little town, but there were quite a lot of small entrepreneurs. A revolutionary committee was formed in the town and the first thing the officials did was that they focused on small entrepreneurs. One of them was Urbánek, whose property was the first to be sealed. Thanks to an intervention by the revolutionary committee chairman we eventually got reunited with at least some part of our property. Obviously, they took whatever was handy for them, like paintings or carpets. The property, which we were allowed to take, was brought to the chateau in Vraný. Dad was fifty when they confiscated his buses. He couldn’t find any other job. He was told that this was a time for the young, and that he didn’t fit in. Since he was used to proceed by the law and negotiate directly, he didn’t want to run away, and so he submitted an application for an emigration passport. He sent a letter to the Supreme Court in Brno, claiming that he been born abroad and spent most of his life abroad. He argued that after the return to his father’s homeland he had started a business, but the company had now been appropriated by the state and he was unable to feed his family and himself. Within a fortnight of sending the letter, he got employed by Autorenova, a car and bus repair company.”

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    V bytě paní Dufkové, 01.12.2010

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They robbed you, so don’t play a fool for them!

Maturitní fotografie.jpg (historic)
Olga Dufková, roz. Urbánková
photo: fotografováno při natáčení rozhovoru v bytě

Olga Dufková, née Urbánková, was born in Slaný on December 13, 1940. Her parents owned a bus transportation company which operated the route between Slaný and Vraný. They had a leased apartment and garages in Vraný. Olga attended school in Slaný, where she was taken care of by her grandmother. Her parent’s company was confiscated by the state in the 1950s and the whole family had to move into Olga’s grandmother’s house. After graduation from elementary school she studied at the Secondary School of Chemistry in Prague. After her graduation in 1959 she received her job placement notice for the factory Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth in České Budějovice. Her request for workplace change was granted and she was sent to work in the Geological Surveying Company (later renamed Geoindustria) instead. She worked there till 1991, when this large company split into several smaller ones. She then began working in the Water Resources (Vodní zdroje), where she eventually retired. She moved to her childhood home in Slaný which she inherited from her parents.