Zora Dvořáková

* 1934  †︎ 2022

  • “On the day I was supposed to go to the graduation exam at one o'clock – my father had at that time already left for work as a worker in the Poldi factory and my mother went to town to do some shopping – I was alone at home and I was quickly running through some topics when somebody rang the door bell. And there were two unknown comrades, a man and a woman, who told me that we had just been evicted. I really did not how he could have come to such a conclusion because eviction usually comes after some insolvency problems which obviously was not the case. So we were supposed to move out of the flat immediately. If somebody tells you this at eleven in the morning and you are supposed to pass the graduation exam at one, you would certainly be taken aback. At that moment, a certain wave of anger and defiance grew inside of me that I told him: 'Well, go on! Help yourself! And you can start evicting us right away.' He was a bit shocked and they were both just staring at me. And I repeated it again. 'Go on, help yourself! You can cast us out into the street right away. It does not make any difference since you have already decided without asking us,' and then I slammed the door. I have to say that after that I couldn't concentrate on any studying at all. I just told myself: 'Oh my God. How will I pass the graduation exam.' But surprisingly, when something like this happens, and you can see how people cope with their graduation exam nowadays, how much fuzz and talking is around it, so being in a situation like that made me stronger and somehow also calmer.”

  • “It's probably hard for you to imagine because you didn't live in this period. But in the 70s and 80s you could suddenly sense a kind of moral decay in the society, kind of a moral swamp, which started to show itself in all aspects of life. And I told myself that it would be worth a try to write about some well known historical figure, somebody with strong integrity. Somebody who really lived up to high moral standards. And all those qualities I found in Tyrš.”

  • “We were meeting regularly with JUDr Krouský in the 70s and 80s. But there was one thing he never told me. Not until 1990 after the regime changed. He was a trustee and an attorney for Jana Horáková, a daughter of Milada Horáková. He called me in 1990 and told me: 'We have to talk about something. Please come to me and we have to talk about something that has been on my mind for a long time.' I had great respect for him, you know. He was an older man, about 35 years older than me, with immense experience and he came to me and said: 'I was thinking about this a lot and I have one categorical task for you that you certainly have to fulfil. You have to start writing about Milada Horáková. You have to write academic papers, you have to write books etc.' And I was really frightened and told him: 'Mr Krouský, you can't expect me to do that. It is a completely unknown area for me, it is painful and disturbing, I couldn't really imagine I could start researching this topic. One has to have a certain professional distance.' He was a bit angry with me so after all those years we were seeing each other we fell apart a bit and not in a very good way. But he called me again two weeks later and told me to come to café Slavia. I went there and he was there sitting by the window facing the national theatre with a delicate little lady. He said: 'Let me introduce you to this lady.' And he introduced me to the sister of Milada Horáková, Věra Tůmová.“

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Klub Milady Horákové, Praha 4, 30.06.2011

    duration: 03:09:50
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The totalitarian regime was not only cruel, but it was also dull and silly

dvorakova1.jpg (historic)
Zora Dvořáková
photo: Roman Hájek

Zora Dvořáková, nee Růžičková, was born on 15th December 1934 in Kladno where her father worked as an official at the YMCA. When the communists took over Kladno after February 1948, the family got into a very difficult situation. At the end of her studies at the grammar school, two hours before the graduation exam, Zora was told that her family would be evicted from their flat. After the graduation exam, she passed the entrance exams to the philosophical faculty but wasn’t accepted because of the political background of her family. She was finally accepted on a fourth attempt. In the meantime she worked as a teacher. After her studies, she worked in the department for care of historical monuments. She participated on a whole range of exhibitions, including the memorial of Karel Čapek at Strž. In the early 60s she married a former political prisoner Vladimír Dvořák, sentenced for helping Petr Zenkl escape from the country. Her husband helped to establish the club of political prisoners K 231 in 1968. In the beginning of the normalisation period, they both lost their jobs. Zora took her employer to  court and she won the trial. Thanks to the fact that she didn’t have the label of a politically untrustworthy person, she was allowed to publish during the normalisation (mainly in the Melantrich publishers). After 1989, she became one of the leading scholars researching the life of Milada Horáková. She was active in the Confederation of political prisoners, in the club of Milada Horáková and in the Edvard Beneš association. She has published over 20 academic papers, mostly on history and the history of art. Zora Dvořáková died on February 26th, 2022.