Irena Fajmanová

* 1930

  • "I had no idea, because we didn´t use to make phone calls then, I had no idea what would happen. As my mother later told me, an acquaintance had come, she never named him, and he had said, 'Ida, you have to be gone by four o'clock in the morning or they will come for you! It´s been already arranged for this time.' And it really happened. My mother put all documents into her handbag and the whole family set off. In the meantime, in fact, my sister was born in 1944. She was still small then, five or six years old at the time. I was in Aš and my brother was in Prague at university. The two of us didn't know anything. Just [step]father, my mother and sister Stáňa got out. After some time, I learned that they had gone to East Berlin. It hadn´t been so blocked then. So they got on the U-Bahn, at about ten o'clock in the evening. My mother gave Stáňa a sleeping pill so as not to speak out in Czech. Customs officers came to U-bahn and wanted IDs. When they came to mom, and one of them spoke, mom said to him, 'Bitte sei ruhig, denn das Kind muss noch schlafen.' [Please be quiet, the child must sleep]. He gave it up and so they went from East Berlin to West."

  • "We returned to the farm in Chotyně near Liberec. The mother started farming on her parents´ farm. She did not want to enter the collective farm, so she had to make large contributions. Sometimes it was known there were no hens at a farm, and they were forced to hand over a hundred eggs, for example. Large farms had to hand over 3000 kg instead of 1000 kg of rye, because [the communists] knew they wouldn´t be able to accomplish it. My mother fought against it. When she went to a meeting, she said the farming was being done in a bad way. Denunciations started to be sent, accusing her. It got so far that she had to stand trial and in her absence, because she was lying in a hospital with jaundice, she was sentenced to twenty years. Because she was in the hospital, the commencement [of the imprisonment] was postponed."

  • "When I used to go to school for morning classes, I went from Liliová Street to Anenské náměstí, I entered Křemencova and I got to Vojtěšská from behind. In Křemencová, we always used to meet with my classmate and we went on. She said [once], 'Let's go the other way today, look, there are so many people here!' So we went around and got to the street where German cars were driving towards the church. We wanted to move on, we said we were going to school, and they pushed us away, started yelling at us in German to leave immediately. The area was full of Czechs, no one knew what was going on, no one knew they [the paratroopers] were there. I saw the whole action. Years later, I learned that a funeral home had been contacted. We saw the car coming in, and my classmate said, 'Come on, let's go away, someone must have died here and they're going to load them, I don't want to see it.' "

  • "One day we went to bed, nothing was happening. I know Mom just said, 'I'll go to bed later.' She was sitting in the kitchen pretending to be reading something, but she was upset. We fell asleep and suddenly at night [there was] a lot of noise and banging. Soldiers burst in, about six people. They pulled us all out of bed and told us to stand facing the wall or closet so we wouldn't see anything. When we moved our heads, they gave us such a blow from behind that blood ran from our noses. I wanted to take a step towards my brother and one of them saw it, so he kicked me and tore my thigh. I was crying, of course. My mom wanted to come to me, so they assaulted her too. She then was lying on the ground and they were kicking her. It was ugly. At the end we were all taken to Petschka´s palace. Then we didn't see mom or dad for several months and my brother and I were taken home after about a fortnight."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Poděbrady, 31.07.2020

    duration: 02:07:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Poděbrady, 05.08.2020

    duration: 01:08:54
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Poděbrady, 05.03.2021

    duration: 32:46
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I was left alone in Czechoslovakia

Irena Fajmanová (1961)
Irena Fajmanová (1961)
photo: witness´s archive

Irena Fajmanová, née Pešková, firstly married Jarkovská, was born on December 1, 1930 in Prague. During the Heydrich rampage, her entire family was arrested for her father’s unspecified resistance activities. Father Jan Pešek ended up in forced labour in Germany, mother Ida returned home from custody few months later. Irena spent a fortnight with her brother in Petschka’s palace [Gestapo headquarters]. Then they lived without their parents for several months. Their neighbours, Ráž family, took care of them. On June 18, 1942, she watched from a distance the siege of the Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius, in which the paratroopers were hiding. After the war, she moved with her mother and her new stepfather to a farm in Chotyně near Liberec. Ida’s mother opposed joining the cooperative farm, so Irena could not complete her studies at secondary medical school. Mother with her husband and their daughter [Irena´s half-sister] emigrated and settled in London. The witness believed that her mother had not survived the border crossing and considered her dead for several years. A few years later, the witness’s brother, Ota Pešek, also emigrated. After his departure, Irena faced several interrogations. The witness only found out that her mother was alive in 1961. According to materials deposited in the Security Forces Archives, the witness was registered since 1960 as an informant of State Security. However, she is not willing to talk about this period of her life. State Security ended the cooperation on January 23, 1967, because at that time she had already refused to attend meetings. In 1984, the witness’s son emigrated. In 2020, she was living with her second husband in Poděbrady.