“The person who influenced us a lot as children was Milena Jesenská, who was a great friend of my mother’s and also a great communist, back then. She declared that we were terribly uneducated, we were about thirteen or fourteen years old. She invited us to her house - at the time she was the wife of Krejcar, she hadn’t divorced yet. [Krejcar] was building a house on the corner of Francouzská Street, and it had a terrace at the top, and there Honza, their daughter, played in the sand, and we would visit Milena and Milena would cram pure Marxism-Leninism into us. Ola didn’t care one bit, it didn’t occur to her to listen to it at all, but I said one sentence which I was then ashamed of: why was the Soviet Union arming, if it was against war? She yelled at me: ‘You dunce, honestly,’ and then I received quite the tuition, ‘don’t you know how endangered it is, that anyone might attack it by surprise?’ Because they didn’t like the Soviet Union. But all the same we liked Milena, and Mum was her friend.”
“And one time we photographed Fučík [a resistance journalist glorified by the Communists - transl.] there for an illegal ID card. The way it was, he phoned us up to say he was sending us someone for a photo. No, it wasn’t the father, they informed us somehow, and he didn’t say it was Fučík. Just that he needed an ID card for someone and that we were to take his picture, and then when he’d leave, we should tear it up. Then he left and I turned to Ola: ‘Look you, Ola, that was Fučík.’ And she said: ‘No it wasn’t, he didn’t have a beard.’ It was Fučík. It was very dangerous for him.”
“Even so, we had time to take part in the Young Culture, which we were completely engrossed in. Because Hitler went up, which was also thanks to Voskovec and Werich [famous Czech comedians - transl.] and the anecdotes they sang during their ‘pre-scenes’. In the end they forbidden it, they were forbidden to speak the name of Hitler, so they spoke of him as of Whosome [an approximation of Kohos in Czech - transl.], that replaced Hitler. So for example: It gave us a lot of work to find Whosome, seeing that you can only speak with him when you’re an ultranazi, and so on. And it’s clear that the audience understood every single allusion. People clapped, it was sold out, we loved it. But not the Peroutkovites. The Peroutkovites had their own group, and without that Peroutka wouldn’t be Peroutka.”
Staša Fleischmannová, née Jílovská, was born on 24 September 1919 in Prague to Rudolf and Staša Jílovský. She has a twin sister Olga, nicknamed Ola. Her father Rudolf Jílovský (1890-1954) was a singer and co-founder of the Červená sedma (Seven of Hearts) cabaret, he later worked as an editor at a publishing house. Her mother Staša Jílovská, née Procházková (1898-1955), was a translator and journalist. The witness and her sister graduated from the State School of Graphics under the tuition of Jaromír Funke, and in 1938 they founded the Photo Studio OKO (EYE) in Topič House on the National Avenue in Prague. In their youth the sisters socialised with groups of family friends (the group around F. Peroutka, Devětsil, Mánes), during and after their studies they attended the meetings of the Young Culture club. Staša’s first husband Bedřich Stern was arrested for resistance activities, and he died in Auschwitz in February 1942. During the war she and her father Rudolf Jílovský joined the resistance (her father cooperated with the Parsifal group). The sisters made photocopies of documents and photographs, secret meetings were held at the studio. In 1946 the witness married Ivo Fleischmann (1921-1997), from 1946 to 1950 they lived in Paris, where her husband worked as a cultural attaché of the Czechoslovak embassy. In 1950 Ivo Fleischmann was recalled, until 1964 the couple lived with their three sons in Prague. In 1964 the family returned to Paris, in 1969, following the August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, they decided to emigrate. In 2014 Staša Fleischmannová published her memoirs Vrstvami (Through the Layers; Praha, Torst 2014). In spring 2015 Leica Gallery in Prague organised an exhibition of the photographs of both sisters, titled Foto OKO. Staša Fleischmannová lives in the war veterans’ home in Prague-Střešovice.