"We were happy to be free, and unfortunately we believed everything we heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. At that time, we were grateful to the Soviet Union for the liberation of our Republic, and therefore we believed everything we would find out about the Soviet Union - about their work in agriculture, in factories, and the like. It took quite a long time for us to realise that not everything we heard on the radio was true. The biggest problems arose when unified agricultural cooperatives began to be established here. Back then, we would watch films from the Soviet Union about people happily working on the fields and such. However, in some of our villages, people who wanted a higher or better position took this project upon themselves and founded agricultural cooperatives by force, because some farmers did not want to join these cooperative, as they had their own property, which they had earned through hard work and which they truly cared for and managed well. And then there were other problems that we only understood many years later. It was difficult for us young people, because we wanted to have fun, we wanted to rejoice, to enjoy our freedom. So we joined the Czechoslovak Youth Union, and there we used to have not only meetings, but also some form of entertainment."
"The whole last year of the war I kept asking my mother, 'What is this peace?' Because everyone kept saying: 'Let there finally be peace.' And I would ask: 'Well, what is this peace?' Because I still didn't really understand what would change or what would happen. We were already in the last year, because father was supposed to return - that is, if he had survived. We made a little stool that would open and close and we made 365 lines on the bottom side of it and crossed out one line every day. I was in charge of doing it. We weren't religious in any way, but I honestly went to church every Sunday throughout the war, because I believed that I could somehow help him."
"He was getting ready, but I didn't know that at the time, I didn't understand. Henlein was supposed to arrive for some kind of celebration and I was out playing with the kids and then I was on my way home, scared because I was a little late for lunch. And I arrived at that square and I completely froze, because there was a huge red stand, with a photo of Hitler and covered with swastikas. All around the edge of that square were flags with those crosses, with that symbol of theirs. And it all made such a terrible impression on me that I immediately, even though I was a small child, understood that this was something terrible and ran home. In the square, some windows were closed and some windows were full of people looking at the square. So that was my first encounter with German influence and fanaticism. The speaker there spoke in the same way we would later hear Hitler speak.”
We believed everything they told us and it backfired on us
Jiřina Gímešová, née Koláčková, was born on October 2, 1932 in Šternberk. Her family had to flee to Olomouc in 1938 due to the escalated+ conflict between Czechs and Germans in the newly created Sudeten district. Jiřina’s father Václav Koláček did not want to serve the Nazi regime and therefore decided to leave the police. Thanks to his relatives, he set up a small grocery store in Brno, where he tried to support poor Czech families by selling them goods illegally without observing the rationing system, for which he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and imprisoned in the Griebo concentration camp for three and a half years. In April 1945, Jiřina experienced the bombing of Židenice, when she found herself in a life-threatening situation right on the street. After the war, her family moved back to Šternberk, where Jiřina continued her studies at a grammar school. In 1949, inspired by a trip to Bulgaria, where she encountered the Pioneers (Pionýr) for the first time, she founded her first Pioneer Group. In 1951, she changed schools and graduated from the Olomouc Pedagogical Grammar School, and at the same time she became a candidate for joining the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Until 1968, she worked as an official in the Pioneer organization. She led groups, organized summer camps etc. During communist party inspections in 1970, she and her husband Emil were expelled from the party. The historian and political scientist Emil Gímeš spent the rest of the “normalization” era working at a rotary kiln. Jiřina was bullied by the communist regime by being constantly reassigned, her rise in salaries was being halted and she lost her teacher qualification. Even her daughters, Mirka and Naděžda, could not escape the regime’s revenge, as they were prevented from studying at secondary schools. Emil Gímeš was rehabilitated in 1990 and returned to academia, Jiřina taught until the mid-1990s, when she retired.