Jitka Havlová

* 1933

  • 'After World War I the Slovak State was being built and there was lack of intelligentsia. There were some members of Austrian-Hungarian or Hungarian intelligentsia but there were hardly any Slovaks among them, so there were people from Bohemia to substitute: teachers, technicians and doctors. So people were moving there – motivated by patriotism, I guess. There was a great euphoria, people were excited about their free state and they also had a feeling of obligation and take part in building it. The people didn´t move there to make money to be sure. They might make a progress in their careers going there as the competition was not strong among Slovaks there, so it may have been easier there. And of course they took the place left by Hungarians or Hungary-oriented Slovaks. So this was there task. And at the same time they were there to cultivate the society, I hope this is not too strong expression. They were bringing a new life style with them. They were often members of 'Sokol' – originally a scauts organization – so they were starting its branches there, theatre groups and cinemas. All these were open for Slovak people, not only to Czechs. And the new life style became part of the era.'

  • 'I am not sure if this worked in all schools but our grammar school had quotas for sending graduates to different university faculties and there were criteria for sending them. [...] According to the quotas, there were only three placements for humanities at the Faculty of Arts. And there were four of us who wanted to study there. But two of us had 'a bad origin' – based on our background we were not qualified to become university students. [...] One of the students who wanted to study foreign languages was from a worker family… and the second one was Jewish, her mother survived Terezin. So this was clearly a priority. And then there were two of us into literature; we loved it and of course our teacher knew – but he could not recommend us for the studies.'

  • 'And at the end of this period, in 1968, I got a chance to transfer to the Faculty of Arts, as they were opening the study field of Sociology of work and employment at which I was a specialist as I worked among the trade unionists. I was accepted there and that was a completely new world for me. At the first party meeting in 1967 the violent repressing of the students at Strahov was discussed as a public matter. The students wanted to protest as the rooms in their hall of residence were not heated. And this matter was openly discussed even though this was a party meeting. I was stunned by the whole atmosphere, I can say. And also by the situation at the Faculty of Arts; my knees were shaking a little, this was my alma mater after all.'

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 30.01.2019

    duration: 01:51:28
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 07.02.2019

    duration: 01:55:19
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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You don´t have to be so brave to be a good person

Jitka Havlová in 2019
Jitka Havlová in 2019
photo: natáčení

Jitka Havlova, née Grundmanova, was born on 27 May, 1933, in Vrutky in the west of Slovakia where her parents helped to fill in the vacuum after the departed Hungarian intelligentsia during the era of the First Czechoslovak Republic. After declaration of the Slovak State in March, 1939 her family left to the Protectorate (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia). They survived the war in Nymburk but right after its end they moved to Ceska Lipa again - with the patriotic intention of stabilizing the Czech territory and take over the ‘land of no one’ from which the Germans were departing. In 1955, Jitka successfully completed her studies of history and philosophy and graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague. She married a poet, writer and later also the editor of the children’s magazine ‘The Pioneer’, Jiri Havel. In 1967, she was accepted as an assistant to the newly formed Department of Sociology. She focused on the sociology of work and employment and she experienced the strongly inspiring era of The Prague Spring there. In 1970 she did not pass the normalization political screening. Since the department found ways to keep its teachers, she left the faculty first in 1979. After the Velvet Revolution, she came back to her alma mater and continued teaching sociology.