“Our neighbours, who were returnees from the Sudetenland and Czechs with sympathy to the Nazis, informed upon us. Their notice was wonderfully written: ‘They are keeping a Jewish dog.’ And so one day the door opened and there were two men in black uniforms! Imagine this, they dressed in black for the task! They came to do a house search to find out why we were actually keeping a Jewish dog. The dog was so tiny and overfed that it was not difficult at all for them to look at it. They realized that we were keeping the dog because we were kind-hearted, and they thought that we were idiots, and they went away.”
“The establishment of the position in Africa was not related to my person. At that time it was decided that the Radio needed some foreign correspondents, it was when the situation began to look more hopeful, and therefore they decided that they needed a correspondent in Paris, London and elsewhere. They began discussing it. I was quick to volunteer for the post in Africa. The bosses spent half a year looking for a man. Their prerequisites were: a male, with command of foreign languages, and willing to go to Africa. There were either men who knew foreign languages but who were not willing to go to Africa, or they were willing to go to Africa, but they didn’t know anything. There was simply nobody who would comply with these three conditions. They were thus waiting for half a year and then they sent me. Surprisingly, it was not regarded as a surprise. I always aimed at working abroad, and nobody was thus shocked about it.”
“Since I was not an outsider, but I worked in the radio and these things were being discussed internally, I naturally knew many of the less official things and I was obviously scared by them. One day I even cowardly got sick so that I would be able to avoid writing about it. But it was no heroism, it was cowardice. I was simply so scared at the idea that I would have to write about it, and therefore I pretended I was sick.”
“In my mind I even thought with certain aplomb: ‘Fine, I will do some other job, I don’t need to work in the radio after all.’ But no way, they didn’t hire me anywhere. I was even refused when applying for a job in a newspaper kiosk. ‘No, we cannot hire you, your face is so well-known, it cannot be.’ Eventually I found a job as a janitor in the old people’s home in Dlouhá Street. But I was fired some three weeks later, because allegedly it was way too much for them. I was walking from there across Wenceslas Square and I was terribly angry. I ran into Petr Pithart. I told him: ‘Petr, imagine this, I’m on my way home because I got fired again.’ Petr told me: ‘I will tell you something, I already have a job. Go to the Central Depot, they will hire you there. They are allowed to hire us.’ I hurried there immediately and the lady from the personnel department asks me: ‘You were sent by Mr. Pithart, weren’t you? Well, all right, we have gotten permission to hire culprits.’ She gave me a job in the chemical department and thus I became a dealer with sulfuric acid.”
“I was broadcasting at night and there was the news of the treason. People began streaming into the radio building. There were not only the listeners who had courage, but also well-known actors and various officials who wanted to find out what was actually happening. The news scared the people, but nobody really knew what it was all about. When my broadcast finished, we went on the upper floor to the director’s office to ask how to proceed. And there we found our director – it is a memory forever etched in my mind – sitting under the table and crouching on the floor. He was hiding under his own writing desk.”
I am fortunate that I eventually began to like every work I was doing
Věra Heroldová-Šťovíčková was born November 3, 1930 in Prague. Her father was a taxi driver and her mother was a servant. When the war ended, Věra insisted that her parents allow her to study grammar school. Before graduation she did a compulsory paid internship during the summer vacation, and thus she gained her first experience with the Czechoslovak Radio. In 1949 she became an editor in the Radio and she remained working there until 1970 when she was forced to leave. As a foreign correspondent in the 1950s and 1960s she lived and worked in Poland, Guinea, Zanzibar, Algeria and other countries. In 1968 she took an active part in the “restoration” process and during the days of the military invasion of the country by Warsaw Pact armies she participated in the broadcasting against the occupying powers. After leaving the radio she worked shortly in Náprstek Museum, where she met her husband Erich Herold. She was however not allowed to stay there, and she eventually found herself doing menial jobs in the Central Depots in Prague. Věra is a signatory of Charter 77. During the normalization era she was translating from French and English under a borrowed name. Her most important work is The Golden Bough by James Frazer, which she translated together with her husband. In 1990 she resisted the temptation to return to working in the radio and she continued with her translating work - she has translated over hundred and twenty books.