Zdenka Hraběová

* 1930

  • “They arrested me on May 28th and in the summer, after maybe two months, they transferred me to Pankrác. And in December, we were on trial. Well, they started with Choc, then there was this group Eva had been part of, there were maybe forty of fifty people in the group. And there were about eight of us in our group, also the two boys who were caught while crossing the border. I had been making those leaflets for them, that was in December. And then they drove us away sometime in summer. As I was among the adults all that time, not as a juvenile. As only after the trial my advocate found out that in fact I committed the crime as a juvenile. As I turned eighteen on June 20th but I had been arrested on May 28th, a month before my eighteenth birthday. So I managed to be transferred among the juvenile. But after maybe just four days we went to Hradec. And since then, I was always with Eva – Dušková, or Vokálová at that time.”

  • “While inside, we had to obey, of course. And we had also been working, we were sewing shirts and did the ironing for Šumavan Enterprise in Krasejovice. We also had to work in the fields, once, we even had to harvest the beet from the nearly frozen soil. And there were no gloves in the prison, of course, so on the next day, civilian workers brought us some gloves made from old sweatpants. Would you believe we weren't allowed to wear them? You see what kind of people they were. Well, some of them were quite good to us, but the others... They were also afraid of each other, among themselves. So that no one would put them down in case they would be to kind to us. They wanted to spend the Christmas Eve with us, be with us on Christmas Eve. We said that we didn't want to, so they just canceled our Christmas visits. I recall her aunt and my parents coming to visit us, and they weren't allowed, we weren't allowed to get things they brought us, they had to carry them all back with them. So we were quite mad at them, seeing those people who had to make such a journey. They even had to walk from the train station, across the snow-covered fields...”

  • “It was so crowded. Once a week you could wash yourself with cold water. Well, it was just ugly. Young, old, all together. Especially for a woman – the hygiene – that was really, really bad. You just don't like to think about it. As they were, as they were interrogating me, I had to kneel and they were standing around me – how do you call this, when there are several of them, this type of interrogation... well, I can't recall it now. I had to kneel, and as I was kneeling they were stomping on my feet like this, and: 'Speak clearly now, or like you had spoken when we were at the secretariat, doing the search there.' That was the worst part. Or I would just come back from the interrogation, totally devastated, and the girls would put a cigarette in my mouth: 'Calm down, have a smoke.' So on top of that, you started smoking.” - “Did they beat you during the interrogation?” - “Well, they gave me few, but they didn't want to cause anything serious. But they would come for me in the afternoon and would let me stand the whole night facing the wall, without food, without dinner, till lunch next day. So when I came back, the girls felt sorry for me, they started washing me. You were just completely shattered.”

  • “Well, they came to me, asking whether I was Zdenka Horčíková, and I told them that I was. 'We need to ask you something,' they put me in a car and I came back after three years and six months. And I wasn't much afraid, as I thought that I didn't do anything wrong. Unfortunately, after that, they took my purse where I had those leaflets. And then – there were those two boys who were going back to Germany... so this friend of mine asked me to get them Communist party membership cards. That it could help them to cross the border. And I believed him, that I could help them to cross the border, so I got them at the secretariat. As many Communist party members were coming there, throwing away their membership cards – those who didn't agree with the events of October 25th. So I got them the membership cards and they were caught while crossing the border, those boys. And they had been close accomplices of Míla Choc, Červenka and Ševčík. They put us in with prostitutes and I don't know who... There were two beds next to each other and we couldn't just lie down as there were so many of us. There were people who were trying to cross the border, the so-called 'kopečkáři'. And the worst part was as there was this rally, shortly after I was arrested. There were just awfully many people. As the Communists went crazy and they had been arrested people who wanted to attend the rally...”

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    Praha, 17.07.2007

    duration: 01:10:37
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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You just can’t let them break you

Zdena Hraběová, a portrait
Zdena Hraběová, a portrait
photo: Internet

Zdeňka Hraběová, née Horčíková, was born on June 20th 1930 in Nová Dubeč. A year later, she moved to Prague (Praha) with her family. Following in her parents’ footsteps, she joined the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party (Československá strana národně socialistická) at the age of sixteen; a year later, after graduating from trade school, she started to work at the party’s secretariat. There she witnessed the communist takeover of February 1948, after which the party leadership including its chairman left for exile. She left the secretariat at the end of March 1948. Prior to that, she started copying and distributing anti-Communist leaflets and had been supporting her colleagues who decided to leave the country. In May 1948, she had been arrested and brought to the State Security headquarters in Bartolomějská Street for interrogation; after two months, she had been moved to prison in Prague’s district of Pankrác. She was tried in December 1948 together with the Miloslav Choc group. It was the first massive, politically constructed trial of the early Communist regime, with tens of people being accused of subversive activities. Zdeňka had been sentenced to five years in prison but her sentence had been reduced to three years and six months as she committed crime as a juvenile. She served her sentence in juvenile detention centres in Hradec Králové, Kostelec nad Orlicí (Doudleby facility) and Lnáře.