Mgr. Terezie Hradilková

* 1961  

  • “My mother was afraid as there was the possibility of war, of occupation and shooting. She wanted us to be with our father at least, so we went home to Prague by train. We got off at the Central Station and my mother took both of us by the hand and she also had our dog on a leash. And there was this column of soldiers at the railway station – I can't still recall their uniforms and machine guns. And my mother just uttered with clenched teeth: 'Be quiet, Dáša! No barking!' And she turned to us: 'Be quiet!' And I thought that they would shoot us on the spot if Dáša would bark.”

  • “So in those moments, when they were forcing me to join the Socialist Youth Union or when I had to decide whether I would be willing to make a deal with them, one of those many little compromises people were making, I always knew what to do, as I heard these stories as a child, I lived among these people, and I am so grateful that my parents and all these priests and friends of Jitka Malíková didn't leave us out, that they made no secrets and just told us everything.”

  • “I remember all those priests coming back from prisons and camps, after the first amnesty, as they were friends of my father, who came back from prison. They would gather at my grandparent's summer house, as they would come to visit us. And I saw it as this kind of a holiday resort or a sanatorium. I was four years old back then, or maybe five or six. As kids, we would sleep in this king size bed together and the grown-ups would sit in the other part of the room where the lights were still on. And they would talk, so I could listen to all those stories, how they had to walk barefoot for days in solitary, how they made wine from raisins or bread, who had been ordained by who, who taught who this and that philosophical theory. Maybe I couldn't recall everything they said word by word, but how they were making this raisin wine, how someone got this braided bread in a package, or how Aťa Mandl had been walking in circles for days in a solitary cell, and every time he would end his tenth round, they would pour water on him, that's something a child would remember. Maybe they thought we were sleeping, I don't know. But later, I was so grateful I could experience something like that.”

  • “The problem was that the Communist party and the regime as a whole were never denounced officially, there was no ban on the Communist party, for example. I had always known – as I have been living among these people – that regime change won't change the people as well. People with whom I went to school, to the university, people I met while shopping or people I have been reading about, most of them were afraid or tried to play the regime to get something for themselves if possible. And they didn't change, the regime did change, the ruling elite changed to some degree. And it seems that our enthusiasm, and this celebration of freedom, and the coming of a new regime wasn't strong enough to change the attitude of the people who not long before were just this silent, 'gray mass'. So now, when again there are people in the establishment, who don't share this vision of individual freedom, responsibility and human rights, when this vision we were following and dedicated our energy to began to be mocked, it made me angry indeed. And I could see that it went from the people – as there was this wave of revolution, enthusiasm and so, nowadays we could see things brought from below by this wave: all this hatred, vulgarity and indecency in general. And I think that maybe it is due to Facebook, and those other online platforms that offer an easy and comfortable means of communication, by which everyone can abuse whomever and whenever they want, they could be seen and acknowledged. And our politicians are just the same – such a vulgar, obscene and simple bunch, loved by morons who are just the same, who feel encouraged to act like them, which is quite sad and frustrating at times. It seems that you just can't win your freedom once for all – as it is an ongoing process.”

  • “To be engaged in society or to have an opportunity to act according to your beliefs, to do what you think is right, without being a member of the ruling class or any institution, that's what freedom means to me. To have an opportunity to establish this non-governmental organisation, an organisation that wasn't founded because some institution wanted to but because experts or people who did have something in common wanted and needed to, that's what I saw as my door to freedom.”

  • “In 1988 and 1989 important changes happened, as the need to be heard in public spread among the people of the so-called Grey Zone who until then were silent, which I found quite important in November 1989 – that was the reason why people were willing to participate. If the events of November would happen in some other moment, when there was just Charter 77, there would be no regime change I guess.”

  • “Karel Bartošek got the worst of it as well. The story was that they brought this coffin with his name on it and left it at his door, so his two daughters – Nataša and Monika – found the coffin on their way home. At that time, they tried to throw Mr Medek from a bridge and they took away Vašek Malý, so the Bartošek family started thinking about leaving the country. Janek Mlynárik left at that time, he was seventeen year old, and Tomáš, my boyfriend, with whom I broke up, left for England. The Tomin family left the country, I was so close to Lukáš Tomin. Those were hard times indeed we lived in, full of cruelty and pain, we kept going to the railway station, we kept saying the last goodbye to our friends, and we would get completely drunk before that, so we could endure it – and we would stand at the railway station and once again we would wave... We thought that we wouldn't see them again.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 23.05.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 01:38:10
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 14.11.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 01:35:31
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

It seems that you just can’t win your freedom once for all – as it is an ongoing process

Terezie at Kampa, 1981
Terezie at Kampa, 1981
photo: Archiv Terezie Hradilkové

Terezie Hradilková was born on April 18, 1961 in Prague as the youngest of three children of Zdeňka and Přemysl Mucha. She grew up in a Catholic family, at her parent’s house, people from both the official and the unofficial religious communities had been congregating. While studying at a grammar school, she befriended her peers from dissident families and met people from the older generation of underground movement personas around the music band ‘Plastic People’, she also attended private lectures at Jiří and Dana Němec’s flat in the Ječná Street in Prague. Due to her political profile she had trouble with being admitted to schools – she had been admitted to a grammar school only after appeal, and it took her several years to get to the Faculty of Education, Charles University, as she was admitted only after her boss at a boarding school for visually impaired – where she was working as an educator - gave her the appropriate recommendation. In the late 1980s she co-founded the Prague Mothers movement, an environmentalist group. She took part in protests, and distributed leaflets and samizdat literature. After the revolution, she remained an active member of the Prague Mothers, but most of her time she devoted herself to the care for disabled children and their families – she founded the Association for Early Intervention, a non-profit organisation which she headed for 20 years. She actively participated in the Velvet Revolution, helping its spread to rural areas. In 2019 she has continued in her effort to improve the living conditions of the disabled.