Milena Janda

* 1935  

  • "Another thing I remember is that my dad sometimes, well quite often, was sitting at the table with a squared piece of paper in front of him on/in which he was placing soome letters that made a sort of design. I thought it was a kind of game. I kept watching him quite often and then did the same, placing the few letters I knew how to make onto a squared piece of paper finally framing it. Much later, already in the wartime, I played like this and my relatives stopped me, thinking it might be dangerous if anybody saw it. This was a kind of memory of my father making codes. Then he passed the codes on to Mr Klečka who sent them off to England. Later, my father started to plunge into illegality. To that effect we started to go out without him to places that we used to go before as a family. One example is my memory of Mikuláš (St Nicholas Day), it might have been in 1940, when my father would have joined us at the party at our friends, the family Hynie, where a large group of people with children of my age used to meet up. I was surprised and asked why and my mum said:“Well, he is too busy and doesn´t feel like coming.“ That was that. Later on he disappeared completely so that we lived without father. In fact, at that time he was already living in his flat that was rented in granny´s name. There he lived for some time and working for the resistance movement."

  • "Then in the winter of 1943 we heard that father was finally arrested. He had been hiding with different people from the Czech Brethren church in the Český ráj area. When the people saw it was necessary to hide my father with someone else, they passed him on. I met some of these people after the war, of course, and they made a great impression on me. Not only as patriots but also as those you can call „good people“. When my father was arrested, he was brought in front of Karl Hermann Frank. Later, my dad told me he hadn´t felt any fear to speak to him because he said to himself that that was the end of him, anyway. So, he could be outspoken, as he would be executed in any case. When Frank asked him, and this, of course, I know from my father, when Frank asked him why the Czechs hated the Germans so much. My father said: “Well, you closed our universities. Look how you are treating our people. Can you be surprised at why the Czechs hate you so much?“ This might have left some impression on Frank - and now I am referring to what happened later. At that time we had no idea but he might have wanted to keep him in case he needed him later."

  • "Time went on and in 1989 the situation in Bohemia changed, and the National Socialist Party in Exile, whose chairman was my father, decided to have a Congress in Prague. My parents were enthusiastic about going to Prague. My brother took some free time, I did too, and we all went to Prague to accompany our parents as they were to some extent frail at the time. In Prague, first we took part in the Congress and during that time we received an invitation from Václav Havel to come to the Castle. This was, of course, a great honour for us, as, naturally, we had seen his plays translated by Markéta Goetz here in English. So we were familiar with his work but to meet him as a person was really great. By the way, my mother and his mother, as young girls, were in the same boarding school in Brno and what was interesting was that he had known about it. So, we came to the Castle and had a wonderful conversation with him and what impressed me a lot was that he always closed his eyes when talking and pronounced a sentence that was so perfect that it could have been written down straight away. My brother and I had a feeling then that we were part of a play. That what he said was…that in some way he directed us towards a certain point of the conversation, exactly as he wanted. And we were told that in some two days my father would receive the Order of the White Lion as this Order was given to foreigners. At that time all the orders were so desecrated by the Communist ideology that the Order of the White Lion was the only Order he wanted to give my father when it was found out that my father had Canadian citizenship and therefore was eligible for it. And so we went there second time. My father was given the Order of the White Lion and it was very beautiful. Then, I myself had the honour to meet him at the celebration, if this is the right word, of the 50th anniversary of Milada Horaková´s execution, when he, with his wife, came to Vyšehrad to take part in the so-called ecumenical celebration of this wonderful Czech woman. I also gave him a book written up by Mr Doležal on the basis of sources we had given him. My father had written an extremely wide personal account of his memories. This comprised 4 600 pages. We were aware of the fact that in this way it could not be published. My mother and I shortened it to 780 pages but this was still too long. Prof. Doležal shortened it even further to, I think, 220 pages. Unfortunately, the book, in many ways great, does not follow all the aspects so that later on other books and essays were published completing the picture. And there is the latest book by Jan Drábek which deals much more with what happened in Canada than the original book by Mr Doležal called Vysoká hra."

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    Vancouver, Kanada, 03.02.2016

    duration: 01:40:53
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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To do good

Portrait of Milena, Prague 1942
Portrait of Milena, Prague 1942
photo: archiv pamětnice

Milena Janda was born as Milena Krajinová on 7th April 1935 in Prague. The family had its roots in Moravia. father Vladimír in Třebíč and its surroundings and mother Marie in Tasov. Both came from families of teachers who believed in the Masaryk values of the First Republic. After the Munich Treaty, the life of five-year-old Milena changed dramatically. Father, Professor of Botany at Charles University, became a leading figure in the resistance movement in Czechoslovakia, mother was sent to a concentration camp and later the father had to go into hiding. Milena lived with her relatives in Moravia and could see her parents only a few times during the Nazi occupation. After the war, her father became the General Secretary of the National Socialist Party and immediately after the February coup had to emigrate. In the summer, the rest of the family crossed the border via London to Vancouver. There, Milena studied and devoted her professional life to opera. She translated opera subtitles not only for the Vancouver UBC Opera but also for the Prague National Theatre. She made her first visit to Czechoslovakia in 1969. She came again, this time with her parents, in 1990 when Prof. Krajina received the highest state award from President Václav Havel, the Order of the White Lion.