Drahoslava Janderová

* 1946  

  • „In December 1976 Jiří Dienstbier came to visit us with some two other dissidents. But I only remember Jiří Dienstbier. They wanted us to sign. They gave it to us to read it. So Sergej signed it of course and I too joined. They said it would be declared sometime at the beginning of 1977. And then some of the sheets were stolen from them. Exactly the one sheet with our signatures was stolen by the policemen.“

  • „We really got the worst of it on November 17th. Worst off was our Honza, he was beaten up there, because we were standing at the front. There was one more lady there, Mrs. Dvořáková. They were working at the Tvář periodical, mainly her husband Ladislav Dvořák, I think. Me and that Mrs. Dvořáková, we were already ladies of age. She is even older than me. And we were there all up front facing the policemen when we saw how they’re crowding up. And our kids were also at the front, they were maybe twenty meters behind us. Well and me and Mrs. Dvořáková, when it all started to crowd up from all directions… so we walked a bit further the arbor, where it had already been closed. And when they saw us elderly ladies, they let us go. But I think that we were almost the last ones to be let go, after that no one was allowed to pass through.”

  • „And so they started to show up discreetly. Václav Havel emerged very conspicuously. He had this great car back then, which was probably one of a kind in the entire republic and everybody… I myself don’t notice these things, but all the other guys of course noticed. So, everyone started asking us who was the guy there or why so many people had showed up... Well and everyone sat down upstairs, read a piece of their column or their paper. There was a discussion, we drank coffee, wine and then had lunch. Then, I think, we all went on a trip to Lipnice. There’s a picture, I don’t know where it is anymore, from that trip, on it they are standing below the castle. Their group photo.”

  • „In 1967 they kept turning our lights off, to all of us college students. The lights just didn’t work there. It reached the point when we simply couldn’t study for our exams, we were so angry that we all came out of our dorm rooms. It was maybe one or two thousand people. We were walking from the Strahov dorms down to Malostranská and shouting ‘light, light!’. At that point the regime was really asking for it. It was a glorious moment. Of course, there they called the policemen up on us… it was good that we had some South Africans who had been living with us at the dorms. They were really brave and were cramming themselves all the way up front. They were really mad that they couldn’t study here in socialist Czechoslovakia. They had no problem getting beaten up. So, in the end the police mainly beat up the foreigners.”

  • „Ludvík Vaculík. A situation happened when the policemen were entering the house. We have this wooden gate there. When Ludvík saw them entering, he jumped out of the window – we have these low-level windows at the cottage. He calmly went to his car, got in, drove on a bit and waited until the policemen had left.“

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    Tábor, 11.09.2019

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    duration: 01:47:13
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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    Tábor, 23.09.2019

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    duration: 01:18:15
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The forbidden life of translators

Drahoslava Janderová with her daughter Tereza
Drahoslava Janderová with her daughter Tereza
photo: Rodinný archiv Machoninových

Drahoslava Janderová was born November 7, 1946 in Teplice nad Metují, where she completed primary school. When she was thirteen and a half, she went to study foreign trade at a high school of economics in Prague. She came to like foreign languages, especially French. She then continued her studies at The University of 17th November in Prague. In the fall of 1967 she joined the student protests known as the Strahov events. After successfully graduating and after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, she immediately left for France, commencing studies at La Sorbonne university. In 1969 she returned to Czechoslovakia and after couple of years she started living with Sergej Machonin, with whom she then had a daughter, Tereza. During the 1970s she devoted herself to translating from French and also publishing samizdat literature. In December 1976 she signed the declaration of Charter 77, together with her future husband Sergej Machonin, whom she married in October 1978. She experienced the revolutionary events of November 1989 out in the streets of Prague with her kids. After the fall of the Communist regime, Drahoslava and her husband worked in the renewed newspaper Literární noviny for a couple of years. She later worked as an editor in the Academia publishing house. She currently lives in Tábor and is occupied with French translations for the Baobab family publishing house.