Jaroslava Jesenská

* 1942  

  • “As I was in Blatnice, I led the local group of the Czechoslovak Union of Youth, nowadays the name is different again. Well. Every month I would send this quite detailed report on our activities to the Union committee in Hodonoín. I don't know if I was the only one who had been so dutiful. Or why would they take notice of me and then select me. So all of a sudden, I was selected and recommended by this Czechoslovak Union of Youth's district committee in Hodonín as a candidate for the Party membership. I had to be a candidate first. And they would also vouch for me that I would be a good Party member. So I joined the Party almost by accident. I guess I would had never joined them on my own accord.” - “Have you been thinking about whether to join the Party or was it just the thing to do?” - “No. I didn't think about that. As to me it was just like the other posts I had. So I had become a member. And after that, or maybe it was even before that, they recommended me to the district committee of public control and statistics.

  • “In the year of 1968, on August 12th, my son – or rather our son – was born. And I was on maternity leave. My husband had been working at Sigma research institute. And he called me from work: 'Turn the radio on! The Russians invaded us!' I was wondering how could the Russians, our brothers, attack us. And he said: 'Turn the radio on and you will find out.' I just didn't believe him. But that was the way it had been. Then everyone thought it would be just for a while, of course. But in the end we spent half of our lives in it.”

  • “There used to be a festival on Kateřina feast day, on November 25th. And the festival went on for a whole week. And I liked to go to school, I had excellent grades, but my parents knew how much I loved dancing. So they didn't want to hinder me and every time they would write me an excuse during the festival stating that I was having tonsillitis. And I spent the whole week of the festival dancing. I was one of the first to get there and one of the last to leave the dance party. So my parents were quite permissive. And later, I was maybe also quite permissive with my children.”

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    Olomouc, 25.05.2020

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I just saw the bright side of everything

Jaroslava Jesenská, a portrait
Jaroslava Jesenská, a portrait
photo: Archiv pamětnice

Jaroslava Jesenská, née Hanáková, was born on January 6th 1942 in Blatnice pod Svatým Antonínkem. Her father, Jan Hanák, joined the Communist party right after the February 1948 takeover, despite being a private farmer. But some of the Blatnice’s residents didn’t share his enthusiasm for the new era and gallows painted by lime started to appear on Hanák family farm’s gate. Witnesses’ older sister Marie also joined the Communist party right after her eighteenth birthday. At the time she was graduating from secondary school of education in Kroměříž, Jaroslava already led the local group of the Czechoslovak Union of Youth. Shortly after that, she had been offered to join the Communist party. After joining the Party, Jaroslava was recommended for a two-year follow-up study at an institute of education in Gottwaldov, she also became director of a kindergarten in Milokošť, in Veselí nad Moravou district. She assumed this position as just a twenty-year-old. In contrast, her husband, Rostislav, didn’t support the Communist regime. After the Warsaw pact invasion in 1968, he grew a beard, stating that he would shave himself after the invaders would leave the country. Jaroslava didn’t support the invasion neither and she had books by banned authors in her library, like Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Milan Kundera. During the “normalization” era, their children red Vokno, a sadmizdat revue, listened to songs by Karel Kryl and dressed in a fashion of so-called deliquent youth. Despite that, Jesenský family had been living in the spirit of tolerance and harmony. Jaroslava had been working as a director at several kindergartens till 1985; from 1986 to 1989, she had been working in Olomouc’s Labour Union’s District Committee’s department of labour union education. After the Velvet Revolution, Jaroslava Jesenská gave herself a present on the International Women’s Day and left the Communist party.