“What would you tell an eighteen-year-old if asked what was worst about the 70s and 80s Czechoslovakia?” – “The stifling atmosphere. It was figuratively impossible to breathe, nobody knew how far it would go. TV was unwatchable, I sought refuge in books, the Semafor theater, and my friends. It was an age of darkness. I think the experience is untransferrable. Some things can’t be expressed in words well enough. It was as if living in a hole.”
“President Havel was permanently taking my breath away with his bashfulness and shyness of sorts. I haven’t seen him shout at someone, he nearly always said thank you for everything, and not only when he was ill. But he had such flames in his eyes…”
“It was Presitent Havel’s birthday in October. I tried to come up with something, and so I had the idea to call to Brno where the most famous pyrotechnicians resided, and asked them to come and make fireworks. Because what could one give President Havel for his birthday?! It was raining that day and I was arranging with the pyrotechnicians not launch the fireworks high bove Prague’s castle so that the journalists would write something bad about it. We had an agreement that at a given time, Jirka Křižan would bring President Havel to the window. He did, the fireworks began, all was beautiful and then Mr. President said: ‘So, I felt like it was communism again.’ It wasn’t a good present.
“I wanted to go study journalism at the university but back then there was a custom that one had to have a year of practical experience from a newspaper or a magazine. My daddy recalled that he had a friend working in Motorlet, which also published an internal magazine. So he told me: ‘If you’re smart, you’ll make your way to that magazine.’ I started office work there on 1 August which meant I had one month less of vacation after high-school graduation. I enrolled to a department which a couple years later received a juicy name: ‘normalization’.”
I adored Russian literature and loathed Russian propaganda
Helena Kašperová was born on 14 March 1948 in Dobříš. As a result of communist expropriation her family lost most of its property. The regime split the apartment which they lived in into two and moved in a communist family. Helena wished to study journalism. She set on a long journey before finally being accepted as a distance student in 1982. Her first employment was in the Motorlet factory where she worked for two years in the normalization department, drafting internal norms for the enterprise. In late 1968 she went to work as an assistant in the Semafor theater which’s production she admired for years. Prior to the 1989 revolution she also worked for the State Theater Studio, the Albatros publishing house and for seven years in the Svoboda publishing house as executive editor. For three years after the Velvet Revolution she served as a secretary of the collegium of President Václav Havel’s bureau. Up until 2016 she then worked in the Czech Television. Helena Kašperová passed away on February, the 17th, 2023.