Mgr. Naďa Köhlerová

* 1944

  • "The Jazz Section was a Czech thing. They brought documents on art - not only music - which they obtained in the West, to a festival in Slovakia. They made them available there and the secret police hadn't even noticed. The guys had said that if they'd unpacked that in Prague, they'd got to prison at once. Things were different in Slovakia. Our sort of people were not an ordinary case for the secret police. In Slovakia, the secret police targeted mostly the opposition church structures. Charter 77 was a Czech matter. In Slovakia, these things were marginal and they focused on the churches."

  • "The problem was the following: in 1969, president Husák decided to close down the border. However, my husband didn't care about politics and about who was president. He just wanted to live, be free and enjoy life. So he missed the tiny detail of Husák ordering him to return to Czechoslovakia on time. And so he didn't. I got in touch with him, telling him if he doesn't return, he'd get in trouble. And trouble there was. Upon return, they confiscated his passport and he was listed as a returnee from exile. As such he was under secret police surveillance. They also conducted a house search at our place which was a really unpleasant thing."

  • "My grandma had to move out from her house, was assigned a small apartment and in 1942 received an order to go to the transport along with my mum. However, my mum never reported there. My father decided to put her in hiding. He worked in a match factory in Žilina. Its director was a so-called "economically important Jew", a very decent man who allowed my father to hide mum in the factory cellar. That meant she couldn't leave her shelter during the day because the workers mustn't have found out. She didn't have anything, not even food stamps because officially, she hadn't existed. My father had to share his rations with her. It took two years and it is incredible that she made it; as well as him. At that time he got her pregnant and she had spent all of that time in a cellar. She only left at night, enjoyed no sunshine but the baby somehow managed..."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, v bytě pamětníka, 19.01.2017

    duration: 33:47
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, Hroznová 7, 26.04.2017

    duration: 01:56:30
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My husband hadn’t returned from Germany on time and the secret police harassed us for the next 20 years

Naďa Köhlerová, 1984
Naďa Köhlerová, 1984
photo: archiv pamětníka

Naďa Köhlerová, née Šaradinová, was born on 2 September 1944 in Žilina, Slovakia. Her mum Věra, née Glaserová, was the daughter of a Jewish manager of a textile factory; her father Štefan came from a destitute family. In 1942, Naďa’s mum was about to be deported to a concentration camp but her husband had her hidden in the cellar of a factory in Žilina where she stayed for two years. In the meantime she got pregnant and faced risk of uncovering once she’d given birth. In the end, Naďa was born under dramatical circumstances shortly after the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising. She studied pharmacy and got married to the bohemian photofrapher and musicologist Ivan Köhler with whom she moved to Česká Lípa in 1966. In 1969, the couple had spent several months in Munich. However, Ivan ignored the official appeal for all foreign-residing Czech nationals to return before 9 October 1969, the day the Czechoslovak border was to be closed again. Due to his belated return the couple got under secret police surveillance. In 1970, they returned to Slovakia and settled in Rajec where the police intruded in their marital life. Naďa was asked to convince her husband to collaborate with the secret police in exchange for a passport and ability to travel abroad, or to divorce him because he wasn’t taking proper care of the family. However, Naďa supported and protected her husband who was doing photography and organizing jazz festivals in Žilina up until the fall of the authoritarian regime.