PhDr. Rut Kolínská

* 1953

  • "I remember exactly when I was buying gloves. I already had a cell phone in 2002, so it rang and I got a call from a certain Ivana Doležalová, who was the chair of the Czech committee, saying that I had been nominated for the Woman of Europe award for the Czech Republic. We agreed to meet, and she would explain it to me and she also told me that if I got the Czech nomination, we would go to Copenhagen in May 2003 where I would be presented with the other nominees from other countries. And so we flew to Copenhagen where all the projects that the women were nominated for were presented, and one next to the other they were very interesting."

  • "There was Václav Moravec's Questions on January 1 [2006] with Václav Klaus, and before that Václav Havel was the opening act. And Moravec asked him at the end, 'And who do you think should be the next president?' A Václav Havel said “I have said the several times but no one is taking it seriously. I think that Rut Kolinska or for example Simon Panek.” And Václav Moravec said, 'And that's naive.' And he [Václav Havel] said, 'Well, what I did in my life was all naive.'"

  • "It was Saturday afternoon and a car came to our house, I was in the garden in front of the rectory, two men got out of the car and asked about my father. I said he was in the cellar because he was in the cellar. They went into the cellar and after a while there was a really terrible roar coming from there. I don't remember the words at all, just hearing this huge scream. I ran to my mom and called out that there were strange men in there and that they were yelling at my dad. I don't remember anything after that. It wasn't until Sunday during church service that I suddenly perceived my dad stuttering, which never happened to him. And when he was praying the Lord's Prayer, he started to sweat visibly, and the next thing I knew, my oldest brother and someone else were taking him away. Dad had a nervous breakdown. It wasn't until I was older that I fully learned that he was being coaxed to cooperate. That they threatened him not only that they could reopen the political process, that they would find something, that he was certainly not so blameless, but also that it would reflect on us, on the children."

  • "It was also quite interesting at the apprenticeship, I taught textile techniques and textile materials, and the kids there were really thirsty for information. They were teenagers whose lives were opening up and they felt that their parents were living differently and that this unfreedom was binding them in a strange way. When we were on the potato brigade, we used to go to the potato brigade, and one group would put on the radio and played Kryl’s songs. When they saw me coming, they turned it off. I said to them, 'Why are you turning it off? I'm glad you're playing it.' And they were shocked that I said I don’t mind. So we started talking, and I was actually trying to let them know that just because I teach at a school like that doesn't mean I'm a hardcore communist. And suddenly they found in me a person they could talk to about things that their parents didn't want to talk to them about."

  • "When life was beginning to return to its strange, as if normal, way, Jan Palach burned himself to death after Christmas. The very first moment for me was that a man did not give his life to himself and that he had no right to end it (by himself). That was my first reaction for me. But then it dawned on me that it wasn't suicide, that it was a sacrifice. That he wanted to show us something, that he wanted to wake us up. As I grew up in an evangelical parish, I grew into the church, I'm a religious person and I participated in everything that was going on. We had a youth association where we discussed the death, what it meant to us, and I especially wanted to go to Prague for the funeral, but my parents wouldn't let me. I suffered a lot because of that, and it shaped me, again and again, to realise that one has to endure, that one has to find one's own way somehow, to keep one's freedom in an unfree life."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 25.11.2020

    duration: 01:42:15
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 22.12.2020

    duration: 01:32:21
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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It is not enough to live for yourself

Rut Kolínská in 1973
Rut Kolínská in 1973
photo: Archiv pamětnice

Ruth Kolínská was born on 13 May 1953 in Havlíčkův Brod as the youngest of four children of a protestant pastor Bohumil Jan Dittrich. Before her birth, her father was in pre-trial detention for sixteen months for anti-state activities, and she later experienced the harsh pressure exerted on him by the State Security Service (StB). Despite her happy childhood in the rural rectory in Horní Krupá, she soon became aware of the horrors of the totalitarian regime. She was deeply affected by the self-immolation of Jan Palach and the events of August 1968. After graduating from grammar school, she repeatedly applied unsuccessfully to university. She graduated from an arts and crafts extension course and became a domestic worker. This eventually opened the way for her to study ethnography at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University. She had her first daughter before her studies and four more children after graduation. She never worked in the field. Before the Revolution, she was involved in anti-state activities with her second husband, the scenographer Petr Kolínský, and her children, and was instrumental in founding the ecological association “Prague mothers”, which organised a demonstration for clean air in May 1989. In 1992 she opened the first maternity centre in Prague. Ten years later, she became president of the Network of Maternity Centres (now the Network for Family) and remains so to this day. For these activities, she was awarded the title of Woman of Europe in 2003 and Socially Beneficial Businesswoman in 2006. At the time of filming, she was living in Prague.