Jarmila Kovářová, roz. Švejdová

* 1930

  • “We had one pond by the estate and one big one by the forest, which we farmed, Blatná fishers came there for the fish, and when it was over, we went home, Dad took the tractor and Mum and my sister and I sat on the trailer with the tubs; we were driving into the yard when we suddenly notice two six-o-threes [Tatra 603s, cars used by the Czechoslovak government - trans.] coming up. So we knew it wasn’t a coincidence. They drove up, Dad got off the tractor and asked them: ‘How can I help you, gentlemen?’ And they said: ‘Get your tubs off, and you’ll sign here that you’re handing over the tractor and trailer to the machine station [a rural agency supplying collective farms with agricultural machinery - trans.]. And if you don’t sign it, you’ll come with us.’ I saw Grandma standing at the window, crying. Dad signed it and said: ‘Well, and how will I tend to the fields now?’ ‘You’ve still got horses, and if necessary, you can call the machine station and they’ll plough it for you for a fee.”

  • “Now I noticed I was being followed. That when I’m on my way home, coming from the train, that a motorbike overtakes me at a certain point; that when I’m wondering the meadows with my beloved dog on Sunday morning, when I reach the embankment at the pond, a motorbike passes by. You can imagine, that played on my nerves, a lot.”

  • “Our trial was in December, for two days, they split us up. That Láďa [Ladislav Bezpalec] - the lawyer, one distant cousin, Jiří Stránský and Milena Havlůjová, they tried them in Karlovy Vary. We were in Pilsen, the prosecutor was Mrs Brožová-Polednová, and my uncle, Mum’s brother [Petrovic], she wanted some twenty-five years for him, I don’t know how many they gave him exactly, but it was more than twenty. Then there was one Mr Kůla, he was from Strakonice, and he was landed with ten or twelve, then my father [František Švejda] got ten years, Milena Havlůjová’s father [Jaroslav Pompl] also got ten, and I ended up with six.”

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    Písek, 23.01.2016

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In the darkest hour, remember the sun

Jarmila Kovářová
Jarmila Kovářová
photo: archiv pamětnice

Jarmila Kovářová, née Švejdová, was born on 13 October 1930 in Přední Poříčí, where her father František Švejda owned a farm. The Švejdas got on very well with people in the village, with the exception of one man, who started informing on others during the war. Because of this, the Gestapo raided their farm twice. That same person became a devout Communist and chairman of the local national committee in 1945. The Communists were unsuccessful at starting a united agricultural cooperative (UAC) in the villages, and so they repeatedly increased the Švejdas’ quotas and gradually confiscated their farm machinery. The witness wanted to attend a secondary school of agriculture, but the nearest ones were in Tábor and Klatovy. In the end she signed up to a three-year family school in Prague and lodged with her cousin, whose husband was the lawyer Ladislav Bezpalec. Two or three times she gave Bezpalec an envelope from her father supposedly containing reports of the ways the Communists pressured farmers into joining their local cooperative. In May 1952 Ladislav Bezpalec was arrested by the state police. The witness and her father were arrested on 22 April 1953 and taken to Pilsen. They were tried in December 1953 in a group together with her uncle František Petrovic, Jaroslav Pompl, and Ing. Antonín Kůla; Marie Brožová-Polednová was their prosecutor. Jarmila Švejdová was sentenced to six years of prison for espionage. She spent five years interned in Želiezovce in Slovakia, after which she was released. Her father was given ten years of prison, he did seven of them, mostly in Jáchymov. While they were away their family was evicted from the farm, which the Švejdas had owned since 1630. The witness got married, had two children, and worked at Jitex Písek until her retirement. They were given back their farm in a desolate shape after 1989. In February 2015 Defence Minister Martin Stropnický awarded her a medal in recognition of her active resistance to Communism.