Jana Kulhánková

* 1939  

  • “And my mother met that chairwoman of the local Communist Party Committee and asked whether the Communists will approve that I applied for the application. And she said to her, 'You know what, Máňa, it´s pointless, your husband was a tailor,' and my mom said, 'Well, that's true. And what was Tonda Zapotocký's father? Tailor too, see, and see where Tonda is now. At the castle, isn´t he? And she said she would ask her husband, who was a member of the Communist Party Committee. When she asked him, she told my mother that I could apply. So, by this mechanism I was allowed to graduate from a medical school. Actually, I got there by chance.”

  • “On February 14, 1945, during a great air attacks on Prague, a fire bomb fell into our courtyard. It knocked all the windows out, we had to run to a shelter, which was a cellar. After this event, they took me and my mother to my grandmother in Lysá nad Labem and we were there until the summer. But in May I heard in a “krystalka” on one little house, which was a small radio, that a house in Prague 12, in Italská 14, was bombed out. So I ran to tell my mom and my mother just sat in shock and said, 'That house doesn't exist 'This is our house.' Then she stood up and went to Vestec, where Soviet tanks and cars were heading, and she went with them to Vysočany and then through Prague, which had to be quite dramatic at that time, because it was May 6th or 7th. She reached the Italská street and really found our house in ruins. We were the only whole family that survived. However, my father and my 16-year-old brother remained under the ruins. They had thrown the brother straight among the dead because he had no signs of life. They were still poisoned by coal gas. He was in a coma for six days and had lifelong consequences. My father was a little better off.”

  • “He reputedly escaped to Bulovka, where perhaps they refused to treat him, but I don't know, we just heard that. Then he went somewhere to Vysocany and said that we refused to treat him. And we were writing the first protocol. A minute after a minute what we were doing. The advantage of surgery is the fact that nurses actually record minute by minute into reports when the patients arrive and what the next step is. So, it wasn't such a big deal. Writing a protocol after such a busy work shift was difficult. But we wrote it to learn in the coming days that we were counter-revolutionists in white, as they called us. The media in which it came out, the article was called "Didn´t pass." And it was on TV, on the radio, that we were like a counter-revolution. But that wasn't the only thing. They stated a false report, saying that we refused to release the bodies of the dead boys to an autopsy ordered by law, which was not true at all. ”

  • “We wrote papers about the death ones like about everyone else, we all signed it and the shift went on, and at some point, at three or four in the morning when this chaos faded, we all met in the medical room to get the emotions out. It didn't take long before the director of the Regional Institute of National Health came to us and told us that we had refused to treat the militiaman. We looked at him, not getting what he is saying. We went to the emergency room for his card and there we found out exactly when he arrived and that he had a laceration on his head and that we sent him for a X-ray - just a normal procedure. But he didn't come back from the X-ray. But in the chaos, no one noticed it. Then we found out ex post that the patients who stood in the corridor to the X-ray workplace began to scold him if he was not ashamed to go against his own people and he was afraid they would hurt him and run away.”

  • “After I got to František hospital and I was at the surgery department shortly, I volunteered on August 20 as a service backup, which means 24 hours. I thought that nothing would be happening until August 21st. Unfortunately, my assumption was not fulfilled, because it started already on the twentieth, and it was terrible. There were four of us in the emergency room and we were very busy, because the ambulances were constantly bringing the wounded, beaten, thrashed, full of tear gas, and they were crying, we were crying, we were also treating people in a surgery room. At some point in the evening two 18-year-old boys were brought there from the Powder Gate. In fact, they were already dead. The one had a gunshot wound right in the heart and the other had a frontal lobe shot, so it was basically their final breaths. So it quite a shock. I immediately called the criminal police I had been in touch and they instantly arrived.”

  • “We live in such a big corner apartment building, one of the largest in Prague 1. We had one very active married couple there. He was a lawyer, and as there was the street committee and all that, they were active in hanging flags and going to all the flats because they wanted the whole house to be decorated on those days. This doctor came to ask me to hang up the flags. I said, 'I will not hang them up, I have no reason to celebrate.' And he said, 'But think about it ... you have children, they want to go to study ...' And I said, 'Yes, I have children, and when they want to go to school and they want to go to school there, they get there just like me. ' And he said, 'Let me, I will go through your apartment and hang up the flags.' And I said, 'I will not, this is my apartment.' And I slammed the door in front of his face. Then I heard that when they were selected as the best house in Prague, these spouses traveled for free for a weekly, fortnightly holidays. I went with these people in the elevator in the 1990s, and this girl - she was really primitive - said, 'So it is finally here, right?' I replied that it is funny, that she is saying it.

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    Praha EYEDIRECT, 19.11.2018

    duration: 01:08:17
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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The hardest shift was during the demonstrations in August 1969, when we brought also two dead boys to us

Jana Kulhánková retro foto
Jana Kulhánková retro foto
photo: pamětník

Jana Kulhánková, née Holá, was born on May 10, 1939 in Prague to a tailor František Holý and his wife Marie. In 1945 they survived the bombing in February, and then in May at the time of the Prague Uprising, when the explosion leveled their house to the ground. After the war they got a replacement flat and started from scratch. Soon after the communists came to power in 1948, her father lost his tailor’s trade and had to go to work in Tesla. Since her childhood, Jana longed for a medical profession, but after graduating from a medical school and three years of practice, her university studies were endangered because of her father’s previous business. In the end, her medical application was not refused due to the intercession of her mother’s friend. She graduated in 1967. She worked in a hospital in Tábor, since 1969, after the outflow of doctors who emigrated, there was a job vacancy in the hospital Na Františku in Prague, where she joined a surgery department. On August 20 and 21, 1969, when anti-state demonstrations were held on the occasion of the anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion, she served as backup at the ambulance. She treated dozens of injured people, as well as two fatally wounded young boys who had died to serious injuries. The team of doctors were then falsely accused of refusing to treat the militiamen and also for the alleged loss of the reports of the two dead boys. The events were written in a special edition of Rudé právo with a propaganda report “Did not pass.” The doctors were investigated for half a year, they should have lost their medical degrees, which eventually did not happen. Jana Kulhánková had been a surgeon at František hospital for 10 years, after which she decided for more calm job in the assessment department due to her children. However, she missed contact with patients, so she took some shifts at the emergency department, where she worked until she was 55 years old. She worked in the assessment department until 2018.