Katrine Anne Marie Lundgren

* 1956

  • "Jiří Hájek was a very interesting person. When we were in Norway and he gave that speech, I met him for the first time. He had red wine with him from Bohemia. And I told him, don't drink that, don't drink that. And he was very kind and a gentleman. My mother absolutely loved him. She was glad he spoke Italian and was such a gentleman. And then he gave this speech in Norwegian, at the Nobel Institute. And it wasn't very understandable. Because he spoke Norwegian with a little bit of German grammar and the way they used to talk in the year 1945."

  • "We met at a dinner at a friend's house that I didn't know, I was there with a friend. It was at the house of an architect called Arvid. He made a beautiful dinner for all the friends who could come. Traditional, pre-Christmas. And there was Jan sitting there. (...) I didn't understand that he wasn't Norwegian. I asked what his name was. He said Jan. Jahn? Not Jan, he said. With a beautiful smile. So I was a little curious about him. Because he wasn't Norwegian."

  • "He got there because his dad was Jiří Hájek. And he had created a lot of contacts when he was in prison during the war in Germany. (...) In prison, yes. And there were Norwegians there, for instance intellectuals and journalists who were arrested and sent to Germany. And there he learned Norwegian, there he also learned Italian. And he met some interesting fellow prisoners. And he was interested in languages, he spoke at least six languages fluently, he was amazing. And when Jan, when he finished high school, he started drawing with some artists and he was interested in architecture, culture and everything. He knew a lot of things. But he couldn't go to univerity here. And then his parents said that he had to try to get out of the Czechoslovakia and study somewhere else. His dad had contacts in Austria, in Vienna and also in Oslo, Norway. And I know that Frode Bakken, because he was active in the Charter 77 Foundation, so he and Konůpek and other people were interested in helping Jan to Norway. They contacted politicians, also the Foreign Ministry. Everybody in Norway tried to help. I think it took about a year. They wanted Jan not to have to flee and to be able to travel from the Czechoslovakia across the border legally."

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    Praha, 18.04.2023

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In Norway, many people helped Jan Hájek because of his father. I was curious about him because he was not Norwegian

Katrine Lundgren, Prague, 2023
Katrine Lundgren, Prague, 2023
photo: Natáčení

Katrine Lundgren was born 15.2.1956 in Milan to an Italian mother and Norwegian father. She grew up in Oslo, but like her mother she was Catholic. She graduated in 1981 in occupational therapy at the university and worked in schools and centres for physically disabled children. In 1988 she met her future husband Jan Hájek, a Czech architecture student, emigrant to Norway and son of former Czechoslovak foreign minister, protagonist of the Prague Spring and spokesman for Charter 77, Jiří Hájek. Jan got to Norway because of Jiří’s ties to former Norwegian fellow prisoners from a Nazi labour camp. As the son of his father, he was not allowed to study at university in Czechoslovakia. Therefore, activists around František Janouch and Frode Bakken arranged for him to be admitted to a school in Oslo and eventually negotiated the possibility of his leaving his communist homeland. Shortly after Katrine and Jan met, the Iron Curtain fell and the communist regime disintegrated. After the Velvet Revolution, the family lived briefly in Vienna and then for a while in Prague, before returning to Oslo. In 2001, they moved back to Prague, where Katrine Lundgren still lives today. Her husband Jan passed away in December 2022 after a long illness. His fate, as well as the history of Scandinavian aid to Charter 77 and Czechoslovak dissent, was the subject of a public debate, Support from the North, organised by Post Bellum at the Václav Havel Library in January 2023. One of the main guests was Katrine Lundgren.