Božena Mannová

* 1941  

  • "Many people tried to get along with the regime in the best way possible. The standard of living rose a little here, so people found it quite comfortable, that life. They started going to Yugoslavia, to Bulgaria to the seaside. The car was no longer such a luxury, the food was here, of course, Cuban oranges are something other than oranges, but I was very upset about what I returned to [after my stay in Canada] in terms of emotions. Like I can't even survive it. I was out of work for a while, about half a year. Then my son was born, it was happiness, and we lived a very nice life within the family. My husband was a great sportsman, so we were going skiing, we were going to the Baltic Sea, we were going to climb rocks or sailing on water every weekend or something like that. We had great friends, the tourist section, so it was much better for this than in that world. In normalization, man created his microworld, in which he was well. In normalization, man created his microworld, in which one was feeling well. And I met a lot of amazing people at the time, many of them are and were my friends, and I'm grateful for that. So, when I rang the keys to Wenceslas Square in November 1989 and cried, I knew I was happy to be back."

  • "The return to Czechoslovakia was amazing. We returned after three years and I must admit that the stay in Sudan... And then there were three months of vacation, so we spent the whole vacation - three months… We bought a car and drove around Europe, so we had a lot of experience. We were such Europeans, unlike people who were here and could not travel anywhere. But on the other hand, it seemed to me that there were things happening in the Czech Republic. I met my friends and they said, 'We started KAN, it's amazing.' For example, my uncle, who had been in Jáchymov before - suddenly admitted that it was not fair and such things were happening. So, I felt that it was beautiful here, because I wanted to come back, I wanted to live in the Czech Republic and in Prague. Thinking it will be good. But then August 21st came. And August 21st - it was incomprehensible to me at the time, and I know the years after August 21st were not very happy."

  • "The award is presented at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel, there is a lunch for a thousand five hundred people, and the four candidates know they have a chance to get it, but they don't know they got it. So we went to the barber, I borrowed some clothes and we went. Now we were sitting there and suddenly we heard that we got the prize, so we went upstairs. We practiced such a thank you together, if, God forbid, we were ready to thank you. And when we got there, I don't remember much, but I remember this quite well, that she started talking what we had learned, so I started answering and now suddenly she changed the subject of the thanksgiving and said that when she first came to Czechoslovakia, so she thought that she was coming to a developing country, but that this was not the case, and that she was very sorry that in 1939 Great Britain was one of those countries that signed the treaty, that at least it happened to Czechoslovakia... the Munich Agreement. The audience rose there. Then I don't remember anything."

  • "When I celebrated my next birthday a year later, on August 21, 1969, we celebrated it with my friends from school and with my husband's friends, and of course we sang and drank. And the neighbors had already invited the police and picked us all up because we had been protesting against August 21, 1968. My husband lost his driver's license at the time, because at that time, it was August 21, 1969; it was a sign that we were protesting against that we have Soviet troops here in Czechoslovakia. He didn't get the driver's license only until four years later, when he returned from Canada."

  • "It was very difficult to find out when there was not enough information, not enough books. I remember at home, I said I grew up in a happy family, I had two younger siblings, one more sister and a brother. There were a lot of books at home, a big piano at home, Dad played the piano. And when they turned off the electricity in the '50s, so we knew in the afternoon that there would be no electric power from six to eight in the evening, so there was nothing you could do, but my dad, a physicist and mathematician, was charging the batteries and we had a twenty-watt light bulb hanging over the table, and we sat around it. My mother made us tea and smeared bread with lard, and my father explained various stuff from history and mathematics to us, and we sang various Smetana operas and things like that. And I remember, it was really beautiful, but it was terrible."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha , 20.11.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 01:03:18
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 2

    Praha, 27.01.2022

    (audio)
    duration: 01:35:26
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I always knew I belonged here

Božena Mannová, 1957
Božena Mannová, 1957
photo: archive of the witness

Božena Mannová was born on August 22, 1941 in Čáslav. Her father Jaroslav Rada was a teacher of mathematics and physics and he also led his three children to these sciences. In 1963, Božena graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Poděbrady. Already at the beginning of her studies, she married her older colleague Heřman Mann and their daughter was soon born. Her husband was teaching at the faculty later. After graduating, Božena Mannová managed to get a job at the Aritma company in Prague, where the first computers in our country were manufactured. She has remained faithful to the field of computer technology and software engineering her whole life. She further deepened her knowledge in Sudan and Canada, where she and her husband worked at universities. In addition, she studied computer science in Canada and obtained the degree of M. Math. She and her husband never joined the Communist Party, which meant very limited job opportunities for them after returning from Canada in 1972. It was not until 1989 that she began teaching at the Department of Computers, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, where she still works today. Immediately after the Velvet Revolution, she also established cooperation with foreign universities and won a number of international awards for her work. At the time of filming in 2022, she lived in Prague.