Mother forbade us to pray
Irena Musilová, née Culková, was born on 9 June 1937 in Chotěbor. She grew up on the farm of the Ringhoffer family in the village of Petříkov near Velke Popovice, where her father Josef Culek drove a horse-drawn carriage and her mother Lea worked as an agricultural worker. Irena’s childhood was largely marked by a complicated relationship with her mother, but above all by the tragic death of her father at the end of the war. Josef Culek was one of the men executed by the Germans on May 7, 1945 in Velke Popovice. The cause of the tragedy was a single shot fired at a passing SS column. The retaliation was to be the burning of the village and the execution of all the inhabitants, including women and children. They were all driven out of their houses and gathered in front of the brewery pub, where they had to lie face down and wait while executions took place elsewhere. Irene was at that moment hidden in the cellar of the farmhouse with her mother and brother, but her father was executed along with seven other men in front of the mill where he was waiting for the grain to be milled. Alltogether, 27 men were killed or executed that day. There were several reasons why the Nazis eventually refrained from further executions and the burning of the village. Among them were the pleas of the wife of the commander of the local gendarmes, a native German. Irena found it very difficult to accept the fact that she had lost the person closest to her. She soon married and moved to Říčany, where she lived with her family at the time of filming (2021).