Miloslava Nováková

* 1942

  • “I also want to tell you about the time when we began building the house… in the evening I managed to throw out dung from 40 heads of cattle and feed them a wagonload of green fodder and then my baby boy was born on the following day. At that time we already started with the construction, but the local authorities did not want to allow it; and so I was going to the district office where the old honest people were still working. There was certain Mr. Maroušek in the construction department. I told him: ‘Come with me and have a look at how we live.’ We lived in one small room, with my mom and with me expecting a baby. He arrived there and he said: ‘Nobody will do any problems to you.’ He visited us on Friday and on Tuesday he brought me the permission. There was certain Mr. Lengr from our village, he worked in the district office, and before I became pregnant, we were bringing stone from Kožlí, near Písek. I can still remember him vividly: ‘I work in the district office, I will see to it that you can bring the stone from there.’ And the district office really did give us permission for that! The man told me: ‘Give me the papers so that you don’t need to come here again, I will have them sign it for you.’ I said: ‘Mr. Lengr, I have already been here so many times, I don’t mind coming one more time.’ Speaking of the threshing again - I remember that they affixed some tape on the threshing machine and we were not allowed to use it because they blocked it. That had to be sometime in 1956, or 1958 at the latest, because grandpa was still alive. I remember that when they established the cooperative, they confiscated everything: the cutting machine, the engine from the threshing machine... I can still see grandpa when they did the official threshing: there was a heap of straw, and I was a little girl and I was crawling in it, and I could see grandpa’s grey head, and his head leaned against the threshing machine and he was crying. It was not easy, and it is good that all people now learn what other people were capable of doing.”

  • “I said that I would go to work in the cooperative after all, but that I would not sign it. My mother offered it to them, she was sick and they did not want to hire her. They wanted me instead. They claimed that they needed a worker. I started working there on August 1st, and until that time I had to take care of everything by myself. To cut the grass, take care of the cattle... it was terrible. I was nineteen and my mother was ill. I came to the cooperative and there was one female comrade, one of those who had established the cooperative, and she told me: ‘You came at the very last moment, and so you will do the work that we don’t want to do.’ And it was really like that. We were picking potatoes: ‘Fetch the bags, fetch the strings.’ I was doing this service work and then I had nothing for myself. And when I said that I wanted to earn my money, too, they regarded me as the worst person in the world. We were also going to work in the cow-house, always for a month at a time, and my neighbour, who was a nice woman and who worked the previous shift, had prepared everything for me and washed the equipment, etc. I went there in the morning already at half past three, I washed the cows, attached the milking equipment and it slid down. I tried it again, but it slid down again. Another woman looked at me from behind the cows: ‘She studies an agricultural school, she will have to help herself.’ But there was another woman who was kind and she too thought that it was strange that the equipment did not work although Zdena had prepared everything for me. We disassembled the device – and we found out that the women had unscrewed the pulsator, so there was no vacuum. Such were my beginnings in the cooperative. And during the harvest time when we were doing threshing work, the cooperative did not take away the cattle because we were still drying some hay, and therefore I was sent to work in the field for the whole day. I rushed home to prepare some fodder , because we still had three cows and two goats left in our house. The threshing work was in progress and suddenly the drain ditch for dung-water from the stable house got clogged. There was a one-hour break at noon, and so I got ready to clean it. But one hour was not enough for that. I thus asked mom to go there instead of me and cut the strings for the threshing machine: ‘Tell Mrs. Lengrová to do the hay throwing, I will work instead of her tomorrow for the whole day in return.’ She then had a terrible argument with my mom and she argued that we had to take turns. But my mom was sick, and she became unwell and blood started running from her nose, and that was because they scolded her that she should not bother going there if she was not fit enough to do the work.”

  • “Then I remember the time when the cooperative was being established and dad was taking me with him to the meetings, and they were shouting at him and cursing him, and they forbade him to take me there anymore. He told me: ‘You will keep going with me so that you can remember what it looks like.’ The pressure was great, and I had to help with agricultural work. Then they confiscated our rented fields and they had to be returned. We were left with eight hectares of fields, and they did not allow us to slaughter any livestock and they prescribed high delivery quotas for us which we could not meet, and we also got the worst fields. I remember that the cooperative’s chairman came there and he held a slaughter permit in one hand and an application to join the cooperative in the other. He said: ‘You got the slaughter permit here, sign it.’ Dad said that he would not sign it, because his father had toiled on the field, and so did he. He said that he wanted to farm independently. I remember that the chairman of the cooperative, I will not say his name because the second generation of his family lives here and I don’t want to hurt people – I remember that he shouted that if dad had not signed it, he would hang from the tree that we had behind our house, together with the whole family. Two or three men from the district office and from the cooperative were coming to persuade people; there was always shouting and arguing, and dad always got angry and it was bad. We did not slaughter a pig for six years, they did not allow us to slaughter a pig. We did not get any food ration stamps, and I was thus eating bread with sugar at home. Later there were no food stamps available, and it was not possible to buy anything freely. We had a large garden and my mom was making plum preserves. It was possible to buy margarine without any restrictions, and mom would thus always pour the margarine over the plum preserve to prevent it from spoiling. It looked like pots with lard. On Saint Nicolas Day, the traditional procession of devil masks came to visit our house and I ran to hide in the room. The pots with plum preserves were not closed, they were only covered with paper. When the masked ‘devils’ accidentally dropped the paper, they saw pots full of ‘lard.’ They informed upon us, and criminal police arrived and they did a house search in the whole house, the barn, the stables and cellars and attics. I have a certificate here that they found nothing, with the exception of a smoked pork leg, which could be purchased freely. I remember that I had to go to the forest with a sickle to cut grass in order to feed our cows and make them have a bit more milk, and I grazed them every day and I believed that I could be of help as a child. But a child cannot help it if the cows cannot have milk. Later they told dad that if he did not want to join the cooperative, he was then not allowed to have horses and he needed to plough with cows instead. They took away four hectares of fields, some of it was taken by the cooperative and some was rented to other independent farmers. Dad said that he did not care, that he would make do with the cows as well. You can imagine that they had no milk when they had to plough.”

  • “In 1956 I wrote a letter to the president (see the attachments); my parents did not know about it. When some of the independent businessmen met here, somebody said that women from Dražičky did not want to join the cooperative and therefore they wrote a letter to the president. And so I wrote a letter to the president – I went to my aunt in Tábor, and as I walked from school, just before the departure of my bus, I went there, but I did not tell even my aunt, because I did not want anybody to know that it was all useless in case my petition was turned down. At that time, our pigs died of palsy. I wrote everything about it in the letter; that this was the reason why we had not been able to meet the delivery quotas for meat. This palsy was a terrible disease – a pig would lie in the ground, squeak and be unable to walk and we had to take it to the slaughterhouse. The disease has now been eradicated. I wrote the school address instead of our home address. And then the reply came. It was sent from Budějovice, and in the letter from Budějovice it said that my parents were allowed to do a pig slaughter, and there was quite a commotion about it. We thus slaughtered a pig, but the problems continued. The secretary Sedloň, whose name is signed here under the house search warrant from the criminal police… Later we built a well. A neighbour of this man probably built a well and his water became drained away and they had no water in their well anymore. There was no water system in our village yet, and we had to bring water from the other side of the village. So now we had water and this Mr. Sedloň, the former secretary, was coming to us with a little wagon and a canister, and I so I filled the canister with water for him and put it in his wagon. And I helped him push the wagon up the hill, because he was already an old man. I went to the garden and he followed me and he said: ‘Milka, don’t be angry at me, I am sorry that I treated you the way I did, I had to do it.’ I replied: ‘Mr. Sedloň, there were many things which you need not have done. But it’s now over. I have water, and you need it, and I will give it to you.’ His wife later came to me, and this was already after my baby girl was born. She offered me: ‘You have so much work, put the baby in the pram, and I will go out for a walk with her for you. We have water thanks to you, and we would not be able to bring it all the way from the spring, and so at least I can take your daughter for a walk in return.’”

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    Praha - Český rozhlas, 14.01.2013

    duration: 01:21:43
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The chairman yelled that if dad did not sign the agreement to join the cooperative, he and his whole family would hang from the tree behind our house

3973-portrait_former.jpg (historic)
Miloslava Nováková
photo: Soukromý archiv Miloslavy Novákové

  Miloslava Nováková (née Rukavičková) was born April 28, 1942 in Tábor. She comes from a family of farmers who purchased a farm in Větrovy in 1905. Their hopes for return to peaceful farming after World War Two were shattered by the process of forced collectivization. Mr. Rukavička’s family wanted to persevere and continue farming on their own land and resist the pressure to join the agricultural cooperative. The family was thus persecuted for many years, they suffered from hunger and they had to face false accusations and pay penalties for not meeting the prescribed delivery quotas. Miloslava had to earn her own living since she was fifteen years old. After completing an eleven-year school she began doing forest work and at the same time she also studied an agricultural school in Tábor. Eventually she had to join the cooperative where she and her mother were made to do the worst jobs. In 1966 she married and she had two children. Both of them successfully graduated from university, but the political regime continued to make lives difficult even for them. The family still continues farming in Větrovy.