Drahoslava Rút Nývltová

* 1937

  • "That was, not only for me, a big blow. That's what my friends called me at night, from the exhibition business, that colleague. I didn't want to believe it. My younger child, Tomáš, was less than a year old at the time, and I can see that scene before my eyes as if it were today, when I took him in my arms in the morning, pressed him to me and said: 'So, he won't learn about Masaryk again, Komenský, Benes, about all those great personalities of our nation.' That was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about the children. What they will grow into. What they will grow up in. And then when I went to Smíchov in Lidicka Street with the pram and then there were those tanks and then one of them was aiming straight at us and I thought to myself: 'Oh my God, what an idea was that,' and so I turned to the passage. But you can't erase that from your memory, moments like that. And of course, that's when people started going so-called crazy. When I saw the queues, there in front of the two shops, as they were in our square, people were buying 20 pieces of butter and I don't know, ten kilos of flour. I thought it was ridiculous, forgive me. I thought to myself: 'It's not the first thing we need to stock up on food that won't last anyway. And this is what I didn't like about those people, that material things were the main thing for many. But I definitely perceived it negatively precisely with regard to the new generation, not only our children. What will they grow up in and what will they go into."

  • You know, this was our big disappointment, that we were actually looking forward to a certain change in conditions in our homeland, and what we escaped by moving out and immigrating from the Soviet Union actually caught up with us here, and that was Bolshevism. So, most of all, when I thought about it like that, I was so sorry that the Soviet propaganda was already so prevalent here that even my intelligent friends - I went to the orchestra after that - were simply not able to believe me that the Soviet Union was not paradise on earth, but something completely reversed. So, this was such a basis for my thinking that I said to myself that I would never fake anything. It was said back then: 'We talk like this at home, but please, children, don't say anything about what we talked about at home.' No, I didn't say this to my children later either, and I tried to make them see everything truthfully and not try to hide anything. Even if it would mean some inconvenience to them.'

  • "After that, of course, it was about what would happen to those soldiers who, of course, came to Prague with the Svoboda´s Army. Our Jiří rode around on Wenceslas Square on horseback, which I didn't know for a long time, it's a shame we don't have a photo. It was a ceremonial parade and some, only a minimum, a few of them returned, otherwise it was... The Czechoslovak government actually, as it were, guaranteed that those who fought, and I can say that the Volhynian Czechs put a lot of effort into those victories, because... a lot of them also fell. But now the question was when we would be able to return, or return, when we would be able to go to our homeland to see those who remained there after the war."

  • "History has really great paradoxes that not only me, but our family and four other families from Michalovka owe their lives to one of the greatest villains in history, Hitler. Because, I'll explain right now. Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, and that was on June 22, 1941. And in three days, on June 26, we - our family and three others - were supposed to be taken to Siberia, to the gulag. I'll just explain how it went there. And actually, three days before, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The Soviets had other responsibilities or something else to worry about than some families from Michalovka, and thus we were saved. I just have to explain it briefly - the Soviets simply didn't like it when someone snooped even a little bit. Whether it was education, property, whatever. They just hated it. So, our family was supposed to be exported because dad was a preacher and we sometimes got postcards from America from our relatives.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 14.05.2021

    duration: 01:56:00
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 18.06.2021

    duration: 01:40:08
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Everything that happened seemed to us like a terrible dream, but it was reality

Drahoslava Rút Tomešová, later Nývltová, 1947
Drahoslava Rút Tomešová, later Nývltová, 1947
photo: archive of the witness

Drahoslava Rút Nývltová, born Tomešová, was born on October 19, 1937 in the Czech village Michalovka, located in the western part of Volhynia (in today’s Ukraine), as the youngest of four children of Jan Matěj and Libuše Tomeš. Her father was an evangelical priest and at the same time a teacher in the local school. But for the residents of Michalovka, he was above all a moral authority and a spiritual support in difficult times. After the occupation of Volhynia by the Soviet Union in 1939, the repression of the communist regime followed and the deportation of the Tomeš family to the gulag was paradoxically prevented by the attack of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany. Initially, the Volhynian Czechs stayed away from the ongoing conflicts, but they were still under constant threat. The danger was not only from German or Soviet soldiers, but also from Ukrainians joining the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Drahoslava’s eldest brother Jiří voluntarily joined the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps, the so-called Freedom Army, in early 1944, and at the age of 20 he went through tough battles in Dukla and in Slovakia. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia, he struggled to find a house for his family, who decided to return to their original homeland as part of the repatriation of Volhynian Czechs. They arrived in Czechoslovakia after a painful journey in 1947. Leaving their native village was also an escape from the Soviet regime, which is why February 1948, when the communists took power in Czechoslovakia, was a big disappointment for them. Drahoslava studied Russian and Russian literature at the Faculty of Education, but because of her activities in the Evangelical Church and at the same time her refusal to adapt to socialist norms, she was ultimately not allowed to teach. She worked as a foreign-language hostess during the great Czechoslovakia 1960 exhibition and then at the Lyra Pragensis publishing house. Together with her husband, she raised two children.