“Those are the worst memories of my life. I was living in Střešovice and I was assigned... well, to Kbely! Where the airport is. First up was Avia, the Ostmarkwerke was further still. Mum would wake me up at half past three. [Q: And what time did you have to be there?] Well, at six a.m. I had to, because they had time cards and werkschutz [German for security - transl.]... that was no joke. You were constantly under the threat of [being sent to] a penal camp. Well, and when I finally... when I started work at the assembly shop at six, well, we did twelves because it was wartime, even though the regulations were that juveniles like this mustn’t do twelves, then we did. And not just in the day, I would leave home at four in the afternoon and to reach work by six in the evening... and the lunch that Mum gave me at noon, for me to heat up, I couldn’t eat it, because my stomach was in a twist. The stench was awful there. Because the machines were painted as well. You can’t even define that, the stench, it was such an agressive stench. But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst was the mental strain. To be taken from the school desk and find yourself suddenly there, in this hard, hard life. I didn’t like the getting up, the people who were there, and then the... loss of respect, I’d say. They way they treated you, and then - what I was supposed to do, why I was to do it... Well, my nerves were under an awful load. But it was psychosomatic, so I got stomach pains... that was in the night and I felt so sick that, regardless of how I loathed to, I just lay there on the concrete floor in front of the toilets, and I felt really terrible. Well, and it was some kind of nerve inflammation by the gall bladder and a dropped stomach because it hadn’t gotten food for three years, had it. It was a lot at once, so I ended up staying in Motol [Hospital]. And I really liked it there. I was there in May and there was this wonderful fragrance in the air. It was idyllic, lying there in hospital, especially after all that... So those are fond memories, for a change...”
“And suddenly such an awful din. It was dark and something was falling, mortar and the like, dust from the walls, and these booms, these awful booms. Well, and that was the air raid of 14 February. And we were on the fifth floor with this thing. All I know is I found myself suddenly under a table - that’s all instinct - and then in a cabinet. Then it stopped some time later, but no one knew if it would start again, it always came in waves. Well, so one boy rushed up from downstairs, helped me down, people were crying there, the windows facing into the courtyard were broken and people were cut [by the glass], but when I went outside I was greeted by an even more catastrophic sight... Because the fact there was an air raid, the siren, that didn’t bother us, that happened all the time, and that’s why it was such a disaster - because the people didn’t know they’d really drop a load, so they rushed outside to watch. So streets full of dead people, everyone, in Podskalká, Faust House was smashed to bits, and there was a hospital opposite us - it’s still there. Well, that was as if you took a knife and sliced it in half like this. Horrifying. Then the sewers, all spilt out, it was everywhere; chairs... there were a lot of trees there. Chairs were on the trees, and in Emauzy, there was a cinema there, the chairs were all on the trees. It was dreadful. [Q: The tram you were supposed to take?] It was there were the station is. [Q: And what is destroyed?] Completely, it was like concertina. The number twenty. The Lord God was with me then. [Q: And what do you think - that the Americans made a mistake? Did you believe that?] I thought it was sloppiness. Or that they’d just wanted to get rid of the bombs at all [Q: That’s what you thought at the time? That’s what was rumoured?] That’s what I thought back then. I didn’t think anything bad of them, except the sloppiness.”
“And what happened to me, it’s hard to believe it’s true; I was going past the courthouse. The one that’s in Prague 2. Well, and we had to wait until the car came. The prisoners got out of the car, and they wore chains. I watched to see who it was, and it was Dad. That was a terrible blow, I can tell you. When you see your father like that. That was a dreadful experience. He couldn’t even look at me, they had to go like this, they had the chain, and I thought, if he’d just move his eyes, I’m standing right next to you... Well, they were there for questioning from Ruzyně. Then there was the trial, on 15 January. Only the family were allowed to attend the trial; he got three years. Please - for what? No one knew why. Dad had some Sokol songs there, and they said: ‘And what about this?’ And they claimed it as some kind of corpus delicti. One thing led to another, I don’t actually know what all they gave them. But it was three years. And he was sent to Valdice.”
Just to get there without losing our honour on the way
Dagmar Procházková, née Weitzenbauerová, was born on 6 June 1925 into a family of active Sokol members in Prague. Her father Václav was a civil servant and a Sokol district youth leader, her mother tended to the home and worked with young girls in Sokol in her free time. Like many Sokolites, her father was a member of the resistance group Jindra - a fact which he managed to hide even from his own family until the end of the war. Dagmar’s grammar school studies were interrupted by the war when she was assigned to forced labour at the Ostmarkwerke telegraph machine factory in Prague-Kbely in 1942, at the age of seventeen. This distressful experience resulted in serious health problems. Until the end of the war she then worked at the wholesale shop of Emil Boháček on Charles Square in Prague. She was working there on 14 February 1945, when an air raid hit Prague. She passed her maturita exam as soon as the war was over, and in 1946 she began to study philosophy and psychology at Charles University. She graduated in 1949, and the same year, on 15 January, she married Jaroslav Procházka. However, she was not allowed to study for a doctorate. She found no employment in her field of expertise because psychology was not favoured by the Communists. In 1958 her father Václav was arrested together with eleven other former Sokolites and sentenced to three years of prison for the subversion of the people’s democratic state. Dagmar Procházková returned to her profession in 1967, when she was given a chance to work as a company psychologist at Ferona National Enterprise. She raised a son, Ivan, who became a lawyer. She has openly professed her membership in the Czechoslovak (Hussite) Church her whole life. She lives in Prague.