Věra Pytlíčková

* 1942  

  • "When the Russians were coming near in the spring of 1945, we had to move away. We lived on the High Street and the Germans had established their headquarters in our house. However, it was terribly dangerous for our family because my father was hiding some Jews and other families in the cellar. When the Russians arrived, they wanted to get there using violence. But my father told them to leave."

  • "The first visit was horrendous. There was a long corridor and there were one-metre wide boxes with 20-centimetre glass. There was a prisoner on the one side and on the other side there were the visitors. There were warders from both sides. It was in 1954. We were walking down the corridor – it was dark and we almost couldn’t see and we didn't notice my father because he had lost about 45 kilograms. But he recognized us and so he called at us. Well – he had his own eyes but the rest was a ruin. I just remember his clothes – it was a terrible nettle-green-grey colour. His slim neck was stretching out of that and he didn't have his curly hair, just several grey hairs and glasses. I was crying all the time because I loved my father and he was my example. My mum had told us not to ask about anything. It all depended on the warder, who could end the visit. So my father was just asking. There was my father's sister too. My mother was very brave and my father was encouraging us not to cry. But, you know, you can't tell that to 10 or 12-year-old children, especially when they see such a thing. So we didn't talk much then. I have never understood how they managed to discuss so much important information. The prisoners knew what Radio Free Europe had announced. So he was able to tell mother – who was free – what was happening in the world. I still don't understand how they managed to talk about that. The first visit lasted about twenty minutes and it was not interrupted. When we were going out there was the warder Vašíček and he was standing at the door. I remember he hit me saying not to cry and that my father was a swine. So I told myself, ´You will never see me cry again.´ So I never cried during the visits."

  • "It was quite a rich town. A small town, but rich. It was quite a cultural town. There was a choir called Haná, where my father used to sing, and amateur dramatics – they also played some more difficult pieces and operettas. And my father invited a lot of people – he used to travel a lot and because of books he went to publishing companies and so on. So he invited a lot actors and other people. There was Oldřich Nový and Jára Pospíšil – I remember that.“ Interviewer: „So he was involved in cultural life?“ „Yes, a lot. But he was mainly involved in scouting. He was a regional scout leader and I remember that on Sunday mornings, well not all Sundays but many, children arrived to our house and they lined up before they left for a trip or other activities. And my father greeted them looking out of the window and I liked that very much so I used to get up early to see it. "

  • "I will read a letter which I received on my 14th birthday from my father. My dear Věruška, I would like to write to you several lines as your fourteenth birthday is approaching. We were so happy when you were born. I would like to tell you something about the beauty of a human being. Well, what I acknowledge as the beauty of a human being is the behaviour. How you behave, how you treat your parents, grandparents, brother. How can people be good if they do not treat their parents well or are able to say something wrong to them? Many wrong words? How will one treat other people when they do not respect the one who gave them life? How can such people teach their children to love their mothers? Can I respect weaklings and talkers? Today they say one thing and tomorrow they do not know what they said a day before. Only people who tell the truth and keep their words can accept the truth from other people. Věruška, if you want to assess the beauty of other people, you must first assess their acts and behaviour. Not their appearances. I know it is important for you – young people. However, this is just temporal – and physical beauty disappears like April snow. But something remains – the inner beauty. If you always behave to respect other people and not just your own wishes, then there is something like a character. Dear Věruška, the main thing that contributes to the beauty and dignity of a human being is that you are able to accept other peoples' wishes despite your own ones. It is a great pity that these days I have to live separated from you all. I would love to explain some things to you. But there is one person that can explain to you all the things – it is your mother. You cannot imagine how glad I would be to help you with studying. Our time is the time of machines and technology. Keep doing sports and physical exercises – it makes your spirit more cheerful and healthy. There is the Tyrš's quotation, ´There is a healthy spirit in a healthy body.´ Concentrate on your future job, too. I wish you loads of good health. We all need goodness, smile, love, satisfaction. Watch all the things around you and get inspired by the good examples only. You are my beloved one and I believe you will not forget me in the future and you will not condemn me as a criminal. I wish you a happy birthday. I am holding your hand as your father. I am embracing you and giving you a kiss. I am looking forward to meeting you again."

  • "Your bookshop was nationalised in January 1949. Was it all of a sudden? They just arrived and took all your property?" - "I just remember I was getting myself ready for school. Suddenly, a group of men went through the yard and took a million-crown property that had been built for fifty years. My grandmother collapsed because she really started it all from scratch and she was an old lady. She was seventy years old. She gave the company to my father in 1945 but she still loved it very much. She was absolutely perplexed. We, being children, didn't understand that very much. We just saw everybody crying and sad and my grandmother was totally lifeless. We called her the ´general´of the family – she was a short lady but enjoyed great respect. So we, their grandchildren, tried to amuse her but she was still very sad. But my parents were ´fortunate´ because they were allowed to work there."

  • "My father didn’t want to emigrate illegally. First, there were a lot of informers and secret police members in the groups that took people across the border – then they caught them all on the border. … He also did not want to leave his homeland and he couldn’t imagine the terrible things the communists were able to do to their own nation."

  • "Well, the house searches were drastic. They started with them a week after father's arrest. When they officially announced that my father had been arrested, they started with the house searches. Fortunately , the scouting things had been burnt so my mother was relieved. I don't know where she hid the things – but they just looted our flat. Not my aunt's. And it was hard. Even after my father had been given the prison sentence – for example in January we were ill and we were in one room because my aunt was looking after us. My mother had pneumonia and we had tonsillitis. They arrived at 2 o´clock in the morning and they drove us from beds. They messed our children books and they threw me into the corner because I was holding a doll and a book. It was rather tough."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Olomouc, 08.10.2010

    (audio)
    duration: 01:39:17
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Kavárna domě U Kamenného zvonu, Praha, 25.02.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 32:51
    media recorded in project A Century of Boy Scouts
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The only thing they didn’t steal from me was my honesty

Věra Pytlíčková in her childhood
Věra Pytlíčková in her childhood
photo: www.dcery.cz

Věra Pytlíčková, née Indrová, was born on 13 February 1942 in Olomouc. She spent a large part of her childhood in Vyškov, where her family owned a well-known bookshop, which was, however, nationalised in January 1949. Her father, Jaromír Indra, was an important citizen of Vyškov; he was a member of the Scouts there. He was arrested in August 1953 and then sent to prison for 10 years for illegal activities of the Scouts and treason. He spent seven years in uranium mines in Jáchymov - he was released in 1960 because of general amnesty. Also his family was persecuted - Mrs. Pytlíčková’s mother, Božena, had to go to the secret police twice a year and she was forced to divorce her husband. Věra and her brother Jaromír were bullied at school by both pupils and teachers. After finishing lower secondary school they were forbidden to receive further education. Her father died of a heart attack in October 1969 and his funeral became a manifestation of the Scouts against the current politics. Luckily, Věra Pytlíčková finally graduated from secondary school and then she worked for Czech Railways for many years. She lives in Olomouc at present and she participates in discussions with students because she does not want them ´to experience the same things.´ She is a member of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and ´Dcery 50. let´(Daughters of the Fifties).