Dr. Dana Seidlová

* 1929

  • “Dad was an avid Scout. He had a cousin in Prague, Vlasta Koseová, who later became a Scout Leader. So we knew a lot about Scouts. And then, in 1939, one of Dad’s friends asked him if they could make a camp site for Scouts [next to Hraběšín Hall, the Schwarzenbergs’ estate - ed.]. Dad chose them a wonderful camp site, just beyond Hraběšín. And so some Scouts came there from Poděbrady. Our friend, a Scout or Old Scout, as we called it, was Docent Filip. And he devoted much effort to cultivate Scouting. So a troop of boys came there and camped in the forest. I’d go to look at them and watch their activities with longing. And sometimes I’d bring a pack of bread or their post. So I made friends with them. And then, after the two weeks, Docent Filip came along and said: ‘Scouting is to be dissolved, we have to end the camp prematurely, all the property is sealed.’ That was the end of the first Scouts era.”

  • “There was a kind of core, which did keep together. And then there were a whole lot of people who either didn’t care or actually detested the exile [culture - trans.]. They started feeling like they were something better. So there were various categories, I’d say. There were the centripetal emigrants and the centrifugal ones. So there was a kind of core there, like Sokol, for example. It was a typical diaspora, like the Jewish diasporas I guess. The core of those who maintain their Czech awareness. But not with some kind of base intention, but because of the ingrained need to do so. To talk together, share the newest issue of Dikobraz [a Czech satirical magazine - trans.], for example. There were lots of expatriate books. I’ve brought almost all of them back to Gruntorád again [Jiří Gruntorád, a publisher of samizdat literature - ed.]. There were four publishers, as far as I know, no more. We considered it something of a duty, almost, to support this literature, and so we bought everything. But a lot of the expatriates said: ‘I’m not interested.’ And they didn’t feel the slightest duty to order [books] from Škvorecký.”

  • “I can’t even describe it really, our idea was just: ‘So this is what freedom looks like.’ Stamps here, stamps there, permissions, invitations, and exit permits... We thought that was something that just had to be but that it was a miracle that the door was opening for us.”

  • “So I started studying, and suddenly I was called up to the dean’s office - there were five of us, we all came from the first year, and we all came to the school with practical experience. That is to say, as laboratory assistants, rehabilitation workers, and so on. They told us: ‘You are secondary-school medical cadre, we don’t have many of those, but we do have enough doctors, so you have to make do with secondary-school education and you are not entitled to study university at all. You’re not working class, you’re from bourgeois families.’ We really were the children of doctors and so on. And that was the end of our studies.”

  • “I woke up in the morning, and the doctor was standing outside the cottage and looking up into the sky. He kept looking at the sky. He said that there were three tanks in every plane and that he’d counted how many tanks the planes had already taken to Prague. I laughed because I didn’t believe he could ever actually count that. But he was completely serious. Then we felt an uneasiness wash over us, and so we drove down to the town, where we had a radio set. At that point we met my husband, who was on his way back from Prague, and he told us there were Russians in Prague.”

  • “And then the Americans came, and Dad was the only one in Vlachovo Březí and the whole surrounding area who could speak English. So of course, he welcomed the American in the square and chatted with them. It was at the time when the war was raging in full in Prague. He told them: ‘Keep going, go to Prague.’ Of course, I climbed up on to a tank with him, and I’ll never forget how they showed us a map, and there was a line drawn on the map with the words STOP LINE. And they pointed to it and said: ‘We’re not allowed to go any further.’ We cried terribly because our relatives were in deadly danger and the Americans would just shrug their shoulders.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha 5 Jinonice, 07.12.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 27:13
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 19.01.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 01:58:22
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 20.01.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 01:44:48
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 4

    Byt pamětnice Praha 5, 14.05.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 01:45:48
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

After 1948 we became second-rate citizens

School photo of Dana Seidlová, 1950, school of birth-assistants
School photo of Dana Seidlová, 1950, school of birth-assistants
photo: archiv pamětnice

Dana Seidlová, née Guthová, was born on 12 December 1929 in Čáslav. Her father Gaston Guth was a forest administrator at Hraběšín Hall, owned by Prince Schwarzenberg; his mother Helena tended to their home. Dana had two siblings - her brother Jiří was one year older and her sister Anna was 18 years younger. Her grandfather was the well-known author of books on etiquette, Jiří Stanislav Guth-Jarkovský, but the witness never met him in person. She spent her childhood at Hraběšín Hall, where the family also tended to the adjoining farm and fields. During the war they were able to secretly provide food to people from cities. Her father was targeted by informants, resulting in difficulties for his seventy-year-old mother-in-law Karolína Fraierová, who was held in custody by the Gestapo for three months. In 1944 the family was evicted to the castle in Vlachovo Březí by the appointed Nazi administrator. There they were liberated by the American army. After the war the Schwarzenbergs employed her father at Orlík Manor. She attended grammar school in Prague, where her aunt Vlasta Koseová introduced her to Girl Scouting. The family was hit hard by the Communist coup in 1948, which caused the Schwarzenbergs to leave the country; her father lost his job and the Communists made life hard for the Guths because they had worked for the bourgeoisie. Dana was not allowed to follow her dream of studying medicine. In 1969 and already married, Dana Seidlová emigrated with her family to Germany and then to Switzerland. She established a new tradition of Scout camps, started the Scout magazine Tamtam, and helped found a Czech supplementary school; she wrote articles for Zpravodaj Čechů a Slováků ve Švýcarsku (Bulletin of Czech and Slovaks in Switzerland). She also kept in touch with people in Czechoslovakia and supported the ideas of Charter 77. She was just as active in November 1989, when she and her friends supported the fall of the Communist regime. All through her life she worked as a nurse. In 2017 she moved to Prague.