Hana Vrbická

* 1934

  • "Otherwise, our childhood didn't change that much, because it was kind of calm in Prague. Until May 1942, when the Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated. Something stirred in us, that something terrible had happened. I remember that every noon they announced the names of the people who were executed. Awful lot of people. Just take Lidice, you know it all from stories or from books. They put up yellow posters, red letters, of people who were executed. Terrible executions took place, way too many people died, so there was such a subconscious horror in us children, even though we didn't know exactly how it was, or what it was."

  • "Dad had a sister and she was married. And her husband was in that concentration camp. He was in Dachau and stayed there for six whole years because they made him burn dead people. And since no one could or wanted to do it, had no access to it, he stayed there for six whole years. And I remember after the war, we lived on the ground floor, someone called my mother: Boženka!' So my mother looked out with me, I was a curious child. There was someone standing out there, whom we didn't recognize at all. And he says, 'You don't recognize me? I am Bohouš.' His name was Bohouš Štěpánek. And he didn't have a single tooth, almost no hair on his head, but mainly there were scars from how he was probably treated in that concentration camp."

  • "On Palm Sunday, it was in 1945, it was the biggest air raid I experienced. It was high noon, my mother was cooking dumplings on the stove at home, like today I see them jumping around. And the sirens blared in such an acute tone; the acute sirens they were. And the normal raid was only slightly interrupted. But this acute meant fast, go fast. And suddenly we heard a terrible bang, we said, right at midday; there was much loud banging and the sun that was shining was quite nice, probably with the dust that flew up, it was obscured and it was as dark as midnight. Suddenly, at high noon, it was dark, really pitch black, so that you couldn't see anything at all. That's what we learned at the time, bomber planes flew to Vysočany, to the factories. But allegedly they got it wrong and bombed Střížkov instead."

  • "In the office where we counted delivery notes, I had a colleague, such a small person, he was a Spaniard, his name was Francisco Arias de Sanchez. And once it happened that two gentlemen in leather coats came and took that Francisco away. They found out that he did work there, but he still had some connections, but in short, he was doing something against the communists. So they took him away, we all wondered what happened, we only found out later. And after some time, maybe two to three months, a postcard came. And I was picking up the mail for the boss I was sitting next to, and I said: 'Mr. Vrba, there is a postcard from Francisco.' And I waved it around like this, and suddenly a communist was walking past, took it and said: ´ Do not wave it. No one must know that.' He probably managed to escape and sent us a postcard; I don't know from which foreign country."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 18.12.2021

    duration: 01:28:03
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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You will definitely be president, she told Václav Havel in 1989

Hana Vrbická in 1952
Hana Vrbická in 1952
photo: Archiv Hany Vrbické

Hana Vrbicka was born on January 17, 1934 in Prague-Libni, she comes from four siblings. He has brothers Josef and Oldřich and a sister Boženka, who was partially paralyzed after polio in childhood. When she was five years old, the Second World War began, she experienced the period after the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich and the bombing at the end of the war in 1945. Her aunt’s husband survived six years in the Dachau concentration camp, where he worked as an incinerator. She was eleven years old when Prague was liberated in 1945. Hana trained in Sokol, participated in the all-Sokol gathering in 1948, and then the organization was banned. She wanted to go to study to be able to teach in a kindergarten, but ended up working at the Brotherhood company. She and her husband Ctibor were married on June 13, 1953, their first son Pavel was born in the same year. She stayed on maternity leave for three years, meanwhile her husband left for the war. In 1965, the couple had a second son, Petr. Three years later, she graduated from the school of economics. She signed the Two Thousand Words statement. During the Velvet Revolution in 1989, she participated in demonstrations and marches through Prague.