Mgr. Jana Zendulková

* 1942

  • "It didn't have much effect on my studies. But it had a clear impact on our future. Because it was clear that the aesthetic wasn´t going to be useful, that it didn't have a chance. That it would be fishy with literature, fishy with visual arts, fishy with the administration of cultural property, that censorship would return. It was clear that the future was gone. As bright as it looked in the late 1960s, it was suddenly clear that it was over."

  • "Then I saw him [my father] when I went to visit him with my sister and little Martínek in his sweatpants in Leopoldov. And that was an experience. Only my sister could correspond with him, she could only send letters once a month. Who knows if they even gave them to him. So we were allowed to visit him. He'd been there over a year by then. It was very difficult to get there, a lot of transfers. It was a very difficult journey. The waiting room, it was a little house. They used to call out who was allowed to visit. There were several people sitting in the waiting room who were a bit afraid of each other, didn't know who was who. Then they called us. Leopoldov is a big brick fortress. There was a kind of ramp to the fortress, and there were three gallows along the ramp. Apparently, the interrogation room was in the thickness of the fortress wall, in the casemates, that's where they brought Dad. Little Martínek was there too, sitting on that counter, we were on chairs, glass between us. They brought Dad, who looked like he was a hundred years old. Skinny, gaunt, his eyes completely blank. And we talked for about a quarter of an hour, twenty minutes. But that's not really talking about anything at all. We just talked about how Martínek was doing, how healthy we were. You [father], how are you doing, but it was clear that we couldn't talk about that any more either. You just can't talk about it with the man."

  • "My dad had a trial in the autumn. I was summoned, I think, I don't know how I found out. I went to the Spálená Street court, of course. The trial was secret, but you were allowed to come to hear the verdict. I was sitting in the corridor outside the room, and then the corridor emptied out. I looked through the keyhole into the room. I sat there for hours. I could see my dad, I could see the sleeve on his right arm that had a white belt on it. He was wearing civilian clothes and a white elbow band. I was scared so that no one would see me peeking through the keyhole. Then the door opened and they read the sentence: 'Rise up.' The sentence was pronounced. The chairman of the court, when he saw me sitting there, the kid, the 15-year-old kid, he let my dad talk to me. I remember thinking, I mustn't cry, I mustn't cry, because I can't put this extra burden on my father. We talked, but that's just how you grow up so quickly, you suddenly know not to talk in these environments. So we talked about what to do with the furniture. We didn't even talk about what I was going to do, because it was unsolvable. Dad couldn't figure it out. And I remember I managed. We talked for about 10 minutes and then Dad was taken away. They came to get him, two of them were leading him. And Dad remembered something, his typical gesture - he tapped his forehead. And he went back to the courtroom to the back benches, because he had put his snack there. He remembered that he had a snack laid out there, and if he had left it there, he would have starved. So he went back to get that piece of food, it made me cry, it makes me want to cry even now."

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    České Budějovice, 15.03.2023

    duration: 03:12:24
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In August 1968, it was clear to me that censorship would return and that the future was gone.

Jana Zendulková, 1970
Jana Zendulková, 1970
photo: Witness´s archive

Jana Zendulka was born on 29 October 1942 in Prague to Zdenka (née Steinerová)and Stanislav Zendulka. Her mother was of Jewish origin. All members of the Steiner family were gradually deported to concentration camps from 1941 onwards. Only the mother and her brother Oldřich returned home, both of whom had non-Jewish partners. The trauma of war and deportation became a family taboo after the war. She did not learn of her Jewish origins until she was a teenager. In 1958, her father was arrested and sentenced to 12 years by the communist jurisdiction. Jana Zendulka was then evicted from her apartment and from the age of 15 had to largely fend for herself. In 1956, she entered the School for Common Boarding. After graduation, she started working as a waitress at the Moskva Hotel (now Pupp) in Karlovy Vary, where she spent four years. Her interest in art and culture led her to enrol in 1965 to study aesthetics at Charles University, where she attended lectures by Jan Patočka and Václav Černý in the late 1960s. In August 1968, she participated in anti-occupation activities in Nový Jičín. After graduating in 1969, she joined the Regional Centre for State Heritage Protection and Nature Conservation in Ústí nad Labem, where she worked as an administrative and cultural worker in various positions until her retirement. In 2023 Jana Zendulková was living with her sister Eva Bartošová in Třeboň.