Helena Zvánovcová

* 1924  

  • “Maybe the most important thing was the Sokol parade in Prague. Gottwald was standing on the rostrum. His wife Marta was also standing there with other communist functionaries. Then the parade came and we received the order, the rostrum was on the right: ‘Face left!’ And then, when the parade was passing by, we all turned our heads to the other side. Not towards Gottwald, so we could wave our little flags. To the other side.”

  • “I’ll start by saying that our workers didn’t feel exploited and they were actually our friends. And, of course, since they had known me since I was a little girl, even when I was married they spoke to me in the familiar form. One of those workers who came was a trained baker. After awhile my dad found out that in the nearby village there lived a lady whose husband had died, who’d also been a baker. So, like they say, one thing led to another and they really got married and he opened a bakery there and the lady sold fine goods. They got their coal from us. Once he came to pay for the coal he’d taken. He goes and pulls out a hundred crown bill and says: ‘Look, a hundred! But don’t tell anybody, I got it because I was at a communist meeting.’ I really didn’t tell anyone. I’m telling it you here today because I think they should know. He got a hundred crowns and then they came and took his bakery away. So we have to think twice when someone gives us something small so they don’t come back around and take ten times, or at least twice as much, in return.”

  • “Not long ago on TV Mr. Filip, the president of the communist party, got up and said that Prague was not liberated by Vlasov’s army, but the Red Army. And I would like to say something about that. Mr. Filip wasn’t even born yet when we were sitting by the radio, listening to its broadcast which was calling for help. It called for help from the gendarmerie, the police, but it was also calling out: ‘Vnimanije, vnimanije’ [Warning, warning!]. It was in the late morning when we first heard them and then that ‘vnimanije’ happened several more times, meaning they were calling for help from the Red Army. The radio informed us about what the Germans were doing then. We heard that they were pulling women and children out of basements and shooting them. And then we heard them calling for help again. Nothing happened. Then there was an update from the radio: ‘Germans are running over women and children they were holding hostage with their tanks.’ It had a terrible effect on us and then it said that the Red Army was at our borders. So we said: ‘They should be here any second, why won’t they come already!’ Prague was calling out desperately. Until then, but it wasn’t the Red Army, it was Vlasov’s troops. We have to admit that that’s how it was. Like when we weren’t allowed to say that it was the Americans who liberated Plzeň and other cities in the west, we should also admit that Prague was liberated by Vlasov’s army. The Red Army came later... otherwise our people would have drowned in their own blood. They wouldn’t have dared use their guns against that heavy war machinery, and Vlasov’s troops were the only ones who had it. The Red Army came only after it was confirmed that our republic was going to be in their sphere of interest. And we have to admit it, like we acknowledged the American army.”

  • Full recordings
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    České Budějovice, 04.03.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 01:15:43
  • 2

    České Budějovice, 03.06.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 48:29
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It’s important that people do not suffer because of their opinions

Helena Zvánovcová was born on 8 August 1924 in Soběslav in Southern Moravia as a businessman’s daughter. Her father Rudolf Hřebík served in the Czechoslovak Legionnaires in Russia during the First World War and her grandfather from her mother’s side was František Ctibor, who in 1885 was a founding member of the Sokols of Soběslav, where Helena Zvánovcová trained from the time she was four years old. She lived to see the Sokol organization being both cancelled and then reinstated twice. During the war she was at risk of being drafted into duty, which she managed to avoid by getting married in 1943. She took part in the 11th All-Sokols Rally and parade in Prague in 1948 where she actively jotted down on her Gathering leaflet anti-communist slogans which were seen during the parade’s march through Prague. She continues to be an active member of the Soběslav club, in 1990 she began in the function of educator and longtime vice-chairperson of the Soběslav Sokols. She contributed to putting together the exhibition honoring the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Soběslav Sokol organization in 2015. Today (in 2020) she resides in her hometown of Soběslav in the Tábor District.