Věra Krincvajová

* 1969

  • "We simply went looking for Adamec’s flat. We found a house, it was open, we went upstairs. So we went door to door until we found the name Adamec. That's where we rang the bell. Soon a woman's voice came on, so we introduced ourselves. Then we heard her say to someone on the phone - which we then saw had been put on the counter - 'Yes, there are two. They say they are students and they want to talk to my husband. Okay, I'm leaving the phone off the hook and letting them in.' There were about five locks of some sort being opened. She opened the door, so we went in. She said her husband was at the Castle, that she knew about us, that he was coming. Saturday before noon - he was at the Castle. She gave us some refreshments, some cabbage soup. Then Adamec arrived there with the then Minister of Health Prokopec. As we were in a row, I know that what got him the most was that I didn't call him 'comrade', but I called him 'Mr Prime Minister'. I know there was this minimal defiance. We explained to him that we were going to brief him. That it was clear to us that he was only getting the lectures from the Secret Service, and that we were not 'wild elements', that we were normal students. And that we called for dialogue - and this was the answer. That it was terrible. We showed him the bruises, we described the atmosphere there. At first he had such attempts to stop us sternly: 'But you went to an unauthorised demonstration, it was no longer authorised at that stage. What were you doing there?' So we explained to him that we were the last open-air museum in Europe next to the perestroika countries and that we didn't want to live like that. I remember that when we were describing the parade, Prokopec was silent, his head in his hands, sitting like that, completely broken down. And you could see that it was quite a shocking testimony for them. And Adamec, too, it shook him up terribly."

  • "I think... ...lest you misunderstand... ...but I think the only way is to lift yourself up a little bit internally, some may call it 'spiritually', 'religiously'. Just to see yourself as part of a larger whole, a larger history, something longer than the individual. So, to do the best I can for myself, so that when I leave (it here) and look at the other side of this life, it won't be hell - purgatory, if you will. To make it like I'm at peace with myself. And I believe that the universe and consciousness was here before planet Earth and will continue. So, from that standpoint, I believe that somehow…. everything makes sense. And everything is leading to some kind of learning. Everything is a school."

  • "At the “Concert for All Decent People” in Lucerna, where both semi-banned, banned and official bands met together - such a bizarre thing - someone introduced me to a man who looked like an elderly “hippie” in that hall full of people. They introduced him to me as Kocour (Tomcat). It was Mr. Kocour Havelka, who had basically been forced to leave the country with his whole family as part of the “Decontamination” Action and now he was able to return. And when he found out that it was me, one of the two that were with that Adamec, he was there hugging me and jumping with joy and saying, 'You can't imagine, you have no idea how great it is that we can be here.' I guess those people just needed to personify that feeling somehow, so he just thanked me for everybody at that concert. And he was like, 'Well, but at such a great time, why are you still so sad?' And I was like, 'Because we need to write now, this is the time when we need to just fix the information. And we've got a newsroom ready, and we don't have the money to do it.' He said, 'How much do you need?' I don't know, it was something like sixty thousand for that first number - an astronomical amount for us. So, I told him. And this Kocour, a re-emigrant - I wouldn't have thought that about him - between those hippies, people in tattered jeans, with long hair and beards - and he says, 'Yeah, so it doesn't mean anything to me. And if it's a bunch of students like you, and they're after the same things, I'll give it to you.' And I connected him to Pažout, I phoned him from somewhere. The next day, Kocour went in there with a briefcase and actually gave him the money. That's how we published Student Letters."

  • "Then in Mikulandska, somehow I was pushed against the wall. And still in front of me was a layer of people, some girls about the same height, the same age as me, crying and screaming in pain as the crowd crushed them, pushed them against that wall. This one girl had a completely unnaturally dislocated arm, I think there just had to be some physical problem just by the way she was being crushed against the wall. I was like, 'Well, either I'm going to get trampled by these people, I'm going to end up like this, or I'm going to get slaughtered by these cops who created this bloody alleyway.' And I just heard the swish, swish - the sound of the baton. These were some kind of telescopic batons that gained more speed with the swing, and it was really quite a terrible sound. And you can hear the bones of these people cracking underneath, screaming - it's something completely unnatural. I felt like one of those beasts in the circus who knows he's afraid of fire and doesn't want to jump into the fire, but he just jumps in because there's a worse evil. So I thought, I'm going to the fire. Rather than get crushed, I think I'm just gonna get beat up, I think it's more likely I'll survive with a concussion. So I tried to get into the current, which is going down that bloody alley. And then the most incredible thing happened. There were two guys, big guys, in down jackets, and one of them grabbed some strange girl on the left, and the other one grabbed me and said, 'I've saved some girls, I'll accompany you out, don't worry. So he wrapped me up like this with the jacket, I went underneath him. I don't know if maybe you went skiing with your parents, so sometimes dads would take their kids skiing like that - some model like that. And he actually walked me down the aisle. It remains covered in fog in my memories. I had this completely detached sort of feeling that I knew something was flying, I was in terrible pain here, I caught something there, something somewhere, but I don't really know - and suddenly we were outside. And the guy - I just know he said he was from the economics school, he had a blue down jacket, that's all I remember. He asked if I was all right. And he said, I'm coming in. He was letting them through the apartment..." - "That's what I was going to ask, how they got back there." - "He was letting them through an apartment, actually." - "Like through a window?" - "Yeah, yeah. And they were going back to get the girls."

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At Narodni trida, I felt it was over. That we were all going to be slaughtered

Věra Krincvajová between Václav Havel and Martin Mejstřík
Věra Krincvajová between Václav Havel and Martin Mejstřík
zdroj: Archiv pamětnice

Journalist, dramaturg and producer Věra Krincvajová was born on 31 March 1969 in Brno. She spent part of her childhood with her family in Libya and from there she sent her first reports to a children‘s magazine. After graduating from the Pardubice grammar school, she entered the Faculty of Journalism in Prague in 1987. At that time she experienced the emerging independent student movement. She and her classmates borrowed banned literature, went to anti-regime demonstrations and signed petitions. They began to cross the gap between the grey zone and dissent. In the summer of 1989, they were interrogated by the State Security on a hop brigade for „philosophising in a pub“. In October 1989, Věra Krincvajová and her friend Klára Pospíšilová smuggled a letter to Václav Havel into the Na Františku Hospital, where he was hiding from arrest, and arranged an interview with him for the planned Studentské listy. On 17 November 1989, Věra Krincvajová witnessed the police massacre of a peaceful student demonstration on Národní třída in Prague. She impressively recounts the dramatic moments when she feared for her life, and how she was dragged through the „bloody alley“, i.e. the cordon of officers in the passage to Mikulandská Street, by an unknown rescuer. Shocked by the brutality of the intervention, she and Klara went the very next day to the then communist Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec to show him that they were not „wild elements“ but ordinary students. They made him feel the students‘ anger, which probably contributed to Adamec‘s subsequent decision to negotiate with the opposition.