Memory of Nation


Kamila Bendová (1946)

 Kamila Bendová (1946)
I felt as if the last six people who cared about anything in this country were standing trial

The old Bolsheviks and their way of coping with the past

“When in 1979, or perhaps it was 1980, the Vaněčeks left - those were also people from this group - when they went into emigration... When people emigrated, the way it was done was that they sold their flat and furniture, and then they didn’t have anywhere to host a farewell party, so they used to do it in our place. They asked us to lend them our flat for the purpose. And they invited their friends over, and those were old Bolsheviks, Šilhán was here back then, and that sort. And because they knew Věra Brázdová, the Brázdas were here as well. I can very clearly remember the scene when Jiřina Kyncolvá said that the whole situation of the seventies is much worse than it was in the fifties, because whole families are breaking up now and... Věra Brázdová started up: ‘Hold on there, but back then it was much worse, they locked up people for decades, and those families were also broken by that...’ And everyone here - from the kind of top ten thousand - were really terribly surprised. That was an incredible conversation, because they had the feeling that nothing bad had happened to them back then, and so I reckon that they didn’t even realise properly that things had happened to someone else. It was really peculiar because they started off again: ‘Oh, very well, but that only concerned some people, but now they were breaking up families and...’ It was such an unbelievable misunderstanding, everyone was talking about a completely different world. These people had been at the top, and they hadn’t paid any attention to what had been going on down below... Who of them apologised? A few did: Otka Bednářová, who really did experience it internally, the transformation. She took it as her fault, her collaboration, her membership in the Communist Party. I even have a letter from her here, when Havel was to receive some award, so she wrote that she really couldn’t attend the ceremony because how could stand next to Otík Mádr. That’s one case. And, to certain extent, also Jiří Ruml, who was very sensitive to these matters, surprisingly enough. But many of them did not, not in the slightest. I never saw Hübl, but I get the feeling that he still felt that they were the bearers, the nobility, the bearers of the future, what is right, what has gone a bit wrong now but will again come to power and everything will be corrected. It was easy with them. And they held us in utter disdain...”

  • born 12 October 1946 in Brno
  • 1964, graduated from secondary school in a specialised mathematics class
  • 1967, married Václav Benda
  • 1964-1969, studied mathematical analysis at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University in Prague
  • 1969-1991, employed at the Mathematics Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences
  • her husband signed Charter 77
  • her husband was sentenced to four years of prison at the trial with representatives of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted; imprisoned from 1979 to 1984
  • June 1999, her husband Václav Benda died
  • 1999-2007, led philosophy seminars at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University
  • 2003, elected to the post of Inspector at the Office for Personal Data Protection
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