Memory of Nation


Jarmila Laník (1940)

  Jarmila Laník (1940)
I still believe times will get better

Who does your daddy favour?

“There was a coach full of people, a sleeping coach. It was full of all those generals and people going to the convention (ed. note: the III. meeting of the AVNOJe held in Zagreb from 7 to 10 August 1945). When we got up – I was about five – I walked with my dad and this general asked me about this and that: ‘Are you a pioneer?’ I said: ‘Yes, I am.’ – ‘Is this your daddy?’ And my dad says: ‘Come on, you cannot call an older gentleman a ‘drug’ (comrade), he is a ‘Mr’. But he said: ‘Oh no, we are all comrades!’ I said: ‘So can you call Tito a comrade?’ The general says: ‘Does your dad know Tito?’ My dad said he had worked [restoring the White Mansion, the Belgrade residence where Tito had lived] and that Tito would come by and say hello to everyone, asked how it would look after it is finished and so on. So my dad said: ‘I know him.’ The general said: ‘Are you Czech?’ Dad said: ‘Yes, I am.’ The general looked at me and said: ‘Tell me, little girl – who does your father favour? Tito, or the King?’ Dad would later remember: ‘My knees were weak.’ You see, our mum was a monarchist and kept talking about it. But dad never talked about politics. He later said: ‘I pictured myself singing the Song of the Volga Boatmen [in a Russian prison camp].’ So I said: ‘My dad favours neither Tito nor the King – he favours Beneš!’ ‘Oh, you are Czech. Oh, okay, Beneš is our ally.’ It was all right. Dad later said: ‘I will get you whatever you want in Zagreb!’” (Ed. note: the Song of the Volga Boatmen or Ey ukhnem is an old Russian folk song (recorded in 1866) that was sung by the burlakhs – boatmen who dragged boats up the Volga stream)

  • Born on 7 April 1940 in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia
  • Started going to a Czech primary school in 1947
  • Joined JAT as a flight attendant in 1961
  • Visited Czechoslovakia on business from 1965 on
  • Remembers the life of the Czech community in Belgrade and the community life
  • Retired and moved to the Czech Republic in 1993
  • Witnessed the bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 from Prague, then returned to Belgrade
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