Dobříkov (The Bohemian Forest)
345 06 Kdyně-Dobříkov, Czech Republic
  • Story
  • Place

She gave her son a sleeping pill

Available in: English | Česky

On 29th March 1949, Helena Šidáková set out with her small one-year-old son Zdeněk, Jarka Navrátilová, Růžena Lieblová, who wanted to escape to be with her father living abroad, and with her close friend seventeen-year-old Jindra Budínská. The group took a train from Prague to Dobříkov. They wanted to try to illegally cross the border to Germany. For a while, they were accompanied by her husband, an agent - walker Zdeněk Šidák, who had organized their escape. He parted with them in Pilsen, because he did not want to put the group in danger. In the event of them being revealed, his presence would harm everyone in the group during an interrogation. At the train station in Dobříkov, an older man was waiting for them, who took the ladies with the child to his house in the village. He made them tea. Helena put a light sleeping pill in her son’s infant formula. At around one a.m. the group set out: “The night was clear and we walked easily. The path led upwards. Jindra was helping me carry Zdenda, who was sleeping tightly. We progressed slowly. After about five hours the man had stopped. He didn’t want to go any further with us, because it would soon be dawn and he had to go back to the village. The border was two hundred metres away. The bright star above us was supposed to guide us. He showed us that we were to carry on straight up the hill where we would soon come across the edge of a forest near a village, which we were to avoid. Along the edge of the forest we would reach the border itself,” recounts Helena Šidáková, who parted with Jindra there, who had gone back with the guide to Dobříkov.

Helena Šidáková

Helena Šidáková

She was born on May 6, 1925 in Prague. Her father worked as a tailor in the National Theater and because the theater employees were granted summer holidays each year, the family was able to spend the summer in the countryside. Little Helena joined the Scouts for a short time. During the war, she wasn't able to study for a teaching certificate so she studied at a business school on Reslova Street. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia, she began to work for the Czechoslovak broadcast where she met the love of her life – a technician and a student of the ČVUT, Zdeněk Šidák. Zdeněk had been a slave laborer in Vienna during the war and had also been an active participant in the resistance movement. After the war, Zdeněk joined the Communist party, allegedly on the advice of his colleagues from the resistance. However, in 1947 their son Zdeněk was born and Zdeněk Šidák senior left the party. In the wake of February 1948, he was dismissed from the broadcast as well as from the faculty. He decided to leave the country and Helena stayed home with their infant boy. At the beginning of 1949, Zdeněk returned home from exile where he was recruited by the U.S. intelligence service. He was planning the escape of the whole family as well as of other people from Czechoslovakia but his plans were betrayed to the police. Helena and her little son were imprisoned in a prison in Klatovy. Even though they were soon released the secret police continued to be on Zdeněk's heels. When the secret police failed to hunt him down in his hideout in Starý Knín on Easter 1949, they arrested Helena instead of him and tortured her brutally. However, she resisted and didn't give her husband away. Zdeněk was eventually caught in one of his other hideouts in the Jizera Mountains. He was sentenced for life and Helena was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Zdeněk's parents were imprisoned as well. Their little son was cared for by Helena's parents. Helena was put into prisons in Nový Jičín and in Pardubice, before she was finally amnestied by the president A. Zápotocký in 1955 (this was a special amnesty for imprisoned mothers). She faithfully waited for her husband until he was released as well in 1963. After a long 14 years, the family was reunited again. After some time, the second son, Martin, was born. Zdeněk Šidák lived to see the fall of Communism but died soon afterwards – in 1990 – from a stroke.

Dobříkov (The Bohemian Forest)

Available in: English | Česky

A small village of Dobříkov in the Bohemina Forest, first mentioned in written historical records around the middle of the 13th century, lies on the railroad connecting the cities of Domažlice and Klatovy, 548 metres above the sea level. The Czech - German border is at about 15 kilometres distance on tourist route. In this village lived a man who helped refugees to flee across the border in the end of the forties. In March 1948, he helped to flee Helena Šidáková who was carrying a small baby in her arms.

Dobříkov (The Bohemian Forest)

On this place

She gave her son a sleeping pill

She gave her son a sleeping pill

Helena Šidáková
Memory of Nations Places Mobile App
Get the app for free in your mobile app store!