In the second half of the 1960s, Věra Čáslavská had the world at her feet.
As a multiple Olympic champion, world champion and winner of a European championship in gymnastics, she could have become a Hollywood star. The winner of seven Olympic gold medals, Čáslavská holds more Olympic individual event titles than any other gymnast, a record she has held for over 40 years. But not everything in her life has been successful. In the end she didn't leave for Hollywood to become a star. She experienced the bitterness of normalization because she refused to remove her signature from the Two Thousand Words petition.
Věra Čáslavská was born on 3rd May 1942 and began competing at the age of sixteen at the World Championship in Moscow. She was at her peak in 1964, when she represented Czechoslovakia at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Four years later at the Olympic Games in Mexico, she won six medals and married the Czech runner Joseph Odložil. In Mexico, Věra made her own silent protest against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia by turning away from the Soviet flag while the national anthem was playing to honor her and a teammate who tied for first place. Her signature on the Two Thousand Words petition caused the communist regime to exclude her from Czech sport and she was forced to work as a cleaner. Later she became a coach. In the early 1990s, she became an advisor to President Vaclav Havel as well as President of the Czech Olympic Committee.
Her biography The Life on Olympus (Život na Olympu), written by Pavel Kosatík, was published in 2012. Filmmaker Olga Sommerová made a documentary about her entitled, Věra 68.
The Faithful I Remain website captures authentic and unique testimonies from witnesses of Palach’s sacrifice and presents fascinating stories from people who were inescapably affected by political trials, Soviet occupation and the subsequent “normalization”.
We invited publicly known figures to share their recollections of an historic and challenging time, resulting in a series of interviews full of intimate memories, experiences and impressions that illustrate critical turning points in the period of Communist rule.
The website was created by 2FRESH for HBO Europe s. r. o. to support the Burning Bush, a three-part drama from world-renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland.The project was completed with assistance from the Prague City Council and Mayor of Prague MUDr. Bohuslav Svoboda.
HBO Europe's three-part drama Burning Bush, directed by world-renowned Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, premiered on the HBO film channel on 27th January 2013.
Both the most extensive and ambitious project in the history of HBO Europe, the film recalls a period of Czech modern history which had been ignored in Czech cinema until now.
The film begins with the reconstruction of the shocking act of Jan Palach, who set himself on fire on 16 January 1969 in protest against the Soviet occupation
The story follows the young lawyer who represents Jan Palach’s mother against an influential Communist official and serves to describe the transformation of the Czechoslovak society at the time – from the silent protest culminating at Palach’s burial to growing resignation and the upcoming period of “normalization.”