Dana Němcová Obituary, Death – One of the biggest opponents of the old Czechoslovak communist system, Dana Němcová, passed away early on Tuesday morning at the age of 89. Despite years of harassment by the secret police, she never let up in her battle for freedom. Dana Němcová was born in January 1934 and, in her own words, came from modest roots. Indeed, she possessed exactly the kind of working-class credentials that would have appealed her to the communist leadership, had she not been such a determined promoter of truth and human rights. “I was born in Most. Both my parents came from mining family — they were Czechs, and they were impoverished. My mother lost her parents during the First World War and my father was a teacher.”
She studied psychology at Charles University, where she met her husband, Jiří Němec, with whom she went on to have seven children. She and her husband then became two of the original signatories of Charter 77, which chastised the government for failing to follow the human rights principles listed in a number of accords it had signed. In 1976, after members of the underground rock band The Plastic People of the Universe were detained, she arranged a petition in favor of them, which was even signed by Nobel-Prize-winning writer and poet Jaroslav Seifert. For this, she lost her employment as a psychologist working with children with hearing and speech difficulties, and until the revolution was only allowed to work as a cleaner and housekeeper.
After signing Charter 77 and co-founding the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted, she was imprisoned for half a year in 1979. Despite the horrible times she was living through, Němcová retained a cheerful viewpoint. “In that time, which seems like it was only a time of oppression and evil, there was also something extremely beautiful. We shared a rare solidarity with one other. While I was sitting in jail, I had this lovely sensation that, just as we had looked after those who had looked after those who had been unfairly prosecuted before us, now someone would be looking after my family and after me.
She also took up the role of spokesman for Charter 77 toward the latter half of the 1980s. She was finally free to continue her work defending human rights after the Communist system was overthrown in 1989 by the Velvet Revolution. During this time, she served for a short period of time as a member of the Federal Assembly. Together with Olga Havlová, she was one of the first people to join the Committee of Goodwill. In addition, she established the Counselling Centre for Refugees in 1992; this organization offered both psychological and legal aid to persons who had been uprooted from their homes. Six years after that, she was honored with the Medal of Merit, which is a federal award for exemplary service to the nation.
She later stated that she did not have any regrets about her conduct during the Communist era, despite the fact that she was sentenced to jail and was not permitted to practice her profession. She felt that it was preferable to live the truth rather than a falsehood. “When it comes to me, I have an unquenchable thirst for independence. And I am prepared to make a sacrifice in order to get that liberty. That was the point where I began to disagree with what was being said. It didn’t simply have an effect on me; it had an effect on all of us.